Who We Are:
Georgia Clinicians for Climate Action (GCCA) is a coalition of health professionals and health organizations concerned about the impacts of climate change on Georgia residents, and especially those in vulnerable populations. GCCA was founded in response to health harms that patients are already experiencing and that health professionals are witnessing in patient care settings and communities throughout Georgia.
GCCA engages Georgia health professionals and patients to learn about the health effects of climate change and the health benefits of climate action in order to achieve equitable solutions that mitigate climate change, protect the health of Georgians, and support the shift to a healthy and sustainable future for our patients.
Provide Leadership: As representatives of our organizations, we will advocate for climate action to protect health, promoting the U.S. Call to Action on Climate, Health, and Equity: A Policy Action Agenda. Download the Policy Action Agenda>
Engage and Inform: We will engage and inform our constituencies of doctors, nurses, public health workers, hospitals, health systems, and policymakers about the health risks from climate change and the health benefits of climate action. As health professionals, we will serve as messengers to our communities and our governments on climate and health risks as well as actions to avoid the most dangerous future consequences of climate change. We will provide vital guidance to our patients on risks to their own health from the changing climate, ways to manage their health in the face of these risks, and lifestyle changes that improve their own health and that of the planet.
Advocate Locally and Statewide: We will work within our communities and throughout Georgia to advocate for emissions reductions and/or low-carbon development strategies that promote both a healthy climate and public health. We will call for solutions that reduce the local health impacts of fossil fuels; solutions that foster clean energy and social justice; and solutions that save lives and money while protecting our patients and public health from climate change.
Mitigate: We will lead by example and reduce our own carbon footprint and that of our own institutions and practices. We will strive to make our hospitals greener and healthier by advocating for waste reduction, energy efficiency and clean energy, sustainable transport options, and sustainable procurement and resource consumption. By doing so, we commit to demonstrating how our health system and society can move toward carbon neutrality and avoid contributing to the public health and individual harms associated with climate change.
Adapt: We will strive to make our workforce and our health systems more resilient—better-prepared to withstand natural disasters and respond to their human toll without disruptions in healthcare delivery. We will prepare ourselves and our colleagues to practice in a changing climate—one with new threats to patient health and shifting patterns of disease.
|Jennifer L. Barkin, MS, PhD is an Associate Professor of Community Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia. As part of her doctoral research and time as an analyst at the University of Pittsburgh’s Epidemiology Data Center, Barkin attained considerable skill in survey development, both designing and psychometrically validating the Barkin Index of Maternal Functioning (BIMF). She has participated on national advisory panels, various expert panels related to perinatal health, and serves on the Board of Directors for Postpartum Support International, Georgia Chapter where she is the Chair of Corporate Sponsors and Partnerships. Dr. Barkin also serves on the clinical advisory board for Memora Heath, a MedTech company based in San Francisco, California. Dr. Barkin is interested in extreme weather events and their impact on vulnerable populations.
|Evan Brockman, MD, MPH is a pediatrician in Marietta, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.S. in Biology and Anthropology, before earning her medical degree from Wake Forest School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, NC. She completed her residency in Pediatrics at Northwestern University Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She also received a Master of Public Health degree from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before taking time off to focus on her family, Dr. Brockman worked for fifteen years at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Dr. Brockman enjoys speaking to medical students and community groups on climate change and health.
|Anne Mellinger-Birdsong, MD, MPH, FAAP graduated from the College of William and Mary, and Eastern Virginia Medical School. She completed a pediatrics residency at Hershey Medical Center of the Pennsylvania State University, following which she became board certified in pediatrics and a Fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics. She then completed a Master of Public Health in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University. She has worked as a medical epidemiologist at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Division/Department of Public Health, and the American Lung Association of Georgia. She has served as Director of Mothers and Others for Clean Air, given grand rounds about climate and health through a grant from Union of Concerned Scientists, and does health education about air pollution, climate change, and health. She was worked in areas as diverse as communicable diseases, vaccine preventable diseases, radiation environmental health, chronic disease and environmental public health, asthma, a county STD clinic, and a Native American Indian Health Service clinic. She is Vice Chair of the GA-AAP committee on environmental health, and a member of the GA-AAP legislative committee.
|Neha Pathak, MD, DipABLM is board certified in both internal medicine and lifestyle medicine. She is on the medical team responsible for ensuring the accuracy of health information on WebMD and is co-founder of WebMD’s Sustainability Committee. She completed the VA Quality Scholar Fellowship Program, where she focused on quality improvement and implementation science training. She completed her certificate in climate change and health communication from Yale School of Public Health. Pathak sees patients at the Clarkston Community Health Center. She works with local communities dealing with the health impacts of environmental pollution as part of her work as a board member for the non-profit, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL). She lives in Atlanta with her husband and children.
