The Collaborative Institute

Building Connections

April 11, 2011
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)

Climate Change and Public Health

Recently CIOCS explored ideas about Managing the Risks Associated with Climate Change. The American Medical Association has recently released a statement about their recent research and meetings discussing the impacts of climate change on public health. In the report, they state:

“Scientific evidence shows that the world’s climate is changing and that the results have public health consequences. The American Medical Association is working to ensure that physicians and others in health care understand the rise in climate-related illnesses and injuries so they can prepare and respond to them.”

The AMA uses examples from Florida and Maine to describe how human populations will be affected as conditions change. To help drive home this emphasis, Florida and Maine have both played host to the AMA meetings about these issues. Read the full statement for how the AMA sees climate change and public health interacting in Florida and Maine.

The AMA is encouraging physicians to work with state and local health departments “to improve the systems’ anticipation and awareness of climate-related health issues.” For tips and resources, the AMA recommends that physicians look to the AMA Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response, and the Climate and Health Literacy Consortium.

Other public health groups have taken notice of the effects of climate change on public health.  In September 2010, 120 of America’s top public health experts and organizations submitted a joint letter to Congress, urging Congress to allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “move ahead with urgently needed new rules to curb global warming pollution.” Organizations such as the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Lung Association lent their support to a letter stating that:

“As public health professionals, we are writing to urge you to recognize the threat to public health posed by climate change and to support measures that will reduce these risks and strengthen the ability of our local, state and federal public health agencies to prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change.  In order to prepare for changes already under way, it is essential to strengthen our public health system so it is able to protect our communities from the health effects of heat waves, wildfires, floods, droughts, infectious diseases, and other events. But we must also address the root of the problem, which means reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for protecting the public’s health from climate change, and we urge you to fully support the EPA in fulfilling its responsibilities. We also urge opposition to any efforts to weaken, delay or block the EPA from protecting the public’s health from these risks.”

Public health is just one of the many risks associated with climate change. As the CHLC notes, “Clinicians will be on the front lines of all climate-related health impacts, whether those result from catastrophic disasters such as floods, heat waves or other temperature extremes, or indirect effects like increases in emergency room visits over time due to decreasing air quality.” The CHLC also states that because the “healthcare industry will experience the climate crisis in its own operations, characterized by increasing energy costs, projected instability in the electric service provision grid, and intensified stressors placed on community health services, especially in times of disaster,” it is necessary for the sector to develop a “strong, unified voice to reduce both the environmental and public health impacts of climate change.” Risk management can help physicians and the healthcare sector prepare for the serious, immediate and long-term impacts of climate change.

December 1, 2010
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)

Climate Change Denial: GOP Members Speak Out

Recently, we reported on how recent elections potentially signify a further shift away from climate change legislation, in favor of profit-maximizing practices that jeopardize health and safety. However, Dot Earth’s Andrew Revkin brings our attention to the "Rational Discussion of Climate Change" hosted by the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology on November 17, 2010. Revkin expresses some hope that this "(relatively) civil hearing on basic questions related to climate science and policy options" by the lame-duck congressional members is indicative of future work by incoming members. It’s possible at least two Republicans may help push their party in a different direction.

Ranking Member of the Environment Subcommittee, Bob Inglis (R-SC), had some harsh words for his fellow GOPers who are stridently disputing the truth and scientific proof of global warming: "They slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and they’re experts on climate change. They substitute their judgment for people who have Ph.D.s and work tirelessly [on climate change]." He points out the cogent science being presented, as well as the economic benefits of acting now.

Inglis isn’t the only Republican calling out the GOP. In the November 19, 2010, edition of the Washington Post, Sherwood Boehlert, a former Republication representative of New York’s 24th District in Congress (1983-2007), calls on "fellow Republicans to open their minds to rethinking what has largely become [their] party’s line: denying that climate change and global warming are occurring and that they are largely due to human activities." He points out that he understands "there is a natural aversion to more government regulation. But that should be included in the debate about how to respond to climate change, not as an excuse to deny the problem’s existence." As he makes clear, the science presented from experts around the globe is sound. The science should not be questioned; the questions lie in how to respond to climate change legislatively.

Will these voices be heard over the din of climate change denial? Can partisan politics take a backseat to human and national security, as well as economic competition, in order to address climate change?

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November 10, 2010
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)

What the 2010 Election Means for the Environment in New England

The following is an excerpt from a special edition of Conservation Law Foundation’s e-News, "Election 2010: What It Means for New England’s Environment." 

"Now that the dust has settled, we are pleased to bring you this special post-election edition of our e-news. Below, you will find a state-by-state forecast of how the election results are likely to help or hinder our and others’ efforts to address the most pressing environmental challenges affecting our region, namely reducing our carbon emissions from energy and transportation, planning for and mitigating the impacts of climate change, supporting clean energy development that creates good, local jobs, and protecting our natural resources – all in the interest of a healthy, thriving New England for everyone."

Here’s the CLF assessment for Massachusetts.

"Governor Deval Patrick’s re-election on a platform of clean energy and economic development was a hopeful sign for Massachusetts, with potential for positive reverberations beyond the Commonwealth. The Patrick campaign bucked conventional wisdom by emphasizing the need to make longer term investments, like building Cape Wind and putting in place long-term contracts that use such projects to provide electricity at a stable and predictable price.

The continued efforts to implement legislation enacted over the last two years – including the Massachusetts Green Communities Act, the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act and the Massachusetts Oceans Act – will provide ample opportunities to press forward with that affirmative agenda of building a clean energy economy.

On the federal front, it is notable that the only newly elected member of Congress from Massachusetts (filling a seat to be vacated by retiring Rep. Delahunt), U.S. Representative-elect Bill Keating from the 10th Congressional District, is a supporter of Cape Wind and received a state-wide award as “Environmental Legislator of the Year” when he was in the Massachusetts State Legislature, primarily for his water pollution work."

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November 10, 2010
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)

Increasing Concern Over Climate Change as National Security Threat

With the recent elections, Congress appears poised for an even further shift away from climate change legislation. Republican strategist Karl Rove, for one, is rejoicing that "climate is gone," in favor of profit-seeking practices that jeopardize health and security.

However, as depicted in Bruce Lieberman’s posting "Continuing Concerns Over Implications Of Climate Change for National Security," climate change is increasingly being recognized for its potential threat to human and national security:

"At a recent briefing on Capitol Hill, far from the alert attention of mainstream news organizations, retired General Anthony Zinni warned that the global loss of forests, freshwater, fish and arable land is driving political instability and threatening global security.

‘Whether it be climate change, whether it is the disruption of the environment in other ways … we’re going to see more failed and incapable states,’ said Zinni, a former Commander in Chief of the U.S. Central Command.

The briefing, hosted by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center for a New American Security, marked one of a number of recent discussions across the nation’s capital, across the nation, and overseas about how policy thinkers and military planners are viewing continued climate change as a national security issue." 

Where is the disconnect between government and military thought-leaders? What can the armed services do to counteract increased security threats from climate change when national policies do not reflect a sense of urgency?

Also be sure to check out "Climate Change A Growing Concern for U.S. Navy."

To get more info on events and other news, sign up for the CIOCS listserv by emailing


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