The following is a statement from Daniel Kass, Senior Vice President for Environmental Health, Vital Strategies, on the findings of the “Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States.”
“The U.S. government’s report on climate change is clear: Americans and people around the world are already paying and mortgaging their futures for inaction and groundless skepticism with their health and their lives. Solid scientific evidence predicts that because of climate change, we can expect more extreme heat waves, more severe air pollution, an increase in infectious diseases, and the disruption of health care. Vulnerable people like those with chronic health conditions, the elderly and the poor will be most adversely affected.
“Climate policies are health policies. Despite the current administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, there is much that can still be done. We have seen promising local leadership in states, cities and communities to enact policies that decrease carbon emissions, such as providing better access to clean and efficient household energy and creating more sustainable public transport, which reduces carbon emissions while also enabling more physical activity.
“From an economic perspective, the U.S., along with India, China and other countries continue to profit from exporting coal, the world’s most significant carbon polluting fuel. The global community needs to ensure that access to clean energy is expanded in low- and middle-income countries where pollution is increasing, in order to reduce demand for coal and deliver stronger health protections.
“Finally, we urge the public health community to fulfill their responsibility to emphasize the inextricable link between climate change and health. We must increase our knowledge about the health impacts of extreme weather and seasonal risks and use public health data to learn more about who will be most affected, to prevent growing disparities in the burden of climate change-related disease. We must also strengthen public health systems, including implementing policies to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, including mental illness, to enable a more resilient population less sensitive to climate-related health hazards.
“As this report shows, the human, environmental and economic costs of inaction are too high. We urge officials at all levels of government to act urgently to enact reduce carbon emissions, and U.S. officials should also work to reverse the indefensible U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.”
For more information Vital Strategies’ work in environmental health, please visit: http://www.vitalstrategies.org/programs/environmental-health/
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