I recently asked my doctor if climate change is considered a serious health emergency among her colleagues. She told me that climate change is a health crisis. She knows this because she sees more and more patients with heat-related illnesses (one-third of all heat deaths are tied to climate change), and infectious and vector-borne diseases (ticks!), and asthma continues to be on the rise in our area, especially in children. She also mentioned that after superstorms Sandy and Irene, which caused disruption to the housing and power infrastructure with local outages, health care institutions were left vulnerable and in need of costly updating. In fact, it was estimated that Sandy caused at least $70 billion in overall damages.
A new report by NRDC, “The Cost of Inaction: The Economic Burden of Fossil Fuels and Climate Change on Health in the US,” indicates that doctors have now put a price tag on the annual health impacts of climate change. And it is undeniably staggering: $820 billion.
The report tackles the costly health consequences of the climate crisis: premature deaths, medical care for treatment of physical and mental health, rehab and home care, prescription medication, lost wages and worker productivity, and the downstream health costs of delayed care and homelessness.
Moms Clean Air Force focuses on what our policymakers can do by supporting legislation that will help protect our children from air pollution and climate change, and safeguard their health now and into the future. The Biden administration is taking an All-of-Government approach by building climate solutions into our cities, rural areas, and natural ecosystems.
We’re glad to work with government agencies that respect science. And we’re thrilled to continue to elevate health care professionals — nurses and doctors — who care for our children’s health, as they step up to address the urgent crisis. Two such trusted groups putting a climate lens on their approach to the medical profession are the Alliance for Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) and Climate Code Blue.
ANHE has stood side-by-side with Moms Clean Air Force on the front lines of the climate fight to protect children from the health impacts of climate change for a long time. ANHE’s mission is to promote “healthy people and healthy environments by educating and leading the nursing profession, advancing research, incorporating evidence-based practice, and influencing policy.”
According to a new group of responsible doctors, Climate Code Blue advocates for a just, green recovery from Covid through fossil fuel divestments and electrification to address the climate emergency. Doctors know all too well that declaring “Code Blue” indicates a medical emergency. Climate Code Blue believes doctors, as “healers,” must respond to the climate crisis as a health emergency.
When it comes to the climate crisis, every group can lend valuable knowledge, dedication, and activism. Because the best prescription for a healthier and more equitable future for all our children is climate action.