The University of Iowa

2012: "Energy and Global Health on a Sick Planet"

2012 Conference | Conference Schedule | Speaker Biographies | Resources

Image for Fall 2012 UI Global Health Studies Program Conference, "Energy and Global Health on a Sick Planet"UI Global Health Studies Program Conference


October 5-7, 2012

Energy sources and policies impact the health of the current and future generations profoundly. In fact, it could be argued that pursuit and use of energy to enhance health and well-being is the gravest challenge facing the globe today. Burning fossil fuel is well known to cause many adverse health impacts–from heart and lung diseases, and cancers, to sudden death, among others. The recent monumental disaster experienced in Fukashima Japan raises serious questions and concerns about the scale of health and safety risks of nuclear energy. Both fossil and nuclear fuels also pose severe, long lasting indirect health impacts given their respective roles in profoundly degrading the global environment and life supporting climate. From the extreme drought that threatens the lives of millions in the Eastern Horn of Africa to the wildfires, hurricanes, and periodic flooding that have decimated both coasts of the US, anthropogenic climate change is increasingly-and undeniably-at the core of politics and society everywhere in the world.

Yet, at the same time, as recently noted by Jeremy Rifkin:

We need to keep in mind that 40% of the human race stills lives on two dollars a day or less, in dire poverty, and the vast majority have no electricity. Without access to electricity they remain "powerless," literally and figuratively. The single most important factor in raising hundreds of millions of people out of poverty is having reliable and affordable access to green electricity.  All other economic development is impossible in its absence.  The democratization of energy and universal access to electricity is the indispensable starting point for improving the lives of the poorest populations of the world.

There is a growing consensus on the part of the global community that a reevaluation of energy needs and mechanisms to produce energy is imperative.  Using the lens of health impacts as the focus, this conference will explore current challenges and potential remedies to global energy needs.

Primary Conference Goals

  1. To focus attention on the role of energy as a key contributor to both good or ill health globally both directly and indirectly through it’s role in development, health technologies, environmental damage, and global conflict;
  2. To bring together researchers, health professionals, environmental, business and military leaders to elucidate and evaluate the nature, role, and intensity of the impact of the energy sector on global health, the shared environment and climate;
  3. To determine the most effective language, messengers, and relevant factors to motivate the public and policy makers to make changes needed to reduce the adverse role of current energy policy on health, climate change and environmental degradation;
  4. To activate transformational thinking and promote the actions required to preserve the healthiest future possible.


Students wishing to receive credit should register for course 152:152 on ISIS. Community members can also register by filling out this form. Course fee is $40.