Press Release for Thursday, February 10, 2011
Joanna Norris, Associate Director
Department of Public Relations
The University of North Florida Environmental Center, Duval County Medical Society and the Florida Medical Association, in partnership with the American Medical Association and the Center for Health and Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, invite the public to a free health forum “Climate Change and Human Health: An Evening with Experts” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, at the UNF University Center on campus.
The public health forum helps physicians, health professionals and citizens better understand the science of climate change, the link between global climate change and local health issues, and the mitigating actions that can be taken in our daily lives and in public health policy. This program is open to the medical community, students and the general public.
Participants will hear from leading experts, Dr. David Easterling, chief of the Scientific Services Division of the National Climatic Data Center, and Dr. Paul R. Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Cecil B. Wilson, president of the American Medical Association, will give opening remarks.
“Professionals from across the health community see firsthand the consequences of climate change for their patients and for public health; without action on climate change, these impacts will intensify,” said Epstein.
Dr. Radha Pyati, director of the UNF Environmental Center, and Dr. Todd Sack, chair of the Florida Medical Association’s Environment and Health Section, comprise the reactor panel of experts who will facilitate an in-depth discussion of local and global issues.
“Northeast Florida will be exposed to climate change effects due to our coastline and our weather patterns,” said Pyati. “Understanding the public health aspects of those effects is critical, and this forum gives us the perspective of two Nobel Prize-winning experts on the subject.”
Florida citizens are particularly vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Destructive storms, heavy rain falls, heat waves and other extreme weather directly impacts human health and quality of life in a variety of ways. Heat, air and water quality, seafood safety and storm-related risks are of great concern for all residents and visitors, particularly Florida’s large elderly population.
Warmer temperatures with climate change will be associated with more frequent, longer and more intense heat waves, which disproportionately affect children, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions. According to the Center at Harvard, climate change has also increased the allergy and asthma season by two to three weeks and is projected to lead to more widespread forest fires, and worsening respiratory and heart disease.
To register for this free event, go to http://www.dcmsonline.org. Refreshments will be provided. For more information about the forum, contact Derrick Robinson, UNF Environmental Center, at (904) 620-5804.
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