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Pew Center Press Releases

  1. 1. a WG ~~~CENMTER PEW GIobaI CHJ NG For Immediate Release Contact: Dale Curtis/Katie Mandes December 13, 2000 202-777-3530/703-516-4146 Warrning May Pose Risks to Human Health, Report Finds; U.S. Better.Aide to Cope, Poor Countries Less So; Experts Say The.7ilderly, Sick, and Poor Are Most at Risk Washington, D.C.- Global clinjate change may exacerbate health risks for the elderly, the infirm, and the poor - aitho ghthere is substantial capacity to reduce these nisks - according to a new report com dssioned by the Pew Ctnter on Global Climate Change. And while the study finds that o ,er the next few decades the United States may have sufficient resources to prevent de worst possibilities, poorer countnies may not fare as w'ell. Whie current health concerns the United States tend to revolve around such lifestyle issues as alcohol and tobacco us 2, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition, climate change raises the possibility that elevate Atemperatures, air contaminants, and changes mn precipitation patterns could pos4 increased health risks. This new study, written by public health experts Dr. John Balbus of The George Washington University and Dr. Mark Wilson of The University of hgan, sifts through the evidence of climiate-related Ei health risks and reaches the foiwvingg conclusions: * If climate change results in more heat waves and air pollution episodes, disproportionately large and negative impacts on the elderly, the infirm, and the poor are likely to result. * While there are indicati us that a global warming trend may increase the risks of vector- and water-born diseases, sanitation and public health systems in the United States are gener lly sufficient to prevent these diseases from dramatically increasing in incidence bir distribution. However, many developing countries lack the resources and public health systems needed to prevent such outbreaks. The report says government officials the world over need to maintain and strengthen public health systems, 1icluding increased surveillance, and improved hygiene, water quality, and vectc control. Advancing the debate through * The linkages between c imte and human health are complex and not fully credible analysis understood. However, Lcrtainty about adverse health effects should not be ancopproachves interpreted as certainty fno adverse health effects. Moreover, the potential for approaches. unexpected events - e.g. sudden changes in climate or the emergence of new 2101 Wilson Blvd diseases -cannot be rulE d out, the report says. Suite 550 Ari~ngton, VA 22201 ph (703) 516-4146 fax (703) 841-1422 www.pewel nate.arg
  2. 2. about the potential human health impacts of "There have been a lot of claims and counte -claims Claussen. "An honest assessment must global climate change," said Pew Center Pre5ident Eileen the worst scenanios of disease outbreaks acknowledge that the United States can probably avoid from climate-related causes. the climate- related health risks faced by people "At the same time, we should pay more atteltion to people in our own country," Claussen said. in less developed countries, and bythe most vulnerable to guard against the possible emergence of "And we need to beef up health surveillance systems unexpected health threats." can be accessed from the Pew Center's web A complete copy of these and other Pew Cnter reports site, Stats 'Zargst inMay 1998 IbythePeu;hztdakTrusts,orr jthe United About the Pew Center: ThXeP wCmteruus 5tdibst5 Center is a wzn)4t 2VmhZmsan and que jfdx mziironrnt The Pew ality phbilantbmnpies and an vrflzial 6wt inefforts to inpivw glon] aalzkbl vfam ; straigh anmzws and nvnmatiw sdlutim in the #021 to addrss urbperitroiganization;dehataitomjorem&T anid S aenyi# mtar ofSwe for Ommn and Intanzioml E nmionnord w duinne dwg F dee Ctjussei te. /befar A ssitant U.S. Mpew/zmtejo' Affans, kzds the Pew Center For nvwe ufomntor; vst ,m o raI kikng b4' &wxi t a grup jfla7~ rrodyFotuor 50 mOC ieqoral am Tix Pew Center urhdes dx Bteims Emtrunftal L do in cdebmiuef~mlnn~ to the Pew Centec it is sod 7e wonpafl5 Th uiith the Pew Center to add,es issues related to dimit Lar 2
