Public Health Impact of Climate Change

I’m in Geneva today to visit with the World
Health Organization. They’re an incredibly
important organization that can speak to the public
health impacts associated with air pollution,
climate change, and some of the big challenges that
the United States faces, and frankly, the
world faces today. I met with a number
of individuals that run their public
health programs and environmental programs. But most importantly, I met
with their executive board. And they gave me some
time to talk to them about the need for them to speak
loudly and clearly on science and public health
impacts associated with traditional environmental
air pollutants as well as climate. SPEAKER 1: The administrator
of the EPA, Ms. Gina McCarthy. I give the floor
to United States. Thank you. GINA MCCARTHY:
Environmental concerns are public health concerns. In fact, public health threats
from environmental pollutants now rival or exceed the burden
of major infectious diseases globally. The U.S. hopes to
continue to push success in protecting public health
by partnering with WHO. Global health threats
are blind to borders. This past year has
proven that all too well. We depend on the WHO as
a voice of sound science, as a global resource,
and as a policy compass. So I would encourage you
to continue to work forward to focus attention
on air pollution and other environmental threats. Carbon pollution that
fuels climate change comes packaged
with smog and soot, increasing risk from
asthma, strokes, heart attacks, and cancer. Climate change threatens public
health and safety directly. We know that the
climate is changing. We have droughts, and
floods, and wildfires. We have direct public
health impact, and injury, and safety problems as a
result of a changing climate. And we need to adapt to that and
develop resilient communities. But we also have to take
mitigation measures. Because as the climate
changes, the air gets warmer. We see allergens increasing. We see air pollution increasing. That is direct public impacts. That is loss of lives. That is impacts to
our kids with asthma. That is impacts to the elderly. We cannot let that happen
without taking some serious action to try to mitigate those
problems and make sure that air pollution doesn’t get worse. But the great news is
we have technologies. We have fixes. We can move this
challenge forward and turn some of these things into
an economic opportunity, for ingenuity in the
United States and beyond, so we can have a
future that we’re proud of for our kids, that meets
our moral responsibility, and that continues to grow
really sound economies and job growth. And that’s what we’re
here to talk about today. So I really had to
thank WHO for speaking so clearly about the
environmental impacts on public health. And we, together, can face the
challenge of climate change as we have faced
every other pollution challenge successfully.

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