Enviromedics: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
6.3 X 0.9 X 9.0 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

Jay Lemery, MD, is Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Chief of the Section of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, and an affiliate faculty member of the Colorado School of Public Health. He is a past-president of the Wilderness Medical Society and has provided medical direction to health care providers operating at both poles, most recently serving as the EMS medical director for the U.S. Antarctic Program. Dr. Lemery has expertise in austere and remote medical care, as well as the effects of climate change on human health. He serves as a consultant for the Climate and Health Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and sits on the National Academy of Medicine's (IOM) Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine. He serves as Associate Director for the University of Colorado's Consortium on Climate Change & Health. He is co-Editor of Global Climate Change and Human Heath: From Science to Practice (2015), and an advisor to the organization Climate for Health (ecoAmerica), the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, and the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health. He also holds academic appointments at the Harvard School of Public Health (FXB Center), where he is a contributing editor for its Journal, Health and Human Rights, and was Guest Editor for the June 2014 edition on 'Climate Justice.' Twitter: @JayLemery. Paul Auerbach, MD, is the Redlich Family Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor of Military/Emergency Medicine at the F. Edward HΓ©bert School of Medicine of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He is a founder and past president of the Wilderness Medical Society and elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Auerbach is editor of the definitive textbook Wilderness Medicine and author of Field Guide to Wilderness Medicine and Medicine for the Outdoors. He was the founding co-editor of the journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine and is one of the world's leading experts in wilderness medicine and emergency medicine. Dr. Auerbach served as a first responder to the earthquakes in Haiti (2010) and Nepal (2015) and was instrumental in creation of the Nepal Ambulance Service. Former Chief of the Divisions of Emergency Medicine at Vanderbilt and Stanford Universities, he has also been a faculty member at Temple University and the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Auerbach was one of the first proponents of physicians becoming active participants in the discussions on issues related to the environment and global climate change through his activities with the Environmental Council of the Wilderness Medical Society and a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2008 titled "Physicians and the Environment" and creation of the Environmental Council of the Wilderness Medical Society. He has been honored by the Divers Alert Network as the DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year and with a NOGI Award for Science from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences, and recognized by the 98th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) for his work in Haiti. He continues to seek opportunities to assist others and make the world a better place. For updates on the authors and on book related activities check out enviromedics.org.


Global warming is hazardous to human health. Lemery and Auerbach, emergency-medicine physicians and past presidents of the Wilderness Medical Society, invent the word enviromedics to describe the medical consequences of environmental change, and argue that droughts, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, pollution, and toxic waste jeopardize the future of humankind. "Earth will go on, no matter what we do to it," they say. "The more pertinent question is, will we?" Flooding causes allergenic mold, and hotter temperatures lead to, among other things, disease-carrying mosquitoes spreading to more locations. Despite detailing a scary list of horrors, the authors beg people not to give up. After all, they say, 42 percent of U.S. adults smoked 50 years ago, and only 17 percent do today. They credit regulations (bans in public places), economics (the increased cost of cigarettes), and awareness of medical science (media campaigns). Could a similar approach work when it comes to global warming? They give the last word to young people, such as Caroline Spears, co-director of Students for a Sustainable Stanford. "I can either give up or be inspired," she says. "I choose the latter." In their well-researched, fact-filled treatise, Lemery and Auerbach passionately make the case for how the continuation of the human species depends on people taking better care of the planet by investing in renewable energies, consuming wisely, voting for motivated public officials, and speaking out to give future generations a chance. It's a sobering and empowering message.--Booklist, Starred Review
In anticipating the consequences of climate change, there has been insufficient discussion of the discrete medical consequences and the arising health care challenges. This thoughtful book provides a framework upon which to categorize, anticipate, and understand such critical medical issues. Lemery and Auerbach's work is pioneering and will be the standard in this field.--Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, Professor of Medicine, Stanford University; recipient of the National Humanities Medal; author of Cutting for Stone
With this book, Lemery and Auerbach do what physicians do best: assess the patient's presenting symptoms, consider and apply the evidence at hand, and prescribe a path forward. They demonstrate the unique value that a medical perspective brings to the greatest health threat of the 21st century -- climate change.--Nick Watts, Executive Director, Lancet Commission: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change
An eloquent, gentle, compassionate, humble, logical and clear communication -- just the sort that all of us want from our doctors. The language and logic are easy to understand and, by not being 'preachy'-- the book is all the more persuasive. This is an important book that, like Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, should be read by all members of the public as well as by the medical profession.--Hugh Montgomery, MD, FRCP, FRGS, FRSB, FFICM, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine; Director of the Institute for Human Health and Performance, University College London
