Climate change has been identified as a top concern for public health, and on January 26, an announcement from the American Public Health Association underlined its importance.
In December, the Centers for Disease Control cancelled the national Climate and Health conference without explanation. But several organizers, including the American Public Health Association and former Vice President Al Gore, announced on January 26 that the conference will go on. Instead of taking place over a three-day span at the CDC, it will occur Feb. 16 at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Today we face a challenging political climate, but climate shouldn’t be a political issue,” said Gore, Climate Reality Founder and Chairman, in an APHA news release. “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.”
Last year, 2016, was the hottest year on record, and it was the third in a row to hold that title. Sixteen of the 17 hottest years have occurred since 2001, according to the release. The purpose of the Climate and Health Meeting is to bring public health and climate industry officials together to discuss what hotter years mean for a variety of health topics, from the infectious Zika virus to asthma and air quality to extreme weather events.
“Climate change is already affecting our health,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA, in the release. “This meeting fills an important void and will strengthen the public health response to this growing threat.”