|Rebecca Philipsborn, MD, MPA is a primary care pediatrician at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Before becoming a physician, she was a health care management consultant in New York and worked at the West Africa Regional Bureau of the World Food Programme in Dakar, Senegal on maternal and child health and nutrition. Her scholarly work focuses on global child health and mortality and climate change – in practice and in medical education. She completed medical school and residency training at Emory and holds an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University’s Earth Institute Program.
|Linda I. Walden, MD, FAAFP mission is “Reaching Out to Make a Difference” in rural Southwest Georgia. A native of St. Albans, New York, she came back to her family roots in Cairo/Thomasville, GA to do God’s will. She is a graduate of Florida A and M University and Mercer University School of Medicine. She is the first female physician black or white as well as the first African American Chief of Staff at Grady General Hospital in Cairo, GA. Upon moving to Grady County, she did a visual assessment of her community and realized she needed to do more than just practice medicine. She is a family physician, visionary, mentor, news columnist, catalyst, trailblazer, motivational speaker on local, state, and national levels, and founder of ‘Health is Life’ Ministry.
|Kimberly D. Williams, PhD (Staff) is the Program Manager for Georgia Clinicians for Climate Action. Kimberly is a consultant who works with a diverse range of healthcare clients. She has experience developing alliances, researching, and advocating for health equity at the local, state, and federal levels. She holds a PhD in Leadership and Organizational Management. With experience in non-profit, corporate, and academic environments, she has had the opportunity to present and facilitate health and advocacy discussions academically and at local and regional conferences. She is the author of several peer-reviewed journal articles on leadership development, strategic management, telecommuting, and telework.
Email us at: GCCAinfo@GACCA.org
The Georgia Clinicians for Climate Action (GCCA) formed in November of 2019 with a group of health professionals who recognized the absence of the clinician voice in climate discussions in Georgia. These professionals saw first-hand and heard more accounts of climate-associated harms and illnesses already manifest in exam room and hospitals across the states and climate associated shocks and stressors on healthcare delivery. They witnessed the interest of their colleagues in climate change and formed GCCA to provide education and resources to their colleagues, advocate for patients, and elevate their collective voices.
GCCA is the Georgia affiliate of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health (MSCCH), which is based at George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communications. About the Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health (MSCCH): The mission of the Consortium is to inform the public and policymakers about the harmful health effects of climate change, and about the immediate and long-term health benefits associated with climate change solutions.
– Websites –
AirNow is your one-stop source for U.S. air quality data. The site highlights air quality in your local area, as well as providing air quality information at state, national, and world views. An interactive map lets you zoom out to get the big picture or drill down to see data for a single air quality monitor.
|Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
Promoting healthy people and healthy environments by educating and leading the nursing profession, advancing research, incorporating evidence-based practice, and influencing policy.
|American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is an organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy, and research.
|CDC’s Climate and Health Program
CDC’s Climate and Health Program supports state, tribal, local, and territorial public health agencies as they prepare for specific health impacts of a changing climate.
|Climate Psychiatry Alliance
We are psychiatrists raising awareness about the impacts of climate change on mental health, doing what we can to mitigate climate distress and and joining with others to address root causes of the climate crisis.
Identifying the most promising solutions for achieving carbon neutrality in Georgia.
|Georgia Air Monitoring
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a national air standard rating system developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The AQI is used statewide to provide the public, on a daily basis, with an analysis of air pollution levels and possible related health risks.
|Georgia Climate Project
The Georgia Climate Project is building a network of experts across the state to advance four strategic priorities: Science, Stronger conversations, Solutions, and a Stronger Network.
|Georgia Department of Public Health
Environmental Health and Emergency Preparedness resources.
|Health Care Without Harm
Health Care Without Harm works to transform health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice.
The Lancet Countdown is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration, dedicated to monitoring the evolving health profile of climate change, and providing an independent assessment of the delivery of commitments made by governments worldwide under the Paris Agreement.
|Mothers and Others for Clean Air
Mothers & Others for Clean Air works with caretakers, health professionals, scientists, teachers, and youth to amplify their voices to create a shift of individual behaviors and system change so no more children die because of dirty air.
|Science for Georgia
Science for Georgia is a 501(c)(3) that works to improve communication among scientists and the public, increase public engagement with science, and advocate for the responsible use of science in public policy. Science for Georgia will achieve its mission by offering activities and resources to learn how to communicate effectively and to create opportunities for dialogue in a positive, low-stress, manner. Find Sci4GA on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, & Instagram @Sci4Ga.
|Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices to ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.
|Southface Energy Institute
Southface Institute promotes sustainable homes, workplaces, and communities through education, research, advocacy, and technical assistance.
|The Cleo Institute
The CLEO Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Florida exclusively dedicated to climate change education, advocacy, & engagement.
|The Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health
The mission of the Consortium is to organize, empower, and amplify the voice of America’s doctors to convey how climate change is harming our health and how climate solutions will improve it.
