April 30, 2004

Childhood asthma, already at record highs, is expected to grow even worse in the coming years due to a potent mix of air pollution, higher levels of pollen and changes in the types of molds spurred by global warming. Because the Bush administration has backed away from solutions to the growing problem of global climate change, the situation is not expected to improve any time soon.

A report released yesterday states that millions of poor and minority children in America's cities are likely to suffer the consequences of pollution generated by emissions from cars, trucks and buses, plus a spate of new molds being spawned by global warming.[1]

The report, "Inside the Greenhouse: The Impacts of CO2 and Climate Change on Public Health in the Inner City," http://www.resultsforamerica.org/calendar/files/Bigreportwithpics.pdf was released by the Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, at a Washington, D.C. press conference co-sponsored by the American Public Health Association and Results for America, a project of the Civil Society Institute.

"This is a real wake-up call for people who mistakenly think global warming is only going to be a problem way off in the future or that it has no impact on their lives," said Christine Rogers, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The problem is here today for these children and it is only going to get worse."

The problem is multi-dimensional, Rogers said. Asthma among pre-school children is at an all-time high: It grew 160 percent between 1980-1994, with the highest incidence found among poor and minority children in urban centers. These children are at greatest risk for suffering increased health problems as a result of the CO2-generated increase in allergenic pollen.

Cities also have higher concentrations of air pollution, such as soot and ozone, caused by fossil fuel emissions. On top of that, global warming has led to an increasingly earlier pollen season in the spring. The result? "These children get hit with a powerful one-two punch," said Rogers.

Under the Clinton administration, the U.S. had committed to an international treaty to reduce the emissions causing global climate change. But President Bush withdrew the U.S. from the Kyoto protocol and backed out of his own campaign promise to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to climate change.

"In the absence of action from Washington, it is incumbent on local communities and states to take the best of the available solutions to reduce fossil fuel consumption, and promote cleaner energy and more efficient technologies," said Pam Solo, president of the Civil Society Institute. "This kind of change will not take place unless citizens inform themselves about the problem, the best solutions and start working for change where they live."

[1] Results for America press release, Apr. 29, 2004.



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