The news is grim. Our planet has just experienced its hottest June in recorded history and likely the hottest July. This year will likely join ten others since 2000 as the warmest ever recorded. Several studies just published in Nature and Nature Geoscience have concluded there has never been a period over the past 2,000 years when temperatures have changed as fast and extensive as in recent decades. To make matters worse, the climate crisis substantially explains the fact our planet is currently experiencing its 6th mass extinction – 4 of the previous 5 were also caused by high atmospheric CO2 concentrations, the worst of these extinguished 90% of all planetary life. Despite the increasingly dire evidence, the federal leaders continue to do nothing. The White House and the Republican Party not only refuse to admit reality but argue Americans have no fundamental right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life. Congressional House Democrats refuse to move any meaningful legislation - even if that means simply putting Republicans on record for opposing maintaining life on earth and the health care industry, in sum, is neither working to reduce its own carbon emissions nor lobbying for requisite federal policy reforms. Listeners may be aware this is my 8th climate crisis-related interview since last October.
During this 29 minute conversation Dr. Benjamin assesses the current stay of play relative to federal action concerning the climate crisis, he discusses the challenges the climate crises poses relative to achieving health equity and moreover the work of APHA's Center for Climate, Health and Equity (and how individuals can become involved in the APHA's climate crisis work).
Dr. Georges Benjamin has served as Executive Director of the American Public Health Association since 2002. He also serves as publisher of APHA's nonprofit's monthly publication, The Nation's Health, the association's official newspaper, and the American Journal of Public Health. Previously, Dr. Benjamin served as Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health. Dr. Benjamin began his medical career in 1981 in Washington State where he served as Chief of the Acute Illness Clinic at the Madigan Army Medical Center. He subsequently moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as Chief of Emergency Medicine at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After leaving the Army, Dr. Benjamin chaired the Department of Community Health and Ambulatory Care at the District of Columbia General Hospital, was promoted to Acting Commissioner for Public Health for the District of Columbia and later served as Interim Director of the Emergency Ambulance Bureau of the District of Columbia Fire Department. He is the author of more than 100 scientific articles and book chapters. His most recent book is, The Quest for Health Reform: A Satirical History is an exposé of the nearly 100-year quest to ensure quality affordable health coverage for all through the use of political cartoons. Dr. Benjamin is a member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine and also serves on the boards for several organizations including Research!America and the Reagan-Udall Foundation. In April 2016, President Obama appointed Dr. Benjamin to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. Dr. Benjamin is a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He is board-certified in internal medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a Fellow Emeritus of the American College of Emergency Physicians and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health.
For information on the APHA's Center on Climate go to: https://apha.org/topics-and-issues/climate-change/center
The APHA's 2016 "Climate Change and Health Strategic Plan" (noted during this interview) is at: https://www.apha.org/-/media/files/pdf/topics/climate/apha_climate_change_strategic_plan.ashx?la=en&hash=03D148BBD2A45E2A2B98BC4C98D33F32118244E1
Phillip Alston's (United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights) report, "Poverty and Climate" (also noted or quoted during this interview - and must reading) is at: http://www.guninetwork.org/files/unsr-poverty-climate-change-a_hrc_41_39.pdf