Climate change is a health issue

By Cynthia Mahoney – Originally published on August 27, 2018 in The Union.

Like many of us, I love taking advantage of California’s beauty with hiking, boating and enjoying the outdoor life. Now that lifestyle and the economy it supports are threatened.

We are witnessing an onslaught of wildfires, like Ferguson and Carr. The heat and drought of climate change, though not the only factors, have contributed to the doubling of wildfires. The danger is not just to people in the direct path and to our brave firefighters (“Nevada County air quality still unhealthy,” Aug. 1 in The Union). Wildfire smoke can travel thousands of miles, causing breathing problems and triggering heart attacks and strokes in vulnerable people far downwind.

The American Lung Association says climate change endangers our health as both wildfires and extreme heat worsen air pollution (see their website for tips on how to protect yourself). In fact, doctors recognize climate change as the greatest public health problem of the century. They advise urgent action to lower CO2 emissions to avoid more harm.

Fortunately, there are bipartisan solutions available. You can help by asking every candidate and elected official: “What are you doing to protect my health from climate disruption?”

Cynthia Mahoney MD
The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health