Last week, we hosted the first health-focused Let’s Talk Climate episode this year, Hindsight is 2020: Our Climate & Health Goals for 2021. As a new administration takes the helm, we discussed opportunities to support health professional leadership and center health equity in climate solutions. We touched on lessons learned in 2020, and building synergies and collaboration in 2021.
Speakers included Florida Clinicians for Climate Action Co-Chair, Cheryl Holder, MD, FACP, and the Dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health & US Public Health Service Rear Admiral (retired), Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH.
Our conversation led us down a path to talk about health and justice as organizing principles behind climate solutions and the history of the environmental justice movement, multisolving for the many issues we face today, grounding climate policies in science and data, and the real difference health leadership can make on all of the above.
In a moving story, Dr. Holder compared delivering tough news to a patient about their health to delivering news about climate change. “I no longer get into discussion on whether climate change is real or not. I say, ‘When I check your pulse, I come up with a number and that’s just what it is…I understand that you’re having difficulty accepting these facts so how can I help you? What can I help you to do to help you to understand that these are facts? To debate it in terms that you have any validity in your argument is false, and I don’t want to do that because it hurts you, and it hurts me, and it hurts our community. But if you want me to help you figure out where we can get some information to help you work it out and see why we’re telling you these facts, I can do that.’”
And, Dean Lushniak spoke passionately about public health infrastructure and preparedness. “Let’s learn our lesson and realize that we are better as a people, better as a planet if we’re preparing ourselves.” Later in the conversation, he also talked about bundling climate solutions, “The reality is that…in terms of organizing and establishing a common mindset, we have to be able to marry the concept of climate change and direct health effects of that individual, of that individual’s family, of that community and then you build it up from there.”
Resources mentioned during the episode
To learn more about the syndemic concept, watch our Let’s Talk Climate episode on Environmental Racism, Climate Justice, and Health with Vernice Miller-Travis
Let’s Talk Health & Climate: Communication Guidance for Health Professionals
Dr. Cheryl Holder’s TED talk, The link between climate change, health and poverty