As public health issue, AMA "must engage the climate deniers head on"

Posted May 16, 2011

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Regarding "Confronting health issues of climate change" (link): Bravo, AMA. Thank you for taking on the issue of climate change. This is the most serious issue that our civilization has ever faced next to global nuclear war.

The science is settled but for the details of how bad, how soon and how to cope with a transformed planet. Physicians, who base their practice on sound scientific evidence, must get involved in the debate over the inevitable transition to a post-carbon energy future. Everything is at stake, including our ability to maintain human health.

The resistance to moving to Industrial Revolution version 2.0 is purely political. Powerful forces who stand to lose business are spending hundreds of millions of dollars spreading misinformation, attacking scientists and sowing doubt in the public's mind, just as they did in the tobacco "debate."

The AMA is a political organization that must engage the climate deniers head on, as a matter of public health. Earth's climate will not wait for us to work out the politics over decades. Irreversible tipping points have arrived 100 years ahead of schedule, and we are out of time. We physicians have a duty to warn -- and act.

Peter G. Joseph, MD, San Anselmo, Calif.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/05/16/edlt0516.htm.

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