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Public Health On Call Series: How to Be A Climate Change Advocate


In this special series, guest host Shelley Hearne, DrPH, Deans Sommer and Klag Professor of the Practice, and director of the Lerner Center for Public Health Advocacy, talks with leaders working at the intersection of climate change and public health, offering a can-do approach to one of the most daunting issues of our time.

Helping People Want Change Without Being Afraid of It

Gina McCarthy, former EPA leader and inaugural White House National Climate Advisor, discusses why climate change is a people and public health problem, not a planetary problem.



How Environmental Health = Our Health, and Why There’s Empirical Evidence For Hope

Environmental health wasn’t always part of the public health portfolio but in recent years “science caught up to the obvious.” Howard Frumkin, former head of Environmental Health Operations at the CDC and currently senior vice president at Trust for Public Land, talks about the evidence base behind environmental impacts on our health, the political and cultural changes required for the CDC to adopt programs around climate and environment, and why hope for tackling climate change is not only a worthy strategy, there’s empirical evidence behind it.


Bernadette Demientieff and the People of the Gwich’in Nation Want You To Know That We’re All Connected

Eight miles above the Arctic Circle, we talk with Bernadette Demientieff, council member for the Arctic Refuge Defense Council and member of the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich'in Tribe. She discusses the very real impacts of climate change on the day-to-day lives of her community, our global interconnectedness, and why it matters to all of us what's happening in a remote corner of the world.


Persistence is Key In Climate Change Action

This two-part conversation begins while facing down a tiny yet fierce migratory bird on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Refuge, then heads to a celebration on the south lawn of the White House. David Kieve, president of the Environmental Defense Action Fund, discusses why the new climate bill is so critical and what it took to get this massive piece of legislation to the finish line.


The “Secret Sauce” of Elevating Local Environmental Issues to the National Agenda

From the south lawn of the White House, environmental justice advocate and a MacArthur Genius Award winner Catherine Flowers talks about working with grassroots advocates, celebrities, politicians, and influencers to raise awareness around serious sanitation issues in U.S. cities that we usually associate with underdeveloped nations.


Why We Should Embrace the Fact That “All Public Health Is Political”

Natalia Linos, a social epidemiologist, executive director of Harvard’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, and 2020 Congressional candidate, discusses why “all public health is political.” She explains how to approach politics as a public health professional, and the importance of not only naming climate change problems, but getting involved with them “at every level” to advance change.



Making Sure Public Health is Part of the Climate Change Equation

Jaime Madrigano, associate professor with the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Bloomberg School, researches the health impacts of environmental air pollution and weather. She discusses how health and cost implications must be tied to climate change policies, communications, and real community engagement.



Public Health’s Role at the Intersection of Climate Change and Advocacy

Climate change is an urgent existential threat to public health, so why is it still considered a separate issue? And how can public health take on more problem solving to address it? “Problem Solver for Public Health” Judy Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation discusses lessons learned from tobacco battles, why engaging in politics—but not partisanship—is a crucial asset, and how public health can “make some noise” when it comes to climate change advocacy.


A Climate Change Activist Reacts to the Climate Change Bill

The historic Inflation Reduction Act will, among other things, enact sweeping changes to the U.S. energy sector and efforts to fight climate change. Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of the League of Conservation Voters, talks about the bill and its game-changing potential for the environment and public health. He explains why major climate legislation has failed in the past and what needs to be done to ensure that implementation is successful.


Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Work to Tackle Climate Change and Improve Public Health

Antha Williams, who leads the Environment program at Bloomberg Philanthropies talks about using data, storytelling, and grassroots campaigns to fight climate change and protect public health. Under Williams’ direction, Bloomberg Philanthropies supports environmental initiatives to improve the sustainability of cities around the world, accelerate the transition to clean energy, combat overfishing and protect coral reefs, and help businesses and investors better understand climate-related financial risks and opportunities.