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Must-Read: “Climate Change—A Health Emergency”

by Barbara Gottlieb

Two physicians from PSR’s Greater Boston chapter have just published a must-read article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Entitled “Climate Change—A Health Emergency,” it is a strong and cogent statement of the challenge the world faces from climate change and the responsibility of physicians (and, by extension, other health professionals) to respond.

The authors, Caren Solomon, M.D., M.P.H. and Regina LaRocque, M.D., M.P.H., begin with a quick summary of the effects of climate disruption, which as they note was “once a theoretical concern, [but] is now occurring in plain view.”  They address the need to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions, noting that individual actions can help but stressing that only “concerted, organized, and forceful actions” to change policies, institutions and society will be enough to meet climate challenges to health, well-being and global stability.

They conclude by articulating the ways health professionals can help fight climate change, from educating colleagues to working for policy change.

If you are speaking with health professionals, medical students or your elected officials, this is one article you will definitely want to place in their hands. You can also hear an NPR interview with coauthor Regina LaRocque, who appeared as a guest on the show “On Point.”

Although written independently, the article perfectly reinforces the goal that PSR’s board of directors adopted in November 2018: that “All U.S. health professionals understand climate change as a global health crisis, advise their patients about this, and advocate for urgent, large-scale mitigation and adaptation actions to protect human health and survival.”