Our fundamental mission as healthcare providers is to protect the health of our patients. While heroic worldwide efforts are underway to combat COVID-19, the greatest emerging threat to women’s health, indeed to the health of all people, is the global climate crisis (what we previously referred to, rather innocuously, as climate change). The climate crisis remains the proverbial elephant in the room, for the sequelae of this climate catastrophe will likely produce a worldwide public health disaster, the impact of which will be far-reaching and devastating, greatly outweighing the consequences of all our current public health concerns. This is a call to action for healthcare providers.
Climate Crisis Science
From 1901 through today the global mean surface temperature of Earth has increased by approximately 1° Celsius (Figure), primarily due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2, the most abundant atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) that is non-condensable at ambient temperatures), from 280 parts per million (ppm) to 410 ppm (1,2). This increase in CO2 concentration is unprecedented over the past 800,000 years, occurring 200,000 years after the evolution of Homo sapiens and 20,000 years after the development of agriculture and civilization (3–6). Concentrations of CO2 were last at their current levels 15–20 million years ago during the Middle Miocene period when both average temperature and sea level were respectively ~3–6°C and 25–40 meters higher (6).
Figure: Temperature Departure from 20th Century Mean (NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Climate at a Glance:Global Time Series, published January 2020, retrieved on January 28, 2020 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/)
This piece was originally posted on Medium by Dr. Santosh Pandipati: Maternal-Fetal Medicine/Rationalist|Humanist/Subscriber to the Scientific Method and the Four Noble Truths/Perpetually a Beginning Cyclist, Runner, Photographer.
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