Wednesday, March 22, 2017

More Than Half of U.S. Medical Professionals Unite to Raise Alarm About Climate Change

Global warming poses an increased risk for asthma, lung illnesses, Lyme disease, Zika virus and anxiety, among other things.

Children, the elderly and suffers of chronic diseases are among the most vulnerable to climate change-related health risks. (Credit: Andresr / Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Our summers are getting hotter and what does that mean for children, their health and their safety,” Samantha Ahdoot, a doctor at Pediatric Associates of Alexandria, told The Huffington Post by phone on Tuesday.  “Climate change isn’t about our grandchildren or great-grandchildren, just as it’s not about polar bears and penguins.  Climate change is about people and their health today in 2017.”

On Wednesday, Ahdoot joined more than 434,000 practitioners ― more than half the medical professionals in the U.S. ― in a newly formed medical consortium warning the public about the effects climate change is already having on health.  The Consortium on Climate & Health includes a dozen top medical associations covering fields ranging from allergies and asthma to internal medicine to psychiatry.  In one of its first moves, the nonprofit coalition plans to lobby governors, mayors, manufacturers, Fortune 500 chief executives, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Trump administration to invest in renewable energy and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

The group faces an uphill battle.  President Donald Trump has made axing environmental regulations a top priority as the White House seeks to boost the economy.  Already, his administration has lifted regulations to protect streams and waterways from toxic pollution, scrapped a rule requiring oil and gas drillers to report methane leaks and proposed gutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget.  In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly canceled a climate change summit just days before Trump was sworn in.  Last week, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt ignited a firestorm when he said on CNBC that he doesn’t believe carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming.

Even in red states, the vast majority of Americans disagree with the White House.  Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe global warming is happening, and 53 percent understand that humans are to blame, according to 2016 survey data from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.  Yet despite 71 percent of those surveyed saying they trust scientists’ conclusions on global warming, less than half realized that most scientists believe climate change is real.

That’s a problem.  For years, oil companies, particularly Exxon Mobil Corporation, have funded groups that reject the overwhelming scientific consensus on the causes of climate change as part of disinformation campaigns modeled on efforts by tobacco companies and automakers to hide the health effects of smoking and leaded gasoline.  In fact, study after study shows 97 percent or more of climate scientists who actively publish in peer-reviewed journals agree that increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are warming the planet.  The surge in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane irrefutably mirrors the dramatic upswing in industrial emissions, both of which track rising temperatures.

“At this point, physicians are really trying to speak out about their own observations and let everyone know it isn’t just climate scientists,” Mona Sarfaty, director of the new consortium and a professor at George Mason University, told HuffPost by phone.  “Physicians ― who have a closer relationship with the public than scientists, generally ― are seeing this, and they feel concerned and feel a responsibility to speak directly to the American public.”

“To get 12 different major medical organizations coming together like this is rare,” she added. “It doesn’t happen often.  It only happens when the stakes are really high.”

Read more at More Than Half of U.S. Medical Professionals Unite to Raise Alarm About Climate Change

No comments:

Post a Comment