Healthy People 2100: Health Risks of Climate Change

I attended Dr. Kristie Ebi’s seminar “Healthy People 2100: Health Risks of Climate Change” on Thursday, 11.09.2008. To me it was an impressive presentation and I’ll never forget some of the images she included, particularly the one showing the trucks used to deposit the victims of the 1995 Chicago heat wave. In the coming years we ought to expect even more extreme weather events, including severe droughts, heat waves, floods, hurricanes, the rising of sea water levels. The consequences on health would most certainly be a rise in the number of cases of malnutrition, diarrhea, infectious diseases – including those transmitted by vectors.

One of the most important points Dr. Ebi made was that the countries responsible for the global warming are not the ones suffering the worst consequences. She projected a map of the world which proportionately showed which areas are likely to suffer the most drastic consequences. The African continent and south-estern Asia were the areas that stood out by far. North America, one of the biggest source of greenhouse gas emmisions, was projected to suffer the least. This goes out to show a potential reason why it’s so hard to convince decision makers to take action: they don’t see poverty and illness first-hand. And they think that they can avoid being affected by the consequences of global warming. It is certainly much more financially profitable to go on a “business as usual” path than to change your ways, start thinking of the consequences and start taking action toward mitigation and sustainability.  Even the few actions that are being taken are done without thinking of the human health consequences, without asking for advice from the authorities in the field – the example of changing the course of a river in China.

In conclusion, Dr Ebi’s presentation was a picture of the present situation and a projection of what to expect in the future. If I were to criticize it, I’d say that knowing the topic of this presentation I expected it to be more focused on the health related issues and potential solutions for the future.

One Response to “Healthy People 2100: Health Risks of Climate Change”

  1. Nice comment! As we discussed in class last Monday, scientists seem to change their role. They are changing how science is done. Slowly, they are making personal comments in their scientific paper. These comments are often written like this “we need to reduce of CO2 emission”. It’s not perfect, but it’s the first step. However, I don’t think it’s the role of the scientist to give solutions. I think doctors and any health related person should take this as a “diagnostic” and then “prescribe” a solution to the problem as they do with their patient. How this can be applied? Well difficult situation here because decision takers have the power to execute the solutions. The problem here is not resolved obviously, but I think my comment defines the role of everyone (a start)…
    Even if the consequence are majors about Climate Change, I think scientists should never take a position in order to stay as objective as possible. The use of “good science” will then be preserved… Science is all about reducing the bias.