Iowa’s scientists release statement on health effects of climate change

Source: By Timothy Meinch, Des Moines Register • Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Professors and scientists in Iowa last week emphasized the tangible effects climate change will have on local lives.

Over 180 science faculty members and researchers from 38 colleges endorsed this year’s Iowa Climate Statement, which was released at the Iowa Capitol on Friday. The aim of the statement is to increase Iowans’ access to resources and scientific data, according to its authors.

“We’re trying to stay with the science, because that’s where you need to find truth. And we’re trying to show that the science is out there,” said David Osterberg, an associate professor at the University of Iowa’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health.

This was the fourth year the annual statement has been released. The authors focused on four different impacts of climate change on human health. More frequent and heavy rains and extreme heat will increase the risk of injury, diseases and mental health problems, they said. Elevated pollen levels will increase allergies and asthma, and more pollution will likely increase lung and heart disease in warmer cities. Water will be less available for drinking and recreation.

Anecdotal evidence from extreme weather events has helped shift the climate change discussion away from whether it is happening to what should be done, according to supporters of the statement.

David Courard-Hauri, an associate professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Drake University, said Iowans needed to focus on reducing emissions and shifting to renewable sources of energy.

About half an hour before the statement release, MidAmerican Energy Co. announced a $280 million wind energy project in the state (Timothy Meinch, Des Moines Register, Oct. 10)