EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy warned that climate change is affecting the physical and “mental health status” of humans, “probably impacting how happy you are every day.”
“Frankly, it is a wake-up call because there are a number of impacts we are seeing here that we are already feeling, and a number of impacts so that you can virtually see that every human being in every part of the United States is impacted now by climate and will get increasingly impacted if we do not take action now to try to reduce those impacts,” McCarthy said at the White House during an event announcing the Obama administration’s latest climate change report, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment.”
“So we are talking about everything from impacting our food, our water, our air and our weather and if that’s not enough it’s probably impacting how happy you are every day and what your mental health status is,” she added.
McCarthy said it is time to reduce carbon emissions resulting from human activity right away for the sake of public health.
“You’re seeing an actual increase in deaths and illnesses resulting from increasing challenges to meet our ozone standards, because as the weather gets warmer we see significant challenges in meeting the health-based standards we have set for ourselves,” she said, adding that wildfires have also become more of a challenge due to climate change.
John Holdren, President Obama’s science and technology advisor, said global climate change is causing longer and “more intense” allergy seasons as well as increased heat-related illnesses and deaths.
“The numbers are really very striking,” he said. “That means big increases in extreme heat events, extremely hot days and heat waves, which mean five or more hot days in a row.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, disagreed with McCarthy’s comments.
“There are numerous studies showing that happiness and mental health are most often tied to having strong family relationships. But supporting healthy families is a great weakness of this administration, in large part due to a shrinking middle class and tumultuous economy from seven years of burdensome big government mandates like we see at the EPA,” he said in a statement provided exclusively to PJM.
During the event, McCarthy said she hopes public officials invest in a “low carbon future” as a result of the latest report’s findings.
“This is the first time, I think, in history we have been able to really look at this and show it’s not just about polar bears and melting ice caps, it’s about our kids, it’s about families, it’s about our future, it’s about what our core value is and what we do to meet our moral responsibility to our kids and that future,” she said. “While you won’t be reading happy news, if knowledge is power, we need it and that’s what we have here for the first time.”
Holdren said the federal government is “not able to transform civilization’s energy system overnight” but America should begin reducing the emissions that primarily result from the combustion of fossil fuels.
“The amount of harm expected going forward will be much less if society takes aggressive, effective action to limit the amount of harm than if we don’t — a big difference in the expected consequences based on the action that we do or do not take,” he said.