Health Leadership on Climate

Climate Change Threatens Health

PSR Promotes Solutions

Climate change is one of the greatest health threats facing humanity in the 21st century. As worldwide patterns of temperature, precipitation and weather events change, the delicate balance of climate and life is disrupted, with serious impacts on food and agriculture, water sources, and health.

Potentially lethal heat waves, extreme storms and rising sea levels contribute to disease, injury and death. Indirect effects of climate change include droughts, floods, worsening air and water pollution, crop damage, and the spread of pest- and waterborne diseases.

Children, the poor, the elderly, and those with a weak or impaired immune system are especially vulnerable.

Climate change contributes to world crises. Changes in temperature and rainfall, rising sea levels and impacts on agriculture have driven people from their homes, creating “climate refugees.”

Causes and Solutions

Human activities are the primary cause of global warming and climate destabilization. By burning oil and gas to power our homes, industries and transportation systems, we add carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is now higher than at any point in the last 420,000 years.

Fortunately, because our actions accelerate the problem, our actions can also slow climate change. When we reject dirty fossil fuels and turn instead to energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy sources like wind, waves and sun, we create solutions to this existential threat.

That’s why stopping the use of fossil fuels and promoting healthy, clean renewables are the heart of PSR’s climate action.

PSR doctor in scrubs holding "Climate Change" sign

PSR: Educating, Activating Health Professionals

PSR educates health professionals about the health consequences of climate change and mobilizes them to respond. Through our national office in Washington, DC and our network of chapters across the country, we:

  • Provide information on climate-related health threats. See Climate Change Health Effects 101, below.
  • Offer resources on the harms to health from coal-fired power plants, coal ash and fracked gas (methane).
  • Promote the health-supportive value of clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • Train and prepare health professionals to speak out – writing letters to the editor and op-eds, providing testimony, and educating their elected officials.
  • Engage health professionals in raising the “health voice” on climate- and health-related policies.

By The Numbers

8

years to avert the worst effects of climate change, according to the IPCC

Climate Crisis

Tell Congress to act now with bold legislation that halts fossil fuel use and transitions to 100% clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

20%

of U.S. electricity generation in 2021 was from renewable sources

PSR fights for 100% renewables

By making a rapid transition to 100 percent clean renewable energy systems, we can protect ourselves from one of the greatest threats to health and survival: climate change.

Frequently Asked Questions

Top-10 Facts on Climate Change and Health

Heat, Fire, Water: How Climate Change Has Created a Public Health Emergency

August 2019

Extreme heat, billowing wildfires, and water–either too much or not enough–are today’s faces of climate change. PSR board member Alan Lockwood, MD, FAAN profiles the health effects of these frightening phenomena in this new white paper.

PSR Climate Ambassadors

Advocating for Climate Solutions

Do you have a passion for PSR's mission to protect present and future generations from catastrophic climate change? If so, then you may be interested in becoming a PSR Climate Ambassador.

Learn more

PSR Climate Ambassadors Dr. Alan Lockwood, Sid Gugale, and Autumn Vogel visiting Capitol Hill

Latest Climate News & Actions

Climate Change and the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases in the United States

Article in Clinical Infectious Diseases co-authored by Greater Boston PSR Board Member Dr. Regina LaRocque.

Read More

Watch Now: Public Health Impacts of the “Inflation Reduction Act”

Learn what the Inflation Reduction Act will do to improve public health and how implementation can ensure that Congress and President Biden build on its successes while addressing its shortcomings.

Read More

Global Health Organizations Call for Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

More than 1000 health professionals and 200 health organizations across the world are calling on governments to urgently develop and implement a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to end global dependence on fossil fuels and protect global public health.

Read More

Tell Congress to Reject the Dirty IRA Side Deal

Tell your Members of Congress to reject Senator Manchin and Senator Schumer’s dirty side deal.

Read More

Partner Resources

PSR periodically partners with other organizations to create and share resources on climate change and health. Below, we provide links to recent materials from Partner organizations.

Concerned Health Professionals of New York (CHPNY) created and is the lead writer of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction). PSR proudly partners with CHPNY to write, edit and disseminate the Compendium.

Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction), Eighth edition. A collection of some 2,000 abstracts of and links to medical, scientific and investigative reports about the consequences of oil and gas drilling, fracking, and infrastructure. This unique resource presents evidence that fracking-related activities harm public health, the environment, and the climate; links provide easy access to the source material. 

Through its “Climate for Health” program, ecoAmerica partners with leading U.S. health associations and organizations to make climate change a top national health priority. As part of that partnership, PSR is pleased to share the following resources:

Moving Forward: A Guide for Health Professionals to Build Momentum on Climate Action
Guidance and tools to reduce energy use, to build resilient clinics and health departments, and advocate for climate solutions that prioritize health and equity.

Messaging on the Climate Emergency. PSR partnered with ecoAmerica to present this webinar examining how to convey the severe threats that climate change poses, without driving people into either denial or despair. Watch here.

Let’s Talk Health & Climate. Communication Guidance for Health Professionals. This 2016 ecoAmerica report synthesizes academic research and message testing on climate communications into a practical guide to support meaningful discussion of climate change and health with individuals and groups.

Webinar, Let’s Talk Health & Climate.

Mental Health and our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance. This ecoAmerica report examines the effects of climate change on the mental health of individuals, communities, and society, with special attention to issues of equity.

Webinar, Mental Health and our Changing Climate.

Additional research reports by ecoAmerica are available here.

The U.S. Climate & Health Alliance network is helping to circulate and promote the U.S. Call to Action on Climate, Health & Equity.

U.S. Call to Action on Climate, Health & Equity. A broad policy action agenda for addressing climate change. It calls on government, business, civil society leaders, elected officials, and candidates for office to recognize climate change as a health emergency and to take action across a wide range of sectors.