A Doctor’s Prescription: Vote for Health – Vote for the Climate 

By Karina Maher, MD.  OCTOBER 22, 2020

As a physician, I can unequivocally state that our health is on the ballot in this election. No matter your political persuasion, a vote for leaders who act on climate change is a vote for health.

Our climate is changing faster than predicted. The record setting wildfires and heat each of us is experiencing right now are testimony to that. Every day, doctors treat the consequences of our changing climate in our offices, clinics, and hospitals. The rates of asthma, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, miscarriage, birth defects, and COVID-19 are all increased due to the polluted air we are creating. In the USA, there are 200,000 premature deaths a year due to air pollution, most of which is generated by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. In a state-by-state analysis, the researchers found that California suffers the worst health impacts from air pollution, with about 21,000 early deaths annually. Without strong preventive action, this human suffering will only get worse.


While doctors are skilled at treating diseases, we know that prevention is the best medicine. The vast majority of physicians and health professionals agree that we need to dramatically reduce emissions in the next 10 years in order to avoid the worst health impacts of the climate crisis. That is why it is imperative to transition to clean forms of energy in the next decade. The good news is that decreasing fossil fuel combustion substantially will clean up our air and make us healthier almost immediately. The enormity of health and economic benefits which would result from making this transition cannot be underestimated. 


Individual doctors and nurses are not able to prevent the suffering caused by the climate crisis without your help. This requires collective action. We need leaders who will enact science-based policies to solve the climate crisis. For the sake of your health, and the health of all you love, vote for legislators who take the climate crisis seriously. A vote for climate is a vote for health.
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