Florida Clinicians Form Association for Climate Action

February 12, 2018 – Writing from Samara, Costa Rica, where seeing a cloud in the sky calls for comments, I read a Miami Herald headline today that should make Floridians take notice.

Back on January 27, 2018, at the annual meeting of the Medical Society Consortium, in Wesley, Florida, announced the launching of the Florida Clinicians for Climate Action. At the meeting doctors presented on both the social and environmental determinants of health. Dr.  Cheryl Holder, President of the Florida State Medical Association (FSMA), in her speech talked about adding climate change to a physician’s medical practice.

It appears that doctors in Florida are seeing climate change as a public health risk. It’s not a future thing. It’s already in their waiting rooms. And they are sounding the alarm while making an effort to begin to educate the public and policymakers about the dangers not just to those who are most vulnerable, but also to the general public.

With a paucity of state and federal programs in place doing the job, it is important that physicians form the first line of education for their patients.

Doctors say they know what they are seeing and they’re ready to act. Incidents of asthma, heart and lung, and insect-borne diseases are all on the rise. Rising sea levels are invading freshwater aquifers, spreading sewage into drinking water sources, and facilitating the spread of mosquitoes. And of course, there are hurricanes and extreme weather events.

Those who are most vulnerable are visible minorities, children, the elderly and people with low incomes. And these are the people who have little insurance and are unable to financially handle the impacts on their health from climate change.

Florida Clinicians for Climate Action are so new that they haven’t even worked out the details of their organizational structure. But despite that, they want to get the message out about the impacts of climate change and how patients need to protect themselves. Simple actions by policymakers include the creation of cooling centers in low-income neighborhoods, and greywater and freshwater programs for public safety.

States Dr. Mona Sarfaty, Director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, “Not that many people know a climate scientist, but everyone knows or has contact with a doctor.”


Floridians are already experiencing the health effects of climate change, including heat stroke and heart problems, doctors say. (Image credit: Emily Michot, The Miami Herald)

Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...