"Tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century"
Rising global temperatures are causing major physical, chemical, and ecological changes to the planet. There is wide consensus among scientific organizations and climatologists that these broad effects, known as "climate change," are the result of contemporary human activity. Climate change poses threats to human health, safety, and security, and children are at particularly high risk.
The effects of climate change on child health include:
- physical and psychological sequelae of weather disasters
- increased heat stress
- decreased air quality
- altered disease patterns of some climate sensitive infections
- food, water, and nutrient insecurity
The social foundations of children's mental and physical health are threatened by the specter of far-reaching effects of unchecked climate change, including community and global instability, mass migrations, and increased conflict. Given this knowledge, failure to take prompt, substantive action would be an act of injustice to all children. A paradigm shift in production and consumption of energy is both a necessity and an opportunity for major innovation, job creation, and significant, immediate associated health benefits.
A new public health movement is needed to educate, advocate, and collaborate with local and national leaders regarding the risks climate change poses to human health. In addition to mitigation strategies, ongoing research into the links between climate and health outcomes and the development of medical and public health interventions to protect individuals and communities from inevitable changes is needed.
Pediatricians, as advocates for the population most vulnerable to climate change health effects, have a valuable role to play in this movement. The AAP recognizes this need and is working with National Stakeholders and members to be sure that the health and welfare of children are prioritized.
Information for Pediatricians
- The AAP serves as the National Program Office for the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (East) - an interconnected system of specialists located throughout North America who respond to questions from public health professionals, clinicians, policy makers, and the public about children's environmental health concerns.
- The AAP partnered with ecoAmerica's Climate for Health program to build leadership for health, climate, and sustainability solutions among AAP Fellows, leaders, and America, overall.
- The AAP continues to advocate at State and Federal levels.
- AAP News covered the March 15, 2017 launch of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, of which the AAP is a founding member: "Medical societies: Climate change harmful to health"
- Health Care Without Harm has created a Sundance-supported animated short film on the role that health care professionals can play in the fight against climate change.
- Council on Environmental Health - The Council on Environmental Health (COEH) advises the Board of Directors, supports legislative initiatives, authors policy documents, and leads educational initiatives pertaining to environmental health and toxic exposures.
Information for Parents/Caregivers
Additional AAP Resources:
EPA Climate Change Resources