  3. 3. Aboi t The Authors JOHN BALBUS Science and Public-Health and an associate Dr. John Balbus isthe Director of the Qente for Risk at the George Washington University School Professor of Environmental and Occupatior al Health in both internal Medicine and Occupational of Public Health and Health Services. Board certified f Medicine and h eatet and Environmental Medicine, Dr. Balbus is soapitdi International Public Health. He received MHdgefrmteonsopisSchool of nvriyo en)vna n his Hygiene and Public Health, his MD degree roI h University. undergraduate degree in biochemistry from -lrvard agreement with the US Environmental Dr. Balbus is the Principal Investigator on a cooperative on a number of issues related to risk assessment Protection Agency's Office of Water, which focuses Investigator on a new Pediatnic for drinking -water contaminants. He is also a co-Principal interests include risk assessment Environmental Health Specialty Unit. Dr. alWbus' research and waterbomne pathogens, and vaniations in methodologies for health effects of climate -hange contaminants. He has served as technical susceptibility to microbial and chemical envo enal the United Nations Environmental Programme consultant and author for the health sector tor both Country Studies program~ project on global climate change and the U cted States MARK L. WILSON and of Biology at the University of Mark L. Wilson is currently Associate Prof ssor of Epidemiology ecology and epidemiology of broad area of Michigan, where his research and teaching :over the from Harvard University in 1985, he worked infectious diseases. After earning his doctr ral degree was on the faculty at the Yale Uniiversity School at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar Senegal (1 86-90), of Michigan. Dr. Wilson's research addresses of Medicine (1991-96), and then joined the University diseases, the evolution of vector- the enviromnmental determ-inants; of zoononc and arthropod-borne He is an author of more than 90 dynamics. host-parasite systems, and the analysis of anm'ssion and has served on numerous government journal articles, book chapters and researc reports, and health. He currently is a member of the advisory groups concerned with environm ntal change Infectious Diseases and Human National Academy of Sciences panel on "(mte, Ecosystems, Health." 3
  4. 4. PEW C EN1TER Uhf fl~dnICLIMATE uiuv~al CHANGE ~Contact: Dale Curtis/Katie Mandes For Immediate Release 7735/o5646 December 13, 20002C Changes Climate Ch gColCasMajor ReportSy In U.S. E Zosystems15 New cliinnLe change will cause mnajor changes in natural Washington, DC -- Global that make up these ecosystems- ecosystems n the plants and a'*al communities today by the Pew Center on to a report released - across the United States, accordlink Global Clijiate Change. the integrity global warming will disrupt The report describes the very re o~ssibility that that provide rns on which we depend - ecosystems of many of the terrestnial ecosystc services as foods, raw materials, recreational and~ humans such valuable goods control. The importance of ecosystems opprtuites, clean air and watei I and erosion people placing a high value and thingible benefits, with many roles of extend beodeconomics in their lives. Despite the crucial and aesthetic rol nature plays 4 on the spiritual by the impacts of a growing, human terrestrial ecosystems, they are ir.creasingly threatened and now as a result and air and water pollution, population, through habitat destktin of global climate change. natural is likely to profoundly alter the "This report describes how clir ate change CGaussen. "It underscores the point that environment," said Pew Center President Eileen sooner rather with climate change is needed domestic and international acti n to deal than later." Dr. Jay and written by two ecologists, The report was comminssioned :ythe Pew Center Louis F. Pitelka of the University of of Toronto and Dr. R. Malcolm of the University conclusions: Center for Enviro, ntal Science. Among the authors' Maryland change as plants of terrestrial ecosystems will As the earth -warms, th4 distribution the eastern United States and animals follow the~ shifting climate. For example, as climate zones shift northward.are -will likely lose many oi{ its deciduous f orests states such as Vermont, h Advancing the Trhus, sugar maples, so much a part of northeastern sesm aias uha hsefudi debate through Ik.Lk . likely to be replaced byok.Lkwisomhaits-ucashsefndnte in a credible analysis and cooperative i mcmoirntainous regions of the West - are likely to shrink high elevanions approaches, wrigwrd 2101 Wilson Blvd Suite 550 Adolngton, VA 22201 ph (703) 516-4146 tax (703) 841-1422 ,wwwpewclimatecar8
