Actions on Climate Crisis Offer Major Public Health Gains

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Jonathan Patz, director of the UW-Madison Global Health Institute, and Tony J. McMichael Professor and John P. Holton Chair of Health,   spoke Feb. 18, 2022, for the Distinguished Speaker Colloquium on Biological Sciences and Climate Change series hosted by the Biological Sciences Division and the Mansueto Institute at University of Chicago.

Patz discussed how climate change is a human health emergency, posing major health risks from weather extremes (e.g., heat, droughts, floods, and storms) and sea level rise that each threaten adverse impacts on climate-sensitive diseases and health outcomes. Improved preparedness and adaptive capabilities will be required, but at the same time, we have an opportunity to mitigate the risk at its source: that is, reducing greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet. Substantial health benefits are very likely if we embrace policies to advance a low-carbon economy. In this presentation, quantitative evidence will be presented to show how reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the energy, food, and transportation sectors has the potential to cut –by nearly half –the number of premature deaths worldwide every year. In short, climate action is a golden opportunity to promote health.