– Resources to Download –
BROCHURE: Keep It Cool, Kids!
A brochure to raise awareness and provide practical safety information for student athletes in our warming climate.
BROCHURE: Keep It Cool, Kids! (Spanish)
A brochure to raise awareness and provide practical safety information for student athletes in our warming climate.
Guidelines For Eating Fish from Georgia Waters 2017
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
POSTERS: Health Benefits of Climate Action
The Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health
Help us display your climate and health work!
We are looking to capture the breadth and growth of our Members and Advocates’ activities on behalf of a healthy state.
This will allow us to share with the larger medical community and our funders the activities our Advocates are doing to
educate and engage the public, our colleagues, and our policymakers.
Please record your activities by completing the form below:
– Events –
– News –
Join fight against climate change to protect health | August 4, 2021
Anne Mellinger-Birdsong, MD (GCCA) and June Deen (American Lung Association)
How Heat Kills: Deadly Weather ‘Cooking’ People From Within | August 2, 2021
Neha Pathak, MD
Food is Medicine for Our Health and the Health of the Planet | June 30, 2021
Dr. Neha Pathak, GCCA Steering Committee member
We need a call to action on clean energy | June 28, 2021
Dr. Linda Walden
Calling on co-ops to provide clean energy | June 23, 2021
Dr. Linda Walden
Physician: Federal lawmakers must do what Georgia legislators won’t – take action on coal ash | May 12, 2021
Dr. Neha Pathak, GCCA Steering Committee member
School of Medicine professor examines impact of climate change on mental health | April 20, 2021
Dr. Jennifer Barkin, GCCA Steering Committee member, interviewed for this article:
General Internists as Climate Health Advocates | March, 2021
Dr. Neha Pathak, internist and founding Steering Committee member of GCCA
Doctors Push For Health Care To Address Climate Change In New Teaching Framework | September 21, 2020
Tonya Mosley & Serena McMahon – NPR radio interview with Dr. Rebecca Philipsborn
The First Residency Curriculum to Better Prepare Doctors for Climate Change | September 9, 2020
Harvard Chan C-CHANGE
Curriculum, linked to ACGME core competencies, teaches residents how climate change affects health, clinical care, and health care delivery.
Read news article: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/c-change/news/the-first-residency-curriculum-to-better-prepare-doctors-for-climate-change/
Journal Article: Climate Change and the Practice of Medicine (Lead Author: Dr. Rebecca Philipsborn, GCCA Steering Committee member)
Georgia Chapter of The American Academy of Pediatrics Adopts a Resolution on Climate Change and Child Health | July 20, 2020
Rebecca Philipsborn, MD
July 2020 CME Webinars from the Consortium | CME Credits still available for a limited time
This webinar series, “COVID-19, Climate, Equity”, provides the much-needed education that healthcare professionals are asking for, to help them better treat their patients and their community. Watch recordings of all four webinars and apply for CME Credit here:
Community members ask city of Decatur to fund climate action plan | June 23, 2020
Residents of Decatur, GA, have been calling on the City Commission to add a climate action plan to their budget.
Medical professionals call for health care, social equality | June 15, 2020
Medical professionals, including GCCA, gathered at the Thomas County Historic Courthouse on Sunday, June 15 to call for an end to disparities in health care and justice. The event, “White Coats for Black Lives,” brought to light inequities for blacks in health care and in the justice system.
Coal is the most polluting of all fossil fuels – could the COVID-19 crisis finally finish it off? | June 9, 2020
Climate Change in the Emory Medical Curriculum | May 14, 2020
Dr. Rebecca Philipsborn reached out to friends and colleagues across the country to gauge interest in providing content for a “Climate Crisis and Clinical Medicine M3 & M4 Virtual Elective” for third- and fourth-year medical students. “Because of the virtual format, we had an opportunity to leverage collective expertise from around the country and create a course that medical students anywhere could access,” said Dr. Philipsborn. The topic was especially resonant during COVID-19.
