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article imageMedical groups warn that climate crisis is a ‘health emergency’

By Karen Graham     Jun 24, 2019 in Politics
A group of 74 medical and public health groups aligned on Monday to push for a series of consensus commitments to combat climate change, bluntly defined by the organizations as "a health emergency."
The new climate change agenda released by the groups on Monday, June 24, including the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association, comes ahead of the first Democratic primary debate this week, and basically calls on the presidential hopefuls to commit to an agenda to combat climate change.
The medical groups' policy recommendations stand in sharp contrast to President Donald Trump's lack of commitment to combat the climate crisis already impacting public health. They want a back-to-basics approach for an internal Democratic climate debate that has so far revolved around the liberal precepts of the Green New Deal.
"The health, safety, and wellbeing 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. Climate change also exacerbates health inequities—disproportionately harming the most vulnerable among us—thus equity must be central to climate action," the open letter states.
The agenda put forth in the letter is straight-forward and clear: As a nation, we must meet and strengthen the commitments the U.S. made under the Paris Climate Agreement. They also call for some form of carbon pricing and "a plan and timeline for the reduction of fossil fuel extraction in the U.S."
That the agenda's endorsing groups do not operate with "a political axe to grind" could help them draw more attention to climate change, said Ed Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.
For voters who view climate change "primarily as a threat to things in the environment, like polar bears," talking about the issue as a health problem could reframe their thinking, Maibach said.
"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," he said.
More about Climate crisis, public health dentistry, medical groups, Open letter, Health emergency
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