Last week, Lois Capps (D-CA) reintroduced legislation, the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, which calls for a national strategic action plan that would help public health agencies prepare for the health impacts of climate change. In a nation seemingly bent on keeping its head firmly buried in the sand on this issue, this is a welcome move.
A recent study published by the Natural Resources Defense Council and several universities estimates that six climate change–related events that struck the United States from between 2000 and 2009 accounted for about $14 Billion in lost lives and health costs. These climate change–related events -ozone pollution, heat waves, hurricanes, infectious disease outbreaks, river flooding, and wildfires- are projected to worsen with continued global warming. Actual health care costs were estimated to be $740 million and the future health costs associated with predicted climate change–related events such as hurricanes, heat waves, and floods are projected to be enormous.
Public health agencies in the U.S. will be faced with dealing with these impacts on people’s health. Given the right tools, funding, and mandates, public health agencies could play a key role in preventing the worst health impacts by helping communities to be prepared. A national strategic plan can provide a framework that enables public health agencies and others to help create resilient communities prepared for a range of adverse events and situations. And just as many actions to mitigate and prevent further climate change have numerous co-benefits to health, so climate change health preparedness also prepares communities even for adverse events not related to climate change. Congresswoman Capps has recognized that there is much to gained by being prepared, and much more to be lost of we aren’t.
Public Health Institute and the Center for Public Health & Climate Change welcome and applaud this important Act.
Learn more about the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act.