Respiratory physicians urge Trump to act on climate change

Public health

By Jennie James

31 Jan 2017

Leading respiratory doctors have joined the chorus of experts urging President Trump not to turn his back on climate change.

The group from the UK and US say in their editorial in Thorax that acting on climate change is one way the new president can make good on his promise to improve the well being of Americans.

The doctors say President Trump should leverage his admiration for the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher by following her example and be at the front of the international climate change pack, not at the back.

“Trump’s campaign suggested that he was unfortunately not minded to act on climate change, ”lead author Dr Nicholas Hopkinson of the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College London, UK told the limbic.

“We felt it was very important to make him aware of the historical precedent where Thatcher, seen as a strong leader and not a “left liberal” had acted decisively on the ozone layer in the 1980s.”

A similar challenge faces us now, he says, noting that there is overwhelming evidence that climate change is happening, driven by human activities that increase atmospheric greenhouse gases.

“Climate change is the single greatest threat to human health we face,” Dr Hopkinson said.

“Without action there are direct effects – storms, drought, floods and heat waves. Air quality will worsen, access to clean water will become more difficult, farmland will become unusable, and mosquito borne diseases will spread more widely.

“These effects particularly impact on people with lung and heart disease, and older people and poorer people,” he warned.

The doctors believe immediate action is crucial to protect the health of people now and in future generations.

Their climate change ‘to do’ list for President Trump urges him to acknowledge the scale and importance of the problem and use the levers of government to create markets so business knows it can invest in low carbon technologies.

Other suggestions include switching subsidies away from polluting fossil fuels, accelerating the move away from hydrofluorocarbons, and promoting green transport infrastructure and especially active transport (walking and cycling) to reduce emissions and at the same time improve health and fitness.


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