Isaac Newton’s third law of motion is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Recalling our physics lessons might give us some insight into Pew’s January 2018 polling results, which found a seven point increase in just the last year in Americans saying that protecting the environment should be a top policy priority. This is a steep increase, especially compared to only an 11-point increase in the seven years before that, combined. Attempts to undermine government agencies protecting the environment and roll back health-protective regulations – also in just the last year – may help explain Americans’ renewed enthusiasm for environmental protections.
46% of Americans now say climate change should be a top policy priority, the highest since Pew started asking this question* in 2007. We might be able explain this eight point jump over the past year through our increasing understanding of – or reaction to – climate impacts from devastation from hurricanes Harvey and Maria and wildfires in California.
While the Pew results reveal a deep partisan divide in prioritizing environment and climate change policies, they also provide insight in thinking about key leadership on solutions. Their 2016 report, The Politics of Climate, found that “some 84% of U.S. adults express confidence in medical scientists to act in the public’s best interests.” These are higher numbers than trust in scientists in general. Key findings from ecoAmerica’s 2017 American Climate Metrics Survey bolster this idea: … Americans place the highest levels of trust in scientists (70%) and health professionals (62%).
Newton’s second law of motion applies here: Force equals mass multiplied by acceleration. Health leaders can play a pivotal role in increasing the force of climate action and advocacy by inspiring the Americans who trust them to #ActOnClimate. We can increase the number of people getting involved and the pace at which we are taking action.
Leaders in the health community face a momentous opportunity to champion climate solutions as a priority for public health, which is why ecoAmerica and Climate for Health are hosting a National Climate and Health Leadership Forum** later this spring. We will bring together organizational and thought leaders from national health and medical associations, public health organizations, and academic institutions to collaborate on the best paths forward toward greater climate mitigation and advocacy at this critically important time for advancing public support and political will.
Finally, we consider Newton’s first law of motion: an object at rest will remain at rest unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. America is a big contributor to the effects of climate change and therefore, American voters must be active in helping to solve the issue that has affected the entire planet. At ecoAmerica and Climate for Health, we are leaders in helping to connect all Americans for the common good of the planet. This begins with starting the discussion on climate and making recommendations for climate solutions. Our partners are also spearheading initiatives to get involved at every level. Learn the ways climate is impacting our health from the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, the American Psychological Association, the National Environmental Health Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics; join the American College of Sports Medicine’s ActivEarth Campaign; and participate in the American Public Health Association’s National Public Health Week coming up in the first week of April.
*From 2007 – 2015, Pew used the language “global warming” in this question, and transitioned to “climate change” in 2015 – 2018
**The Leadership Forum is by invitation only. If you would like to recommend a leader to attend, please contact ecoAmerica’s Events Manager Ashley Lane at [email protected]
Climate for Health is a program of ecoAmerica
© ecoAmerica 2006 – 2021 The contents of this website may be shared and used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 4.0 International License.