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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

Climate change's diffusion at 50!: 01/04/2016

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

While scientists first warned about climate change from human activities 50 years ago, recent signs suggest more acceptance by non-scientists regarding the mounting evidence and a need to intervene, suggests an editorial recently published in Science.

Marcia McNutt, Science's editor, explains climate change was predicted intially in a report to the White House by the U.S. President's Science Advisory Committee in 1965. McNutt writes the committee first warned 50 years ago that there could be (and we quote): 'marked changes in climate, not controllable through local or even national efforts' (end of quote).

Although McNutt notes the early climate warming predictions seemed distant and uncertain, she counters (and we quote): 'Today, we are already experiencing impacts from climate change' (end of quote).

However, McNutt suggests as geophysical events become more consistent with the initial scientific predictions about climate change, there are signs of wider acceptance among groups that once were skeptical about the links between climate change and human activities.

For example, McNutt writes (and we quote): 'within the past few weeks, ten oil producers, representing 20 percent of global product, have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by curbing the flaring of natural gas and investing in carbon capture and storage' (end of quote).

McNutt explains the involvement of the oil producers is a de facto acknowledgement (and we quote) 'that climate change is a serious problem and that energy companies need to be part of the solution' (end of quote).

In addition, McNutt reports 12 large, international, non-energy corporations recently pledged to invest more than $140 billion to curtail their carbon dioxide emissions in the next five to 10 years.

Besides increased corporate interest, McNutt praises the recent efforts of religious leaders to create more awareness about the ethical implications of climate change. McNutt writes (and we quote): 'Pope Francis has done perhaps the most to raise world awareness of the moral imperative to take action on climate change for the sake of the most disadvantaged members of society, who have done the least to cause the problem' (end of quote).

McNutt adds while there are occasional setbacks from those who deny the implications of climate warming, she notes there is leadership within the U.S. Congress to address climate change's challenges.

McNutt's editorial also leads an issue of Science that provides several new scientific studies about the adverse impacts of changing ocean temperatures. For example, one article reports how recent changes in sea temperatures adversely impact some animal populations. A scientific study explains how warmer sea water adversely impacted cod populations and led to the recent collapse of the cod fishing industry in the Gulf of Maine.

Otherwise, the health risks of climate change are succinctly explained in a website from the World Health Organization within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's climate change health topic page.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds how health is impacted by climate issues such as: air pollution, allergens, wildfires, temperature extremes, precipitation extremes, food and waterborne diarrheal disease, and food security within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's climate change health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's climate change health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. You also can sign up to receive updates about climate change as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's climate change health topic page, please type 'climate change' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'climate change (National Library of Medicine).'

I should note it is interesting to end 2015 by noting the diffusion of a once-scientific idea to the public takes time — in this case about a half century.

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