  5. 5. thret to thetnations biologenicalh the rate of anticipat warming pose e tmsta sein *Both the amount and anticipated clnt chneis estimated tob diversity. The rate of numbers and even extinctioni Ae.Asa rsutcertain species myface dwindling las Ie ate. evie fast enough toke pwihtecanigci they are unable to migrate of the various god an erie alter the quanrtity and quality of * Clmatechane islikely to is likely to affect the ability For example, ciaechange that ecosystems provide. and to control soil erosion. - ecosystems to filter air and water poluat increase could change little or could that the proutviyo pat regions * Modeling studies estimate o euniform and some these produtvt hneswl and, with it, the substantially. However, a rie ocuddcmposition While productivite could see the atmosphere. release of carbon a range of rbiosidered in the context of change on ecos tmsms climate change is likely to * The effects of climate on ecosyste . vrltenwthreat of have suffered the human-caused impacts and species that for ecological communities ecssesalready under stress be especially damaging human deve opment. Natural aaiyt adapt to climate change. greatest disruption from pollution wiIhave dimrinished th hnes that species -will because of air and water and fra mentation -Wil lese Likewise, habitat destruction suitable climates and habitats.- successfully migrate to more ouabffitto inhlerently complexand 9It isimportanitto remember that ec systemisare is limited. This uncertainty will liit will respon 4 to climte change on ecosystems. In order predict how ecos~ysterrs the effects of climate changeand community leaders rninimizh our abilityto anticipate and officials to maximize nature's own capacity t) adapt, gover:nment and protect natural systems. efforts tbD conserve biodiversity should continue to support from the Pew &enter's web and other Pew Ct~nter reports can be accessed A. complete copy of these pew7climate oI Site, ywww ow of the United Szarf' laig~t v n ay19 IisPewO1,aritabiTnists, es ca Aboutthe Cener: he Pew C Pw eWIr sanq4,~/ZZS 1 moed qzi aly 199d~ te tafoit mrm~TePwCie glolid Pew Centear.lUOI Ahiw tie i sdutn in the qffort to addr~s cmhble i strght ayzies and zmrzntiw ndim wvlz and SOefl# mdrz~l~0 dodtai~1 WpW71& and Jntem itwfld E A ssi wnary cf Statefor C r-alm 2t~ B ~n Causse theJoinrtUS dinuz d~i~ nrstdyFLmtO 5 0O xcrpOatio2 aVbuorkiM (ainli aglnV ffla b4do Pew n'a ztIs sddy Cffernndxd Bwms Enzimmorzv L do nm farlltth mhePew to dimi te d) tge The on aniff (Ther to addssszs tE rdate vith the Pew wfv fmd)anta&ef~wam~aUm sUpgoited by 2
  6. 6. About'The Authors JAY MALCOM Guelph, his Ph.D -fromthe S. fmth UnveritYof University. Currently, he is an Dr. ay~lcom BS. nd rceivd hs Qens pto f oral stheudivesat hswre o UnivesitY f Floivda and BSanddertook of Toronto, where he Forstsat the University change on csytm Assistant Pofessoriaind derFcutyofk th efulfects of global cliniate the theislastfour years Hisneerhseilzso Canad n h admore generally on the effects of humanitiiisobiivriInadintoloaoyadin boreal kn extensive field research acl a n Glba Clmt and comute stude, Dr tts reotfrtePwCne ,i Amazon and Congo Basins. in addition to hneisuswt h Caa ianaund U.S. aesi nldn has worked on clintd a ulse 3arils ChangeI Dr. Macolm and )WF-US. Dr. }jacl Governments, UNjEP, chapters, and technical reports. scientific journals, book fClfoiatDvsanaPhD LOUIS PITELKA Davis,an aPhD arotb thbvrsityoCaforynia asio M th ryandksinc B.S.invooe romt tteUniver of Dr. Louis Piteika receivedanfr DrSitciha en 0tnodUnvriy ds from in, plant ecology is currently~the Director ofteAplciaOaoaoYlnpotug hold the rno where he l Sene.othe aclso 1996, er9fo Enirne nta lr the th niesiYs of theofacultyen dpreI Inloy research laboratory in From 1974 u 198nh was Cammbr anti wn he departd hen f Prof essor in the University. thaie Pouatdwsihro Biology r Ptawre o h of Biology at Bates College Beinn n18 Department Program DrectoIo theF) Pitecarborke yln the easi 1984, Dr. lblcro forlg 1983, he was appo nted 0 chSF-Beg in n Science Foudtin ismajor researchaesicue Program at the National Institute, -where Electric Power Research on terrestrial ecosystems. effctsof limtechange loal is the Editor- edited two books. H-e ii aricsad has editorial board. cis Pitlbal heauthoefnmruss Dr.ct O for fiveo years on the journal's f adpeiuly served zl' ueossc tfcarilsa Cihangserand Dr inl-Chief oEcC4a' Leadisere PrGobral Board of Cilgi. I-e is an Activiy Pnrogram HeSAhaosrvedt H-e also is on the Editorial of the In mational GeosPhereBiosphere EneirgynmS antdo oesta Terrestrial EcosYstfothNFerrs project velsfor DO epartme theNF niolin commnittees and pan n h elhan on numerous advisory and cuetysre Service and other organizatiOfls Research Advisory Committee. 3