Gina McCarthy on Public Health & Climate Change | SciShow Talk Show



hello and welcome to scishow talk show a special edition it's that day on scishow where we talk to interesting people about interesting things today we're talking to Gina McCarthy former head of the US Environmental Protection Agency and current director of the Center for climate health and the global environment at Harvard Gina hi how are you we've talked before yeah it seems like how does this happen to me but it's great and I'm very excited to be doing it I want to start out with a kind of big picture thing here so we're both worried about the environment human impacts on the environment I think that that perspective can often come from a sort of like like people are so bad we are so terrible we have messed so many things up kind of perspective we are great it's creating problems but we're also good at solving problems do you think that we don't spend enough time talking about how we have been able to solve problems both environmentally and you know for the last 200,000 years of our history absolutely I think people tend to have a bit of a short memory because I have lived long enough that I kind of remember when pollution was spewing out of smokestacks and our rivers were running different colors depending upon what industry was putting in the river at the time you know but we just don't see that anymore and I think there's two things going on here Hank I think I think people don't see the problems today like they used to because they're not as visible but they're there and when you get to issues like climate change it just seems so big and monumental that people think we can't make the kind of incremental progress that bring solutions to the table and they're wrong because today I see solutions that I never dreamed of before and we have to give ourselves a little bit of a break stop being afraid and stop really just recognizing that we have opportunities today to make the world a remarkably healthy in sustainable place and that's what we got a suit for can we we talk a little bit about some of the problems we've in the last 50 years even that we that just like we don't even have to think about well we don't have to think about having lead in our gasoline anymore you know we don't have to think about those old glass mercury thermometers that used to break and we played with all the silver stuff that probably attributes to my career in some way and and you know there's is lots of pollutants that we don't worry about in our water anymore you know we're not that worried about dengue fever here we're not worried so much about malaria think about all of the things that that how the country's still worried about that in the United States with we've gotten out of the picture and I think the challenges to keep us hopeful and focused on solution sense moving forward yeah it's interesting that you bring up both like leaded gasoline which it in my head like we think about that as an environmental problem right and then you bring up also dengue fever and in my head we think about that as a global health problem yeah but of course yeah like having LED in the air is bad for the environment but it's also a global health problem and when we're talking about these things we're often not talking about like we talked about saving the planet but we're not gonna destroy earth it's a big rock in space what's gonna be okay with or without us we're talking about how like an end you know it's in the title of your organization global health and the environment are like when we're talking about environment we're talking about health we're talking about better lives for human beings I have been working in the field of the environment for 37 years and I have really been focusing all that time on public health on human beings you know the Environmental Protection Agency says environment in it but it's really about you know not so much birds and bunnies or polar bears it's sort of kids you know it's it's it's fixing our natural resources reducing pollution but we do it with the end goal of reducing risks to human health saving lives and in u.s. epa has been enormously successful in doing that and to me it's underpinned a growing economy because it's brought new technologies to the tables solutions cleaner cause industries that don't feel mercury into the air that gets into our fish that gets into our kids or a pregnant women there's all kinds of successes there that make me a very hopeful for the future including the challenge of climate change we also sometimes think of climate change is a problem that we have to solve and that and that it's just like out there untouched unworked on but I think that like I like to think of us as at this point being in the progress of solving this problem yeah it's not something that it's not something that we have to get started on it's something that we started on 10 or 20 years ago in a lot of cases both in terms of understanding it and preparing for the changes that might come but also in preparing new technologies so I see this as a problem that we are in the process of solving non not one that we need to solve that that's true I mean it's it's a little bit of both but I think how did the problem that we have been facing is that you know when you talk about saving the planet you know people think it's too daunting a task for any one individual to really do and so they sort of push that aside and so what we really need to do and what I'm trying to do at Harvard is make the very direct connection that that climate change is a public health problem and if you focus on public health as a way to get to the issues of climate change you will be able to make health better today and create a sustainable future and a healthier planet tomorrow that's what I want to do and so we have learned so much about the dangers are for example air pollution and we know that heat in all the hot weather and all of climate change impacts will make a pollution worse for so many millions of people and it's always the same people that get hit the hottest the vulnerable communities so instead of talking to two developing countries that they have to fix what they perceive as the developing world's problem of climate change and instead we said let's clean up that air pollution problem for you today what you end up doing is reducing coal generation in their utilities getting rid of those old cook stoves that spew black carbon so we end up doing is actually raising people to be healthier today getting them more active in society because they are healthier addressing and bringing people out of poverty into the middle class and by the way you're fixing climate change so what are we arguing about here I think I feel like all the arguments about climate change are all about why are we rushing towards a healthier more sustainable future let's think about that I really don't understand it yes there will be