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Today we face a challenging political climate, but the climate crisis shouldn't be political. It is not only the greatest existential crisis we face: it is also causing a global health emergency, where the stakes are life and death.

Because of the urgency of these threats, several partners and I are hosting a Climate & Health Meeting Thursday at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The event will fill a void left when the Climate & Health Summit, originally to be hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was abruptly cancelled last month.

Experts who had been invited by the CDC felt the conference should definitely go forward because the science shows increasing direct impacts of warming temperatures and more extreme weather on public health. Increasing global temperatures are disrupting the global climate and the earth's hydrological cycle, leading not only to record high air and sea temperatures, but also to more extreme flooding, deeper and longer droughts and more frequent and severe storms. In turn, these effects jeopardize our vulnerable global food system and exacerbate fresh water scarcity and the refugee crisis.

As the planet continues to warm, vector-borne diseases and the environments in which microbes and diseases multiply are also expanding. Mosquitos, ticks and other vectors now have wider ranges as warmer weather permits them to move to higher altitudes, provides them with a longer breeding season, speeds up incubation times for the viruses they carry and increases the frequency of "blood meals."

In some parts of the world, the reemergence of malaria is directly related to increasing temperatures and disruptive rainfall; this is also true for increased instances of West Nile, Dengue and—most recently—Zika. Over the past two years we have heard from doctors and scientists something that we have never been told before: in regions of Latin America, doctors have advised women not to get pregnant for two years. And last year, the CDC advised pregnant women not to travel to Miami, marking the first time Americans have been cautioned not to travel to part of their own country to avoid infectious disease.

These particular manifestations may be new, but scientists have been warning us for many years that tropical diseases, extreme weather and risks to our global food system caused by the climate crisis are posing ever more dire threats to human health.

The need for science and health professionals to explore and discuss the impact the climate crisis is having on global health should not be a political issue. The time to act is now. Make sure to join us tomorrow, Feb. 16 at 9 EST, for live coverage of the event here.

Reposted with permission from our media association Medium.

I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. We have witnessed inspiring and brave acts by Native Americans and their allies who are defending and trying to protect their sacred sites and the safety of their sole source of water.

The fossil fuel industry—and the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline in particular—have been proceeding with what appears to be a dangerous project in blatant disregard of obvious risks to the Missouri River and with disrespect to the Standing Rock Sioux.

Peg Hunter / Flickr

In the process, those trying to force completion of this pipeline have—according to independent news reports—been using oppressive practices against this community. In response, Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault has requested that the Justice Department deploy observers to ensure that the First Amendment rights of those peacefully opposing this pipeline are protected. I hope his request is honored.

The non-violent resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline is also one of the frontline struggles that collectively mark a turning point in the decision by humanity to turn away from the destructive path we have been following and aim instead toward a clean energy future for all.

The courage and eloquence of the Standing Rock Sioux in calling all of us to recognize that in their words, "Water is Life," should be applauded, not silenced by those who are driven by their business model to continue spewing harmful global warming pollution into our Earth's atmosphere.

This is also an opportunity to acknowledge and learn from the traditional values being expressed by the Standing Rock Sioux to protect life on Earth.

The effort to ensure that their voices are heard and their rights are respected are not only issues of civil rights and religious freedom, but reflect the choice we must make to ensure a sustainable, just, fair and healthy future for all generations to come.

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For the first time in human history, concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary global warming pollutant, hit 400 parts per million (ppm) in our planet's atmosphere. This number is a reminder that for the last 150 years—and especially over the last several decades—we have been recklessly polluting the protective sheath of atmosphere that surrounds the Earth and protects the conditions that have fostered the flourishing of our civilization. We are altering the composition of our atmosphere at an unprecedented rate. Indeed, every single day we pour an additional 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the sky as if it were an open sewer. As the distinguished climate scientist Jim Hansen has calculated, the accumulated man-made global warming pollution in the atmosphere now traps enough extra heat energy each day to equal the energy that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima-scale atomic bombs exploding every single day. It's a big planet—but that is a lot of energy. And it is having a destructive effect.

Now, more than ever before, we are reaping the consequences of our recklessness. From Superstorm Sandy which crippled New York City and large areas of New Jersey, to a drought which parched more than half of our nation, from a flood that inundated large swaths of Australia to rising seas affecting millions around the world, the reality of the climate crisis is upon us.

Our food systems, our cities, our people and our very way of life developed within a stable range of climatic conditions on Earth. Without immediate and decisive action, these favorable conditions on Earth could become a memory if we continue to make the climate crisis worse, day after day after day.

With any great challenge comes great opportunity. We have the rare privilege to rise to an occasion of global magnitude. To do so, our communities, our businesses, our universities and our governments need to work in harmony to stop the climate crisis. We must summon the very best of the human spirit and draw on our courage, our ingenuity, our intellect and our determination to confront this crisis. Make no mistake, this crisis will demand no less than our very best. I am optimistic because we have risen to meet the greatest challenges of our past.

So please, take this day and the milestone it represents to reflect on the fragility of our civilization and and the planetary ecosystem on which it depends. Rededicate yourself to the task of saving our future. Talk to your neighbors, call your legislator, let your voice be heard. We must take immediate action to solve this crisis. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year. Now.

Visit EcoWatch's CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

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Click here to tell Congress to Expedite Renewable Energy.

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