UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences Dr. Michael Jerrett addresses what’s happening, what’s projected, and the direct connection between planetary and human wellness.
A leading scholar in his field — named to the Thomson Reuters List of Highly Cited Researchers, indicating he is in the top 1 percent of all environment/ecology authors when it comes to citations by other researchers — Dr. Michael Jerrett has assessed the health impacts of climate change from many angles. Dr. Jerrett, professor and chair of the Fielding School’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences, spoke with FSPH’s Public Health magazine about climate change’s health implications and the role for public health in limiting the negative effects.
Q: Climate change has often been associated with events that are removed from people’s everyday lives. Beyond the threat to our natural environment, why is climate change a health issue that everyone should be concerned about?
A: Right, many people don’t fully appreciate the health implications. They think it’s only an issue of shrinking glaciers, melting ice caps and endangered species, like polar bears. It might seem like it’s solely happening far away, or that the negative effects to the planet are many years off. In fact, climate change has very real implications for human health, both here in the United States and in other parts of the world. Those effects will become more severe with time if we don’t dramatically reduce the emissions that are driving climate change, but the effects aren’t just long term; many are being felt today, and will grow as public health concerns within our lifetimes.