Session III: Panel Discussion and Q&A

SPEAKER 1: I’d like to
ask the speakers to please come to the table. VICENTE NAVARRO:
Yeah, could you, please all the speakers,
[INAUDIBLE] include. SPEAKER 1: Speakers, and
we’d also like to ask, we have two
additional panelists. VICENTE NAVARRO:
Yeah, let me now introduce these
members, Roni Neff. Ronni is Assistant Professor in
the Department of Environmental Health Science, and Director of
the Food Systems Sustainability and Public Health Center
for a Livable Future. Mary Sheehan is an
Associate Faculty of the Department of Health
Policy Management and also the Public Policy Center. That is not description
enough of Mary. Mary has been the major
force behind the development of the climate group that
involved Hopkins faculty here and in Barcelona. And she has been the major
[INAUDIBLE] the whole [INAUDIBLE]. We also have Erica
Shoenberger, Professor in the Department of Geography
and Environmental Engineering, and also member of the Public
Policy Center in Barcelona, a member of the board. Cliff already you have met. John Balbus and Bob– I’m sure I’m going to
crucify this name– Bob Perciasepe. Is that right, more or less? Good. OK so what I’m going to
give priority to those who have not yet talked. So Roni and Mary and Erica. So Roni, go ahead. RONI NEFF: Hi, and thank you for
the opportunity to speak here. So I am focused on this
issue from the angle of food. And in this particular
instance, it’s urban food system adaptation. And so that is, just as
Cliff was saying, digging into one of the specific
aspects of climate change and what we can do about it. And we are working closely
with Baltimore City on a plan to address the vulnerabilities
in our food system and how we can best adapt
them to climate change. And a lot of vulnerabilities– we knew that there
were problems. But after the uprising
in April, a lot of additional vulnerabilities
were really raised and the urgency of the
project was raised. So we are moving
forward with that. And I’m happy to talk in more
detail about what we’re doing. MARY SHEEHAN: I want to just
make three brief points. First, why cities? We have talked about this
panel about focus on cities. Concentrated urban populations,
60% of the global population will be urban by 2030. And mostly the growth is coming
from low and middle income countries. But also the fact that it’s– they have responsibility for,
in many cases, public health. And there’s this idea of
governance of the middle, that nations are having
difficulty making agreements. We hope they will
get to it in Paris. Cities have shown that
they’re willing to move. The second point is,
what are cities doing? And colleagues have done
a recent a recent study looking at the 400 largest
cities in the world, over a million population,
to see what they’re doing in terms of public
health adaptation, looking at their public
health adaptation plans. Only 10% of them
actually have plans that talk about public health. So that’s not such
the good news. But the interesting
thing is that there are clusters of cities that
are doing an awful lot. Now unfortunately a lot of them
are in high income countries. But some of them, such as New
York and Toronto and London, places you might think– but there are others
like Durban or San Paolo or Mexico City who also
are very, very active. And the third brief point that I
would make is, how can we help? How can we help cities that
really are, in some sense, on the front line
of climate change? How can we help them
sharing lessons? How can we help them share
lessons amongst themselves, but also profit from some
of the evidence-based tools that John talked about, that
Cliff talked about coming out of the BRACE framework? But also I was
struck by something that Bob said, that
90% of corporations are working on thinking
about adaptation, and they’re ready
to help cities. So that’s a an
interesting opportunity. ERICA SCHOENBERGER: Hi. Thanks very much. I wanted to talk a little bit
about the general politics of climate change and
health related issues. What strikes me particularly
about this discussion is that we actually know
what we’ve been doing wrong. We have a pretty good
sense of what we need to do to get our act together. And we don’t seem
to be able to get a general political consensus to
act in our own best interests, even though we know what
to do, leaving aside the interests of everything
else on the planet. And this is odd also because,
as several people have noted, the public is
actually quite aware and, in many cases,
quite in favor of action on climate change. And that is still not enough as
it is not enough, for example, with gun control where
an overwhelming majority of Americans are in
favor of even modest, polite gun control, and still
this cannot be made to happen no matter how tragic the
surrounding circumstances. On top of that with climate
change and public health, we need to act on a very
broad range of issues encompassing, as we’ve
seen, city building activities, infrastructure of
all sorts, social and physical. We invest a huge amount
in making the problems that we face now. And we’re going to have to
invest a huge amount in order to mitigate them to
the degree possible and to adapt where we need to. And that seems to me
to call for something on the order of an
environmental New Deal or a climate change
New Deal in order to mobilize the resources that
we’re going to need in order to tackle these problems. So we need to ask
ourselves very deeply where these resources
are likely to come from and how to mobilize them. And therefore how do we change
the politics of the discussion? And it seems to me that
a lot of powerful people are very much in favor
of the status quo because they benefit from
it, and because they also believe they can
protect themselves from the consequences. And they are probably right
that the worst consequences are going to be visited upon