shifts in the way we do business but throughout history there always has been while we've learned well with innovated let's get over it and start working on these things it's remarkable to sort of like witness these shifts as renewable power actually becomes inexpensive and it becomes you know reaches parity in some places and in some times of the day even a shift to natural gas yet better than coal actually being really like the thing that is bringing down the coal industry where the coal industry was much more worried about like the kinds of regulations that would make it more expensive for them to produce power in fact it was another fossil fuel that they had to be worrying about and and the fact that we are now living in a world where coal power plants that were designed to live to produce power for 50 years aren't gonna live that long they're just not gonna be around for their full lifespans is remarkable being here at this moment where for for both economic and and I think somewhat intentional reasons we're moving away from these things in a way that most people I would say recognize is a net positive for the country in the world absolutely and so I go out and give a lot of speeches as you can imagine because is you know people are worried about what's going on in Washington they're worried about the dismantling of some of the the rules that we did in the Obama administration that I'm moving the car industry to cleaner more efficient cars that are continuing to push the utilities to make sure that they invest in our future that they they look at and diminishing the amount of greenhouse gases they emit all these things are important like the potential withdrawal from the Paris agreement but I think I blow people's mind when I go to them to and tell them listen stop focusing on Washington DC look at what's happening in the real world you know the central government here the federal government may have decided to take a pass for a while but clean energy is thriving in the United States because it's in the market and it's going to continue no matter what actually happens in Washington DC and I know the car company is always quibble and don't like standards until someone decides that they want to change them now they're pulling back and saying you know they weren't really that bad let's just look at weeks right now so so we are moving in an incredibly positive direction investment is going what I just want to do is make sure that if we're investing in our future don't leave people behind you know think about how you look at the challenge of sustainability through a public health lens so as the Hibbs building momentum broadening the efforts making a science actionable in a way that's really gonna bring everybody to the table in a way that's positive and grow Z economy and we honestly have to think about people that are left behind in transitions in the economy I agree with that but is what we should do that while we don't deny ourselves an ability to have a healthy today and a sustainable future when we're looking at you know levels of lead in a child's bloodstream it's a very obvious very clear signal very you know the public health effects of that are very well known but I think that some of the challenges were facing today today are like very hard to actually see and it's kind of hard to make that link between public health yeah and a warmer earth is that like how do you combat that how do you bring this new people's lives well you know when I left the federal government I thought to myself how do you make systemic change how can you know I continue to contribute here and what I realized is and all the times I've been working on environmental issues and public health issues it's really been public health that's been the driver about all of it if you'd have led in your gasoline if you didn't have scientists that showed that lead was a neurotoxin if we didn't worry about our kids you'd still not be worried about tobacco smoke you know those are the kinds of things that we have to do is to make climate change real to everybody it is the most significant public health challenge that we face and we have to get it out of the atmosphere and bring it into our families and our mothers so really we have to talk about the different health impacts that we're seeing from a changing climate and that's everything from you know more infectious and contagious diseases you're thinking about droughts and floods that cause not only water bond problems but can cause immediate danger to the safety of our communities you're talking about a wealth of challenges that we have to Public Health directly today like exacerbating the air pollution which we know contributes some millions of premature deaths in India alone that's 1.1 million premature deaths and this isn't just EPA this is a new w-h-o report came out that talks about you know the most vulnerable people are always hurt the most it's kids it's the elderly it's the minority it's those that that don't have good food it is those in poverty it in so there's a range of of challenges that we see today that a direct public health impacts that that I don't want to be here 20 years from now and having somebody say why didn't you tell me that why didn't I know that malaria was gonna spread father why didn't I know about Lyme disease spreading why didn't I think about what it meant for my kids in their future so I met here at Harvard in this in this that we're launching and it's really to make those connections but also to to talk to people in language they understand and it's not about scaring them it's about telling them that that we have a path forward we do have solutions but it's gonna take everybody to decide that they want to grab them and run with them so you talk several times now about something I don't know about which is does a warmer earth just on its own create worst pollution yeah so of course like if you're coal power plant is next door and it's not got good scrubbers on it you're gonna have a lot of pollution in your area but does having more heat it's just in general like you make pollution worse it makes pollution worse that's right and it I mean it well let me give you a couple of examples one is in the air side and one is in water if you actually look at the data you will see that that in the air side ozone will increase as the temperature gets hotter we know this a scientific fact and ozone contributes to cardiac problems lung damages and exacerbates asthma in children there are direct public health impacts which we can quantify and show and that is as the weather gets warmer that's what you're going to see and so we have to get rid of the pollutants but we also have to recognize that the world is changing and we have to figure out how to address that the other is the water bond issues and it's not it is a lot about floods and droughts because in in floods and droughts you see both immediate damage