Climate Change 'A Threat to Public Health' &

DEL Speaker Models the Difference 

 DEL Speaker Carolyn Hartfield is a model of the conjunction between the outdoors lifestyle, a spirit of advocacy for our public lands and aging with a healthy mind and body. Here's she's featured on the cover of the Special Edition of Girlfriends Lifestyle to Healthy Living commissioned by the White House.

When President Obama warned yesterday that climate change is a grave threat to public health, he took the issue out of the "special interest" category and laid it squarely at the door of every American.

 "I think we've always known -- or at least in the 20th century we've understood -- that environment has an impact on public health," the President told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "There are a whole host of public health impacts that are going to hit home, so we've got to do better in protecting vulnerable Americans.... Ultimately, though, all of our families are going to be vulnerable. You can't cordon yourself off from air or climate."

In 15 years that we've been having the conversation about the imminence of climate change, it has mostly been posited as something way off in the future that may affect unborn generations. But not us. Elements that have a financial imperative to continue polluting energy systems have succeeded in keeping "uncertainty" in the discussion, allowing many of us to duck the issue altogether.

 President Obama makes the connection between climate and increasing respiratory and other illnesses to CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. CNN Photo.

 But now our President is not only warning us about what is already happening  HERE and NOW, but he is also striving to awaken the great American spirit that put men on the moon, to wake up and act in our own best interests. Will he succeed? That's left to us, and we can no longer ignore the facts and the injunction that have been laid out for us.

"Communities can start planning for prevention and mitigation efforts more effectively, and hopefully the other thing that happens is that families and parents join with these doctors and nurses to start putting some pressure on elected officials to try to make something happen to reduce the impacts of climate change," said President Obama.


Our parks, forests and wildlife refuges comprise close to 600 million

acres - that serve as the lungs of our country and the anchor to our firmament. They purify our air, cleanse our water, hold the earth together, and give us places of respite and rejuvenation.


This magnificent acreage of Canyonlands National Park in Utah is among the areas that could be removed from the federal treasury. DOI photo.


In the Spring issue of National Parks Magazine, our President & CEO Clark Bunting shares his personal experience with the transformative effects of being in our parks:


"I was in Zion when I got the call about my daughter...she had been skiing when she hit a patch of ice and went down hard. Although she was wearing a helmet, the impact to her skull was severe. Also it was her second recent concussion...she came home to live with us, and spent a year in doctors' offices getting tested, poked and prodded...for a previously active 26-year-old it was a nightmare...


"..Then a slot opened up on a trip to Yellowstone. I thought if she saw the wildlife she loved, it might help her, so we headed west to be amid the bison, geysers and snow. I'll stop short of calling it a miracle, but she improved dramatically. She was engaged and talkative. She laughed again..."


The current congressional leadership - the same leadership that does not see the value of every American having access to affordable health care - has our public lands in the bull's eye . One immediate and necessary way for us to protect public and individual health is to organize and help resist efforts to take large chunks of our publicly-owned lands out of the federal treasury. No reason given by the protagonists of these laws is credible, because THERE IS NO GREATER LEVEL OF PROTECTION that they can receive. By definition then, any effort to remove lands is NOT to protect them!

 This stunning celestial display of the Aurora Borealis was photographed over Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska. DOI photo.


The epitome of the connection between our publicly owned lands and the health and lifestyle benefits they provide is modeled by our close friend DEL Speaker, Carolyn Hartfield. The 66-year-old is an active outdoors adventurer, featured on the cover of a special issue of Girlfriends Lifestyle to Healthy Living Magazine. In a twist of fate, the issue was commissioned by the White House and distributed at their 2015 Conference on Aging last month.


The President is personalizing the climate threat not a moment too soon. Amazingly, it coincides with the National Park Service's 100th Anniversary coming up next year, and the launch of a campaign to help Americans discover and rediscover our national treasures. Years ago the great naturalist and writer coined the term "biophilia" to describe his theory that human beings need nature as a biological imperative, not just to recreate but to maintain a balanced state of health. It would be useful to know the relationship between the current state of Americans' health (!) since we shut nature out of our lives over the past several decades.


I echo the President's wake-up call! Taking an active role in the protection and enjoyment of our national parks and public lands is now also a hedge against the personal, traumatic, current and future health impacts of climate change.



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