The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health relaunched its center for health and environment on Wednesday, announcing a new name, a new director, and a new collaboration with Google to reduce indoor pollutants.
The launch of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) also served as something of an Obama administration reunion. The new director is ex-Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy, a Massachusetts native whose outspoken, rally-the-troops style has made her a favorite of Americans upset by President Trump’s efforts to roll back environmental rules.
Speakers at the event included John Holdren, who served eight years as President Obama’s top science adviser and is now the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Holdren outlined the frightening science of climate change, noted that multiple scientific advisory positions remain unfilled in the current administration, and urged a return to science-informed decisions in federal policy-making.
Obama-era Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke, calling for citizens who care about the environment to become politically active. Kerry cited the role of activism and the first Earth Day in helping to drive environmental statutes in the early 1970s, including the Clean Water Act and legislation establishing the EPA.
Harvard Chan School Dean Michelle Williams said the new center will support cutting-edge research with an eye toward informing decision-makers.
“Climate change is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, and with great challenges come the opportunity for us to bring about solutions,” she said.