Backyard Talk

Climate Change Is A Health Emergency Waiting To Happen

By Sharon Franklin
In a recent article from Inside Climate News, by Nina Pullano, U.S. Medical Groups Warn Candidates: Climate Change Is A ‘Health Emergency’The American Medical Association and other major health groups are proposing a policy agenda for reducing climate-related health risks.  Those risks include extreme heat waves like the one expected in Europe this summer.  These leading medical organizations are urging political candidates “to recognize climate change as a health emergency” issued a call for urgent action on “one of the greatest threats to health America has ever faced.”
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More than 70 health organizations signed a statement that, among other things, calls for a move away from fossil fuels.  The groups cite storm and flood emergencies, chronic air pollution, the spread of diseases carried by insects, and especially heat-related illnesses.
Europe is anticipating an intense heat wave as well as parts of the U.S., where extreme heat has been the leading cause of weather-related deaths which have already experienced record-breaking heat this year.  Additionally, the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association joined dozens of other organizations in signing the U.S. Call to Action on Climate Health and Equity.  Recognizing that climate change poses a greater threat to children, pregnant women and marginalized communities, the groups said that social justice needs to be a mainstay of climate policy. Additionally, the American Medical Association and other major health groups are calling for hospitals and other healthcare systems to adopt “climate-smart” practices, including energy and water usage, transportation and waste management.  Ed Maibach,  Director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, said “At the same time, hospitals need to be prepared for events like the extreme heat expected to hit Europe.”
Recently, many of these same organizations publicly backed the twenty-one (21) children and young adults suing the United States Government over Climate Change. Additionally, the American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association announced on July 8 that they were suing the current administration over the EPA’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan.  , and replace it with a new rule, which would be only be a tiny fraction cleaner than not having any regulation at all.
Dr. Aparna Bole the incoming chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health, said “public health can’t be fenced off from other policy concerns.  Health, energy, transportation and food policy tend to be put in compartments, and “continuing to break them down and make sure that health is front and center in climate action is really important for us.”  Dr. Bole went on to say, “We have this incredible opportunity right now to take urgent action to mitigate the impacts of potentially runaway climate change.”   Dr. Boris Lushniak, former U.S. Deputy Surgeon General and Dean of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health, added that one of the main goals is to keep climate change on the political agenda, because,Climate solutions are health solutions.”
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