It’s been a record-setting summer for hot temperatures across the world.
The Twin Cities ended June as the third-hottest on record and Earth recorded the hottest global temperatures in the first week of July.
MPR News host Angela Davis talks with her guests about the dangers of extreme heat, how we can protect ourselves and what the future might hold with our changing climate.
“These are days that call for us to be really strongly watching out for one another, ” said [HPHC co-founder] Teddie Potter. “This is not a sign of weakness to say ‘I need to sit in the shade for awhile’, or ‘I need to get some added water.’ “
Minnesota has experienced its worst air quality on record in 2023. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued 24 air quality alerts so far this year for days when the air was polluted enough to be considered either unsafe for everyone or unsafe for vulnerable groups. One day, the Twin Cities had the worst air quality in the country.
Listen to a conversation between HPHC member, Dr. Laalitha Surapaneni, MD, MPH and MPR’s Angela Davis regarding air quality.
As temperatures rise, farmers face a scorching reality. Heat-related illnesses pose a grave threat, but by embracing heat safety measures, we can cultivate a healthy and resilient farming community.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is urging the federal government to investigate the health risks of gas kitchen stoves, which have been linked to indoor air pollution and childhood asthma by peer-reviewed academic research and environmental groups.
“We’ve known for a very long time about the impact of NO2 on respiratory health, especially with outdoor pollution we’ve had data on for decades,” said Dr. Laalitha Surapaneni, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and a clinician at MHealth Fairview.
“Studies have found in smaller homes when there’s poor ventilation, when you start cooking, within minutes the levels [of pollutants] can get very high,” Surapaneni said.
Every school day, the health and wellness of hundreds of thousands of Minnesota’s K-12 students are put at risk. The culprit is harmful diesel emissions from the very school buses we trust to deliver our kids to and from school.
As a retired physician and career health professional, and as the parent of an asthmatic child, we are calling on the state Legislature to make a meaningful investment in the health and futures of our kids by creating a grant program to help schools across the state invest in electric school buses.
Across the country, we are already taking action because cleaning up climate pollution benefits the health of those in our care. We are starting by cleaning up our own house first. The U.S. health care system contributes 8-10% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and produces a lot of waste. So, hospitals and clinics are switching to renewable energy, implementing energy efficiency measures and reducing trash,including here at Sanford Health in Bemidji.
Kathleen Schuler is with the nonprofit Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate. She says studies have linked PFAS to some health effects, including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, and immune dysfunction.
“PFAS are referred to as forever chemicals, but they are also the everywhere chemicals.”
Diesel school buses are probably bad for our kids’ health, with studies suggesting the fumes to be a common cause of asthma. Could changing over to electric buses be the answer? Several states are driving in that direction, and Minnesota seems to be watching other states’ state-funded programs disappear into the distance.
Dr. Daniel Trajano, a retired physician and University of St. Thomas professor, added that New York has committed to a carbon-free school bus fleet by 2035 and passed legislation with an additional $500 million in state funding for electric school buses. But Trajano especially emphasized the health benefits.
“Every school day, hundreds of thousands of Minnesota schoolkids are exposed to harmful diesel emissions to and from schools,” Trajano said.
At this point, every one of us has experienced the impacts of climate change, whether it was the smoke from wildfires blanketing Minnesota last summer or the oppressive heat earlier this summer. We are all vulnerable to climate change harms, but the truth is some people are more vulnerable than others. And to build the kind of Minnesota in which we all thrive, we need to address these inequities.
A legally binding international climate treaty already exists. The 196 signatories of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement pledged to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F) compared to pre-industrial times. But the words “fossil fuels,” “coal,” “oil,” or “gas” never even appear in the Paris Agreement, and new fossil fuel infrastructure is still being greenlit across the world, locking us into future warming. Countries are already on track to produce 110% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be compatible with a 1.5 degrees C warming scenario. The Fossil-Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty targets the root cause of global climate change: fossil fuels. Its three foundational pillars also promise public health co-benefits.