the heads of the poor and the least
advantaged among us. And so I think we
need to find ways of developing forms of
countervailing power, to use John Galbraith’s term. We need new allies. And I think we need
to look for allies who can speak power to power
while we’re speaking truth to power. And it strikes me
that we need allies who have very effective lobbies,
and allies who have the power to make people or
corporations or governments change the way they behave. And just by way of example, two
or three such allies that come to mind– and I can hardly
believe the words that are about to come out of my mouth– but they would include property
insurance companies who have a great deal of power
over how people can act and how they can manage
their properties, the reinsurance
industry altogether because they stand to lose so
much in the face of climate change incidents, and
bankers, because they also can impose really remarkable
restrictions on the behavior of people they lend
money to, corporations that they lend money to
in the form of covenants. And also they have a lot
of inside information that would be really useful. So we should be having joint
summits with those guys and women. I think we need to make
new coalitions, not only with the health and
environment people, but the campaign
finance reform people, the nuclear proliferation
people, the gun control people. We need a broader
set of actors who are going to combine
their forces in order to change the political
debate at the national level. I think possibly mainly
campaign finance reform. I think that the
bottom up approach, talking with people on the
front line, especially cities, is exactly right. I think that the people
close to the ground have less possibility to be
delusional in their thinking and will actually take
things seriously and try to do something, as we
have seen examples of. And I think that we
need to organize. I imagine like a
national service year for kids in their gap year who
are going to go door to door and do the organizing
just to get people out and informed, and maybe
joined by some of us as we shuffle off
into retirement. And finally I would like to
say that nothing that I’ve said is news. Nothing that I’ve said
is any more achievable than anything else
anyone has proposed. What I hope is that while we
are all being to some degree unrealistic, that we’re being
unrealistic in the right direction and that
we can go forward from here to strengthen that. OK, thank you. VICENTE NAVARRO: I wonder now
where Cliff and John and Bob, would you like to add something
to what you already have said? BOB PERCIASEPE: I
could add a few words, but I think these
were good comments. I do believe that the
bottom up approach right now is the most viable one,
both globally and locally. Cities and states
and companies– remember, business
is not a monolith. We often think of,
when we’re talking about climate change, your
worst nightmare company that is opposed to it, doesn’t
want to agree that it exists. But the vast majority
of corporate America believes climate
change is happening and that they should
be doing something. And many of them
are, as I’ve already pointed out, both
on a resilient side and wanting to think
about mitigation. They will eventually
be a force that will help move the
national political needle. The other force will be cities
and states working together where innovation is
occurring and good ideas are going to be able to
translate to a national picture or integrate with
a national picture. We’re seeing the exact
same thing globally with the form of
the agreement that is likely to be
signed in Paris, which is a series of intended national
contributions being made. And one of the big problems with
the Kyoto Protocol in the ’90s was a lack of participation
from the developing world. We now have Haiti, for goodness
sake, submitting an INDC. So I mean, we have where
well over a hundred countries have already submitted INDCs. They’re obviously
all over the map. They’re not going to add up to
save us from a two degree rise. But what they are doing,
I call it the United Way kind of thing. Everybody is participating,
even if they only do $1 a week or something. So I think that’s going to
change the dynamic quite a bit as we go forward. And the Paris agreement
will be designed in a way to provide a foundation for a
future stronger agreement which will have the accountability and
transparency mechanisms in it. So this bottom up approach– and
I’m just riffing on the bottoms up idea– I think is percolating in a
very strong way globally as well as in the United States,
just the added energy here. JOHN BALBUS: I also have– VICENTE NAVARRO: Do you– JOHN BALBUS: Could I
make a very short– I’m sorry, go ahead. I was going to
make a very short– VICENTE NAVARRO: Roni, would
you like to add something? CLIFF MITCHELL: No, the only
other thing I would say– and it was sort of illustrative
of some of the issues that have been framing
this whole discussion. One of the questions I think
obviously the School of Public Health people would
say, OK, so what’s the role of public
health in all of this? Because after all, a lot of
this is sort of in the realm of, the sea is coming. Maybe we should do
something about it. That’s not exactly a
public health insight. But I do think that there is
a role for good data here. And I think part of the
issue that is really, from an investigatory and
research point of view, a question that I do
not know the answer to, it is not at all clear
to me that although we spend a lot of time with heat
models and heat-related deaths, that heat-related mortality is
actually the big issue here. And in fact it’s
not even clear to me that extreme weather
events are the big issue. If you look at the sort of
cumulative mortality associated with changes in infectious
disease patterns and other kinds
of issues, I think it might be, might
