ACP Urges Physicians to Step up Climate Change Fight
Climate change poses a catastrophic risk to human health, including more respiratory and heat-related illness, vector-borne diseases, malnutrition, and behavioral health problems, and physicians have a crucial role to play in fighting it, according to a position paper from the American College of Physicians (ACP).
Ryan A. Crowley, writing for ACP's Health and Public Policy Committee, said the ACP "strongly concurs with the finding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change...which has stated that 'human influence on the climate system is clear,' " listing causes such as burning of fossil fuels and power plant emissions, which release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, trapping heat that then elevates global temperatures.
"The [ACP] urges physicians to help combat climate change by advocating for effective climate change adaptation and mitigation policies, helping to advance a low-carbon health care sector, and by educating communities about potential health dangers posed by climate change," ACP President Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP, said in an ACP news release.
He continued, "We need to take action now to protect the health of our community's most vulnerable members — including our children, our seniors, people with chronic illnesses, and the poor — because our climate is already changing and people are already being harmed."
The article was published online April 19 in theAnnals of Internal Medicine.
Healthcare Providers Can Help
The healthcare sector is ranked second in energy use after the food industry, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that by increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources, 30% of healthcare's energy use could be reduced without compromising care quality.
Specific recommendations for healthcare organizations are included in a report called "Addressing Climate Change in the Health Care Setting: Opportunities for Action," published by Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth. T