Despite the fact that only 97% of climate scientists are convinced that global warming is real, President Barack Obama nonetheless met with medical and scientific experts Tuesday for a roundtable discussion of the public health impacts of climate change. You'd almost think that there's a problem or something!

“There are a whole host of public health impacts that are going to hit home,” Obama said at a roundtable discussion with health professionals at Howard University in Washington DC, citing rising asthma rates and the prospects of nontraditional insect-borne diseases soon moving to North America. “Ultimately ... all of our families are going to be vulnerable. You can’t cordon yourself off from air or from climate.”

In his statement following the discussion, Obama briefly ticked off several emerging consequences of climate change on health issues:

We know that if there are more wildfires, a consequence of rising temperatures, that there are going to be more particulates in the air. We know that potentially it extends the allergy season, and can induce greater incidents of asthma or more severe incidents of asthma. We know that, potentially, as temperatures rise, that we’re going to start seeing insect-borne diseases that are not traditional to North America start moving up from the south.

Expect to see this clip on Fox News soon, with an angry rebuttal from Sean Hannity pointing out that it still snows in the winter, so let's stop talking about all this "climate change" nonsense right now. For that matter, expect the same response from Fox in a few years when northern Minnesota is coping with its first malaria epidemic.

Also at the roundtable was U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who took a break from seizing everyone's guns to talk about the potential for increased rates of asthma as global temperatures rise. Murthy noted that warmer average temperatures won't simply mean a few hotter days in the summer, but will trigger a whole bunch of health and economic dominoes:

We know that climate change means higher temperatures overall, and it also means longer and hotter heat waves. We also know that higher temperatures can mean worse air in cities, and more smog and more ozone. We know that more intense wildfires will mean increased smoke in the air. And we know that earlier springs and longer summers mean longer allergy seasons.

If you put all of this together, this means that we have more people exposed to triggers that can cause asthma attacks, and more asthma attacks mean more days of school missed. They mean more days of work missed. They mean more costly trips to the doctor. And they most importantly mean more scary moments for parents and for children.

Murthy noted that this is "a personal issue" for him since when he was a child, one of his favorite uncles had died from a severe asthma attack, and because of his own practice as a physician:

I’ve cared for many patients over the years who have suffered from asthma and have seen firsthand how frightening it can be to suddenly be wheezing and fighting for every breath. Asthma can be very difficult for patients, but also for their families. And the impacts of climate change could make this situation worse.

Longer and hotter heat waves may also increase heat stroke, heat stress, and respiratory illnesses, he said, especially among people who work outdoors in construction and agriculture. Now sure, all that's rather sad, but it hardly seems like a good enough reason to stop people from buying bigger SUVs in which to drive to the gym.

The president also noted that while one of the chief arguments against doing anything about climate change is that it would be harmful to the economy (think "War On Coal"), the costs of doing nothing will be even higher in terms of public health: more people sick, higher healthcare costs, lowered productivity, and so on. Why, it's almost as if the economic impact of climate change might be wider than the profit margins of the fossil fuel industries! He also noted that previous successful efforts to fight environmental problems, such as eliminating ozone-depleting chemicals and cutting pollutants that cause acid rain, actually turned out to be less expensive than critics feared, and had the pleasant side benefit of people not going around with cancerous skin sloughing off their bodies all the time, which is both unsightly and gross.

Obama's emphasis on the public health effects of climate change were praised in a statement by Harold Wimmer, CEO of the American Lung Association, the radical group that still wants you to believe that cigarettes are somehow unhealthy:

Too many people think climate change is something that will happen far into the future, but we are already seeing impacts on our health today ... Now is the time for bold action to protect our health and our communities from the dangerous impacts of carbon pollution and climate change -- especially the health of our most vulnerable populations, children, seniors, people with chronic diseases like asthma.

Obama and Murthy's remarks are expected to be rebutted later today by Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who will stand at a microphone on the Senate floor, take a few deep breaths without collapsing, and exclaim, "See? Nothing!"

[The White House / The Guardian]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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