May 12th, 2017

 

Last month, I made an assertion that Americans should be debating what to do about climate change rather than the elementary facts proving its reality. One reader isn’t buying it:

I find this article to be more of the “speakers will get up and criticize others who, in the face of overwhelming, objectively observable and repeatable scientific evidence, continue to deny these simple realities” type of argument. I mean there is not one reference to any actual fact to be found here. So if you are going to go on and on about how climate change is undeniable, or caused by humans, or even if it is avoidable, don’t you think you should actually point us to the science that supports this? Sure, we have evidence of an ice age having occurred and it is warmer now….so what? Where are the facts that connect all of this?

 

Yes, that is the argument I was making. The larger point I was making is that arguing over what are in fact, facts, is a waste of time and effort, yours and mine. Our focus needs to be on solutions to the problem, which I expect will generate its own set of legitimate political and ethical debates. But debating whether or not climate change is real, is caused by human activity, and is bad for human health is not legitimate. Real scientists — true experts whose main discipline is climate science, but also professors and researchers in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and psychology, and even astronomy, meteorology, geology, anthropology, sociology, and geography (all which have interested me and inspired learning since I was a young boy, mailing away for NASA photos, reading National Geographic cover to cover each month, and discovering our cherished national parks in family travels) — have arrived at an evidence-based consensus on the matter. To get “the facts that connect all of this,” all one needs is a good internet connection and Google Search, critical thinking skills in deciding what is a credible resource and what isn’t (a healthy dose of skepticism is useful here), and a fair amount of common sense. Cynicism and rigid ideology only get in the way, and indifference won’t do.

Now you are correct that in this particular PediaBlog post, I included only a couple of links to make my point. One link linked to another link — the Environmental Protection Agency website, which until last week was a rich resource for information (peer-reviewed science) regarding climate change. Unfortunately, in a horribly cynical and callous political decision, the current administration dismantled the EPA’s climate change webpage. We should remember that the EPA director is an avid denier (not a skeptic, but a real, live denier) of climate change, so while most of us should be nauseated with the move to shut down a big part of the EPA’s website, no one should be surprised. The good news is the City of Chicago pushed back hard and now hosts the EPA’s climate change page in its entirety here.

Below is a short list of some of the resources I have found to be helpful in strengthening my understanding of the science of global warming, climate change, and the associated health impacts we are already experiencing. Even though I have written extensively about climate change and health and included many sources along the way (this one post from 2014 has a lot of links), I will accept the criticism constructively and take better care in future blogs to directly cite more sources so you don’t have to take my word for it.

In no particular order:

 

Resources:

— National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) — Climate Change and Human Health Literature Portal.

— National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) — Earth page.

— Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — Climate Change page. (Saved here on the City of Chicago server.)

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — Climate and Health page.

— The Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health — links to major medical societies’ policy statements on climate change, including the AAP, ACP, AAFP, ACOG, AAAAI, and more can be found here.

— American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health — Global Climate Change and Children’s Health (AAP Policy Statement).

— Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — 5th Assessment Report (AR5) Synthesis Report and Summary for Policymakers.

The Entire IPCC Report in 19 Illustrated Haiku (Greg Johnson).

National Climate Assessment 2014 (U.S. Global Change Research Project).

Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care For Our Common Home (Pope Francis).

Skeptical Science — “Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation.”

— Video: James Hansen — Why I must speak out about climate change (YouTube).

— Video: Pumphandle 2014: History of atmospheric carbon dioxide (YouTube) — 800,000 years of scientific data tells the tale. On May 8, 2017, CO2 reading on Mauna Loa was 409.6 ppm.

— Online Education: Making Sense of Climate Denial (University of Queensland — Denial 101x) — Register here for this free self-paced course or view all the course videos on YouTube beginning here and watch climate myths debunked with evidence-based science by experts in the field.

— Recommended movies: “An Inconvenient Truth” (Al Gore, 2006); “Chasing Ice” (James Balog, 2012); “Before The Flood” (Leonardo DiCaprio, 2016).

— Television: “Years of Living Dangerously” — Season 1 and Season 2 (YouTube).

— Comic: xkcd: A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature.

 

 

(xkcd: Google Images)

 

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  • MEET THE EDITOR

    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Dr. Ketyer has special interests in developmental pediatrics and preventative medicine, specifically how nutrition and the environment affect health. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. He completed his residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

    As one of the founding physicians of Pediatric Alliance, PC, Dr. Ketyer served as its president from 1997-2004. He has been practicing general pediatrics at Pediatric Alliance since 1990. Dr. Ketyer and his wife have three boys and live in Pittsburgh's South Hills. 



  • Note: The information included in these posts is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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