Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Public Health Impacts of Climate Change

Poor, minority residents face most health risks with climate change | California Watch

Poor, urban and minority residents are most at risk for health problems linked to climate change, according to a new California Department of Public Health analysis of Los Angeles and Fresno counties.

Across the country, public health departments have become increasingly focused on the connection between health and climate change. The California analysis – the first to look at climate change health and safety risks at a county level – is based on a methodology developed by researchers at Occidental College in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California and UC Berkeley, and it is part of an effort to help local officials plan and identify potential policies for handling the human health impacts of climate change.

The Union of Concerned Scientists agrees that health impacts are significant.  Its study states that California would experience the “biggest economic impacts and the biggest heath impacts when ozone and temperatures increase” due to climate change, said Elizabeth Perera of the union’s climate and energy program. That study projected that an increase in ozone pollution would result in about $729 million in related health care spending in California in 2020.

But climate change skeptics say California's climate-and-health analysis is misleading and unnecessary.  UC Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller, a onetime skeptic who changed his position on climate change, said that although “there is evidence of climate change that is visible to scientists but not to the everyday person,” the state public health department’s analysis is of limited use.  “It’s certainly true that the poor people of our state are always the most vulnerable to any change whatsoever – you don’t have to do an analysis to figure that out,” he said.

Read the complete article here.

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