Katherine Taylor/Harvard Staff Photographer http://chge.med.harvard.edu/
By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer, Thursday, February 7, 2013
Gore says society must focus on cleaning the air as it has its waterways
“We’re using the atmosphere as an open sewer. It’s functionally insane. It traps heat,” Al Gore told a packed Memorial Church. “A lot of communities experience one in 100-year events, one in 1,000-year events … every few years.”
Society treats the sky as an “open sewer,” pumping carbon waste into the air much as it used to dump bodily waste into waterways, and with the same results. People are getting sick, Al Gore, the former vice president and climate activist, told a packed Memorial Church crowd on Wednesday.
Gore ’69 compared the climate crisis to 19th-century cholera epidemics, including one in London where the outbreak was traced to a single water pump whose source was infected by feces containing the cholera bacterium. The understanding of disease transmission that resulted prompted changes in handling human waste. Dumping carbon waste into the atmosphere needs curbing, Gore said.
The climate change resulting from carbon dumping practices harms human health, Gore said. Not only are people adversely affected by droughts, heat waves, and stronger storms, but a warming Earth will see expansion of the range of disease-carrying insects, bacteria, and parasites, Gore said. Last year, the warmest on record in the United States, also saw the worst outbreak of West Nile virus, which is carried by mosquitoes.
“We’re using the atmosphere as an open sewer. It’s functionally insane. It traps heat,” Gore said. “A lot of communities experience one in 100-year events, one in 1,000-year events … every few years.”
Gore delivered the inaugural Paul R. Epstein Memorial Lecture in honor of the former Harvard Medical School instructor and authority on the links between climate change and human health. Epstein, who died of cancer in 2011, was the founder and associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, which sponsored the event.
The session included comments from Jonathan Walton, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church; Dean Julio Frenk of the Harvard School of Public Health; John Spengler, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment and Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation; and Eric Chivian, co-founder of the Center for Health and the Global Environment and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. …(more).
Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120