Doctors Lemery and Auerbach have done the world a great service by providing a straightforward and understandable must-read book that clearly connects human health with an often overlooked and unavoidably essential variable -- our environment!--Richard Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States; Distinguished Professor of Public Health, University of Arizona
Jay Lemery and Paul Auerbach's book reads like the plot of a disaster movie -- but that is exactly what climate change is. It brings to life the human element and the reasons why we really need to worry and take immediate action. It is a must-read for global policy makers.--Vivek Wadhwa, Distinguished Fellow, Carnegie Mellon School of Engineering; syndicated columnist, The Washington Post
Enviromedics is a very successful effort by Doctors Lemery and Auerbach that teaches us the effects and consequences of the impacts of environmental change upon human health. This comprehensive collection of information puts forth an easily understood critical concept that will undoubtedly be discussed, debated, and researched. Regardless of your opinion on climate change, it is essential to understand how environmental change could alter the reality of your day-to-day ability to function in an optimally healthy way. As physicians and global healthcare advocates, the authors make a convincing case that climate change creates definable causes and distribution of illnesses that will impact the human condition. Their point is that to treat these illnesses is not enough. The ability of mankind to survive resides in humans treating the environmental in the same way that we care for each other. If you are looking for a thorough understanding of environmental change and how it might be impacting your, your family's, and your world's health, this book is a must-read.--Dan Orr, MS, President Emeritus, Divers Alert Network Foundation; President, Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences
Enviromedics is a compelling dive into the essential topic of health in a changing climate. Through a readable tour of the science and gripping examples, Lemery and Auerbach highlight the ways that shifting climate and related extreme conditions, heat waves to flooding, are affecting people. Whether the connections are direct or indirect, they are exceeding human limits for tolerance across global geographies. The authors underscore a key implication -- responding effectively to the climate challenge can build vibrant societies with safety, health, and well-being at the core.--Katharine Mach, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Climate change is a medical issue. That's the starting point for Jay Lemery and Paul Auerbach in their compelling new book. They write about what doctors will face as more and more patients walk through their doors feeling dizzy and vomiting from heat stress, with burns from fighting wildfires, or with a mosquito-borne disease that never used to be found in these parts. It's already happening and can only get worse, much worse. Their message is vital to the health of this and future generations.--Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University; author of Earthmasters
Lemery and Auerbach have done a superb job demonstrating how and explaining why climate change threatens everyone. They have taken an issue understood by very few people and - in a clear and compelling fashion - shown why this needs to be regarded as a central aspect of global health and well-being.--Mark Plotkin, PhD, LHD, President, Amazon Conservation Team; author of Medicine Quest: In Search of Nature's Healing Secrets
Enviromedics is the most important book ever written about how the changes in our environment affect human health. Doctors understand the effects of diet, stress, lack of exercise, and sleep on health and disease. But our health care system mostly ignores the effects of pollution and climate change on human health. As the authors point out, Earth will survive these insults, but human life itself may not. This book should be read by everyone, including policy makers, health care professionals, and anyone who cares about their personal health.--Mark Hyman, MD, Director, Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine; author of 10-Day Detox Diet
Climate scientists often speak about the impacts of climate change in reference to aspects of our ecosystem, such as rising temperatures, rising seas, and more frequent extreme weather events. In Enviromedics, Doctors Lemery and Auerbach successfully identify the ominous links between climate change and human health, including mental health. This incredibly well-researched and well-written book by subject matter experts from the health field provides great insight into why we ALL should care deeply about preventing the worst effects of climate change.--Bill Ritter, former Governor of Colorado
The health of humans and environmental conditions on Earth are profoundly intertwined. I am immensely impressed by this book. Enviromedics takes the reader beyond debates about environmental change and its causes to a thoughtful, science-based discussion about the relationship between climate change and human health. This is a worthy conversation to be had among health care providers, and even more importantly, among our general populations. The authors take their Hippocratic oath seriously for the benefit of society and our precious planet.--Chad P. Dawson, Professor Emeritus, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Editor-in-chief, International Journal of Wilderness; co-author, Wilderness Management: Stewardship and Protection of Resources and Values
Enviromedics is a timely and lucid account of the health effects caused by human-induced environmental change. The current and future consequences of this health crisis are widespread and monumental in their scale and scope. The world's poorest people are the most severely impacted yet the most obviously under-addressed by anything approaching climate justice. Enviromedics should be required reading for anyone who has an interest in better understanding this unprecedented heath care crisis and how to address it.--David Breashears, Executive Director, GlacierWorks; acclaimed filmmaker, author, and mountaineer
The real crisis of climate change is one of public perception, and far too few of us realize the catastrophe that we're headed into. Lemery and Auerbach bring forth the human element from climate change - they bring us to the bedside and force us to rethink our risk assessment. For that reason alone, Enviromedics is one of the most important books of the year.--James Balog, Director, Extreme Ice Survey and Earth Vision Institute
