SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — As the earth continues to heat up, the drive is on to save everything from polar bears to ice caps to our coastlines. But one group says we’re forgetting something very important: ourselves. A Stanford doctor is convinced our health is already being threatened.
Paul Auerbach, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine emergency doctor, is an eyewitness to disaster. On the front lines of earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal and treating patients devastated by wildfires in California. He insists we need to expand our focus on climate change to include us.
“Most of the focus on climate change has been on the effects on planet earth. People haven’t really thought about the impact in terms of health,” Dr. Auerbach explains.
A recent study found a hotter earth already has harmed millions of peoples’ lives in very small, but critical ways.
Dr. Auerbach continues, “All the little things add up. If you’re drinking water that’s been polluted. If you’re perpetually breathing polluted air, you’re doing yourself damage.”
In a new book ‘Enviromedics’ that Auerbach co-wrote, more examples explain how and where these risks exist.
“There’s virtually no organ system that gets left untouched by any of this,” shared Dr. Auerbach.
Sharon Chinthrajah, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine adds, “It’s been linked to heart attacks or strokes. Impairments in cognitive function.”
Dr. Chinthrajah specializes in respiratory problems and has also seen the damage to her patients caused by climate change.
“Recently we’ve had a run of wildfires in California. And the air quality was severely impacted. I saw a lot more of my asthmatic patients coming in. They couldn’t breathe,” said Dr. Chinthrajah.
So what can we do to protect our health?
Dr. Auerbach says, “We can’t replace the planet and we can’t replace people’s lungs.”
Dr. Chinthrajah added, “Education and awareness are really important.”
“Climate change is complex,” stated Dr. Auerbach.
And we just have to hope it’s not too late.
Auerbach has also confirmed what most of us long suspected … traffic is bad for us. Not only is it stressful, inhaling toxic fumes can eventually lead to poor health. The situation is naturally more serious when a chronic condition, such as lung disease, is present. To be safe, it’s recommended to routinely check the air quality in your neighborhood online at www.airnow.gov.
Contributors to this news report include: Jennifer Winter, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Evan Borders, Videographer.
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ENVIROMEDICS HEALTH ALERT!
BACKGROUND: Global climate change is predicted to negatively impact regions around the world through extreme weather events, increasing temperatures, heat waves and droughts, and rising sea levels. It will also have great consequences for human health by increasing disease risk, creating dangerous and unsuitable living environments, and intensifying the risk of injury or death from storms and extreme weather. Paul Auerbach, MD, Professor of Emergency Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, says, “It is estimated that there are perhaps 1.4 million additional deaths worldwide per year attributed to nutritional deficiencies that result from climate change.” He continues, “In 2015, 40 percent of physicians in one survey felt that their patients’ mental health was affected by climate change.” Trauma and shock, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide are all expected to impact the mental health of individuals confronted with the consequences of climate change.
WHO IS AFFECTED?: All populations will be affected by climate change, but some are more vulnerable than others. People living in small island developing states and other coastal regions, megacities, and mountainous and polar regions are particularly vulnerable. Children living in poor countries are among the most vulnerable to the resulting health risks and will be exposed longer to the health consequences. The health effects are also expected to be more severe for elderly people and people with infirmities or pre-existing medical conditions. Areas with weak health infrastructure, mostly in developing countries, will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond. Many policies and individual choices have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce major health co-benefits. For example, cleaner energy systems and promoting the safe use of public transportation and active movement, such as cycling or walking as alternatives to using private vehicles, could reduce carbon emissions and cut the burden of household air pollution, which causes some 4.3 million deaths per year, and ambient air pollution, which causes about 3 million deaths every year.
THE FUTURE OF CLIMATE CHANGE: A new groundbreaking study proves soils on organic farms store away larger amounts of carbons, and for longer periods, than typical agricultural soils. This study, directed by Northeastern University in collaboration with The Organic Center, provides a new significant proof-point that organic agricultural practices build healthy soils and can be part of the solution in the fight on global warming. The Organic Center, along with Dr. Elham Ghabbour and Dr. Geoffrey Davies, leaders of the National Soil Project at Northeastern University, contacted organic farmers to collect organic soil samples from throughout the country to compare with the conventional soil samples already in the National Soil Project’s database. “This study is truly groundbreaking,” said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. “We don’t just look at total soil organic carbon, but also the components of soil that have stable pools of carbon-humic substances, which gives us a much more accurate and precise view of the stable, long-term storage of carbon in the soils.” She adds that the results of this project will be of value to farmers, policymakers and the public at large.
* For More Information, Contact:
Paul Auerbach, MD Lisa Kim, Stanford Media Relations