well be, that there’s a big wave underneath
the extreme weather events that is a more compelling
argument in the aggregate. I don’t think we know the
answer to that question. But if you’re looking
for a research project and thinking about a thesis– some of you might be– I’d suggest thinking
about that question. VICENTE NAVARRO: Roni? RONI NEFF: Yeah, so I was
asked to speak briefly and maybe I spoke a
little too briefly. So I’d like to expand a little
bit on what I was saying. And this ties in
very well to what is a role for public health. So in how we are working with
the city, one of the things that we’re doing is bringing
in data and looking at, if you want to
make an urban food system resilient
to climate change, one of the things you
need to do is understand what food is coming in,
where is it coming from, what are the specific
bottlenecks that could make it vulnerable,
and then how is it getting out into the city? How are the people
able to get that food? And you need to track
all that information. So that’s one sort of research
piece that we are working on. Another is understanding
who is already doing what. And this was spoken
to earlier, the idea that the public sector’s
got a lot going on. The city doesn’t exactly
know what all that is. The private sector
has a lot going on. And none of that’s
all connected. The nonprofit sector
is doing things. Community-based
organizations may not yet be thinking about
it, but need to be part of this discussion,
need sort of training on how to implement
the kinds of things that we’re talking about. So we’re working
on that as well. We are working with
the city on, what do they need to do for
just straight up emergency preparedness for
the food system? And we found that a lot
of that isn’t happening. Food was not integrated into the
city’s emergency preparedness plans. So how do we get that to happen? So there are a
lot of pieces that speak straight to the
strengths of public health. That’s how we
think about things. And so that’s what I wanted. And oh, one last thing also,
in terms of co-benefits, a lot of what we need to do
is strengthen the city’s food systems. So we need better food access. We need local and
regional food production to diversify the number
of different ways that food is becoming
available to people. So each of the
things that we need to do that strengthen the
city’s food system also make it more resilient and more
resistant to types of impacts that could come forward. And we’re developing
indicators to take what’s going on in Baltimore
out to other cities, because cities around the
country and around the world, for the most part, have not yet
tuned into the vulnerabilities that we face in terms of food. VICENTE NAVARRO:
Let’s leave some time for either questions
or whatever, whomever questions
you might have. JOHN BALBUS: Could To make
a very brief comment please? VICENTE NAVARRO: Oh, sorry. JOHN BALBUS: Thank you. Your using the words
delusional and unrealistic spurred sort of a
couple of things. It’s a little bit of
a loose association. But one thing that we haven’t
touched on a lot, whether we’re talking about sustainability
side or the adaptation side, is the role of
indigenous populations. We haven’t talked a
lot about that today. In most parts of the
world where there are indigenous populations,
they are the most vulnerable. They tend to be tied
closest to the environment for their livelihood. They also tend to possess
incredible local knowledge about both sustainability
and adaptation. So as we think about lessons, as
we think about transformations, as we think about the kind
of things we have to do, we should not forget
those parts of the world. And in particular I just
wanted to share or paraphrase a quote that I had from
one of the workshops that we had with
indigenous populations that kind of spoke to
what you were saying. And I won’t get
it exactly right, especially because
it’s after 4:00. But the closing comment
from a member of one of the tribes in
the West was, we have to speak to those who
would say that our words are unrealistic, or that say
that they are the ones being pragmatic and realistic and
expose what they’re saying is myths, and let what
we are being told are myths be seen as what’s
really pragmatic and realistic. And I think that’s a
lesson from the day. VICENTE NAVARRO: Any questions? [INAUDIBLE] We have to make it
brief because we are a little behind the schedule. So please, go ahead. SPEAKER 9: My name
is [INAUDIBLE]. I’m in the School of Nursing. [INAUDIBLE] just
getting started. And somebody brought up
potential research ideas. And I [INAUDIBLE]
to sort of seeing the connection between
climate change and violence. So from the literature,
someone talked about vulnerable populations
and [INAUDIBLE] health and [INAUDIBLE] violence. And I just wondering if sort
of guidance or some thoughts from the panel on that. VICENTE NAVARRO: Let’s
make all the questions because we are a little behind. Please go ahead. Could you please? PETER MCCULLOUGH: This
is Peter McCullough. I’m an astronomer. I study greenhouse
gases on other planets, but that’s irrelevant
to my question. My question is one of
[INAUDIBLE] to advocacy for what we’ve
been talking about. And in particular
I’m just curious about members of the panel,
and the audience in general, if anyone has
participated in advocacy to the level of being
arrested, for example, for what they believe in on this issue. And I wondered if anybody
had would raise their hand. I raised my hand since
[INAUDIBLE] anyone had the courage
to do that myself. But I see we have at least one. VICENTE NAVARRO: Yes, please. SPEAKER 11: My name’s
Russell [INAUDIBLE]. I have a question. It’s for future discussion. But on the portion
[INAUDIBLE] here with the global and
the public health, is there any
cross-correlation and pathway for non-human species
in this same vein? Is there any link that
