Doctors: Climate Change is Emergency 06/24 06:37
As Democratic presidential hopefuls prepare for their first 2020 primary
debate this week, 74 medical and public health groups aligned on Monday to push
for a series of consensus commitments to combat climate change, bluntly defined
by the organizations as "a health emergency."
WASHINGTON (AP) -- As Democratic presidential hopefuls prepare for their
first 2020 primary debate this week, 74 medical and public health groups
aligned on Monday to push for a series of consensus commitments to combat
climate change, bluntly defined by the organizations as "a health emergency."
The new climate change agenda released by the groups, including the American
Medical Association and the American Heart Association, comes amid early
jostling among Democratic candidates over whose environmental platform is more
progressive. The health organizations' policy recommendations, while a stark
departure from President Donald Trump's approach, represent a back-to-basics
approach for an internal Democratic climate debate that has so far revolved
around the liberal precepts of the Green New Deal .
"The health, safety and well-being of millions of people in the U.S. have
already been harmed by human-caused climate change, and health risks in the
future are dire without urgent action to fight climate change," the medical and
public health groups wrote in their climate agenda, shared with The Associated
Press in advance of its release.
Among other things, the groups are pressing elected officials and
presidential candidates to "meet and strengthen U.S. commitments" under the
2015 United Nations climate agreement from which Trump has vowed to withdraw.
They're also pushing for some form of carbon pricing, although without any
reference to potential taxation of emissions, and "a plan and timeline for
reduction of fossil fuel extraction in the U.S."
Former Vice President Joe Biden's climate change plan, released earlier this
month, tracks broadly with several of the medical and public health groups'
priorities. While the groups call for a reduction in petroleum and natural gas
use in transportation, they do not go as far as several of Biden's rivals in
supporting an outright ban on the oil and gas extraction technique known as
hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves injecting high-pressure
mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals into rock.
Other groups signing onto the list of climate policy priorities include the
American Lung Association, the American College of Physicians and multiple
state-level and academic public health organizations. That the agenda's
endorsing groups do not operate with "a political axe to grind" could help them
draw more attention to climate change, said Ed Maibach, director of the Center
for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.
For voters who view climate change "primarily as a threat to things in the
environment, like polar bears," talking about the issue as a health problem
could reframe their thinking, Maibach said.
"It's incredibly helpful when health professionals point out the actual
reality of the situation, point out that this is also a threat to our health
and well-being now ... and it's likely to get worse, much worse, if we don't
take action to address it," he said.