AMA should educate Congress on the dangers of climate change

Posted May 16, 2011

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Regarding "Confronting health issues of climate change" (link): It was heartening to read an editorial that discussed the health effects of climate change that physicians already are confronting.

Prolonged and intensified allergy and asthma seasons, heat-stress-related effects on patients with chronic cardio-respiratory illnesses, a recrudescence of subtropical diseases and more extensive distribution of domestic infectious diseases have occurred. As the editorial points out, these are the first of many climate change-related health effects that physicians will be confronted with.

The opinion piece then went on to describe the laudable education and outreach actions our AMA is taking to prepare physicians for the health effects of global climate change.

While encouraging to read in the article about AMA's action on climate change, it was ironic that during the same week the editorial was published, 50 U.S. senators voted to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to take incremental steps to address climate change, and the House of Representatives passed legislation stripping the EPA of such authority.

Perhaps the AMA's efforts would be better directed at educating Congress about the evidence-based science documenting climate change with its adverse health effects on humans that physicians are currently encountering. The physician community can treat patients with climate-related illnesses, but only Congress has the power to actually address climate change.

Joseph Sokolowski Jr., MD, Medford Lakes, N.J.

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

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