– Ops Eds and Presentations by your Colleagues –
Children’s Health & Climate Change: A Moment of Reflection on Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary
On April 22, 2020, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) partnered with ecoAmerica’s Climate for Health program to present Children’s Health & Climate Change: A Moment of Reflection on Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary. Moderated by Jerome Paulson, MD, FAAP and presented by Meighen Speiser (Executive Director, ecoAmerica), Lori Byron, MD, FAAP, Lisa Patel, MD, FAAP & Rebecca Philipsborn, MD, FAAP, the webinar focused on the extraordinary and devastating experience of the COVID-19 pandemic that both exposed vulnerabilities and suggested public health solutions that informed reflections on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Participants connected with colleagues to discuss efforts to protect children’s health through climate action. This virtual forum featured national and state perspectives, outlined priorities, and shared solutions. WATCH VIDEO>
COVID-19 Is Giving Us a Lesson – and a Warning – About Our Environment
On April 21st, the American Lung Association released its 21st annual State of the Air report showing that about 150 million Americans (close to half of the US population) live in areas with unhealthy, dangerously polluted air. That’s 8 million more Americans than the year before.
A recent study to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that people who live in areas with long-term bad air have a higher risk of dying from COVID-19. Tiny increases in average particulate pollution can increase the risk of dying from COVID-19 by 15%. The good news is that we know now we can do something about this on a global scale to protect people’s health. READ BLOG>
Coming soon! State of Georgia Climate & Health.
Check back for an interactive list on Georgia demographics and legislative activities.
Ways to Take Action Now:
Call Your Legislator. Even if you only leave a message, or speak with an aide, this is the most effective way to get policymakers’ attention.
|Email Your Legislator. If legislators get enough emails on the same subject, they start to pay attention.
|Tweet Your Legislator. Social media is a great way to get attention.
Key Issues/Take Action Now: https://www.protectgeorgia.org/#/
Advocacy: Add the Clinician voice to the climate policy discussion in Georgia. Influence state, local, and federal policies to protect vulnerable communities from climate health risks now and in the future.
Community Collaboration: Partner with individuals, groups, and communities to systematically solve existing and emerging climate concerns that improve health outcomes.
Education: Develop and organize opportunities for Clinician Education, to enhance climate health literacy among Georgia Clinicians, and Patient Education, to improve public understanding of the ways climate affects health to encourage.
Media Relations: Present Clinicians with opportunities to influence public opinion and policy – via lawmaker meetings, letters, media relations, presentation opportunities, or other means. Emphasize the message that climate solutions are health solutions. Emphasize the positive health benefits from climate actions.
Recruitment: Educate and empower Clinicians with confidence, support, and material they need to “take action”. Create shareable tools and materials.
Resource Development: Identify resources and activities that contribute to fundraising and grant writing in support of our work.
Macon citizens have serious concerns about the proposed building of one of the largest plastic-to-fuel facility in the world at a cost of $680 million dollars. This proposed facility will increase the burden of air pollution on a community in Macon and also negatively impact air quality beyond the borders of that community. Soil and water contamination are also risks. The concerns about this proposal were great enough that the mayor of Macon withdrew his support. If you live in or near this part of the state, please consider joining our working group on this issue. Fact sheet
GCCA continues to work with partners around the state to support the safe disposal of coal ash.
Clean energy initiatives that reduce our state’s dependency on fossil fuels remain a cornerstone of our advocacy.
Have you heard of IRP, also known as an Integrated Resource Plan? Georgia Power has to prepare an update to their IRP every three years. The IRP outlines how Georgia Power will generate the electricity it will sell to its customers for the next 20 years. Whether that electricity comes from clean, renewable sources or from dirty fossil fuels like coal and gas, is a decision you can be a part of. More Information.
– Georgia Threats –
Georgia’s Climate Threats: https://statesatrisk.org/georgia/all
Coal Ash is the sludge-like waste left over from burning coal for electricity, and it contains toxins like arsenic, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals. Currently, the majority of the 6 million tons of coal ash that has been produced in Georgia is being stored in 29 unlined ash ponds across the state. Most of the ash ponds are located adjacent to Georgia’s rivers and streams, from the banks of the Chattahoochee River, to Lake Sinclair, to the Savannah River on the coast, and the Flint River in South Georgia.
Recent disasters in surrounding states spilled toxic coal ash into rivers and across people’s land in the southeast. And in recent years, pollution monitoring by power companies shows that these unlined pits are leaking and continuing to contaminate Georgia’s groundwater. In addition to the coal ash being stored along Georgia’s rivers and lakes, coal ash produced by surrounding states is being shipped and stored in landfills across Georgia without thorough monitoring, or public notification.
