The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 07, 2015
President Obama is committed to combating the health impacts of climate change and protecting the health of future generations. We know climate change is not is not a distant threat, we are already seeing impacts in communities across the country. And while most Americans see climate change hitting their communities through extreme weather events – from more severe droughts and wildfires to more powerful hurricanes and record heat waves – there are other threats climate change poses to the American people. In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital. Certain people and communities are especially vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color. Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons, and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries.
That is why the President is taking action now. The sooner we act, the more we can do to protect the health of our communities our kids, and those that are the most vulnerable. As part of the Administration’s overall effort to combat climate change and protect the American people, this week, the Administration is announcing a series of actions that will allow us to better understand, communicate, and reduce the health impacts of climate change on our communities, including:
- Convening Stakeholders: The Administration is bringing together health and medical professionals, academics, and other interested stakeholders through a series of convenings this week—including a workshop to develop data and tools to empower people and communities with the science-based information and tools they need to protect public health in the face of climate change and another on mental health and wellness impacts of climate change—all leading up to a White House Climate Change and Health Summit later this spring that will feature the Surgeon General.
- Identifying Solutions to Minimize Impacts: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is releasing an Adaptation in Action Report highlighting successful actions state and local leaders are taking to reduce the health impacts of climate change in New York City, San Francisco, Maine, Minnesota, Arizona, Michigan, California and New York. The CDC is also releasing a Health Care Facilities Toolkit illustrating best practices for promoting resilient health care infrastructure.
- Expanding Access to Climate and Health Data: The Administration is expanding its Climate Data Initiative to include more than 150 health-relevant datasets, challenging innovators to use them to better inform scientists and communities about how to identify, minimize and prevent the health impacts of climate change. Today, private-sector leaders across the country are committing to leverage these data sets to generate tools, apps, and insights to help communities and businesses reduce the health impacts of climate change.
- Preparing the Next Generation of Medical and Health Professionals: The Administration is announcing a coalition of Deans from 30 medical, public health, and nursing schools around the country, who are committing to ensure that the next generation of health professionals is trained to address the health impacts of climate change.
- Releasing Draft Climate and Health Assessment Report: The interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program is releasing a draft Climate and Health Assessment report synthesizing the best available scientific literature on the observed and projected impacts of climate change on human health in the United States. This report covers weather and climate extremes, air quality, vector borne diseases, water- and food-related issues, mental health and well-being, and risks facing vulnerable segments of the population, such as children, the elderly, and people with existing health conditions. It will be open for public comment and formal peer review.
Executive Actions To Reduce The Health Impacts Of Climate Change:
Yesterday, April 6th, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring April 6 -12, 2015, National Public Health Week, reinforcing the importance of our public health system and the need to take action to reduce the health impacts of climate change on our communities. Today, the Administration is announcing a series of executive actions to set us on track to better understand, communicate, and reduce the health impacts of climate change on our communities, including:
- Announcing a White House Climate Change and Health Summit: The White House will host a Climate Change and Public Health Summit later this spring, featuring the Surgeon General, to bring together public health medical, and other health professionals, academics, and other interested stakeholders to discuss the public health impacts of climate change and identify opportunities to minimize these impacts.
- Highlighting Actions by State and Local Leaders to Reduce the Impact of Climate Change: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Public Health Association (APHA) are releasing Adaptation in Action. The report highlights how seven cities and state grantees that are successfully using the CDCs Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework to identify climate-related public health threats and develop strategies to adapt to these threats, including New York City, San Francisco, California; Maine, Minnesota, Arizona, Michigan, and the States of New York and California.
- Releasing a Health Care Facilities Toolkit: Through the Sustainable and Climate Resilient Health Care Facilities Initiative, HHS is releasing a Health Care Facilities Toolkit consisting of fact sheets and checklists organized in a five-element framework, along with case studies and extensive resource lists. The Health Care Facilities Toolkit is today being integrated into an expanded Climate Resilience Toolkit on toolkit.climate.gov, which includes 10 new case studies about using data and tools to support decision making, and 20 additional Federal tools related to climate and human health, including an app that translates weather conditions into health-risk levels for outdoor workers.
- Releasing Draft Climate and Health Assessment Report: The interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program is today releasing a draft Climate and Health Assessment report for public comment and concurrent peer review. Synthesizing the best available scientific literature on this topic, the report assesses the observed and projected impacts of climate change on human health in the United States, covering weather and climate extremes, air quality, vector borne diseases, water- and food-related issues, mental health and wellbeing, and risks facing vulnerable segments of the population, such as children, the elderly, and people with existing health conditions. The report is ultimately intended to inform health officials, urban planners, and other stakeholders. To ensure the draft report benefits from robust input and rigorous peer review, in addition to public comment, this draft report is concurrently being submitted for review by the National Academy of Sciences, with release of the final report expected in 2016.
