CDC cancels climate change summit prior to Trump's inauguration

The CDC abruptly canceled a major climate change conference it was set to host in Atlanta next month, according to The Washington Post.

The event — The Climate and Health Summit — had been on the books for months when the CDC sent out a cancellation email to scheduled speakers on Jan. 9.

"Unfortunately, we are unable to hold the Summit in February 2017," CDC officials wrote, according to the Post. The email also reportedly said the agency was exploring the possibility of rescheduling the event for later in the year.

Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association, was slated to be a keynote speaker at the conference. Dr. Benjamin told the Post the CDC backed away from the summit for fear the incoming presidential administration would not look kindly on the agency for devoting resources to climate change. President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to climate change as a hoax and nominated several climate change skeptics to cabinet posts.

"They ran it up the flagpole and realized that it was so close to the inauguration, the chances of it being canceled were pretty real with the administration that was coming in," Dr. Benjamin told the Post. "Some might argue they should have said, 'We're going to do this and make them tell us no.' But that was the decision they made. We should think of this as a strategic retreat."

In addition to impacting global weather patterns and water and food availability, scientific evidence suggests climate change can also adversely affect population health by promoting the spread of infectious disease via population migrations of both people and animals caused by ecological degradation.

For these reasons, Edward Maibach, PhD, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who was also scheduled to speak, said the CDC should have moved forward with the event regardless of the president's views.

"Climate change is bad for America, and bad for the world, in so many ways," Dr. Maibach told the Post, via email. "[I]t is harming our health, already, and is likely to get much worse over the next few decades unless we take action. As the nation's public health agency, we need CDC to be fully engaged in protecting our health from climate change."

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