Obama’s Climate Plan And Public Health ‘Cascade’ Of Carbon Consequences
by Lynne Peeples –
President Barack Obama stood on the steps of a Georgetown University hall on a hot and humid Tuesday afternoon to reinforce his pledge to tackle climate change — a challenge he said carries direct consequences for “our children and the health and safety of all Americans.”
“Someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us,” Obama said. “Did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?”
The health risks of global warming, of course, go well beyond high temperatures — as dangerous as heat waves can be — or even extreme weather events, including droughts, floods and superstorms mentioned by Obama during his speech.
In fact, many of the worries raised by public health experts didn’t make it into Obama’s remarks or the White House plan to address climate change unveiled on Tuesday.
“Climate change degrades environmental quality in a way that inflicts multiple insults on health,” George Luber, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Climate and Health Program, said during an interview with The Huffington Post earlier this month.
“It’s death by a thousand cuts,” Luber said, noting exacerbated ozone pollution, allergies and infectious disease. “Cumulative exposures add up to a significant burden on health.”
In light of Obama’s words on Tuesday, however, it may be appropriate to consider the public health benefits that may result from cumulative actions taken to fight climate change.