but you also see contamination of water supplies which we see which means is a lasting effect you don't have to look too long too far to see what's happening in Puerto Rico and how it damages you know these these storms can damage but the one of the hidden issues is that it really exacerbates waterborne diseases even when you just have higher heat because it tends to force people to utilize water supplies that are as healthy it gets kids into water streams and rivers that are particularly suitable for swimming it raises amounts of cholera and other things and it also forces migrations if it's a long-term issue so we now have on average 22 point five million people that are living as migrants that have had to leave places where droughts have forced the changes of floods have forced those migrations and if you've ever seen or read about you know the places where they end up moving to new always always you see diseases follow increases in infectious and communicable diseases so it is a challenge directly today to our not just public health but our national security that's why these migrations are of such interest to the military and why they don't deny climate change at all right they see it as a real instability issue I think that we often overestimate the amount of power that the federal government even has in these things a lot of this stuff is done without regulation it is it is something that is done it's done by the market it's done by consumer choice and it's done it's done by even the choices that business leaders are making they are deciding to do these things for the good because they want to do good they're not all like people aren't only out there to make money they also don't want people to die in their buildings most people think that people like me who do rules and regulations think that it's the only way to get anything done and I just love doing it you know you really only regulate when you have a market failure yeah when people are impacting somebody else's health and you need government intervention that's only on very few in select issues and so we really have to start thinking about what are the ways we can change things you know science at the US EPA right now is a very difficult thing to do and it's being done on purpose because people don't like what science will tell you so instead I bet I could go to a business and I could get them to understand that what science means for them and get make changes he without regulating that cuz I know we can because businesses have done it if you look at Walmart they decided that they didn't want to buy baby bottles that had endocrine-disrupting chemicals in it now that sounds like a reasonable thing to me and they decided to do it even though the federal government didn't have the wherewithal to do that because it's too hard to make that that kind of science assessment because the layers of work are extreme so I think we can make change I think consumers can demand change you see that all the time when when apps are deleted because they don't believe that that business shares their values that's what I'm talking about that's the change that we can make happen and and Walmart is so powerful that once they make that decision nobody's gonna make those baby bottles I mean yeah it just change that is it's sort of a strange thing to have Walmart have that level of power I you know what it back when I was covering environmental technology for a previous job I would always be like Oh Walmart's doing it the conversation is over like suppliers if they can't sell at Walmart it doesn't matter anymore it's remarkable how much pop what power Walmart has and if you just walk in there and you get them to make that decision you almost don't that the market is kind of taking care of of that problem you are in a generation and I think a lot of folks that I meet up in the corridors at these graduate schools and undergraduate schools they are the most tech-savvy as well as socially conscious and smartest generation Ares that that that we have ever had if we can tap into that energy if they can not just be satisfied by being a scientist and actually be only satisfied when their science is understood and acted on man could we change the world and that's what I want to capture I think that you I think that young people are amazing today they're not limited in their thinking that they can't change the world they actually sees the world changing all the time so so it really distress is me that there are folks that think they can stop change instead of investing that change in harnessing it for everybody that's what the world needs to be all about and I think young people get that and I think they can deliver it I just don't want to be the older person that handed them a less than wonderful world completely from what I can do and I'm not gonna give up I'm not so as other ways in which you can make change happen and working in the federal government from my perspective what I what I heard from you today it seems like you would be an excellent director for the Environmental Protection Agency so I'm glad that you have that job for a fair amount of time I won't ask you how you think the EPA is doing now cuz I'm sure that's a complicated question I do really appreciate the work that you doing and and like what I want to say in general is too often I think my generation will say we are being left such a destroyed world by the generation that came before us but when my grandfather was working on oil platforms he wasn't doing that because he wanted to destroy the environment he was doing that because he wanted a job but he was also doing it because that was how we created so many wonderful things for people and how we solved a lot of public health problems and the world got better because of fossil fuels and that does not mean that we shouldn't move away from them but this has all been part of the process of humans solving problems and then solving the problems that those solutions caused that's how it's always going to go so I and I I appreciate I appreciate how much you have done from and all of these perspectives over the years but but also that you are continuing and that you see how much can be done outside of the power of government well the side that you're doing that well thank you in my generation we used to say knowledge is power and you got to speak truth to power and I think that's the same thing today you know I'm working at a university that has fabulous scientists and and they not they don't just define problems they identify Solutions so let's just stop arguing and let's just get to it solving problems it's yeah it's just what humans are and then we create new ones I mean we solve those we can do it thank you so much Gina McCarthy thanks for heading up the Center for climate health and the global environment at Harvard it's thanks for doing all your great work thanks I appreciate it Hank thanks for having me