Plant Vogtle is a nuclear power plant located in Burke County, just 30 miles outside of Augusta, GA. In 2009, two additional nuclear reactors (3 and 4) were approved for construction and scheduled for completion in 2016 and 2017. After several setbacks, and the bankruptcy of the original lead contractor, Westinghouse, Georgia Power received approval from the Public Service Commission in 2017 to manage the project themselves.
Now, the only two nuclear units still under construction in the United States, Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 are more than 5 years behind schedule and $4 billion dollars over budget. Georgia Power has already collected $2 billion from customers, most of which is shareholder profit. As Georgia Power continues to collect these profits as this project is delayed, all customers, including faith communities, schools, hospitals, and non-profits will be forced to pay higher electric bills. Furthermore, this project only continues to increase the energy burden that Georgian’s struggling to pay their electric bills already face. The average household has already paid over $500 in extra fees on its electric bill, and no electricity has been generated from these promised reactors.
Offshore Drilling. In November of 2018, a federal decision opened more than 1-billion acres in the Arctic and the East Coast, including the entire coast of Georgia, for seismic testing and offshore drilling. The risks associated with this type of testing and drilling would cause irreparable damage to Georgia’s wildlife and water resources.
The recent Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 covered the gulf coast and waterways with almost 5 million barrels of oil. To this day, the invaluable wildlife and shoreline resources of coastal communities have not fully recovered. Georgia’s coast should not be subject to an identical disaster. Home to more than 150 high priority plant and animal species, Georgia’s 100-mile coast boasts some of the most unique ecosystems in the world. Furthermore, an oil spill on Georgia’s coast would not be contained, but would immediately spread through the Ogeechee, Altamaha, and Satilla watersheds affecting inland communities’ drinking water resources and wildlife.
|Extreme Heat. More than 310,000 people living in Georgia are especially vulnerable to extreme heat. Georgia currently averages about 20 dangerous heat days a year. By 2050, it is projected to see more than 90 such days a year.
|Storms & Hurricanes
|Inland & Coastal Flooding
|Sea Level Rise
|Drought. Drought has a big impact on the production of peanuts, pecans, peaches, and the sweet Vidalia onion, all of which grow in southeastern Georgia. The state is the nation’s number one producer of peanuts, pecans, and peaches. People living in drought conditions may be more likely to encounter certain dangerous situations that range from dust storms to flash floods. Drought conditions greatly reduce air quality. This poor air quality affects people’s health in a number of ways. Drought can also cause long-term public health problems, including: Shortages of drinking water and poor quality drinking water; Impacts on air quality, sanitation and hygiene, and food and nutrition; and vector-borne disease, such as West Nile Virus carried by mosquitoes breeding in stagnant water.
|Wildfire. Wildfire smoke exposure increases respiratory and cardiovascular hospitalizations and medical visits for lung illnesses. It also increases the need for treatments for asthma, bronchitis, and other breathing problems.
|Water and Food Borne Illness. Foodborne illnesses are a burden on public health and contribute significantly to the cost of health care. Each year foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million Americans (approximately 17% of people in the United States) and lead to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Campylobacter and Salmonella continue to be the most commonly reported foodborne bacteria.
|Vector-Borne Disease. Zoonotic or Vector-Borne diseases (also called zoonoses) are diseases of animals that can be transmitted to humans. Many vector-borne diseases require a vector (such as a mosquito or tick) in order to be transmitted from animals to humans. Examples in Georgia include rabies, West Nile virus, and infestations such as head lice. https://dph.georgia.gov/zoonoticvector-borneinfestations
|Mental Health Impacts. Climate change and related disasters cause anxiety-related responses as well as chronic and severe mental health disorders. Extreme weather events have also been associated with increases in aggressive behavior and domestic violence. Exposure to extreme heat or other Georgia climate issues may lead to increased use of alcohol to cope with stress, increases in hospital and emergency room admissions for people with mental health or psychiatric conditions, and an increase in suicide.
The need for mental health services increases in the aftermath of a climate-related disaster.
|Urban Heat Islands. Atlanta is the 19th fastest-warming city in the U.S.
Contact Your Government Officials:
Find your local state Legislators: https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
U.S. House of Representatives: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
U.S. Senate: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Georgia Public Service Commission:
Georgia House of Representatives Natural Resources & Environment Committee: http://www.house.ga.gov/Committees/en-US/committee.aspx?Committee=98&Session=24
Georgia Senate Committee on Natural Resources & the Environment: http://www.senate.ga.gov/committees/en-US/Committee.aspx?Committee=139&Session=27