WASHINGTON — Doctors across the country are joining with scientists to spread the message that studies show climate change can be harmful to our bodies.
Last week, more than 50% of the nation’s physicians collaborated in order to benefit the health of citizens and spread awareness of climate change. The group includes pediatricians, doctors, allergists, geriatricians, among others.
More than 10 of the nation’s top performing medical societies created the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health. The consortium has enthusiastically worked to release a new report that outlines the health hazards that are caused by climate change.
Among the threats, according to a news release: “cardio-respiratory illness associated with wildfires and air pollution; heat injury from extreme heat events; spread of infectious disease, including dangerous conditions such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease; and health and mental health problems caused by floods and extreme weather.”
The researchers are concerned that these cases are extremely threatening for our physical and mental health.
Their report is titled Medical Alert! Climate Change is Harming Our Health. It is comprised of a multitude of research suggesting that the reduction of greenhouse gases will massively benefit our health. The report will be presented to members of Congress, and eventually to state leaders and businesses.
Mona Sarfaty, director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health is also a professor at George Mason University. In the release, she explains that physicians recognize medical disadvantages resulting from climate change, especially in vulnerable targets.
“Doctors in every part of our country see that climate change is making Americans sicker. Physicians are on the frontlines and see the impacts in exam rooms. What’s worse is that the harms are felt most by children, the elderly, Americans with low-income or chronic illness, and people in communities of color” she says.
Most Americans, the doctors agree, aren’t educated on how climate change is affecting their health.
The Medical Alert! report highlights three main types of medical harms stemming from climate change. First, direct harms may result from intense weather and temperatures. The second type of hazard includes the spread of disease through insects or contaminated products, such as food and water. Lastly, the researchers claim that climate change may inflict mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Physicians view themselves as appropriate avenues for campaigning against climate change because they view it in the same light as smoking cigarettes or similar health risks. Other healthy habits, like walking places more, is a way for people to help the planet and their bodies at the same time.
“Here’s the message from America’s doctors on climate change: it’s not only happening in the Arctic Circle, it’s happening here. It’s not only a problem for us in 2100, it’s a problem now. And it’s not only hurting polar bears, it’s hurting us,” says Sarfaty.