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Healthcare Professionals Unite Against Climate Change

Doctors demanded governments limit fossil fuel usage and urgently implement renewable energy in an open letter signed by thirty-nine leading global health bodies representing over three million healthcare professionals. Growing numbers of physicians are reporting escalating health issues resulting from climate change.

A picture of a stethoscope against a white background
Doctors have declared climate change a global health emergency in their open letter. (Unsplash/Markus Frieauff)

The letter, which will be presented at COP 28, the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in late November, calls on international governments to implement the following regulations:

  1. Stop any new fossil fuel production and transition away from projects requiring its usage. This is a crucial step forward in weaning global dependence on fossil fuels.

  2. Urgently begin to switch to renewable sources of energy. Different sustainable energy sources like nuclear energy, solar, and wind are the next steps toward a cleaner and healthier future.

  3. End financial support to fossil companies through subsidies. Government subsidies are financial incentives that make fossil fuel usage more appealing to consumers. By removing subsidies, countries will no longer promote its use and can encourage a shift towards cleaner alternatives.

  4. Invest in clean energy. Investing in this industry will promote a more sustainable future because it creates more jobs and opportunities for technological advancements in clean energy.


How does climate change impact our health?

Maria Neira, the World Health Organization’s environmental, climate change, and health director, stated, “Climate change has been identified as potentially the greatest health challenge of the 21st century.”

To read more about climate change's effect on health, click here.

Climate change can affect global well-being in several ways, including air pollution. It increases ground-level ozone, different from stratospheric ozone (which shields the earth from ultraviolet rays). Ground-level ozone is created when fossil fuel combustion pollutants react with sunlight. This type of ozone can cause several different health issues, including severe asthma and other lung issues, as well as an increase in premature deaths, according to the CDC. Climate change also causes other health issues due to the spread of extreme weather, increasing diseases, and food insecurity. Together, these health risks have caused doctors to view climate change as a medical crisis, prompting the open letter.


“If we are to have any chance of limiting warming to 1.5C and halting the escalation of the climate health emergency, we must end the proliferation of fossil fuels,” the letter says.


How can you help?

Further Reading:


Extra steps you can take:

  1. Writing for Kids Fight Climate Change: If you are interested in making climate change news more accessible, you should consider joining us! Check out this link: Join the Team | Kids Fight Climate Change: Youth Climate Education

  2. Volunteering at advocacy groups. VolunteerMatch is a great resource to find volunteer opportunities, virtual and in-person. Check out this link: VolunteerMatch

If neither of those options applies to you, there are still ways to raise awareness! Simply by sharing articles such as this one, you are doing your part to spread important climate information. That is activism.


How can you help?

Further Reading:


Extra steps you can take:

  1. Writing for Kids Fight Climate Change: If you are interested in making climate change news more accessible, you should consider joining us! Check out this link: Join the Team | Kids Fight Climate Change: Youth Climate Education

  2. Volunteering at advocacy groups. VolunteerMatch is a great resource to find volunteer opportunities, virtual and in-person. Check out this link: VolunteerMatch

  3. If neither of those options applies to you, there are still ways to raise awareness! Simply by sharing articles such as this one, you are doing your part to spread important climate information. That is activism.


Sources

“Climate Effects on Health | CDC,” n.d. https://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/effects/default.htm.


Finch, Derek. Green and Silver Stethoscope on White Envelope. October 27, 2020. Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/green-and-silver-stethoscope-on-white-envelope-zkrPU_1AwdU.


US EPA. “Ground-Level Ozone Basics,” June 2, 2023. https://www.epa.gov/ground-level-ozone-pollution/ground-level-ozone-basics.


Attwooll, Jolyon. “Doctors Send Climate Change Message Ahead of Crucial UN Conference.” NewsGP. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/doctors-send-climate-change-message-ahead-of-cruci.


Australian Associated Press. “Doctors from around the World Unite to Call for Urgent Climate Action.” The Guardian, October 28, 2023. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/oct/28/doctors-from-around-the-world-unite-to-call-for-urgent-climate-action.


“Viewpoints: We Are Starting To See Climate Change For The Health Danger It Is; How To End Hospital Violence?” KFF Health News, October 24, 2023. https://kffhealthnews.org/morning-breakout/viewpoints-we-are-starting-to-see-climate-change-for-the-health-danger-it-is-how-to-end-hospital-violence/.



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