Lives Depend on Climate Action: How Climate Change Jeopardizes Patient Health Today
Those on the front lines describe how we must transform our approach to care and infrastructure to safeguard patient health.
Boston Strong news – Boston, MA: Boston Medical Center Health City Lauren Padilla reports 10.22.2019 –
It’s been one month since 4 million strikers across all 7 continents marched to support global climate action in the Youth Climate Strike. Organized largely through youth-led grassroots movements across the world, the demonstrations were lauded as the biggest environmental strike of all time. The U.S. Youth Climate Strike emphasized “just and equitable” climate goals, including calls for a Green New Deal, acknowledgement of indigenous rights, and defense of biodiversity. Among the throngs of protesters, there has been one increasingly visible presence: the healthcare community.
Health Care Without Harm, an international healthcare advocacy organization, issued a doctor’s note endorsed by hundreds of physicians that excused student strikers from school to attend September’s strike. Members of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning advocacy group, Physicians for Social Responsibility, in chapters spanning from Boston to San Francisco, have taken part in respective local demonstrations, many posting photos of themselves in their white coats to social media.
This activism and urgency is largely influenced by the October 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s preeminent body of climate scientists, which states that unprecedented climate action within the next dozen years is essential to avoiding climate change’s most catastrophic impacts. The report has since roused international calls to action from policymakers, scientists, and activists, stressing that capping global temperature rise at 1.5°C, rather than 2°C, would “reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health, and well-being.”
Climate change’s adverse health implications are already harming patients, according to those on the front lines. HealthCity recently asked healthcare professionals to weigh in with how they see the health ramifications of climate change. Their answers highlight the need for comprehensive climate action and describe how healthcare organizations must transform themselves into environmental leaders to safeguard patient health.