Year 2, Month 11, Day 11: Put It In The Trash With The Others!

The Riverside Press-Enterprise (“THE sources for news and information in Inland Southern California”) runs a story about a newly released study on the probable health impacts of climate change:

A study released Monday looked at six climate change-related events in the United States – three of them specific to the Inland region – and found that the cost of health problems, lost work and deaths totaled about $14 billion.

The work by scientists from the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental action group, and UC San Francisco was published in Health Affairs, a public health journal funded by The People-to-People Health Foundation.

Though other studies have estimated future health costs related to climate change, this is the first to look at the outcomes of specific weather events, said co-author Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, a staff scientist in the health and environment program at the council’s San Francisco office.

The aim of the study, she said, is to prompt policy makers to prepare for future problems. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, the group is calling for such measures as expanding programs for mosquito surveillance and control to reduce the cases of West Nile virus and implementing warning systems for heat waves.

Oh, goody! Another study!

Sent November 7:

Some of the public health effects of global climate change will simply be inconvenient (faster-growing, more virulent poison ivy), and some will be debilitating (increased pollen levels will trigger misery for millions of asthmatics). But it’s not just wheezing and itching. Migrating insect carriers will bring tropical diseases into new and vulnerable areas; catastrophic storms and heavy precipitation will wreak enormous damage on agriculture and infrastructure; droughts will trigger more frequent and more severe wildfires…the list goes on and on.

The UC/NRDC researchers, like most scientists, tend to err on the conservative side; their $14 billion estimate is probably way too low. And also like many scientists, the study’s authors are touchingly naive: they hope their work will “prompt policy makers to prepare for future problems,” when the lessons of recent history demonstrate conclusively that our politicians can only deal with future problems by denying their existence entirely.

Warren Senders

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