House Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee

Healthy Planet, Health People: Global Warming and Public Health

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 14:00:00 GMT

This Wednesday, April 9, Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will take a look at the health of our warming planet, and how climate change affects the health of her citizens. During a week where major public health bodies are calling attention to the links between an unhealthy planet and an unhealthy people, the hearing’s panel of scientists, practicing doctors, and public health professionals will describe the various ways climate change poses a serious public health threat.

Despite the international and national scientific consensus that climate change impacts public health, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has refused to state that heat-trapping carbon dioxide is a threat to public health.

The witnesses will also address whether the United States has an unlimited capacity to adapt to this growing public health concern, or whether the only true preventative medicine is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and stop global warming.

According to the World Health Organization, climate change is a significant and emerging threat to public health. The WHO estimates that changes in the Earth’s climate may have caused at least five million cases of illness and more than 150,000 deaths in 2000, and predict these impacts are likely to increase in the future. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) determined that climate change contributes to the global burden of disease, premature death and other adverse health impacts due to extreme weather events, changes in infectious disease patterns, air quality, quality and quantity of water and food. Adverse health impacts of climate change also include increases in heat stress, asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

  • Howard Frumkin, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Center for Disease Control, Director of National Center for Environmental Health, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
  • Jonathan Patz, M.D., M.P.H., Professor and Director of Global Environmental Health, University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • Georges Benjamin, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E.P. (Emeritus), Executive Director, American Public Health Association
  • Mark Jacobson, Ph.D., Director, Atmosphere and Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University
  • Dana Best, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., American Academy of Pediatrics

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