Climate Change A ‘Health Emergency’ According To Experts

Climate change is now a national health emergency in the United States.

Many of the leading medical associations in the U.S. were among the 74 medical and public health groups that banded together on Monday to advance a series of consensus commitments to combat climate change, which the Republicans and President Donald Trump continue to deny.

The new climate change agenda declaring climate change a national emergency represents a back-to-basics approach these associations and the Democrats plan to advance in the years ahead.

"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 medical and public health groups in their climate agenda document.

Among the medical associations that have signed on to the climate policy priorities are the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American College of Physicians, plus multiple state-level and academic public health organizations.

These groups will press elected officials and presidential candidates to "meet and strengthen U.S. commitments" under the 2015 United Nations climate agreement. Trump has vowed to withdraw from this agreement but hasn’t done so for reasons unknown.

The partners are also pushing for some form of carbon pricing and "a plan and timeline for reduction of fossil fuel extraction in the U.S." Both of these are welcome to the Democrats but anathema to the Republicans.

It’s curious to note former Vice President Joe Biden's climate change plan agrees with several of the medical and public health groups' priorities. Like Biden, the groups call for a reduction in petroleum and natural gas use in transportation. They also agree with Biden in allowing the use of fracking or hydraulic fracturing to extract crude oil and natural gas.

The endorsing groups can draw more attention to climate change because they don’t operate with "a political axe to grind," said Ed Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.

“Talking about the issue as a health problem could reframe the thinking of voters who view climate change primarily as a threat to things in the environment,” said Maibach.

"It's incredibly helpful when health professionals point out the actual reality of the situation, point out that this is also a threat to our health and well-being now ... and it's likely to get worse, much worse, if we don't take action to address it.”

Climate Change Climate change started to worsen once human society began to thrive during the Industrial Revolution. Photo courtesy of Pixabay, public domain

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