Rising temperatures and more heat waves due to climate change can cause heat stroke, heart attacks, dehydration and even increased incidences of violent crime and suicide, said Dr. Aaron Bernstein, associate director of Harvard University's Center for Health and the Global Environment.
Rising sea levels and more extreme weather events can displace large numbers of people living in coastal cities or island nations, he said. "Weather refugees" have higher incidences of infectious diseases, he noted.
Bernstein compared the lackluster political and social response regarding the climate change crisis to a scenario from emergency medicine.
“The situation is akin to showing up to the emergency room with some pain in your belly and it hurts on your right side and you feel nauseous. And the emergency room doctor says, ‘Boy that’s probably some indigestion. We are going to send you home.’ And you are thinking, ‘Could this be appendicitis?’”
Ocean levels are rising due to greenhouse gas emissions at a faster rate than we thought, said Richard Alley, a leading climate scientist, a Pennsylvania State University geologist and the keynote speaker for the public symposium.
If we could see the pound per mile of carbon dioxide emitted from our vehicles and spread it out over all the roads in the U.S. over a year it would be about an inch thick, said Alley.
“In a decade there would be no joggers in America,” he said. “We would all be cross-country skiers.”
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