- Hosting a Community, Culture, and Mental-Health Workshop This week, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hosted an all-day workshop at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building convening community leaders, scientists, engineers, and other stakeholders to discuss the unique characteristics and strengths of communities and cultures that make them resilient to the challenges of climate change. Building on this initial workshop, OSTP will work with representatives of different cultural groups (e.g., tribal, age-based, and place-based groups) to identify key research needs and questions related to the intersection of climate, culture, and mental health and well-being, especially needs and questions that could be answered by leveraging open data.
- Integrating Climate Considerations into the Department of Interior’s Health and Safety Policies: Today the Department of the Interior issued guidance to its bureaus and offices for incorporating climate change considerations into health policies and protocols for employees, volunteers and visitors by the end of the calendar year. About 70,000 employees and more than 300,000 volunteers manage the Department’s 530 million acres of lands and its resources. DOI employees often work many hours outdoors and are directly exposed to environmental conditions. Additionally, the Department’s lands average over 400 million recreation visits per year with visitors spending much of their time outdoors – occasionally in remote locations with limited access to basic services or emergency information. The third National Climate Assessment (NCA), released April 2014, describes many of the projected impacts from extreme temperatures, including more frequent or intense storms, increased wildland fire activity, reduced air quality, and increased illnesses transmitted by food, water, and disease-carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks. The Department recognizes the importance of proactive health and safety planning and training. Integration of climate considerations into Department and bureau health and safety policies can help mitigate many climate health and safety risks and reduce the impact of others.
- Hosting a Climate and Health Data Challenge: HHS’s National Institutes for Health are teaming up with Esri and others to launch a national data challenge on climate and health. This will mark the first time that climate change and public heath will be the focus of a large-scale data challenge. The challenge will invite coders, analysts, and researchers to use 150+ open-government datasets released today to generate new insights into difficult, unresolved questions about the health impacts of climate change. This national data challenge will be announced later this year.
- Providing Climate & Health Data at National Day of Civic Hacking: As part of the annual National Day of Civic Hacking led by NASA and Code for America, Federal agencies will provide datasets, challenges, and expertise in the areas of climate, health; disaster relief; oceans; safety and justice; and economic development to support the development of new climate- and health-related solutions by participating citizens and civic hackers. This public engagement will culminate in a multi-site hackathon on June 6, 2015, in which thousands of participants will leverage open data and contribute their skills and perspectives to improve their communities and the governments that serve them-- including, for the first time, in areas at the nexus of climate and health.
- Improving Air Quality Data: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with state and local agencies, is announcing that it will release six new “Village Green” stations during 2015 in cities across the country to increase local air-monitoring capabilities in communities. The Village Green Project involves park benches that incorporate solar- and wind-powered instruments to measure air quality (ozone and particle pollution) and meteorological data (wind speed and direction, humidity, and temperature). An initial prototype was installed outside a Durham, NC, library in 2013 to measure local air quality, increase citizen awareness of air quality, and deliver on-the-spot information about current conditions. The data collected are useful for research and educational purposes and are posted every minute to a publicly accessible and interactive data website. The six new stations will be located in Washington, DC; Kansas City, KS; Philadelphia, PA; Hartford, CT; Oklahoma City, OK; and Chicago, IL.
- Unleashing Data: As part of the Administration’s Predict the Next Pandemic Initiative, in May 2015, an interagency working group co-chaired by OSTP, the CDC, and the Department of Defense will launch a pilot project to simulate efforts to forecast epidemics of dengue – a mosquito-transmitted viral disease affecting millions of people every year, including U.S. travelers and residents of the tropical regions of the U.S. such as Puerto Rico. The pilot project will consolidate data sets from across the federal government and academia on the environment, disease incidence, and weather, and challenge the research and modeling community to develop predictive models for dengue and other infectious diseases based on those datasets. In August 2015, OSTP plans to convene a meeting to evaluate resulting models and showcase this effort as a “proof-of-concept” for similar forecasting efforts for other infectious diseases.
- Challenging Innovators: In May 2015, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will announce winners of its CHIKV Challenge, launched last year. The Challenge asked teams to create models that would accurately forecast the spread of the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus through the Americas and the Caribbean region from September 2014 - March 2015. The Challenge specifically sought models that, if applied going forward, could help governments and health organizations focus their resources and activities in ways that will best limit the scourge's spread. Awards totaling up to $500,000 will be offered to top Challenge solvers in various categories.
