What Healthcare Providers Can Do About Local Impacts from Climate Change

By path2positive

Dr. Janet Ho, chief resident in the Yale Primary Care program, says that local and national research shows climate change is a bigger health threat that obesity, heart disease, AIDS and cancer. As you can read in Yale School of Medicine's article below, Dr. Ho also says that we're not talking community impacts that are generations away, we're talking now. Her research indicates the health impacts of climate change disparately affect the elderly, the poor and the medically fragile. And she says local healthcare providers can help. “I think that health care professionals are really in a unique position to lead efforts to address global warming,” Ho said. “I’m not trying to shame people by saying, ‘Don’t drive your SUV or feel bad about the way you are living. It’s more that we can all find a way to modify a bit of our behavior and lifestyle to mitigate our contribution to the problem. It’s both urgent and important because climate change is happening, and it’s affecting health now, here in New Haven, and for all of us.” Healthcare professionals are coming together as leaders in the climate solutions movement. Climate for Health has been helping to guide and organize these health leaders. Won't you take part? Find out how.

Thinking Locally on Global Warming

Yale School of Medicine I 2015, Vol 49, No. 2

By Christopher Hoffman

Global warming is making New Haven residents sick, especially the poor and the medically fragile.

That is the conclusion of Janet Ho, M.D., HS ’15, chief resident in the Yale Primary Care program. Her research tapped local, national, and international sources, including the World Health Organization, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, and DataHaven, a nonprofit that compiles data about the New Haven region.

“I started out wanting to highlight global warming and climate change as another determinant of health,” Ho said. “But as I researched more, I was surprised by how much was already out there in major medical journals, scientific literature, and popular media, in terms of the impact both globally and locally. In fact, in 2009, The Lancet described climate change as ‘the biggest health threat of the 21st century.’ It wasn’t obesity, heart disease, AIDS, or cancer, but climate change.”

For Ho, global warming is a social justice as well as a health issue. Her research, which she presented at internal medicine grand rounds in May, showed that the health impacts of climate change disparately affect New Haven’s poor. Most Americans—even those who agree it’s occurring—believe that climate change has little direct impact on them or their communities, she said, citing research by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communications. “We hear about polar bears and loss of glaciers. We think it’s not a problem for me, not a problem for my family, not a problem for a couple of generations.”

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