Climate change is already harming people’s health by promoting illnesses linked to warmer temperatures and changing weather patterns, a leading group of U.S. doctors says in a new position paper.
As a result, the American College of Physicians (ACP) is calling for “aggressive, concerted” action to fight climate change by curbing man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
Respiratory illnesses, heat stroke and infectious diseases like Zika virus, dengue fever and cholera are flourishing as global temperatures rise, said Dr. Wayne Riley, president of the college.
“Our climate is already changing and people are already being harmed. If we don’t begin to address climate change, we’re going to see more and more manifestations of these health problems,” Riley said.
“There is clear, compelling scientific consensus that climate change is real,” he added. “There is no dispute.”
In the paper, published online April 19 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, the ACP outlines the health problems that it says climate change is already creating:
Respiratory illnesses, including asthma and COPD. Rising temperatures are causing an increase in ozone pollution, smoke from wildfires, and allergens produced by weeds, grasses and trees. Homes affected by heavy rains or flooding can become host to toxic mold and fungi.
Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which are particularly dangerous for children and the elderly
Insect-borne illnesses, like Zika virus, dengue fever and chikungunya, which are ranging father north as mosquitoes thrive in warmer climates.
Water-borne illnesses, such a cholera, which can spread if drought causes poor sanitation or if heavy flooding causes sewer systems to overflow.
Mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression connected to natural disasters, as well as the anxiety and stress than accompanies days of hot weather.
The ACP is urging its physician members to both speak out for climate change policies in their communities, and to head the way by promoting energy efficiency in their own practices, said Bob Doherty, the ACP’s senior vice president of governmental affairs and public policy.
The health care sector is ranked second-highest in energy use, after the food industry, spending about $9 billion annually on energy costs, the position paper stated. Health care systems can reduce their carbon footprint through energy conservation and efficiency, alternative energy generation, green building design, improved waste disposal and management, and water conservation, according to the paper.
Finally, a vehicle for me to express my views and concerns about global warming. That anyone denies the fact that global warming is real reminds me of those who still think the earth is flat.
Here is S. Florida, the “extreme high tides” previously experienced only in the fall are now a daily occurrence. Fort Lauderdale is considering an ordinance that would require all home owners living on our canals to raise their seawalls by two feet. Of course, that will only delay the inevitable.
The health issues associated with global warming are just as real. The Zika virus is just the first of many health issues we will face as the oceans continue to rise and our weather becomes more and more erratic.
The Bottom Line:
I’ll keep you posted on health issues surrounding global warming as S. Florida appears to be a common target. Consider this my call to the community.
Source: April 18, 2016 National Institutes of Health
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