Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content

Support PSR!

Your membership supports PSR's work to reduce global warming, eliminate toxics in our environment and abolish nuclear weapons. YOU make our work possible. Thank you.

Donate Now »

Take Action

Demand that the Department of Energy uphold its promise of a full cleanup of SSFL by submitting a comment today.

PSR Testifies on Global Warming Before EPA

Posted by Barbara Gottlieb on May 21, 2009

Dr. Peter Wilk testifying before the EPA
Testifying before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PSR executive director Dr. Peter Wilk called global warming one of the “gravest threats to health and survival” facing the world today.  He spoke at a public hearing on the EPA’s proposed endangerment finding. 

The endangerment finding would recognize global warming as presenting a threat to public health and welfare, and would allow the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and five other gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect.

PSR board member Dr. Cindy Parker also presented testimony, and PSR board president Dr. Evan Kanter testified before the EPA in its west coast hearing on May 21.

Urging the EPA to adopt and act on the proposed finding, Dr. Wilk enumerated some of the health threats from global warming, including:

• Extreme heat.  Noting that heat waves are already the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., Dr. Wilk cited research estimates that, if warming is not slowed, “Chicago will experience 25 percent more frequent heat waves, while the number of annual heat wave days in Los Angeles will rise from 12 to between 44 and 95 – the upper end of this range marking a 692 percent increase.”

• Exacerbated air pollution.  “A recent study… projects that across 50 U.S. cities, the number of unsafe air days – days when ozone levels exceed the EPA’s 8-hour air quality standard – will increase by 68 percent… the number of unhealthy ‘red alert’ days (days when everyone, young and old, healthy and infirm, is advised to avoid prolonged outdoor exertion) is expected to more than double…”

• West Nile Virus:  The disease, “unseen in the U.S. as recently as 1999, has spread to 47 states as warmer winters and changing precipitation patterns allow conditions for an expansion of the mosquito population.”

• Intense precipitation and flooding:  Storms and floods can generate “agricultural runoff… metals, pesticides, pathogens, and fecal indicator bacteria.  … All of these have been linked to adverse public health effects that increase the risk of human illness.”

Dr. Wilk ended his remarks by saying, “[T]here is ample scientific evidence that greenhouse gases cause global warming, that human health and welfare is endangered, and that regulatory action is necessary to reduce by substantial amounts the emissions responsible for climate change. We call on the EPA to act now.”

PSR board member Dr. Cindy Parker added several factors to the inventory of health concerns from global warming, including:

• The danger of sea level rise, including the impossibility of evacuating such basic health infrastructure as hospitals, water and sewage facilities, and disaster response systems.
• The negative impact of global warming on food production.
• The threat to global security as environmental resources become scarce.
• The likelihood of increased incidences of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems.

Dr. Parker also participated in a related press conference where she called global warming “the biggest threat to human health of this century.” 


Leave your comment

Enter this word: Change

Action Alerts

  • It's time to put our health before polluter profits

    Climate change is endangering us now, harming public health and causing damage to our communities from extreme weather events. Tell your senators that rolling back methane pollution standards, a key step in our fight against climate change, is unacceptable!

  • Tell Congress: Protect our Health -- Oppose extreme anti-health bills

    Congress should ensure that federal agencies enforce laws that protect our water, air quality and public health--not curb the power of those agencies to carry out their mission. Tell your representative you oppose the REINS Act and the Midnight Rule Relief Act of 2017.

More action alerts»


  • Climate Change and Famine

    Climate change is already threatening the Earth’s ability to produce food. These effects are expected to worsen as climate change worsens. Read more »

  • Congressional Review Act Handout

    Congress is poised to use the CRA to dismantle Clean Air and Clean Water protections. CRA allows Congress by majority vote in both chambers (with limited debate and no opportunity for a filibuster) to void recently issued rules-resulting in communities losing dozens of health, safety and environmental protections. Read more »

  • Fact Sheet on Anti-Health Bills

    The House of Representatives has introduced several bills that will jeopardize federal rules that protect our air, water and overall safety. Read more »

In the Spotlight

  • November 30, 2016
    Eating for Climate and Health
    PSR's new PowerPoint presentation on how climate change impacts food production, and agriculture's contribution to climate change.