Doctors Prepare Their Professions to Explain and Treat Climate-Related Symptoms - NYTimes.com
Dr. Anthony Szema is used to seeing patients with red eyes and runny noses. But in the past couple of years, the New York-based allergist has been faced with an onslaught of patients complaining their symptoms are starting earlier and hitting harder than ever before.
Szema believes climate change is a culprit in the extended severe allergy seasons. And he is one of a small number of physicians who are beginning to talk to their patients about it.
As scientists solidify the links between climate change and health issues like tropical ailments that infect Americans on the backs of whipping winds and warming ocean tides, top medical associations are becoming a high-profile lobbying force for climate regulations.
Prolonged allergy seasons, re-emerging illnesses and more extreme weather events are spurred on by climate change and will systematically affect human health, they argue.
Now, health advocates say physicians like Szema need to study up on the environment and bring conversations about the fingerprints of climate change right down to the doctor-patient level.
For that fight, they offered up a cadre of experts to speak out on the connections between greenhouse gas emissions and higher rates of asthma or other serious illnesses. Some health advocates see this as a preview of what is to come.
But Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said doctors [but they're not even climatologists!] still have a special responsibility to read up on these issues, verify the facts for themselves and help inform their communities and policymakers.
And extreme weather events and their aftermath leave communities with problems that simmer below the surface such as trauma and depression. They also exacerbate other physical maladies, including high blood pressure and heart disease.
"When is this going to wake people up?" said Epstein. "We are talking about fundamental assaults on health systems."
[Just think about the pluperfect insanity of that last statement. Tweaking a natural, harmless component of our atmosphere by one part in 10,000 is allegedly a "fundamental assault on health systems".]