Climate change takes heavy toll on health, lawmakers told

Increased rates of asthma, the spread of disease, and more mental health issues are all linked to climate change, experts told a Congressional panel on April 30, 2019.

Among those testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform was Aaron Bernstein, co-director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Bernstein, a pediatrician, focused on climate change’s negative health impacts on children.

“I have cared for children with asthma whose lungs have been so damaged by contaminated air that they were scarcely able to breathe,” he said. “I have sat with parents whose children had Lyme disease as they worried about whether their child’s half-paralyzed face will ever get better. I have cared for children who no longer had a will to live, having survived floods that at once washed away their homes and their peace of mind. And I’ve held in my own arms infants whose brains were deformed by Zika virus, whose prospects of living a healthy life vanished before they were even born. What ties all these experiences together … is our reliance on fossil fuels, which when extracted from the earth and burned, damage our children’s health through climate change and through the air and water pollution they produce.”

Watch Bernstein’s Congressional testimony

Read a transcript of Bernstein’s submitted testimony

Read a Courthouse News article about the hearing: Climate Change, Part II: The Public Health Effects