At the Climate and Health Equity Symposium sponsored by the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute, National Medical Association, the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, and Physicians for Social Responsibility-Florida, on January 27, 2018, in Wesley Chapel, Florida, members of health professional organizations, hospitals, public health organizations and health systems convened to discuss the health impacts of climate change in Florida. The physicians formed a new group, Florida Clinicians for Climate Action, in response to what health professionals are experiencing in patient care settings throughout Florida.
Issued in Tampa, Florida
January 27, 2018
We are forming Florida Clinicians for Climate Action and issue this statement due to concerns about what we are experiencing in patient care. As Florida clinicians, we know::
As leading healthcare providers, professionals and organizations, we know that the health impacts of climate change, such as heat stroke, severe weather injuries, and increased asthma and allergies, will continue to rise if we don’t take action. The burden will fall on the most vulnerable, such as the elderly, children, and pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and those with fewer resources. Ironically the people who are most economically vulnerable have typically contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions.
According to a prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, climate change is the greatest global health threat of the 21st century. Its 2017 report recognizes that Florida has taken great steps in strengthening its infrastructure to make it more climate-resilient, which resulted in less damage than expected from Hurricane Irma. However, there remains much to be done to address the impacts of climate change, including its health effects.
We must prevent more catastrophic health effects, including infections from water- and foodborne agents or insect vectors; exacerbation of cardiac and respiratory conditions from heat or poor quality air; and psychological dysfunction from loss of property or social networks.
What is good for the climate is good for health. By decreasing greenhouse gases through clean energy solutions such as energy efficiency, wind and solar energy, we can address the causes of climate change and generate health benefits for Florida residents and people who live in other states.
Given the gravity and urgency of the situation - and the opportunity to promote public health by addressing climate change - we call on our colleagues in public health organizations, health professional associations, hospitals, and health systems to act in concert with the 2011 Durban (South Africa) Declaration on Climate and Health and endorse this Call to Action.
We commit that we will:
In furtherance of these goals, we hereby establish the Florida Clinicians for Climate Action and pledge to work with like-minded organizations to advocate to preserve and improve the health of all Floridians who are likely to be negatively impacted by climate change, especially vulnerable populations and communities.