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{Past Event} - Climate Change and the Role of the Health Care Clinician: Education, Mitigation and Adaptation

April 14, 2011 - 1:00 pm - April 14, 2011 - 1:00 pm -- Eastern Standard Time


Health professionals are going to be on the front lines of any climate-related disaster, responding to public health impacts. Overall, the need to treat illness and disease due to climate-related changes in our environment will continue to increase. At the same time, the healthcare industry will experience the climate crisis in its own operations, characterized by dramatically increasing energy costs, projected instability in the electric service provision grid, and intensified stressors placed on community health services, especially in times of disaster. On a direct financial level, energy costs are already squeezing operating margins and hijacking monies needed for other critical healthcare issues — many of which will only worsen due to future climate change.

In order to avert this coming crisis, it is crucial that the health sector develop an educated, effective voice in the climate policymaking process. To participate in this debate effectively, health professionals need to fully understand the science, be able to critically analyze real policy options, and express the health benefits of addressing climate change in concise, powerful terms that politicians will hear and act upon. Health system leaders can also derive powerful motivation from successful efforts to clean up their own house.

The U.S. EPA estimates that 30% of the healthcare sector’s current energy use — or $1.95 billion — could be reduced without sacrificing quality of care through a shift toward energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. International studies echo this conclusion, and show that roughly equivalent European hospitals consume half the energy of their U.S. and Canadian counterparts. Preliminary work that we have done shows that the direct medical expense associated with Boston health facility emissions is more than $2.4 million annually, in addition to $23 million in indirect societal costs for premature deaths, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and more. The inherent irony in this data can create huge leverage on a sector sworn to ‘do no harm.’


  • Participants will understand the science of climate change, how global temperatures are increasing and the environmental impacts of those changes in the ecology of our planet.
  • Participants will understand how the environmental impacts of climate change will affect human health.
  • Participants will understand how the health care sector can participate in mitigating the effects of climate change in seven areas: food service, water conservation, transportation, green building design, energy conservation and efficiency, waste disposal and management, and alternative energy generation.
  • Participants will understand how the health care sector can implement adaptation strategies to be better prepared to address the health impacts that will result from climate change.


Brenda Afzal, MS, RN , Health Care Without Harm
Telephone: 410-465-6907
Brenda M. Afzal, MS, RN is Health Care Without Harm’s Climate Change Policy Coordinator. She is engaged with several initiatives including environmental health education, advocacy and leadership development. Ms. Afzal works at the local, state, and federal level to developing nurses’ capacity to effectively engage in the emerging area of environmental health. She has helped to develop an effective network of state and national environmental and nursing organizations that have been engaging on common ground issues related to health and the environment. Most recently she has led an initiative to develop a national environmental health nursing alliance, known as the Alliance of Nurses for Health Environments. Ms Afzal has had extensive advocacy and leadership training. In 2007, she completed the League of Conservation Voter’s Leadership (LCV) ELI training and had previously completed LCV’s 2002 National Advocacy Academy in Washington, D.C. In December of 2006, Afzal completed a year long fellowship in Maryland Non-Profit Advocacy Leadership Training program, and she also completed the Rockwood Leadership Training “The Art of Leadership” in September 2002.

Robert Gould, MD, Kaiser Hospital
Telephone: 408-972-7299
Robert M. Gould, MD, has been a Pathologist at Kaiser Hospital in San Jose since 1981. Since 1989, he has been President of the SF Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), representing over 3,000 local physicians and health providers, and in 2003 was President of National PSR, currently comprised of approximately 25,000 members. As its mission statement indicates: “Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, PSR works to protect human life from the gravest threats to health and survival.” PSR’s historic efforts to educate the public about the dangers of nuclear war grew into an international movement with the founding of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), with whom PSR shared the Nobel Peace Price awarded to IPPNW in 1985. Dr. Gould speaks widely to diverse audiences about the public and environmental health impacts of nuclear war/weapons and global climate change, and related issues of environmental toxicants and degradation. He has authored numerous policies on these issues that have been adopted by the California Medical Association (CMA) and American Public Health Association (APHA), and the APHA in 2009 honored him with the Sidel-Levy Peace Award for his contributions. In addition, he is co-author of chapters on Biological Weapons, Nuclear Weapons, and Nuclear Terrorism in various editions of “War and Public Health” and “Terrorism and Public Health” (Oxford University Press), as well as contributions in many other publications on such subjects.

Webinar speakers have no financial or other interest in the sponsoring company and the sponsor has had no input into the content of the presentation.

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