November 19, 2020
The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health congratulates Ron Klain on his appointment as Chief of Staff in the incoming Administration of President-Elect Joe Biden. We applaud his public service in the role of White House Response Coordinator to the Ebola outbreak from the fall of 2014 to the spring of 2015. This experience will stand him in good stead as he works with the President on his ambitious plans to protect and promote health in our country.
Mr. Klain has been vocal about how his Ebola response experience helped him understand how climate change threatens public health, including through the spread of infectious disease. By disrupting ecosystems, climate change enables disease-carrying mosquitos, ticks, rodents and other animals to take hold in new areas, bringing with them the diseases they spread. The latest National Climate Assessment1 details this growing threat and many other ways that climate change is already harming the health of people in America—though increasingly dangerous storms and floods, extreme heatwaves, increased air pollution, and other harmful pathways. Moreover, climate change, like COVID-19, is disproportionately harming the health of people in low-income and communities of color.
As stated in the Climate, Health and Equity Policy Action Agenda2—now endorsed by over 168 health organizations—climate change is a health emergency. We hope Mr. Klain shares our view that the equitable protection and promotion of human health must be a central organizing principle for shaping climate solutions and for educating the public about both the terrible harms of climate inaction and the enormous benefits of action. The good news is that climate solutions are also health solutions. Not only will climate solutions prevent the worst health harms of climate change, they will also deliver the immediate health bonanza that cleaner air, cleaner water and better food can bring.
Addressing the health threats of climate change and the health opportunities of clean energy and other climate solutions is something we can do to bring the country back together.
The Consortium stands ready to assist Mr. Klain and support the Administration in every way it can to protect the health of Americans—now and in the future—from the ravages of climate change.