Photo by: Michael Goderre, Boston Childrens Hospital

Bringing climate solutions to the bedside.

When Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico it devastated the island but also caused national shortages of intravenous saline, a backbone of basic medical care when the supply chain was put out of commission.

Hurricanes, wildfires, extreme heat, and other consequences of burning fossil fuels and climate change don’t just threaten our health, they threaten the ability of medical providers to deliver care to all those who need it.

It’s essential that health care providers understand how climate change could impact their clinical practice, be empowered to safeguard their patients’ health, and use their voices to engage the health care community and public to act on climate change.

Harvard Chan C-CHANGE launched Climate MD, a program led by Dr. Aaron Bernstein and Dr. Renee Salas, to focus on the health care effects of climate change and prepare a climate-ready healthcare workforce by:

  • Working with community health clinics
  • Demonstrating climate impacts to health care delivery in medical journals
  • Preparing medical leaders on climate and health
  • Changing the national media narrative on climate change
  • Communicating directly with patients

Two doctors wearing scrubs and masks

Working with community health clinics

We are working with partners to identify, support, and prepare clinics to address climate-related impacts on health and health care delivery. This work helps buffer risks to the patients they serve, protect people most at risk from the climate crisis, and advance health equity.


Dr. Renee Salas speaks at climate crisis event
Photo By Jim Mahoney for Coverage

Demonstrating climate impacts to healthcare delivery in medical journals

We reach health care professionals by publishing and amplifying research on patient-centered climate action, leading the yearly analysis tracking the impact of climate change on human health in the U.S. Policy Brief for the Lancet Countdown, and demonstrating the connections between climate change and pediatrics, climate-informed primary care, psychology, emergency medicine, surgery, internal medicine, cancer, pulmonology, infectious diseases, and more.


 

 

cityscape with park and people walking

Preparing medical leaders on climate and health

Our team co-hosts the Health Effects of Climate Change, a massive open online course that has been taken by more than 100,000 students in over 100 countries, Harvard University’s Climate Change and Health Fellows for emergency medicine physicians, and the Climate Health Organizing Fellows program for U.S. health professionals.

We work with medical schools to integrate climate change into curricula using clinical cases and targeted curriculum, outlining the first residency curricula to better prepare doctors for climate change and identifying climate and health initiatives at educational institutions.


 

 


Man putting medical mask on a child

Changing the national media narrative on climate change

We serve as the media’s go-to source for climate change and health information, regularly interviewing with top-tier national and health media and hosting workshops and media trainings for organizations on how to effectively communicate about climate and health issues.



Communicating directly with patients

We regularly publish information about how people can stay healthy in a changing climate through serving on the boards of Parents Magazine and Pattrn from The Weather Channel, our collaborations with the Harvard Health Letter, one of the most trusted and widely-read sources of health information in the world, our fact sheets on kids and climate, and our monthly Climate Optimist newsletter.

Hundreds of Hospitals on Atlantic and Gulf Coasts at Risk of Flooding from Hurricanes

Our study is the first to systematically investigate flooding risk to nearly 700 U.S. hospitals on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts from Category 1-4 storms.

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Communicating Statistics on the Health Effects of Climate Change

Health professionals need to communicate the health and equity implications of climate change effectively to protect health and motivate action.

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A Pediatrician’s Guide to Climate Change-Informed Primary Care

A practical approach for connecting climate change with health during pediatric well visits.

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The medical response to climate change

Our Director Dr. Aaron Bernstein lays out five pillars for the medical response to climate change.

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Adding A Climate Lens To Health Policy In The United States

Our Yerby Fellow Dr. Renee Salas and Interim Director Dr. Aaron Bernstein outline specific recommendations for achieving climate action through health policy and decision making.

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'We Don't Have To Live This Way': Doctors Call For Climate Action

A sprawling analysis published by The Lancet focuses on public health data from 2019, and finds that heat waves, air pollution and extreme weather increasingly damage human health.

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Challenges and opportunities to sustainably scale up surgical, obstetric, and anaesthesia care globally

Strategies for the surgical, obstetric, and anaesthesia community to sustainably scale up SOA care to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address health equity and social justice issues.

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A pathway to net zero emissions for healthcare

Dr. Renee Salas charts a path to net zero emissions for healthcare.

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The first residency curriculum to better prepare doctors for climate change

New framework can teach medical residents how climate changes affects health, clinical care, and health care delivery.

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The climate crisis and COVID-19—A major threat to the pandemic response

Strategies for local communities and states to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during climate-related extreme events like heat waves, hurricanes, and wildfires.

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How Health Care Organizations Are Preparing for Climate Shocks and Protecting Vulnerable Patients

Our work with community health clinics is a model for how other health systems can become more resilient to climate.

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Floods are a growing threat to New England hospitals – what do you do?

Ours is the first study to systematically investigate flood risk for nearly 700 hospitals from Category 1-4 storms as climate change worsens and sea levels rise.

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Hospitals in Coastal Cities Risk Flooding Even in ‘Weak’ Hurricanes, Study Finds

We looked at the flooding risk to nearly 700 hospitals on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts due to storms and sea level rise made worse by climate change.

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Shaken by heatwaves, U.S. clinics get tips on staying cool

Featuring our toolkit for protecting the most vulnerable patients from heatwaves, working in collaboration with Americares and sponsored by Biogen.

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Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Study Identifies Hundreds of Hospitals on Atlantic and Gulf Coasts at Risk of Flooding from Hurricanes

Our study shows which hospitals are at risk of flooding from hurricanes today, and which will become at risk due to climate change.

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Partnering with your PCP to stay healthy in record heat

Our director Dr. Aaron Bernstein writes about a new initiative providing patient-centered toolkits to protect the vulnerable.

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Some medications may increase sensitivity to heat, sun

As the U.S. experiences more days of extreme heat, researchers caution that certain medications—such as antidepressants, antihistamines, high blood pressure drugs, and overactive-bladder treatments—can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing a heat-related illness.

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Can Medications Make You More Sensitive to Sun and Heat?

Our Climate and Health Fellow Dr. Kimberly Humphrey explains how people taking certain medications can protect themselves from the heat.

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‘Children Are Not Little Adults’ and Need Special Protection During Heat Waves

Our Director Dr. Aaron Bernstein is working to protect children from heat and advance health equity.

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A new toolkit makes health tips for heat waves more accessible

Our new toolkit for patients, providers and clinics provides guidance to prepare for or respond to weeks of prolonged heat.

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Headshot of Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Credit Michael Goderre/Boston Children’s Hospital

Aaron Bernstein MD, MPH

Aaron examines the human health effects of global environmental changes with the aim of promoting a deeper understanding of these subjects among students, educators, policy makers, and the public.

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Dr. Renee Salas

Renee N. Salas MD, MPH, MS

Renee's work focuses on the intersection of the climate crisis, health, and healthcare delivery.

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Caleb Dresser

Caleb Dresser MD

Caleb is an emergency medicine physician whose research focuses on addressing health needs during and after climate-related disasters.

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Gaurab Basu

Gaurab Basu MD, MPH

Gaurab's work focuses on the intersection of climate change, health equity, medical education, and advocacy.

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