Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Visits JSI

June 13th, 2019 | News

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“People want action when they see a threat to themselves and their families,” former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy noted to a full house of JSI staff in our Boston office last week. The environment, she added, is more than just “birds and bunnies”: it’s our source of fresh air, clean water, and other basic necessities. “Once people realize that climate change can put these necessities at risk,” McCarthy said, “their attitudes will change.”

Now the director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, McCarthy has worked for decades at the intersection of environmental policy and public health. In her opening remarks, she described how her early career experience as a health agent for the Canton Board of Health shaped her current approach to environmental issues.

As director of C-CHANGE, McCarthy plans to educate communities about climate science and “give people the sense that they can make a change.” It’s crucial, she believes, to spread a message that everyone can connect to: that climate change affects vulnerable populations, especially children and the elderly, and that parents need to take action now to improve the lives of future generations. Grassroots organizing and community work are the best ways to inspire this kind of action, but medical professionals play an important as well.

After a lively Q&A (and a request to run for president), McCarthy left the JSI audience with a call to action on climate change: “It’s not unstoppable; we just need to start organizing.”

For more information about climate change and ways to take action, check out the following resources:

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