On Saturday September 21st, the West Virginia Center on Climate Change, a Friends of Blackwater offshoot, hosted the Climate Change and Public Health conference in Morgantown, WV in partnership with the WVU Law Center for Energy and Sustainable Development and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Public Health Training Center. Over 125 people attended, including students, lawyers, health care professionals, environmental advocates, and state lawmakers. The conference featured speakers specializing in medicine, psychology, law, emergency preparedness, and the confluence of all of these. They discussed both the global health impacts of climate change as well as those found in West Virginia and the surrounding region. Individual topics included the psychological impacts of climate change and catastrophe, how climate change has encouraged new disease vectors and pathways, and new research showing the health impacts of traditional fossil fuel and petrochemical production.
The conference’s keynote speaker was Dr. Bernard D. Goldstein, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh. His lively presentation focused on the state of United States climate policy, how it has evolved, and how we can move it forward. His talk drew extensively from his experience as an environmental toxicologist, member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and public health professional. He ended on a positive message how we can continue to push the conversation and how the new generation of adults and advocates can cause positive change.
Other groups, including Solar United Neighbors, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action were in attendance, tabling for their organizations, and contributing to the dialogue. They shared materials, discoursed with conference attendees, and added to the belief that it has to be all hands on deck to address climate change and global warming.
Special thanks goes out to Logan Thorne, Tom Rodd, Samantha Stefanov, James Van Nostrand, Gregory Bowman, and everyone else who helped organize and run the conference. For more information or to view highlights of the talks, please visit www.wvclimate.org and www.energy.law.wvu.edu.