Just Read: What physicians (and patients) need to know about Climate Change – JAMA

The facts:

Similar trends can be seen for snowfall and precipitation, both trending down instead of up, in Washington, DC, with a whole host of livability and health effects that will result.

This post is about a pair of papers in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association about climate change, that are nicely comprehensive and about what climate change means for health. As I have said previously, I am not an environmentalist, I am a health activist – that’s why I can and do go from thinking about medical care for people who are transgender to designing healthy buildings.

In “Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for Global Health” you’ll find exactly what colleagues and I had previously been looking for in the published literature – a good accounting, from all health angles, of what happens when CO2 levels rise. A lot of the impacts I am familiar with, some are new, such as increase risk of depression and other mental illness.

If physicians or other people in health care – including patients – have time to read only one article about why this is important, this is a good one. There’s a lot that health care and people who work in health care can do, and a lot that has already been done (see: Just Read: Greening Health Care: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet | Ted Eytan, MD).

The second piece, “Code Green,” is written by a physician (and a family physician at that), for physicians. Caroline Wellbery, MD, PhD, discusses the role of health practitioners in being a voice for change. That’s something that comes very unnaturally to me if you read this blog :). As I have written previously, physicians are not yet mobilized in a significant way to think about the role of environment in preserving or more likely in the future, destroying the work they do to keep people healthy (Do physicians tweet about environmental stewardship in health care? | Ted Eytan, MD). I think that’s going to change as the health impacts become part of the curricula for physicians in training, as evidenced by this piece itself.

If we are here to keep people healthy, we can’t do it if we sicken their communities at the same time. Enough said. Well almost enough. It’s as simple as your walk to work in the morning. Try it.

Ted Eytan, MD