It isn't remotely possible to remove your body, and its health, from the environment you live in, air you breathe, food you eat. Enviromedics persuasively explains what we have done to our planet, and how we are already paying a price for climate change with our health. Heed Lemery and Auerbach's message, before it's too late.--Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer; author of I Heard the Sirens Scream
Many adolescents have the delusion that pretending to be invincible makes one so. They soon learn: taking risks with no benefits is often future-wrecking. America and other nations can no longer behave that way. They cannot ignore the evidence of impending collapse: ruined oceans, lands, and atmospheres, and thus sick people. During "teachable moments" in the emergency room, doctors sometimes confront people who are endangered by self-inflicted disease. With Enviromedics, these experienced and accessible doctors are intervening at a moment of urgency, offering their informed concerns and asserting the changes that their patient, all of us, must make. Every person, young and old, should read Enviromedics.--Richard J. Jackson, MD MPH, Professor, Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles; author of Making Healthy Places; host of the PBS series "Designing Healthy Communities"
It's difficult for many Americans, particularly in this politically charged period, to know how to think about global climate change. Often they have no contact with scientists or environmentalists, and probably little confidence in their views. But they know and trust their doctors and nurses. And they care about the health of their families. That is why Lemery and Auerbach's explanation of the link between climate change and personal health is such an important and useful contribution. And, as a bonus, it's an easy read.--Frank Loy, Former United States Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
Smoking tobacco was a scourge to human health. In January 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report on smoking and human health. This courageous physician and others spoke their minds independent from global industrial interests, and their efforts triggered a series of concerted efforts by government and nongovernmental organizations to reduce the toll of cigarette smoking. With Enviromedics, Lemery and Auerbach bring to light a considerably greater threat. They describe hazards that are associated with global warming and the consequences for humanity, whether now or in the future. "Earth will survive. It is the living creatures that may perish." We simply cannot ignore this possibility. The authors are emergency physicians who practice on the front lines and each day see the repercussions of global climate change. As experts in wilderness medicine, they know better than most the impacts of nature on human welfare. This amazing book is worth reading for anyone who is not afraid to contemplate what we are doing and how we must reverse course for the benefit of planet Earth.--Hermann Brugger, MD, Head of the Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine, EURAC research, Bolzano, Italy; President of the International Society of Mountain Medicine
Lemery and Auerbach, of the schools of medicine at the University of Colorado and Stanford University, respectively, adopt a no-nonsense 'doctor's approach' as they survey the effects of climate change on public health. As 'doctors on the front line, ' the authors regularly observe the medical ramifications 'of climate change, pollution, and the reduction of biodiversity.' Their aim here is to spotlight how changing environments affect health, using a 'fusion science' they call 'enviromedics.' The authors document manifestations of climate change alongside medical case histories that support their bleak conclusion that climate change will worsen preexisting health problems. The patients profiled include Sid, an elderly man with lung disease whose condition is exacerbated on days with an unhealthy air-quality index; Mark, who contracted malaria (one of several tropical diseases creeping into higher latitudes) from mosquitoes in New Jersey; Amanda, whose already severe allergies are bound to worse as pollen counts are predicted to 'more than double by 2040'; and John, who suffered a reaction to mussels tainted by an algae bloom, itself a result of elevated oceanic carbon dioxide levels. Climate science will continue to evolve, Lemery and Auerbach concede, but 'if Earth is warming because of global climate change, then human health will suffer.'--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
There is a growing understanding that climate change is impacting a broad range of health outcomes. Two emergency medicine experts have assembled evidence from several disciplines to demonstrate that politically motivated national and corporate behavior is creating dire consequences for global health. The information is presented in 15 chapters that tackle such diverse topics as vector-borne diseases, extreme weather, mental health, algal blooms, and food and water security. All in all, this is a brief book; its 146-page text is annotated with extensive references. The authors believe human-caused changes to our environment may soon "become irreversible," and their evidence is compelling. Though their backgrounds are in medicine, the authors' climate science is sound, with an appropriate emphasis on biodiversity and environmental justice. The examples are straightforward, and the writing is intended for a popular audience. The authors' prescription for the future requires acceptance of "the science" to unite people in the pursuit of a common future. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.--CHOICE
With Enviromedics, Lemery and Auerbach join the ranks of dauntless physician and public health colleagues who highlighted the grave risks of tobacco smoke and nuclear war and demonstrated the potential for collective action grounded in the principles of medical science. The book is an excellent primer for those who would like to know more, a gentle prod for those on the cusp, and an accessible treatise for the skeptic. It is a call to action, and, happily, a celebration of several inspiring young people already taking significant action around climate change and health. In the afterword, they share testimonies from 5 young people committed to climate action, highlighting their motivations, their passion, and their optimism, a nice shot in the arm and a great way to end their stirring book.--Annals of Emergency Medicine