By Mark Richardson
Dozens of Arizona doctors and nurses are among more than 4,300 medical professionals who have signed a letter warning that climate change poses a clear and present danger to public health.
The letter urges their patients to support political candidates who back climate mitigation efforts, and to demand that all levels of government develop working policies to curb climate change.
Dr. Eve Shapiro, a Tucson pediatrician and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said she’s alarmed at the effects Arizona’s climate extremes are having on her young patients.
“Climate change is causing – well, we call it ‘climate chaos,'” said Shapiro. “Greater extremes in temperature and weather events. Here in Arizona, our heat this summer broke all records. In these conditions, it can have a serious health impact.”
“We are hoping that a new administration will have a more forward-thinking view of what we need to do to make this planet healthier.'”
Dr. Eve Shapiro
She said they’re urging political leaders to prioritize renewable energy over fossil fuels. They also have a social-media toolkit to help people contact elected officials and urge them to protect public health by cutting carbon emissions.
Shapiro said people in the health-care industry bring a unique perspective to the problems caused by a warming climate.
“I think there’s a lack of education on this issue,” said Shapiro. “Our hope is that, as medical personnel, we can give people information that they can understand what the impact is, go to their legislators and push them to make these changes.”
While many health-care providers traditionally shy away from political issues, Shapiro said confronting the current and future effects of climate change compels them to speak out.
“We are hoping that a new administration will have a more forward-thinking view of what we need to do to make this planet healthier,'” said Shapiro. “We’re encouraging people to inform themselves so they can make wise decisions, both in this election and future elections.”
Sixteen national and state medical organizations representing more than 600,000 members are supporting the nonpartisan letter calling for action on climate change.
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