The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has canceled a climate change conference scheduled next month. Organizers say the issue is not likely to gain traction under President Trump, who claims climate change is a hoax.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, a co-sponsor of the event, said the CDC decided to cancel the Feb. 14 event months ago. The agency reportedly sent out notices to speakers in December saying the event was postponed. The news was just reported Monday.
The event was canceled because organizers recognized having a conference so soon after the inauguration "might cause some issues,” said Benjamin, who was scheduled to speak at the summit. “
In recent years, the CDC had started tackling climate change as a public health issue since warming temperatures aid outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases like Zika.
Climate change could lead to longer and hotter heat waves and more smog and ozone in urban air, leading to longer allergy seasons and other respiratory problems.
Benjamin and others worry that prioritizing climate change as a public health issue will change under President Trump.
In fact, just moments after President Trump took office, references to climate change were stripped from the official White House website.
Trump has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency despite the fact that Pruitt has sued the agency on several occasions over its regulations, including its Clean Power Plan, which was President Barack Obama's policy to get power companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Obama administration in 2013 came out with a Climate Action Plan that included mention of climate change's harmful impact on chronic and infectious diseases, as well as the rise in the number of extreme weather–related events.
Trump has vowed to dismantle some of Obama's environmental policies meant to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Benjamin said the conference might be rescheduled later this year and that climate change was already the central theme of APHA's annual meeting in November.
“Hopefully we can get federal support for this as well, but we'll see,” Benjamin said.