Letter: Vote for health; vote for climate
As a physician, I have the privilege to witness firsthand the fragility and remarkable resilience of human health. As a part of a coalition of thousands of doctors, nurses, physician assistants and students from every state who have signed this open letter to America’s patients, I can state unequivocally, that your personal health, and the health of those you love, are on the ballot in this election. Vote for health. Vote for leaders who take the climate crisis seriously.
Health professionals are skilled at diagnosing and treating diseases, but we know that prevention is the best medicine. There is a consensus among scientists that we need to dramatically reduce emissions in the next 10 years in order to avoid the worst health impacts of the climate crisis. To do this, we need to transition to clean forms of energy. The enormity of health benefits that would result cannot be underestimated.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is the need to heed to the warning of experts. As clinicians, we are witnessing the impacts of climate change in our practices regularly. Although some impacts are treatable, many are tragic.
This year, we have seen an unprecedented number of hurricanes making landfall in the Gulf Coast while the West Coast experienced record-setting heatwaves and wildfires. Here in Colorado, we have experienced the effects of increased atmospheric aridity, a factor that has in-creased the severity of wildfires that is due to climate change. Without strong preventive action, this human suffering will only get worse. That is why we, along with organizations representing the majority of physicians including the American Medical Association, are calling for the urgent transition away from fossil fuels.
The good news is that transitioning to clean energy will clean up our air and make us healthier almost immediately. The technology is available and investing in this transition would put people back to work, grow our economy and allow the U.S. to compete more effectively on the global market.
Individual doctors and nurses are not able to prevent the suffering caused by the climate crisis without your help. We need leaders who will enact science-based policies. And we need you to vote for legislators who will act on climate. By voting for climate, you are voting for health.
Katie Durrwachter Erno, MD
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