Former vice president Al Gore, the American Public Health Association, and other organizations announced today that they will hold the summit on climate change and health that was canceled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week. The Climate & Health Meeting will take place on February 16th, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.
On Monday, news broke that the CDC had quietly canceled the Climate and Health Summit that was scheduled for next month in Atlanta, where the CDC is headquartered. The CDC said it was “exploring options to reschedule the meeting while considering budget priorities for fiscal year 2017.” But the scientific community and former CDC officials accused the CDC of backing down for fear of political reprisal by the Trump administration, which has been outspokenly anti-climate change.
Climate change is considered a health threat, because warming temperatures help boost outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases like Zika as mosquitoes expand their range. Heavy rainfalls and flooding can also help spread water-borne diseases like cholera. Under Obama, the CDC began working with states and cities to address health problems related to climate change, like heat waves and pollution.
Gore and others in the field decided to reschedule the summit to bring together “the diverse stakeholders who face climate-related public health issues on a daily basis,” according to a press release.
“They tried to cancel this conference but it is going forward anyway,” Gore said in a statement. “Today we face a challenging political climate, but climate shouldn’t be a political issue. Health professionals urgently need the very best science in order to protect the public, and climate science has increasingly critical implications for their day-to-day work. With more and more hot days, which exacerbate the proliferation of the Zika virus and other public health threats, we cannot afford to waste any time.”
The meeting is organized in partnership with the American Public Health Association, The Climate Reality Project, Harvard Global Health Institute, the University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment, and Howard Frumkin, former director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health. More information can be found on the meeting’s website.