Despite Donald Trump’s beliefs that the global climate crisis is a hoax, the fact remains that human actions are responsible for climate change, and climate change is happening. This remains an urgent problem, with global ramifications for our food supply, where we can live, as well as the health of both people and the environment that sustains us.
Earlier this month, former VP Al Gore was in Atlanta for a Climate and Health Meeting, a one day conference held at the Carter Center. Gore helped put on the event after the CDC scrapped plans to do a similar conference once Trump got elected.
“This is a relatively new finding, that in some areas of the Middle East and north Africa, there will be, according to the scientific predictions, areas that will no longer be fit for human habitation – beyond the limits for human survival,” Gore said, according to the AJC. “The holy cities of Mecca and Medina are in this zone. Two years in Iran, the heat index – the combination of temperature and humidity – reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit.”
“No human being can live for more than a few hours outdoors in those conditions,” Gore said.
One of the consequences of climate change is that it helps diseases spread further, faster. For instance new studies have shown that the Zyka virus — which can cause birth defects in pregnant women and got quite a bit of attention when it spread to the Americas — was able to spread so quickly because of climate change.
“As the climate changes, so will the infectious diseases that we confront. More outbreaks like Ebola and Zika. More pandemics like the bird flu. And here’s the catch: Walls will not keep these pathogens out,” said Ashish Jha, MD, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, reported WebMD Health News. “No borders are going to protect us. That’s what awaits us unless we act.”
Christine Johnson, PhD, DVM, head of global surveillance for the PREDICT center at the University of California at Davis shared at the conference that although many factors are responsible, climate change undeniably plays a role.
“We’re seeing more emergence of new pathogens,” she told the crowd according to WebMD Health News. “There’s no question that the pace is increasing.”
Trump’s administration is already putting at risk what small progress has been made in the U.S. Scott Pruitt, his pick for the Environmental Protection Agency, actually had to remove himself from a lawsuit against the EPA the first day he took office. Meanwhile, Trump already has signed executive orders reversing some of the protections that existed under the Obama administration, with more on the way. This conference made clear that the risks of climate change simply cannot be ignored.