American College of Physicians on Climate Change: "Catastrophic Risk" to Human Health
September 4, 2016
From the April 2016 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, a position paper on the health impact of climate change not only reiterates the devastating outcomes, but also advocates for physicians playing a role in climate change mitigation.
"Climate change could have a devastating effect on human and environmental health. Potential effects of climate change on human health include higher rates of respiratory and heat-related illness, increased prevalence of vector-borne and waterborne diseases, food and water insecurity, and malnutrition. Persons who are elderly, sick, or poor are especially vulnerable to these potential consequences. Addressing climate change could have substantial benefits to human health. In this position paper, the American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends that physicians and the broader health care community throughout the world engage in environmentally sustainable practices that reduce carbon emissions; support efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change; and educate the public, their colleagues, their community, and lawmakers about the health risks posed by climate change. Tackling climate change is an opportunity to dramatically improve human health and avert dire environmental outcomes, and ACP believes that physicians can play a role in achieving this goal."
"Physicians, both collectively and individually, are encouraged to take action by adopting lifestyle changes that reduce environmental impact, increasing the environmental sustainability of their practice and the broader health system in which they work, educating the public on the potential effects and health consequences of climate change, and advocating for policies in their own countries and globally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the health effects of climate change. The Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change states that addressing climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of this century. The medical profession—by being an objective and trusted source of information about the effects of climate change on health—must be at the fore of this opportunity to make Earth a sustainable home for future generations."