Health care providers can help communicate climate change consequences

Most people in the U.S. do not see climate change as a serious threat, according to polls. A new editorial by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Professor Howard Koh argues that clinicians can help the public understand that climate change threatens health now, and promote vigilance around risks such as poor air quality and allergenic molds triggered by heavy rains.

Clinicians can also use their collective voice to support actions that promote community resilience, such as preparing for disasters and creating climate-resistant physical infrastructure, Koh writes. They can also promote individual actions that both address global warming and benefit health, such as biking instead of driving.

The editorial was published online in JAMA Forum on December 9, 2015.

“In the face of one of the major global threats of our time, health professionals can make a difference,” writes Koh, who is Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership. “Engaging people in a health frame of reference for climate change represents a potential life-saving measure that promises profound benefits for both current and future generations.”

Read JAMA Forum article: Communicating the Health Effects of Climate Change