Speaker Urges Action on Climate Change

The gap between those who believe climate change is a mounting global threat and those who don’t is shrinking. Meanwhile, the view that action must be taken is growing.

Lynn R. Goldman, a former Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator and current Michael and Lori Milken Dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, gave a wide-ranging centennial Milbank Lecture on September 9 at the Yale School of Public Health on the health impact of climate change and other issues to a capacity audience in Winslow Auditorium.

Alluding to President Obama’s recent trip to Alaska, in which he addressed the impact of climate change on indigenous populations, Goldman, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., said, “there’s no better time for Yale to get involved in this issue. Recognition of the need to address climate change is happening.”

We need to take an ecosystems approach.

Dr. Lynn Golman

Populations that rely on hunting, fishing and crop and livestock cultivation for their survival are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, Goldman said. Noting that interaction with the physical, natural and social environment directly impacts our health status, she said, “We need to take an ecosystems approach.”

Dean Paul Cleary and Professor Vasilis Vasiliou, chair of Department of Environmental Health Sciences, introduced Goldman. Both spoke of her work to promote children’s health and her contribution to the passage of the nation’s pesticide, toxic substances and pollution prevention laws.

Goldman is the fourth of seven Milbank lecturers scheduled for 2015 as the school celebrates is centennial. She will be followed by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who will speak at 11:30 a.m. in Winslow on September 16.

The Milbank Lecture Series recognizes YSPH’s contribution to the understanding of public health as well as the Milbank Memorial Fund’s tradition of progressive public health initiatives. The fund is an endowed operating foundation that works to improve the health of populations by connecting leaders and decision makers with the best available evidence and experience. Founded in 1905, the fund engages in nonpartisan analysis, collaboration and communication on significant issues in health policy.

Goldman said more research needs to be done on the impact of climate change worldwide. In Alaska, for example, she said coastal erosion has forced indigenous communities to relocate. Climate change is creating refugees.

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This article was submitted by Denise Meyer on September 16, 2015.