WACEP Joins The Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health

December 17, 2020 9:46 AM | Deleted user

Caitlin Rublee, MD, MPH

WACEP has followed in ACEP's lead and joined the Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health, which represents more than 60% of physicians in the U.S.

The Wisconsin chapter (Wisconsin Health Professionals for Climate Action or WHPCA), has several working groups and activities planned for the coming year.  WACEP members can get involved here.

Check out our recent report that highlights the health and economic opportunities of transitioning to clean energy, which would result in $21 billion per year in avoided health damages and would prevent 1,910 early deaths, 650 emergency department visits for respiratory concerns, 34,400 asthma exacerbations, and 650 heart attacks.

Climate change certainly has several implications for emergency medicine. Heat-related illnesses, acute on chronic disease exacerbations, changing infectious disease burdens (water and vector-borne), and traumatic injuries, even an increase in cold-water drownings from thinner ice. While the current pandemic cannot be ignored, higher mortality rates from COVID-19 were found in U.S. counties with worse air pollution.

All people are at risk, but specific populations are at increased risk of poor health from climate-related events. Older adults, infants and children, those with other medical problems, outdoor workers, and those with unstable housing or lower incomes are just a few examples. In severe circumstances, shortages in supplies (sterile saline) related to hurricanes and other tropical storms affect health care service delivery even far away from the area of impact. The health sector is also responsible for almost 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which continues to fuel further warming.

December has been a busy month for climate change and health. December 12 marked the 5th Anniversary since the Paris Agreement was signed by 196 parties. The U.S. is expected to re-join in 2021. The 2020 Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change U.S. Brief and Appendix were released with recommendations for a just and equitable path forward. The Wisconsin Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change released their report with next steps for action across nine sectors and three policy pathways.

As we celebrate the New Year, let’s look for opportunities within our healthcare systems and across our great state to support the health of our residents and each other.