Skip to Main Content

Respiratory Experts Fight for Climate Change Measures

April 22, 2019
by Julie Parry

In the paper “Climate change and lung health – presidential failure, professional responsibility,” respiratory experts are again voicing their concern regarding the environmental policies of President Donald Trump and its connection to lung health.

Yale School of Medicine’s Naftali Kaminski, MD, Boehringer-Ingelheim Endowed Professor of Internal Medicine and chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine is the senior author on the paper.

“This isn’t about party politics,” said Kaminski. “We feel this as an ethical imperative. We took the Hippocratic oath to do no harm, and we know that climate change is causing a significant but preventable health risk to everyone.”

They cite the Trump administration’s policies to appoint officials that do not believe in climate change, the hire of officials with previous connections to the fossil fuel industry, the drawback of regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency and the negation of investments in green energy. Additionally, the administration dismissed the Fourth National Climate Assessment’s report regarding the consequences of climate change and its recommendation that the U.S. act to lessen these risks.

Climate change causes impacts to respiratory health for the very patients that these healthcare professionals treat. The incidence of lung diseases will rise and those diseases will increase in severity. The authors encourage patients and families to act to urge legislators to work to provide their citizens with ‘clean air, healthy non-polluting transport options and access to healthcare.’

This group of authors published an editorial in 2017 urging President-Elect Trump to address the threat of climate change and revisited the issue two years later because ‘silence is consent, and we must not be silent.’

“Our worst fears have been realized,” said first author Nicholas Hopkinson, MA, PhD, FRCP, a lung specialist at Imperial College, London. "The impacts of climate disruption on lung health on adults and children include direct effects of temperature extremes, increased allergen exposure, particulates from wildfires and mold exposure from flooding. We must ensure that patients themselves are aware of the dangers of climate change, an awareness that will raise the political cost of inaction or of actions that are now making the situation worse. Our patients and their families should be encouraged to demand that their elected officials take the necessary steps to provide citizens with clean air, healthy non-polluting transport options and access to healthcare.”

Other authors include Nicholas Hart, Gisli Jenkins, Margaret Rosenfeld, Alan Smyth, and Alex Wilkinson.

To read “Climate change and lung health – presidential failure, professional responsibility,” visit Thorax BMJ.

Submitted by Julie Parry on April 22, 2019