39 Comments

  1. It's really good to hear this more optimistic, or realistic perspective! Also her accent is awesome.

  2. That was a much needed shot of positivity.

  3. what about the problems that she's ignoring in missouri? she refuse that speak about that but she has no problems speaking about this?

  4. Gina McCarthy is a shill for the New World Order, and the EPA exists only as a tool of bureaucratic power for the NWO.

  5. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/09/17/how-reliable-are-the-climate-models/?cn-reloaded=1
    Im just going to leave this here. If anything, just have a look at the chart showing how completely incorrect the climate change models are.

  6. Sometimes I do wish Walmart would stock Goya and take video games seriously, but then I think about how horrible that would be.

  7. Biggest risk to health is the anti-biotic apocalypse with more bugs every year being resistant to more drugs. Some operations are already impossible to do due to this.

  8. A lot of people have noticed that former (Democrat appointed) "science officials" have been forced to seek refuge in places like Harvard. That's because both the officials and the academics at places like Harvard are still hard at work supporting not science but a political ideology and political strategy known as Stampeding. Stampede the voters into supporting "government rescue of the environment" and you also guarantee (an easily manipulated) layman voter base. The purposeful presentation of "all bad news facts" is just anther version of stampeding tactics. Climate change over Earth's history did lead to extinctions but humans are unique (and quite new on Earth). To speculate only disaster for humans is ridiculously short sighted, we are the most adaptive species ever to exist! Big Deal: NYC and Miami will be under water – in about 100 years or so. This is important ONLY to current real estate investors. Humans can WALK out of danger in much less than 50 or 100 years- we've done it many times in our short history. Greenhouse gases will kill us all! Game over! NOT Burning fossil fuels will cease almost entirely within 150 years! There goes the "runaway" part of runaway greenhouse effect. We cannot burn the supplies we've already burned up – END of human impact on global temperatures. We are currently experiencing MUCH cooler than normal temperatures on Earth, returning to THE NORM won't mean the end of mankind. Polar bears will disappear: but of course polar bear genetic makeup is that of the brown bear. Non emergencies left and right: shame on the scientists and on SciShow for promoting this un-smart crap.

  9. This video is the most unscientific video i have seen for a long time, more for lerftist hippies and kids who want to sue the government over climate change. I think lady is as smart as those people. Human impact on climate change, is not agreed by all scientists. Nothing humans can do will have any impact. Human health is important. But if environmental issues are to blame, it is caused by localized problems, not caused from supposed increased average world temperatures. All of the health problems lady mentioned are all localized pollution problems. I like looking at both sides, but it usually climate alarmist calling scientists who disagree with them, are bullied with threats and name calling, and possible destroyed career. Peer reviewed papers process also have many conflict of inerest problems. This lady is worse than American hilary clinton, the way she said she wants to create a systemic change in peoples beliefs, says to me she is definitely a name caller and bully to vomit her imaginary beliefs. EPA gives grants to scientific organisations to do science, To create regulations for people, but in the past have hidden science reports, that have closed down or fined organisations, but they couldnt see the science to see why(like YouTube cancelling channel for no reason ), but they were forced to, sounds corrupt to me.An EPA study said that 570000 died from blue sky air, and 440000 people died from smoking. Ridiculous junk science. The earths climate has so many different factors that can affect it. There are much more to places to get climate change information from scientists. Sorry scishow, but this video is like a GP giving out antibiotics for anything and everything, creating something bad(superbug) from, lack of care, EPA and IPCC are like this GP doctor, not really caring about issue or truth they just want to get paid.

