Jan 19, 2022 • 36M

Engineering Professor John Abraham Discusses Rapidly Rising Ocean Temperatures and Their Contribution to the Climate Crisis and Health Harm (January 18, 2022)

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Appears in this episode

David Introcaso, Ph.D.
Podcast interviews with health policy experts on timely subjects. The Healthcare Policy Podcast website features audio interviews with healthcare policy experts on timely topics. An online public forum routinely presenting expert healthcare policy analysis and comment is lacking. While other healthcare policy website programming exists, these typically present vested interest viewpoints or do not combine informed policy analysis with political insight or acumen. Since healthcare policy issues are typically complex, clear, reasoned, dispassionate discussion is required. These podcasts will attempt to fill this void. Among other topics this podcast will address: •Implementation of the Affordable Care Act •Other federal Medicare and state Medicaid health care issues •Federal health care regulatory oversight, moreover CMS and the FDA •Healthcare research •Private sector healthcare delivery reforms including access, reimbursement and quality issues •Public health issues including the social determinates of health Listeners are welcomed to share their program comments and suggest programming ideas. Comments made by the interviewees are strictly their own and do not represent those of their affiliated organization/s.
Episode details

Over the past several years the earth's oceans, that cover 70% of the planet's surface, have dramatically warmed.  In a paper published last week in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences researchers concluded for the sixth consecutive year ocean temperatures in 2021 reached record levels.  Compared to 2020, 2021 ocean temperatures were 14 zettajoules (14 followed by 21 zeros) warmer.  This amount of energy is 145 times greater than the world's annual electricity generation - equal to a half a zettajoule.  Warming oceans can/do essentially explain or account for human-caused (Anthropocene) global warming, oceans absorb 90% of climate-crisis related warming, the climate crisis in sum and resulting human health harm.   Sadly however this reality is seldom if ever discussed in health care policy circles.  For example, the only mention of rising ocean temperatures and/or resulting health effects in Health Affairs is my discussion in my December 2018 Health Affairs Blog post on climate crisis-caused health effects.   

During this 34-minute interview Professor John Abraham begins by providing an overview of his Advances in Atmospheric Sciences (AAS) paper.  (He is the paper's second author.)  Moreover, he unpacks the extent of rising ocean temperatures, e.g., 2021 warming would be comparable in energy to exploding an Hiroshima bomb every second of every minute, day, week, month and year).  He discusses resulting increasing ocean acidity and the effect of undermining marine food stock that feeds over 3 billion people worldwide, how rising ocean temperatures affect global climate and weather patterns and weather disasters, the effect ocean warming is having on AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) and the extent to which we will be able to build resilience in responding to the climate crisis.   

John Abraham, Ph.D., is a Professor and Program Director in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.  He studies include the geophysical science related to the climate crisis that includes the rate at which the planet is warming, particularly oceans.  His team’s warming measurements provide insights on future climate crisis effects over the coming decades.  Professor Abraham also studies the impact of increasing heat on the human body - information that has important health consequences, particularly for vulnerable populations.   Professor has conducted approximately 400 scientific studies that have been published widely.  He is a frequent television and radio guest having participated in over 100 television and radio interviews.

Professor Abraham's January 11 article in The Guardian concerning his AAS publication are at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/11/ocean-temperatures-earth-heat-increase-record.