Chinese cities, like Shanghai, are facing a health crisis due to severe air pollution from fossil fuel consumption.
The Yale Climate Change and Health Initiative (CCHI) utilizes Yale's multidisciplinary expertise and global reach to train future leaders, provide a comprehensive educational program, and catalyze innovative research, all to address one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century.
Climate change has profound implications for human health, today and in the future. The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change concluded that:
- the effects of climate change are being felt today, and future projections represent an unacceptably high and potentially catastrophic risk to human health
- tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century
- the health community has a vital part to play in accelerating progress to address climate change
Current or projected health effects of climate change include:
- increased morbidity and mortality from heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters
- increased incidence of food-borne, water-borne, and vector-borne diseases
- increased under-nutrition and food insecurity
- increased incidence and severity of asthma and other respiratory diseases
- violent conflict resulting from competition among nations for scarcer resources
- climate refugees displaced by violent conflict, rising sea levels, or economic scarcity, with associated refugee health issues
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions will result in important health co-benefits:
- Decreased fossil fuel burning will reduce harmful air pollutants.
- A shift from animal agriculture (a major source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas) toward plant agriculture will result in a healthier diet.
- Improved infrastructure for walking, bicycling, and public transportation will increase physical activity.
- Decreased fossil fuel extraction will reduce occupational and environmental hazards.
The Yale Climate Change and Health Initiative is supported by a generous grant from the Overlook International Foundation. Its directors, Richard and Dee Lawrence, also co-founded Cool Effect, a new program that identifies some of the best carbon emission reduction projects in the world and makes it simple for supporters to donate.