ACP calls on physicians to combat climate change

The American College of Physicians is urging physicians to be part of the movement to curb greenhouse gas emissions because public and individuals' health depends on it.

"The [ACP] urges physicians to help combat climate change by advocating for effective climate change adaptation and mitigation policies, helping to advance a low-carbon healthcare sector and by educating communities about potential health dangers posed by climate change," ACP President Wayne Riley, MD, said in a statement. "We need to take action now to protect the health of our community's most vulnerable members — including our children, our seniors, people with chronic illnesses and the poor — because our climate is already changing and people are already being harmed."

Physicians have a responsibility to help combat climate change as it relates to human health, according to the ACP, which cites increases in respiratory and heat-related illnesses; diseases passed by insects; water-borne diseases; food and water insecurity; and behavioral health issues as potential risks.

ACP's Health and Public Policy Committee published a policy paper on the issue in Annals of Internal Medicine Tuesday that includes recommendations based on research data and input from its boards, councils and other experts in the field.

Among these recommendations, ACP asks physicians to use energy efficient strategies within their own practices and facilities — the healthcare sector is second only to the food industry in energy use — and asks physicians to educate themselves on climate change's effects on human health and how to respond to those challenges.


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