by Paola Rosa-Aquino, Grist
Over 70 medical and public health organizations called on elected (and hoping-to-be-elected) officials Monday morning to commit to combating what they deem to be the “greatest public health challenge of the 21st century.” We’re talking climate action, people — doctor’s orders!
Historically, climate change has been framed as a distant or abstract threat — a problem for plants, penguins and polar bears. But the truth is, the phenomenon is a life-or-death issue for humans as well. A warmer climate is expected to increase the risk of illness and death from factors like extreme heat and poor air quality, contribute to more frequent and powerful weather events that threaten human health, and alter the regional scope of several vector-borne diseases. All these factors will place a higher burden on public health infrastructure.
“The health, safety, and well-being of millions of people in the U.S. have already been harmed by human-caused climate change, and health risks in the future are dire without urgent action to fight climate change,” said the groups, which included the National Medical Association and the American Heart Association, in a letter on Monday.