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Media: M&O Board Member Speaks Out on Climate Change

Media: M&O Board Member Speaks Out on Climate Change

Press Statement in Marietta Daily Journal, October 15, 2016.  “Health and Medical Professionals Call for Bold Action on Climate Change

Dr. Anne Mellinger-Birdsong, Pediatrician and Mothers & Others for Clean Air Leadership Board Member was quoted at the release of “A Health Professionals’ Declaration on Climate Change,” calling for swift action on climate change to protect public health. Growing scientific evidence confirms that communities are experiencing a variety of health impacts from climate change, and longer we wait to act, the more lives will be affected. “We, as public health and medical professionals, reiterate our commitment to address climate change on behalf of our patients and communities. The wide-ranging health impacts of climate change demand immediate action,” the Declaration states.

In Georgia and North Carolina, health and medical experts from registered nurses to physicians to respiratory therapists added their name to the Declaration to recognize the threat that climate change poses to local residents, especially those who are most vulnerable, such as children, older adults, those with chronic diseases like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and those living in low-income communities.

Dr. Mellinger-Birdsong explains: “As a public health professional, I know that climate change can harm the health of adults and children, because it will cause more air pollution, wildfires, drought, and extreme weather events. According to the World Health Organization, more than 80% of the current health burden due to the changing climate occurs in children younger than five years old.”

She adds: “As a public health specialist, I would add that any measures we take to address climate change will also reduce other air pollutants, which will allow us all to be healthier now, as well as in the future.”

Climate change increases the risk of the formation of harmful ozone pollution, and contributes to droughts and wildfires that make unhealthy levels of particle pollution more likely. Ozone and particulate air pollution can cause asthma attacks, cardiovascular problems and even premature deaths.

Growing scientific evidence, including the Climate and Health Assessment released earlier this year by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, warns that inaction on climate change will only contribute further to rising temperatures, heavy rain and drought, and other severe weather events. There is also the potential for areas previously unaffected by climate change to see new or worsening impacts and health threats.

As the Declaration states, action is needed to clean up sources of carbon pollution, methane, and other greenhouse gases to reduce the threat this pollution poses to public health. The health and medical community sees this firsthand through increasing examples of climate-related health issues in their patients. As they tell the nation through this Declaration, waiting to act will have dangerous consequences on the health of Georgia and North Carolina families.

View the original Marietta Daily Journal Article