Friday, April 25, 2008

Global Warming Preparedness

Considering the current and just concluded year’s weather, the more appropriate question might be, will Sacramento become like Santa Cruz rather than Phoenix or Tucson, and the salient point is “first we need to educate ourselves”, starting with the reality, or not, of global warming, now being referred to as climate change—a change in terminology itself a clue to our knowledge.

Climate change a concern for public health officials
By Chris Bowman -
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, April 25, 2008

While California leads the nation's charge against global warming pollution, local health officials lag on preparedness for the expected fallout of more frequent and more severe heat waves, bad air days and disease epidemics.

Sacramento County officials interviewed Thursday said they have yet to define their roles as first-responders to climate- related illnesses and deaths.

"We are starting to gather the data on what to expect and how to respond," said Val Siebal, county environmental management director.

Siebal convened the first meeting last week with county heads of public health, mosquito control and human assistance. They raised daunting questions:

Will Sacramento become like Phoenix or Tucson? Should homes and roads be designed to reflect rather than absorb the sun's radiation?

Should mental health specialists be enlisted to help residents cope with longer heat spells and a warmer Delta breeze? Will the region see a resurgence of malaria – the scourge of early Sacramento – or the emergence of such tropical diseases as dengue fever?

"I'm not sure I know all the implications of climate change," said Dr. Glennah Trochet, county public health officer. "We need to educate the decision-makers and the public, but first we need to educate ourselves."