Al Gore: CDC Canceled Climate Conference Is Back On
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, the American Public Health Association (APHA), Climate Reality Project, Harvard Global Health Institute, University of Washington Center for Health and Global Environment, and Dr. Howard Frumkin, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health, announced Thursday a Climate & Health Meeting that will take place on Feb. 16 at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Supported by the Turner Foundation and other organizations, the event will fill the gap left by the recently-canceled Climate & Health Summit originally to be hosted and sponsored by the CDC and others.
"They tried to cancel this conference but it is going forward anyway," said former U.S. Vice President and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore. "Today we face a challenging political climate, but climate shouldn't be a political issue. Health professionals urgently need the very best science in order to protect the public and climate science has increasingly critical implications for their day-to-day work. With more and more hot days, which exacerbate the proliferation of the Zika virus and other public health threats, we cannot afford to waste any time."
"Climate change is already affecting our health," said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. "This meeting fills an important void and will strengthen the public health response to this growing threat."
2016 was the third consecutive hottest year on record and 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001. Given the dramatic developments of infectious diseases like Zika and other related public health issues, understanding the threats climate change poses to public health is vitally important. The Climate & Health Meeting is a critical step in bringing together the diverse stakeholders who face climate-related public health issues on a daily basis.
"The evidence is clear that climate change is a major threat facing the public's health," said Ashish Jha, MD, a physician and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. "Openly discussing these scientific issues will help us prepare for this looming challenge and better protect the American people."
Given the expedited timeframe of the event, the meeting will not seek to replace the full three-day conference originally planned by the CDC. However, the event will preserve the focus of the CDC conference and will be a substantive working session for participants, providing a crucial platform for members of public health professions, the climate community and officials tasked with responding to local health problems, to come together around solutions.