Recorded on Wednesday, November 30, 2022 1:00pm-2:00pm EST Virtual, ON24
A conversation with Dr. John Balbus, Interim Director, Office of Climate Change and Health Equity Climate can have significant impact on human health.
It has been shown that certain diseases flourish in wet environments, and we see that flu season ramps up as we go into winter. But the relationship between climate and health is greater than we think. Wildfires have been shown to increase air pollution, flooding, as has been shown in the recent Hurricane Ian, to cause issues related to clean water and other waterborne diseases. Higher temperatures, particularly in the urban environment, is detrimental to an aging society. We have also experienced how climate change can cause stresses on food production to where a healthy diet is difficult to sustain, particularly in disadvantaged communities in our cities and around the world. The question we ask is what can be done to reduce and even eliminate the impact of climate on our health as well as inequities in solutions we apply.
Our guest, Dr. John Balbus, has been dealing with the health of the nation for many years. He has extensive experience in the connection between climate and health, even serving as the HHS Principal to the U. S. Global Change Research Program. His work connecting the dots between mitigating the impacts of climate and environment on health is known worldwide. We welcome Dr. Balbus to help us better understand the issues and what we can do to help reduce the impacts of climate on health and equity.
Stephen D. Ambrose has been a meteorologist, physical scientist, and program manager in his long federal and private sector career. He has directed teams and groups in the development of science and technology research and reapplications in Earth Science. He now serves as Chief Climate Scientist at SAIC. His research and application interests include: natural disaster reduction; climate data and information, and implications of a changing climate on people, ecosystems, and the planet. From 1978 to 2014 he worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service and antecedent agencies. After years of work related to meteorology, climatology, and oceanography at the National Ocean Service, National Weather Service, and the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service, he joined the Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service as Director of the National Wetlands Inventory Center, from there he joined NASA as Program Executive for Disasters in the Science Mission Directorate encouraging applications of NASA’s cadre of satellite and airborne missions towards decision support systems for government and private industry. In 2008 he was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal for efforts responding to the nation’s weather and wildfire disasters. He retired from civil service in 2014 as NOAA’s Data Operations Manager in the development of their geostationary satellite ground system supporting satellite ingest and product generation. From 2014 to now, he worked in private industry as Program Manager and Director supporting NOAA, NASA, and the EPA missions in operations, research and development. This included working at NASA’s Center for Climate Simulation developing services to access downscaled climate information and working to utilize NASA’s supercomputer cloud services to support Arctic climate research. At NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, he led a program of over 50 specialists, analysts and scientists supporting the Climate Program Office, Sea Grant, the Weather Program Office, and the Uncrewed Systems Research office. In 2018, joining Woolpert, a geospatial and architecture firm, as Program Director for Government Solutions, he supported the firm’s work with critical infrastructure, natural disasters, GIS, and information systems. Lastly, joining General Dynamics Information Technology in late 2019, he led a group of scientists and engineers at the EPA supporting research and development in geographic information, environmental protection, chemical analysis, and disaster resilience. Now at SAIC he leads the growth of a climate program office supporting federal, industry, state, and local customers as well as utilizing SAIC’s deep experience in science and technology for solutions to benefit society. He received a B.S. in General Physical Sciences that included meteorology, geology, and astronomy from the University of Maryland in 1977, and did graduate studies in geography and climatology at the University of Maryland, Geography Department from 1981 to 1985.
Dr. Balbus is the Interim Director of the new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity within OASH. A physician and public health professional with over 25 years of experience working on the health implications of climate change, Dr. Balbus has served as HHS Principal to the U.S. Global Change Research Program and co-chair of the working group on Climate Change and Human Health for the U.S. Global Change Research Program since he joined the federal government in 2009. Before coming over to the new Office, Dr. Balbus served as Senior Advisor for Public Health to the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Prior to joining NIEHS, Dr. Balbus was the Chief Health Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and an Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services. He received his MPH degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, his MD degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Harvard University.
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