According to the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, climate change poses the single greatest threat to public health in the 21st century. From the impacts of extreme weather events, to the expanding distribution of infectious diseases, climate change will amplify existing threats to health, as well as create new ones. Early and decisive action is necessary to mitigate the worst of these impacts and prevent avoidable illness and death. Key among these efforts is educating the medical and public health community, as well as the general public, that climate change doesn’t just pose an existential threat that will manifest at some future date, but is a very real and present danger, that is already sickening and killing thousands. In order to mobilize action, the public health community must put all of its weight behind this message; any attempt to silence these efforts should be construed as malpractice.
-Dr. George Luber, Former Chief of the Climate and Health Program in the Division of Environmental Health Science and Practice at the National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Dr. George Luber is being honored by the Hugh Hefner Foundation in the government category. After the 2016 election, Dr. Luber was directed to cancel a conference on climate change with Al Gore; he refused on the basis of science education and was outspoken on the issue. The CDC sent Dr. Luber home on administrative leave. After taking a public stand, the CDC withdrew Dr. Luber’s proposed termination.