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On July 31st APSR Board Member, Dr. Elliot Trester, spoke at a press conference at Austin City Hall on the health impacts of climate change. In addition, Dr. Trester praised President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the Austin City Council’s efforts to make renewables a significant part of Austin’s energy portfolio.
Members of the Austin City Council, (Mike Martinez and Chris Riley) and other environmental organizations attended. Special thanks to Environment Texas for organizing this event.
Dr. Testers’ speech has been transcribed below:
My name is Elliot Trester and I have been a family doctor here in Austin for over the last 30 years. As a physician, I am interested in the well-being of my patients as I see them individually in my office, but also I am interested in their well-being as members of the community on a local, state, national and international scale. That is why I am on the board of Austin Physicians for Social Responsibility and why I am here at this press conference today.
I would like to than President Obama for making climate change an important issue during his second term. I would also like to thank the forward thinking City Council of Austin for its efforts to decrease greenhouse gases and make renewable energy sources an important part of our electricity generation. Austin is definitely in the forefront in this area.
President Obama’s climate plan will have a direct effect on my patients. Step one, cutting carbon emissions, will lead to fewer ozone action days. The effect of increased ozone in the air is particularly dangerous to the young and old, with increased respiratory problems, especially asthma. Smog also results in cardiac problems as well mostly in the elderly.
President Obama wants to prepare the country for the impacts of climate change. As a public health measure, this is quite important. We remember the fires of Bastrop that occurred only two years ago. Fortunately, the loss of life was minimal, but the destruction of so many homes caused amazing psychologic problems that will have long lasting health repercussions. The same is true of the recent floods in San Antonio, where there was loss of life as well as loss of property. In addition having electricity off for extended periods of time and having trouble obtaining potable water lead to health problems.
President Obama finally wants to work on an international level to combat climate change and prepare for its impacts. We are all affected by the ravages of drought in the Sub Sahara or a tsunami in Japan on one level or another. The earth is more connected than it has ever been, and we all benefit from having the effects of climate change ameliorated to the best of our ability.
Some of you may have noticed that there has been an increase in typhus in Austin. This disease used to be limited to South Texas, but climate change has helped to make it endemic here now. There are other diseases that might do the same so that mitigating climate change and being prepared for diseases that might not have been found in an area is an important new goal for the medical community.
PSR’s mission statement is that we work to protect human life from the gravest threats to health and survival, guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health. Our vision is a healthy, just and peaceful world for present and future generations. I believe that the President’s policies on climate change and the city of Austin’s initiatives to produce electricity from renewable sources as well as encouraging our efficiency in the use of energy and other assets blend well with PSR’s declaration.