- Measuring Nutrient Pollution: The Challenging Nutrients Coalition, which includes the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in collaboration with the Alliance for Coastal Technologies and Blue Legacy International, is working to improve our ability to measure and understand nutrient pollution. The coalition launched the Nutrient Sensor challenge that is underway with 29 teams registered to develop affordable and accurate sensors. Today, USGS and EPA are working with Blue Legacy International to launch a “Visualizing Nutrients” challenge on the Innocentive challenge platform. The goal of the competition is to utilize open government data sources to create compelling, innovative, and comprehensible visualizations that inform individuals, communities, and resource managers on nutrients in water to support education and decision making related to algal blooms, hypoxia, and other nutrient-related water quality issues that can impact the health of people and ecosystems.
Leaders Around The Country Commit To Empowering Healthy People And Communities Through Climate Data And Innovation
Last year, the Obama Administration unveiled the Climate Data Initiative—a major effort to unleash the Federal Government’s vast open data resources to stimulate innovations that empower America’s communities and businesses to boost their own resilience against the impacts of climate change. Since March 2014, more than 500 datasets have been made available on climate.data.gov in high-priority topic areas such as food and agriculture, coastal resilience, water resources, and ecosystems. Today, the Administration is unveiling the Initiative’s “Health Resilience” theme, making more the 150 meta-tagged health-related datasets available on climate.data.gov—including key datasets from the CDC, NOAA, and several other agencies. The new theme aims to empower America’s people, communities, and health sector to more effectively plan, prepare, and strengthen their resilience to the health-impacts of climate change. New commitments to advance the Climate Data Initiative and empower healthy people and communities with science-based information and tools include:
- CDP: CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) is committing to release data on the climate risks facing U.S. cities and the adaptation actions cities are taking to improve their resilience. This is the first time CDP will release data from the expanded group of more than 40 U.S. cities reporting in 2015. Examples from previous CDP responses include risks in Atlanta of increased urban heat-island effects, risks in Los Angeles of more intense heat waves, and risks in Cleveland of increased frequency of large storms. These datasets will inform policymakers, business leaders and communities on how cities are managing the risks posed by climate change, including the threat to public health.
- City of San Francisco: The City of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health is announcing the release of its first Climate and Health Profile on the City’s website. Using datasets from 32 local, state and federal sources, the Profile analyzes publicly available data to show the direct effect of rising temperatures, increased precipitation and reduced air quality on public health in San Francisco communities. Using climate projections from NOAA, Cal-Adapt, and local sources, along with data about socioeconomic factors, environmental exposure, infrastructure conditions, health and hazard risks, the Profile prioritizes health impacts and identifies neighborhoods that may be disproportionately impacted. The effort aims to leverage the City’s open-data efforts to help boost San Francisco’s climate preparedness and resilience.
- EMC Corporation: EMC is announcing a partnership with Ben Gurion University to design a cutting-edge surveillance engine for the rapid detection and control of vector-, water-, and food-borne diseases that are affected by climate change. Leveraging open data – including Federal health and climate data – along with EMC’s Big Data Analytics technology, the surveillance engine will utilize recent advances in Next Generation Sequencing technology to analyze pathogens in samples from water, food, and animals, delivering more accurate and rapid results. Insights emerging from this technology may include, for example, how the geographical distribution of pathogens are affected by environmental changes.
- Esri: Esri is committing to collaborate with HHS and the National Institutes of Health to sponsor a climate and health app challenge to be formally launched later this year. To support this challenge, Esri will make its developers-platform available and stand up an open data site for developers to easily access and explore free open-data services (including dynamic Landsat services) to fuel the app challenge. In addition, this spring, Esri will convene a whiteboarding session with local government stakeholders to uncover common needs for targeted applications related to climate and health that can be openly shared. To support the app challenge and whiteboarding session, in April, Esri will launch an online collaboration site to showcase current best practices, model applications and share data services to inspire ongoing connections and dialog among developers and users of applications to understand climate change and health impacts. Esri will also collaborate with data.gov to embed a tool that enables immediate viewing of spatial-data services from data.gov directly in Esri platforms, encouraging innovation with open government data.
