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Drexel Hosting Discussions on the Health Dangers of Rolling Back Environmental and Climate Policies

March 01 2017

Jerry Fagiano sitting at a table with his elbow on it as he speaks during a panel.
Jerry Fagliano, associate clinical professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health, speaking during a previous panel discussion last year.

Eyeing potential rollbacks of regulations and policies designed to protect the environment and combat climate change, a panel of experts hosted by Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health will discuss the implications these moves could have on human health.

Moderated by Jerry Fagliano, PhD, associate professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health who also serves as chair of the school’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, the panel discussion has been prompted by promised changes from the Trump administration.

“Today, it is critical for us to continue to draw on the best available science to identify environmental health threats and protect the health of the public,” said Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD, dean of the Dornsife School of Public Health. “Environmental protections have been one of the great success stories in terms of improving population health, but there is still more to do.”

Taking place Thursday, March 2 from 4–5:30 p.m. in the Ruth Auditorium of Nesbitt Hall (3215 Market St., Philadelphia), the panel, “Public Health Implications of Changes in Environmental and Climate Policies,” will include Diez Roux, Anneclaire De Roos, PhD, associate professor in the public health school, Franco Montalto, PhD, associate professor in the College of Engineering, and Sarah Wu, deputy director of the Office of Sustainability of Philadelphia.

“Although there has been progress in the U.S. toward reducing emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change, policy incentives for energy conservation and a transition to non-carbon energy sources are threatened,” Fagliano said. “The Republican-led Congress and the Trump administration have signaled an intention to promote fossil fuel extraction and consumption for short-term economic gain, despite widespread concern about future health and environmental consequences.”

2017 has been designated as the “Year of Climate Change and Health” by the American Public Health Association, the country’s leading professional organization for those working in public health.

In recognition, Drexel is hosting Jonathan Patz, MD, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A leading authority on climate change, Patz was a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) when it shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.

Patz’s lecture will focus on the positive effects that climate actions may have on promoting health and preventing chronic diseases. Held March 8 from 12:15 until 1:15 p.m., his lecture will also take place in the Ruth Auditorium of Nesbitt Hall. The talk will also be webcast and available to view on-demand.

Collectively discussing growing concerns about public health related to climate change and the environment is important in the new political environment of the United States. A majority of everyday Americans now recognize climate change as a threat to health, especially for future generations, according to polling by Yale University.

“If, as seems likely, the U.S. government reverses course on energy and climate policy, where will the leadership needed to prevent the most severe human health effects of climate changes come from?” Fagliano asked. “Are market forces and local actions sufficient to drive a clean energy solution? How will needed infrastructure improvements to adapt to inevitable changes be funded? These are all things we need to think about.”