While the media has been too busy on made-up controversies, America's medical community has begun to quietly line up behind President Obama's climate action plan announced earlier this month by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Yesterday, the American Medical Association's House of Delegates gave its formal assent to the President's plan to reduce carbon emissions from one of America's worst polluters, power plants.
The American Thoratic Society, the country's leading organization of physicians dealing with pulmonary diseases, welcomed the action by the AMA, saying:
Newswise — June 11, 2014 -- The American Thoracic Society welcomes today’s action by the American Medical Association House of Delegates reaffirming their support for efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. The resolution adopted by the AMA House of Delegates further noted AMA’s intent to submit formal comments during the public comment period to “to underscore the need to keep the standards strong and protective of public health.”
America's doctors are aligning with the President's climate action plan to cut power plant emissions drastically because they know first hand the health benefits of cleaner air, cutting health care costs and improving quality of life.
The AMA sounded the alarm on the costly effects of climate change on public health back in 2011:
If physicians want evidence of climate change, they may well find it in their own offices. Patients are presenting with illnesses that once happened only in warmer areas. Chronic conditions are becoming aggravated by more frequent and extended heat waves. Allergy and asthma seasons are getting longer. Spates of injuries are resulting from more intense ice storms and snowstorms.
Scientific evidence shows that the world's climate is changing and that the results have public health consequences.
Speaking exactly to these concerns, the EPA estimated the new standards, once implemented, to save as much as $93 billion in health care costs for Americans on a yearly basis. America's doctors, it would appear, are in agreement, as political donations of doctors shift away from the party of climate denial to the party of science and facts.
President Obama's climate action plan, which includes the first ever regulatory step to reduce pollution from existing power plants as well as raising fuel efficiency standards for cars and (once again, for the first time) freight trucks, is not just big. It is essential - both for a healthy population and a habitable planet. And America's doctors know it.
This should be news. This should be big news. The juncture of health care and climate policies has never been so succinct, and it has never had so much at stake. But our fourth estate can hardly be bothered to pay attention.