- Four Twenty Seven. Four Twenty Seven is committing to provide a climate risk assessment for 100 of the country’s health care facilities with large patient populations. Building on the vulnerability assessment framework developed as part of the Obama Administration’s Climate Resilience Toolkit, Four Twenty Seven will screen crucial health facilities and deliver an interactive, publicly accessible online dashboard that enables users to identify risk hotspots, key drivers of risk, and the types of impacts faced by specific hospitals. This analysis and dashboard will support decision-making by enabling policy makers to visualize at-risk assets, prioritize resources, and communicate the urgency of boosting climate resilience in health care facilities.
- Google: Google is committing to donate ten million hours of high-performance computing and to host key daily public climate-related data on its Google Earth Engine geospatial analysis platform. This will enable scientists and practitioners to work to eliminate global infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, and to visualize global fires and oil and gas flares over time. Google will dedicate staff time to technically assist these scientists in the creation of early warning capabilities, and publicly-available, dynamically updating disease-risk maps.
- Harvard University: The Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA) will build an open and freely available master registry of global web-map service layers and other online geospatial data assets related to climate and health, and will provide access to this registry via a public API. Any web or desktop client will be able to search the registry and find and bind to millions of otherwise hard to find dynamic map layers. The CGA will provide a map-centric visualization client to enable users to see where on the planet data layers exist, even when results returned are in the millions. The CGA will also develop a geospatial data platform capable of providing search and visualization of a billion geo-tweets (tweets containing geographic coordinates via GPS). These resources will be made open source and freely available to help with crisis response and to improve understanding of how global environmental changes affect the spread of infectious diseases.
- Microsoft: In order to improve disease surveillance systems’ ability to detect disease emergence prior to an outbreak, Microsoft Research is prototyping an experimental autonomous system to help detect pathogens in the environment before they infect people. This system aims to collect large amounts of mosquitoes at low-cost by automating and updating classical entomological techniques. This effort envisions drone-deployed devices that can collect mosquitoes autonomously and conduct gene-sequencing and pathogen detection computationally. This technique has the potential to serve as an early warning system for vector borne disease outbreaks and may assist health officials in planning for the impacts of climate change on public health. Microsoft is currently prototyping a system in the Southern Caribbean, with consent from nearby communities. Recognizing that safety and security are essential to the project, the autonomous systems are being designed using state-of-the-art secure operating systems, verifiable programming languages, and advanced artificial intelligence.
- Plotly: Plotly will incorporate into its data-analytics and data-visualization platform key open federal health and climate datasets made available through the President’s Climate Data Initiative. Plotly will create tutorials that demonstrate how to use statistical, analytical, and visual tools to explore and explain climate trends and data. Plotly will also challenge its hundreds of thousands of users to find new ways to analyze and visualize these datasets with the goal of gaining new insights about how climate change affects human health.
- Propeller Health: Propeller Health, a digital respiratory health company, is announcing that it will build a national Asthma Risk Map for the United States, through which citizens can track how climate change may affect the frequency and severity of asthma attacks and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations. To accomplish this, Propeller Health will expand its current municipal public health asthma programs, such as AIR Louisville, to five cities across the United States in the next two years. These programs use Propeller’s sensors, which can fit on top of inhaled medications for asthma and COPD. With patient consent, the sensors collect crowd-sourced data on the time and location of inhaled medication use. Using predictive spatial modeling techniques and open government data resources, Propeller will identify areas in U.S. cities where the impacts of climate change will be felt most acutely by people with chronic respiratory disease over the next 10 to 100 years and beyond. These models will consider modifiable predictors such as air pollution and transportation in addition to climate conditions to help municipalities plan collaboratively for the impacts of climate change on health and to identify the most promising interventions that could be implemented now to reduce this burden.
- Public Health Institute: The Public Health Institute is today releasing a new report on "Climate Change, Health, and Equity: Opportunities for Action," that explores the intersections of climate, health and equity, and the many ways society can take action in this domain. The report, which is funded by the Kresge Foundation, is based on a review of literature, interviews with more than one-hundred public health experts and community health advocates, and recommendations from several convenings on climate change and health. The report may be used by public health professionals to help identify intersections among current public health practice and opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change, and increase community climate change resilience.
- Quantified Self Labs: Quantified Self Labs will launch a series of community challenges focused on generating new methods for sensing, visualizing, and understanding personal health in the context of environmental data, with special emphasis at the hyper-local scale of individuals, families, and neighborhoods. Quantified Self will work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and other entities to launch Personal & Community Environmental Data Challenges, calling on researchers and companies making wearables, sensing, data-visualization, and digital health-tools to join a national conversation about the importance of gaining a more detailed view of environmental impacts on health. The community challenge will be formally launched at the 2015 Quantified Self and Public Health Symposium to be held this May in San Diego.
