In October, 2019 I received an invitation to the TIME 100 Health Summit, an event where huge names such as Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Arianna Huffington spoke about health and sustainability.
I manage the Public Goods Blog, and if you’ve looked at our blog home page, you already know the motto: health, sustainability and people making an impact. Naturally I was delighted to attend an event that perfectly represented these values.
Because the conference was so special, I wanted to share my experience and learnings with our readers. Here are the notes I took on the issues I believed would be most relevant to our members:
Health Care Poll
As I cleared security and began exploring the event space, I noticed several whiteboards that asked big questions about health care. Each board had several markers, an invitation for people to share their thoughts and spark debate. Throughout the day attendees scribbled their answers and responded to each other.
The first question I saw was “What’s the biggest threat to public health?” I wrote “climate change” because I really do believe it’s the biggest threat to our long-term survival. Some of the other answers were: “stress, fake news, anti-vaxers, access, the 1%, forgetting about mental health, lack of education, inequality and racism.”
Next to this board was “Where should the U.S. invest more money in health care?” “Prevention” was the top answer by far, and “basic health care” was the least popular choice. The only other response that stood out was “new treatments and research.”
The final question was “What single word best describes why the U.S. health care system is 37th in the world?” People agreed on the diagnosis: “cost, greed, profiteering.”
Al Gore bolstered my belief that climate change is a health issue.
“The planet and personal health are connected,” he said.
Gore made his argument by citing many instances of this relationship: increase in deaths from heat stress, tropical diseases flourishing in warmer climates, rain bombs, fossil fuel pollution killing people. He emphasized that we must stop “using the skies as an open sewer.”
When the moderator asked Gore about technology, he said, “We already have what we need.” Rather than relying on technology to solve the climate crisis and negate our destructive energy production, we should be transitioning to a green economy.
On the issue of how our lifestyles and everyday choices can have an impact, Gore mentioned veganism and offsetting emissions. Nonetheless, he said it isn’t fair to foist the burden of climate change entirely on individual consumers. Politicians have a responsibility to pass major legislation such as the Green New Deal.
What Matters to You?
I focused primarily on Al Gore’s speech, but the summit covered many other issues:
- home care
- mental health treatment of athletes
- drug prices
- maternal health
- insurance companies
If there is ever a topic you want us to cover on the Public Goods Blog, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do my best to fit it in. Hanging out with people from TIME was a great learning experience, but we’d rather chat with you.
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