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New York Times Journalist Thomas Friedman described the convergence of global warming, globalization, and population growth as the dominant challenge for the 21st Century in his 2008 book, Hot, flat and crowded. Focused primarily on economic well-being, Friedman looks especially to investments in green technology to transform energy, and thus mitigate global warming and stimulate equitable economic growth.
However, the scientific consensus today is that even if average economic well-being is maintained or increased in the coming decades, other measures of well-being, especially population health, will likely suffer with massive challenges to the environmental conditions that sustain life on our planet.
Changing patterns of infectious diseases, mental and cardiovascular health are already apparent around the world, especially in countries such as India, where socio-economic and environmental conditions are already strained. Environmentally driven changes to the health landscape will almost certainly accelerate in the coming years.
Thus, while we endeavor to slow global warming through social and economic transformation, we must also anticipate unavoidable changes to the socio-ecological and public health systems that enable well-being. We must make well-informed adaptations in urban planning, agriculture, energy, water use, transportation and health service delivery, among other sectors, to keep people and our environments healthy. We have learned some valuable lessons in partnerships across community organizations, universities, companies and governments around the world, and it’s abundantly clear that this is an “all hands on deck” moment that requires active participation and vigilance from all citizens.
This session is part of the Let’s Talk Climate Change Talk series.
Joshua Rosenthal is a Senior Scientist at the Fogarty International Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), and currently a Fulbright Kalam Climate Scholar in India. He is an ecologist with a longstanding interest in the integration of public health, environment, and international development. Josh has developed, led and conducted NIH research and training programs on environment and health in many countries around the world, including in India. His recent work is focused primarily on reducing household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels, and on research programs to reduce the health impacts of climate change. During his Fulbright Kalam fellowship, he is working with faculty at Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research in Chennai to create a new curriculum on Climate Change and Health for public health professionals.
Find more information on Josh’s publications here.
Find more information on the NIH Climate Change and Health initiative here.