Our longtime friend Carl Schramm, professor of public health at Syracuse University, recently testified before the Senate Budget Committee, on public health and climate change. (Don’t ask us what climate change has to do with public health, but the Chairman of the Committee Sheldon Whitehouse thinks every malady in the world is connected to global warming.)
Carl reminded Congress that the purpose of the CDC is to combat disease, not to change the weather:
As most of us would agree, the CDC, the nation’s principal agency charged with protecting public health, failed to effectively control the COVID pandemic. I believe the principal reason is that both the CDC and the country’s larger public health establishment, reflecting in part initiatives of Congress and major philanthropies, have expanded the scope and definition of public health such that its boundaries are nearly meaningless.
Consider that the CDC currently deals with a wide range of problems that are not encompassed by the traditional definition of public health, which is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health.” Instead CDC deals with a long list of “epidemics” that cannot be corrected by traditional public health tools. Among these are gun deaths, traffic fatalities, obesity, domestic violence…Two of the newest CDC initiatives attempt to ameliorate the “social determinants” of health, and promote health equity.
Simply, the CDC is the archetype of an agency beset by “mission creep.”
Even if global warming presented a clear and present danger to the health of every American, there is little that the CDC can do to mitigate such a threat.