Jonathan Patz


Improving health by fighting climate change | 


A recent poll by Pew (which, given the findings smells like the right name for it …) found that nearly half of all Americans mistakenly believe there is no scientific consensus on the evidence for climate change.

Oddly, the pollsters also found that as the evidence has mounted over the years, convincing more skeptical scientists, fewer Americans seem to believe the evidence (which could, of course, be explained by some other factor at work, such as the cognitive effect of reality TV or maybe mass dumping of lead in the water).

Maybe the public would gain a better appreciation of the threats to humanity posed by climate change, aka global warming, if experts instead focused on describing in detail what it poses for our health and well-being — as a great global sickening, climate-changing environmental carnage or the brave new world of less food, less water, more heat, more disease, pollution, floods, droughts and a lot more chance for human conflict over the resources of a diminished and even more brutal world.

Or, well, maybe we should just stop being so negative and go for a bicycle ride.

Those were basically the two points made by Dr. Jonathan Patz, lead author of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which, with Al Gore, won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize), at a Tuesday evening forum at the University of Washington sponsored by the Washington Global Health Alliance. Continue reading