By Cindy Parker, MD and Steven M. Shapiro, PhD
Among climate change’s harmful effects, damage to our health and well-being will be among the most pronounced. Scientists around the world now agree that climate change is occurring and largely is the result of human activity, so now the debate is about just how harmful climate change will be and what are the best ways to stop it. One of those scientists is author Cindy Parker, who believes climate change is the most health-damaging problem humanity has ever faced. Parker has immersed herself during the past ten years in educating the public and health professionals about how climate change will affect our health. Here, she and husband, Steve Shapiro, a psychologist and former journalist, describe what we can expect if climate change continues unabated.
The authors explain our possible physical and mental responses to such climate change factors as heat stress, poor air quality, insufficient water resources, and the rise of infectious diseases fueled by even minor increases in temperature. They also describe how other problems that may result from climate change—including sea level rise, extreme weather events, and altered food supplies—can harm human health. Parker and Shapiro have found, however, that just talking about the problem is not enough. Actions that can prevent or reduce climate change’s harm to our health are presented in each chapter.
To illustrate how much climate change will affect our lives, Parker and Shapiro begin their book with a chapter showing a worst-case scenario if climate change continues without intervention, and end the book with a best case scenario if we act now. Their eye-opening work will appeal to everyone who wants to remain healthy as we challenge this world-altering problem of our own making. While written for a lay audience in a manner that limits technical terminology, the book will also appeal to students and professionals of public health, medicine, environmental psychology, and science who will find the focus on health and the extensive referencing useful.
CINDY L. PARKER, MD, MPH, is Co-Director of the Program on Global Sustainability and Health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine. She began her career as a family practice physician and then recognized that she could help people more by focusing on preventing health problems before they started. Climate change is, in her view, the most health-damaging problem humanity has ever faced.
STEVEN M. SHAPIRO, PhD, is a Clinical Supervisor and a Counseling Psychologist at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s Community Psychiatry Program, which provides community based mental health services to indigent children and families in the Baltimore area. A former health and social issues journalist, Shapiro has focused his writings on how to motivate people to choose healthier behaviors. His awards in journalism include the American College of Emergency Physicians Award of Excellence, the American Heart Association Howard W. Blakeslee Journalism Award, and a National Headliner Award for Outstanding News Reporting.