Climate change and human health

Margot Kim Image
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Climate change and human health
A Stanford doctor is convinced our health is already being threatened by climate change.

SAN FRANCISCO (KFSN) -- As the earth continues to heat up, the drive is on to save everything from polar bears to ice caps to our coastlines. But one group says we're forgetting something very important: ourselves. A Stanford doctor is convinced our health is already being threatened.

Paul Auerbach, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine emergency doctor, is an eyewitness to disaster. On the front lines of earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal and treating patients devastated by wildfires in California. He insists we need to expand our focus on climate change to include us.

"Most of the focus on climate change has been on the effects on planet earth. People haven't really thought about the impact in terms of health," Dr. Auerbach explains.

A recent study found a hotter earth already has harmed millions of peoples' lives in very small, but critical ways.

Dr. Auerbach continues, "All the little things add up. If you're drinking water that's been polluted. If you're perpetually breathing polluted air, you're doing yourself damage."

In a new book 'Enviromedics' that Auerbach co-wrote, more examples explain how and where these risks exist.

"There's virtually no organ system that gets left untouched by any of this," shared Dr. Auerbach.

Sharon Chinthrajah, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine adds, "It's been linked to heart attacks or strokes. Impairments in cognitive function."

Dr. Chinthrajah specializes in respiratory problems and has also seen the damage to her patients caused by climate change.

"Recently we've had a run of wildfires in California. And the air quality was severely impacted. I saw a lot more of my asthmatic patients coming in. They couldn't breathe," said Dr. Chinthrajah.

So what can we do to protect our health?

Dr. Auerbach says, "We can't replace the planet and we can't replace people's lungs."

Dr. Chinthrajah added, "Education and awareness are really important."

"Climate change is complex," stated Dr. Auerbach.

And we just have to hope it's not too late.

Auerbach has also confirmed what most of us long suspected ... traffic is bad for us. Not only is it stressful, inhaling toxic fumes can eventually lead to poor health. The situation is naturally more serious when a chronic condition, such as lung disease, is present. To be safe, it's recommended to routinely check the air quality in your neighborhood online at

For More Information, Contact:
Paul Auerbach, MD
(650) 723-6696

Lisa Kim, Stanford Media Relations