Human Health and Climate Destabilization

Bruce Krawisz

Bruce Krawisz

Speaker Bio

Bruce Krawisz was born in Chicago, Illinois.  He is a retired pathologist who works as an Emeritus Researcher at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute studying the health effects of climate change because climate change is becoming an important public health problem.  He was educated at Macalester College, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Mayo Graduate School of Medicine (pathology residency), and Washington University School of Medicine (pathology fellowship).  He became certified as a pathologist by the American Board of Pathology and as a Molecular Pathologist by the American Board of Medical Genetics and the American Board of Pathology.  He worked as a surgical and molecular pathologist at the University of Vermont Medical School for 5 years, at Marshfield Clinic for 27 years, and at Prevention Genetics for 10 years.

Presentation

Extreme heat is the result of higher temperatures due to atmospheric heat retention by green house gases.  As temperatures rise, more water evaporates and the concentration of water vapor (humidity) in the air rises.  This means that some places, particularly temperate areas, will receive more rain resulting in more flooding.  Droughts occur sooner in places that do not receive rain because it is hotter.  Tropical storms and hurricanes are powered by the heat energy in ocean water.  As ocean temperatures rise, tropical storms tend to become larger, more powerful, and associated with greater rainfall.  Many of these events are happening now.  This year has seen record heat waves across the U.S., Europe, and Greenland; floods in the U.S. Midwest; and wildfires in Alaska, Siberia, Greenland, Australia, and the Western United States.  In 2017 and 2018 there were unusually powerful and large hurricanes such as Harvey (Houston, TX), Florence (North Carolina), Maria (Puerto Rico), and Irma (Florida and Caribbean).  Lyme Disease and West Nile virus encephalitis have been spreading north from the U.S. into Canada as warmer temperatures make survival easier for ticks and mosquitoes.  As the tropics expand towards the poles, diseases carried by mosquitoes such as Dengue follow.  The Middle East (Southwest Asia) may become too hot for human habitation.  Coastal cities such as Jakarta, Indonesia, Mumbai, India, Shanghai, China, London, U.K., Miami, New Orleans, and New York may become uninhabitable due to sea level rise.  Today’s children are in the crosshairs of climate change.