  10. the bad thing about skype talkshow is the lack of jesse

  11. https://phys.org/news/2015-02-years-above-average-temperatures-climate.html

  12. Yes, I absolutely agree with Gina McCarthy's points about the benefits of seeking solutions to climate change! I also remember this cartoon drawn by Joel Pett about the benefits of being more responsible towards the environment, and someone in the audience asking "But what if it's all a hoax?". So, what if we make the world a better, healthier place for ourselves and for future generations, and after all that effort it turns out that climate change was wrong/overexaggerated? Well…then you've made the world a better place nonetheless!

  13. The start of this talk just sounds like two people going "USA USA USA USA"

  14. The start of this talk just sounds like two people going "USA USA USA USA"

  15. simply put, what a lovely woman.

  16. Reclaim the deserts. Plant trees.

  17. Aw, someone replied to my reply, and the whole chain is gone now, so the notification just links to the video, despite containing the text of the reply.

  18. I really enjoyed this! Gina is awesome, and I like her perspectives on some of the challenges we’re facing today. Thanks for sharing this!

  19. SciShow Talk Show episodes would be great as a podcast. Often (this episode included) there aren't visual aids that we would lose by going to an audio format. And I'd be much more likely to listen to them during my commute than sit down and watch it on a screen.

  20. This is an amazing conversation. More content like this, please!

  21. It seems the people on this channel are unable to listen to different opinions and perspectives. All they know is authoritarianism and rather erase comments, block and report people they disagree with. We need to solve the energy poverty issue by building more nuclear, hydro, oil, coal, natural gas plants. We need to thank Fossil Fuels for providing us the modern world! Vaccinations, sanitation, clean water, clean air, the Internet, and all other technology that improves our lives were a possibility because of fossil fuels. Nuclear energy should be expanded, but right now we need to increase fossil fuel energy production and provide 3 billion people who don't have electricity all the energy they need so they can enjoy the same standard of life we enjoy.

  22. Gina McCarthy needs to come back from time to time!!

  23. How can she not mention animal agriculture?

  24. awesome video. no animal tho :c

  25. It’s such a rare thing today to feel hopeful but this woman makes me just that💙

  26. I really enjoyed this episode, especially with giving both your perspectives on this. Thank you for going deeper into climate change!

  27. "Climate Change" is a Globalist wealth redistribution scam designed to turn carbon dioxide into gold. Soy Boy is a shill for the eugenics based anti-human Luciferian monsters.

  28. I refuse to call global warming climate change so as not to offend the KKKonservatives.

  29. Approximately 800 million lives are dedicated to the fossil fuel industry, I haven't met anyone i work with who likes killing the planet but I have met many proud hard working people that like keeping the lights on. Thank you for this discussion and I look forward to progressing together

  30. Gina when will the epa make there ruling on hydrocarbons for residential air conditioning?

  31. The only real solution to this problem is genetic engineering on humans. We need to create better humans with higher IQ and weed out traits like psychopathy or religiosity and fanaticism. Clearly culture doesn't cut it since we're going backwards not forwards.

    Solving this problem would be VERY simple. We just don't do it because it would reduce profit for some people and people get brainwashed. So the only solution is to improve humans to become immune to this insanity. Clearly democracy doesn't work with the current human hardware.

    Hopefully the climate wars won't engulf the world before we can do this (mostly voluntarily).

  32. Best thing I've seen on YouTube in a long time. Well done SciShow team. Keep it up.

  33. How much of the draught land is land that humans would not normally try to live on but, try to make it livable? How much of the flooded areas are known flooding areas but, people still try to live there?

    We should help the people affected but, what if there were not there in the first place? Houston, TX used to have green areas that were prone to flooding but, then the developers wanted to make money and pushed to allow building there. Now Houston has neighborhoods with people that are financially trapped. They cannot move because who would buy a house in a flood prone area with flood damage? Because of this they cannot get the money to move to less dangerous areas.

  34. Thank you Gina McCarthy and SciShow for seeking solutions from different means to achieve a more desirable future for our species and many other species on this pale, blue dot.

  35. She has amazing energy. I am more pessimistic than her but her demeanor is cheerful and refreshing! : )

  36. I've run a search on Amazon. I've not found a single book by this lady.

  37. Gina is amazing 🙂

  38. This wonderful Scishow talk show instalment came up in my feed on the 8th of June. That's a few videos not appearing on my homepage now. Unsettling — what else may I be missing out on?

  39. Not one objective truth or fact was said in the entirety of his video.

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