I’m rushing to catch a plane to Madison, Wisconsin, for the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists, so this’ll be quick.
Look for a post early next week on the panel I organized on what we can expect from climate change in terms of effects on human health. Here’s how I pitched the session to conference-goers:
Climate Change, Human Health and Environmental Justice
In a lot of ways that haven’t been covered much yet – or even researched adequately – climate change promises to wreak havoc with human health. Already researchers are detecting increased rates of death from excess heat. And have a peek at the little-explored territory of how excess carbon dioxide is threatening food supplies and driving increases of plants that make people miserable – stuff the public has yet to grapple with. Also hear how these effects are hitting communities of color hardest here in the United States, and poor people generally around the world. When the permafrost melts, and you’re a native Alaskan, your whole world changes.
The panelists are, well, amazing:
- Jonathan Patz co-chaired the health expert panel of the US National Assessment on Climate Change and was a convening lead author of the United Nations/World Bank Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. For the past 15 years, Patz has been a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC) – the organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.
- Leslie Fields is National Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Director for the Sierra Club. She knows quite a bit about how poor people in the United States as well as overseas stand to bear the brunt of climate change. She has worked for 20 years on environmental justice and environmental law, and knows a fair amount about asthma.
- Lewis Ziska is a scientist with the federal Agricultural Research Service who has some revelatory information about how plants will affect human health in a warmed globe. More hay fever, yeah, but also… what about the likes of poison ivy? He appeared on a panel I organized earlier this year in Seattle for the Association of Health Care Journalists. I wasn’t able to attend — I was out of town on SEJ business — but by all accounts he acquitted himself well there and gave journalists a notebook full of story ideas, notes n’ quotes.
— Robert McClure