Al Gore: 'Horrific' Health Risks from Climate, But 'We Have Solutions'

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. (Image credit: Climate Reality)

ATLANTA — The climate crisis will have significant effects on health, but "we do have solutions at hand," former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said today.

Some of the health risks that Gore, an environmental expert, a book author and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, highlighted in his speech included the spread of infectious disease, the dangers of extreme heat and the health effects of air pollution.

These health risks, and their potential solutions, were discussed here today (Feb. 16) at the Climate & Health Meeting, a gathering of experts from public health organizations, universities and advocacy groups that focused on the health impacts of climate change. [5 Ways Climate Change Will Affect Your Health]

The problems are already here, Gore said, as infectious diseases are now spreading to areas where they previously were not found. In addition, heat stress from extreme heat waves causes more deaths each year in the United States than all other extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, combined, he said. And certain types of air pollution around the world kill about 6.5 million people each year, he said.

"It's hard to focus on some of these horrific consequences of the climate crisis on health, but hope is justified," Gore said in his keynote address. "We are going to win this," he said.

Solutions to combat climate change are readily available, Gore said. Since 2001, the U.S. has significantly increased its wind and solar energy capacities, and goals that were set for 2010 were met and surpassed by then, he said.

In addition, global carbon dioxide emissions have leveled off in the last three years, Gore said. "For the first time in the absence of an economic crisis, there has been no increase" in global carbon dioxide emissions, he said.

And although these emissions are still very high, "we're now at an inflection point and it is going to start going down," Gore said.

Originally published on Live Science.

Sara G. Miller
Staff Writer
Sara is a staff writer for Live Science, covering health. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and studied biology at Hamilton College in upstate New York. When she's not writing, she can be found at the library, checking out a big stack of books.