As [Kaiser’s Environmental Stewardship Officer Kathy] Gerwig put it, “there’s credible evidence of significant climate change that will impact our ability to provide quality health care.”
She laid out four broad categories of the health effects:
Severe weather: Hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and heat waves all injure and kill people. Hospitals — and all businesses for that matter — need to prepare for these extremes.
The US is experiencing the quietest hurricane period on record.
Respiratory diseases: Air quality in general deeply affects health. This is, as Gerwig says, mainly about the short-term consequences of not dealing with burning fossil fuels and the changing climate.
Air quality in the US is vastly improved from 40 years ago.
Infectious diseases: As the planet warms, bugs like mosquitos can survive and thrive further north, spreading diseases to new areas. According to the UN, previously untouched areas like the southern U.S. and Mexico will face malaria, yellow fever, and dengue by 2050.
Malaria used to be a common disease in the US. In fact, it used to be a serious problem even in the Arctic.
When I think of Finland, malaria just doesn’t normally come to mind. Although northern climes often have swarms of mosquitoes, its hard to imagine mosquito-borne infections gaining much traction in the short summer season. Yet defying imagination, malaria has thrived in northern Finland, Sweden and Russia near the arctic circle in the past. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax caused outbreaks in northern Europe. Despite the outbreak of P. falciparium at Archangelsk in the 1930s, P. vivax is believed to be the primary malarial species in northern Europe.
Interesting that the environmental officer for a health care company is incompetent about both environment and health. She is the perfect Obamacare officer.
h/t to Marc Morano