Washington (March 28, 2017) President Trump's executive order on climate change will have a devastating impact on public health, said the American College of Physicians (ACP) today. President Trump signed an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to roll back the major ways that the U.S. is combatting air pollution.
"Today's executive order moves us in the wrong direction on this issue," said Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, MACP, ACP President. "It signals a retreat from our nation's efforts to curb carbon emissions and address climate change. Climate change is a problem we should be attacking aggressively on a global level."
In a 2016 paper, Climate Change and Health, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, ACP outlined the negative consequences that climate change will have on public and individual health. The paper cited higher rates of respiratory and heat-related illnesses, increased prevalence of diseases passed by insects, water-borne diseases, food and water insecurity and malnutrition, and behavioral health problems as potential health effects of climate change. The elderly, the sick, and the poor are especially vulnerable.
The executive order specifically directs the EPA to rewrite, and presumably, loosen the standards set forth in the Clean Power Plan. As cited in ACP's paper, implementing the Clean Power Plan in the U.S. would avoid 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days.
"Climate change is real, is largely the result of human activity, and is affecting our health now. ACP is very concerned about the harmful health effects that climate change is having on our patients," continued Dr. Damle. "We need to take action now to protect the health of our community's most vulnerable members -- including our children, our seniors, people with chronic illnesses, and the poor -- because our climate is already changing and people are already being harmed."