could be achieved there? Because all species need
help in this direction. It’s good that we
focus on pubic health. I was just wondering, is there
any avenue for all species [INAUDIBLE] to this
Anyone who volunteers to discuss comment [INAUDIBLE]? Yes, please. JOHN BALBUS: I can address
both of your comments. First in terms of mental
health and violence, there’s a really
robust literature in the psychological
literature primarily about heat and violence. And as I mentioned, we’re
putting the final touches on a 350 page climate
and health assessment. It’s going to have a very
robust mental health chapter. That will be going– no, that already went
out for public comment. It’s going to be
coming out next spring. So keep an eye on that. But if you looked at the
American Psychological Association, they
did a big compendium and did a very nice
review of that. And there’s a lot of
discussion of that. In terms of other species,
it’s a longer topic, but there is an entire
concept of one health. It’s still a little
bit anthropocentric because it’s really
about bringing together veterinary medicine and
ecological medicine, looking at both
domestic and wildlife and how enhanced surveillance
monitoring of those populations can be incorporated into
public health protection. There’s a big effort on that
going on right now right now within the Arctic and within
the American Meteorological Society. I chair a board on
environmental health. And we just released a whole
statement on one health. And that might give you
some ideas for the ways people are putting
that together. MARY SHEEHAN: I’d just like
to address that question on mental health, which
is a very good one, and to relate an experience
working with an MPH student actually here who was
in the Philippines after the hurricane. And it went to thinking
he was going to find– a pediatrician at
Medecins San Frontieres– thinking he was going to find
broken bones and injuries and that that would be the
main source of his expertise, he’d have to help. And he found in fact
it was mental stress and post-traumatic stress
disorder, in addition to allergies. That was the other big issue. And in order to try to
understand what to do and how to cope with this, have
gone to the conflict literature and to the literature on how
to handle conflict in children. So it’s really very much a
real issue not only for heat but also storms. BOB PERCIASEPE: I think
I can add something on the non-human species. Before I went back
to EPA six years ago, I was the chief operating
officer for the National Audubon Society. And you would think– I mean, birds are somewhat
of an indicator species because they live in
all different niches, from tree tops to
grasslands to wetlands. And Terry Root, a scientist
who is at Stanford I believe. I think that’s where she is. She’s currently on the board of
the National Audubon Society– had done a study
about seven years ago. So she undoubtedly
has updated it. But it showed that
unabated, climate change would put about 33% of
the avian species on earth to extinction pressures by
the end of this century. And the reason it’s not a
bigger number than 33%– which is pretty
astounding already. I would think most
people know we’re already in a likely extinction epoch,
from a long term geologic time perspective– is because many species are
more adaptable than others, particularly species
that are omnivores. If their habitat is a
very specific habitat, either in terms of
their food source– I mean, rock doves have
taken over cities, right? We call them pigeons. They’ll eat anything. So the other one is the
condition of the habitat. For instance, a
cold water species like salmonids and
their restriction of their habitat
throughout the globe is already occurring and
is likely to continue to occur– so salmon,
trout, things like that. And in terms of being arrested,
I’ve never been arrested, but I had to testify in
front of Congress six times on this subject. So I feel like I’ve been dented. VICENTE NAVARRO: More or
less equivalent anyway. Sorry, we have to finish– BOB PERCIASEPE: I still twitch. ERICA SCHOENBERGER: I’ve just
adopted four common merlins. VICENTE NAVARRO: Let me just
make a final observation. I hope you have
enjoyed the whole day. And now PG Forest will make a
brief summary on conclusions. But let me add a personal note. I hope you have enjoyed
the session all day, has been a very productive– I have. I’m sure you have also. I hope the next
meeting of this nature will take place in
our campus in Europe in Barcelona,
because I think it’s terribly important
that we can learn also from other continents. I was impressed
by how productive the discussion we had
this morning, all of them based on market approaches,
which might work out fine. But there are ways
of approaching it. And I think it’s important
that we, from United States, learn from other
countries, from those who have similar economic
development, level of economic development,
and those who are very poor but can also teach us. And in that respect,
I make invitation to the Hopkins
community, which I have been part for
half a century, to open up a little more and
look at other continents, including Europe. I was pleased when Michael
Clark, our dean, a good friend, came to open the campus and said
listen, speaking to Europeans, “I don’t know where you might
be able to learn much about us.” It was in a moment of political
difficulties in our country. But he said, “But I am sure
we can learn a lot from you about social policy issues.” And I would add intent
of adaptation of cities to the climate change. We have a series of disasters
in [INAUDIBLE] state. The same in other
countries, but maybe we should learn and
try to improve it for the betterment
of our own people. And with that, let me invite
PG to come up and conclude the session. [APPLAUSE]

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