- Urban Sustainability Directors Network: Building on its Getting Smart About Smart Cities Resource Guide for municipal staff, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network is developing a sustainable technology toolkit and framework to further assist cities in deploying new technologies and using data to help reduce carbon emissions and protect public health. This toolkit will examine key sustainability sectors such as waste, buildings, transportation, infrastructure, energy, and citizen engagement and feature specific technologies or techniques used, exemplary companies, deployment benefits and challenges, key metrics and measurement for success, as well as public and private sector contacts. Working with Nutter Consulting and the Institute for Sustainable Communities, the toolkit aims to spread best practices, raise awareness and offer the tools needed for rapid deployment.
- Vizonomy: Using models forecasting through the end of the century and open federal data at the climate and health nexus, Vizonomy will identify world regions that may be subject to increased exposure to West Nile virus and tropical diseases - namely malaria and dengue fever. In addition, Vizonomy will address projected impacts to human health associated with increases in particulate matter concentrations due to wildfire risk. As open federal datasets mature, more diseases and areas will be studied and displayed on the Vizomony’s ASTERRA climate-risk analytics platform. The resulting additional capabilities will allow cities to better prepare public health policy based on the needs of current and future vulnerable populations. These results will be available publicly and will complement the economic-loss analysis completed through ASTERRA on sea level rise and flood risk, which is based on methodologies used by FEMA.
Commitments From Academic Leaders Across The Country To Train The Next Generation Of Health Professionals To Address The Health Impacts Of Climate Change
A coalition of Deans from 30 medical, nursing, and public health schools around the country are committing to ensuring that the next generation of health professionals are trained to effectively address the health impacts of climate change. On April 9th, White House Senior Advisor Brian Deese will host a number of Deans of medical, public health and nursing universities, colleges, and schools that made this commitment for a roundtable discussion around climate change and health. Today’s commitment builds on leadership of many educators around the country that have already begun incorporating climate change into their respective programs. The schools making commitments today include:
- College of Medicine, Howard University
- School of Medicine, University of California-Davis
- School of Medicine, University of California-San Francisco
- College of Osteopathic Medicine, Des Moines University
- College of Medicine, University of Nebraska
- School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University
- School of Public Health, University of Alabama
- School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley
- Fielding School of Public Health, University of California-Los Angeles
- Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
- Drexel University School of Public Health, Drexel University
- Milken Institute of Public Health, George Washington University
- T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University
- Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
- School of Public Health, University of Maryland
- College of Public Health, University of Nebraska
- Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina
- School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh
- School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University
- School of Public Health, University of Washington
- School of Public Health, Yale University
- School of Nursing, University of California-San Francisco
- Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University
- School of Nursing, John Hopkins University
- School of Nursing, University of Maryland-Baltimore
- School of Nursing, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
- College of Nursing, New York University
- School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania
- College of Nursing, Washington State University
Building On Progress:
This week’s actions build on a series of steps we are taking across the Administration through the President’s Climate Action Plan to reduce the dangerous levels of carbon pollution that are contributing to climate change, prepare our communities for the impacts that cannot be avoided, and lead internationally, including:
- Clean Power Plan: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on track to finalize guidelines to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants this summer. The proposed standards, issued in June 2014 would reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 while delivering $55-93 billion in annual net benefits from reducing carbon pollution and other harmful pollutants, and preventing 150,000 asthma attacks and up to 6,600 premature deaths and 180,000 missed school days.
- Standards for Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles: In February 2014, President Obama directed EPA and the Department of Transportation to issue the next phase of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016. These will build on the first-ever standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (model years 2014 through 2018), proposed and finalized by this Administration.
- Energy Efficiency Standards: The Department of Energy set a goal of reducing carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 through energy conservation standards issued during this Administration. The Department of Energy has already finalized energy conservation standards for 29 categories of appliances and equipment as well as a building code determination for commercial buildings. These measures will also cut consumers' annual electricity bills by billions of dollars.
- Economy-Wide Measures to Reduce other Greenhouse Gases: EPA and other agencies are taking actions to cut methane emissions from oil and gas systems, landfills, coal mining, and agriculture, through cost-effective voluntary actions and common-sense standards. At the same time, the State Department is working to slash global emissions of potent industrial greenhouse gases, called HFCs, through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol; EPA is cutting domestic HFC emissions through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program; and, the private sector has stepped up with commitments to cut global HFC emissions equivalent to 700 million metric tons through 2025.