221st Podcast: NRDC's Dr. Vijay Limaye Discusses Measuring the Health-Related Costs of the Climate Crisis (January 14, 2021)
2020 was yet another record setting temperature year tying 2016 as the warmest on record. 2020 was strikingly warmer than 2019, by about .75 degrees Fahrenheit, and some parts of Arctic were warmer by more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit. 2020 also set a US record for $1 billion climate disasters numbering 22 and totaling $95 billion damages (the previous records were 16 in 2017 and more than double the 41-year average of $45 billion). Seven of the 22 events were hurricanes or tropical storms several others were wildfires that, for example, burned over 10 million acres in CA or double the previous record of 4.1 million acres in 2018. Despite increasingly extreme climate-crisis events and the mounting health harms caused, including vector-borne diseases (think: COVID-19), federal policy makers remain non-responsive including, for example, MedPAC (Medicare Payment Advisory Commission) and MACPAC (Medicaid And CHIP Payment Advisory Commission). These two independent Congressional commissions, given broad authority to address issues affecting Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries or our most vulnerable citizens: children; pregnant women; and, the elderly, have never discussed, much less mentioned the climate crisis despite the fact these programs bear the lion share of climate crisis-related health care costs.
During this approximately 30 minute conversation Dr. Lamaye briefly describes the NRDC's Science Center's work. He moreover explains the current knowledge gap between climate crisis-related health effects and recognizing or accounting for these effects, it, he describes or unpacks work published in 2019 in GeoHealth in which he and his colleagues calculated the costs of ten 2012 climate crisis events including Hurricane Sandy, i.e., moreover how costs were calculated, what costs were incurred and the limitations of this research, and makes recommendations for how research to measure climate crisis-related health impacts can be, or need be, improved.
Dr. Vijay Limaye is a Climate and Health Scientist at the National Research Defense Council's (NRDC's) Science Center. His work largely concerns quantifying, communicating and reducing risks associated with the climate crisis with a particular emphasis on the public health burdens of air pollution and extreme heat. He leads the Science Center's economic valuation work that demonstrates the significant health costs of the climate crisis and works to defend the science that underpins the Clear Air Act. Prior to NRCD, Dr. Limaye worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where he focused on Clear Air regulatory implementation, air quality, quality monitoring policy, risk communication and citizen science. Dr. Limaye speaks Spanish and Hindi, has published several research studies on the health impacts of the climate crisis in the US and in India. He received his undergrad degree from the University of California, Berkeley and his Ph.D. in environmental epidemiology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Dr. Limaye's Health Affairs article discuss during the interview is again titled, "Estimating the Costs of Inaction and the Economic Benefits of Addressing the Health Harms of Climate Change," (Subscription required.)
His 2019 GeoHealth article, freely available, discussed during this interview is again titled, "Estimating the Health-Related Costs of 10 Climate Sensitive Events During 2012," is at: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019GH000202.
Re: NOAA's $1 billion 2020 climate disasters, see their 15-page January 8, 2021 memo at: https://www.noaa.gov/stories/record-number-of-billion-dollar-disasters-struck-us-in-2020.