Cohen Lecture 2019: Climate Change Offers an Opportunity for Public Health Advances

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on October 29, 2019

The global climate crisis is causing many health impacts from increasing mosquito-borne illness, posing a threat to the food supply, and a surge in extreme weather incidents, among others. But for global climate expert Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Global Health Institute, the challenges posed by climate change, pose an incredible opportunity to impact public health.

“Regardless of one’s views on climate change science, I think we can all support clean air, healthier schools, physically fit adults and children, reduced stress, depression, and anxiety,” said Dr. Patz. “There is no reason to delay this.”

Dr. Patz shared his vision for a healthier future with the USciences community and friends during the Lois K. Cohen Endowed Lecture Series in Global Health on October 24, 2019, on campus. 

The lecture entitled “Breaking Our Fossil Fuel Addiction: Possibly the Largest Health Opportunity of the Century” was attended by USciences students, faculty, staff, and friends of the University and was followed by a “fireside chat” conversation with Lois K. Cohen, PhD, consultant and Paul G. Rogers Ambassador for Global Health Research, and E. Amy Janke, PhD, interim chair of the department of behavioral and social sciences at USciences.

Dr. Patz empowered those in attendance to spread the word about this opportunity to make the world healthier in response to climate change by making advances to ensure society is low carbon. He suggested sharing his talk from TEDxOshkosh and to become a vocal advocate for advances in their own communities.

“Combating climate change might even be a net gain when you think of public health and climate change,” said Dr. Patz. “When you think about the actions needed to combat climate change… we can make ourselves healthier.”

The Lois K. Cohen Endowed Lecture Series in Global Health is made possible through the generosity of Ilene Warner-Maron PhD'07 in honor of her aunt Dr. Cohen. Dr. Cohen was formerly associate director for International Health--National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland. During her 55-year career, she has edited and authored four books on the social sciences and dentistry, and published more than 150 professional journal articles.

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