Newswise — The American Thoracic Society welcomes the release of the third National Climate Assessment report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The report confirms that climate change is occurring, the contribution of human activities in causing climate change, and the broad range of adverse health consequences that climate change causes.

“The patients served by the physician and researcher members of the American Thoracic Society are particularly vulnerable to the adverse health effects of climate change, which include attacks of asthma and allergic rhinitis due to changing pollen levels, severe illness caused by extreme heat, and exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular diseases caused by increased air pollution associated with climate change,” said John Balmes, MD, chair of the American Thoracic Society’s Environmental Health Policy Committee. “Climate change is already taking a huge toll on human health, and efforts to slow its progression will help prevent this global burden from increasing.”

The National Climate Assessment report, while noting that some progress is being made towards mitigating climate change, indicates that greater efforts are needed. “Because climate change and air pollution have some of the same causes, such as the burning of fossil fuels, a harmonized policy approach that incorporates efforts to counter the immediate adverse health consequences of air pollution and also helps mitigate the long-term effects of polluting activity on climate change is needed,” said George D. Thurston, DSc, vice chair of the American Thoracic Society’s Environmental Health Policy Committee. “Adequate resources and political will are needed to make such policy a reality.”

Indeed, a recent report published in the ATS journal American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine on Climate Change. A Global Threat to Cardiopulmonary Health, addresses the global human health consequences of climate change and discusses possible solutions, concluding that “the long-term health benefits of avoiding mortality and morbidity due to temperature extremes, air pollution, pollen, floods, droughts, storms, desertification, and malnutrition justify climate change mitigation not only from an economic standpoint but also from a moral one.” The American Thoracic Society will continue in its efforts to understand and counter the effects of climate change on human health through education, research, and patient care.

The National Climate Assessment makes it clear that we must act now to prevent future climate driven public health crises.

Contacts: John R. Balmes, MDChair, American Thoracic Society Environmental Health Policy CommitteeDr. Balmes is a professor in the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine and at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health and is director of the University of California’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.[email protected]

George D. Thurston, DSc Vice Chair, American Thoracic Society Environmental Health Policy CommitteeDr. Thurston is a professor at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Institute of Environmental Medicine.[email protected]