Climate change already besieges us. Using specific examples this paper highlights the impacts of climate change affecting children today, particularly those who disproportionately experience those impacts and beseeches pediatricians and other healthcare professionals in all types of practice settings to engage in climate change advocacy. Examples of organizational, educational, legislative/policy, and cooperative/community advocacy are provided. Pediatricians have been quick to recognize the threat of climate change, but broader engagement is needed from all health professions.
Key Take Away Points
Climate change increasingly affects child health
Multiple avenues are being by pediatricians to educate on climate and health, and advocate for climate action.
Pediatric actions are replicable to other groups concerned about climate change.
Pragya Rai, MD is a pediatric pulmonologist who has worked at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital for 9.5 years. She is keenly interested in the study of linkage between climate change and respiratory health. She is a member of Washington Pediatrician for Climate Action and is a Board member of 350 Spokane. John Ivan Sutter, MD, MS, of Clifton, NJ, practiced pediatrics in NJ for 38 years while also working within the health insurance industry and hospital administration. Currently retired, he continues to serve as a Board member for a large Independent Physician Association and a Clinically Integrated Network in northern NJ. Additionally, he has been actively involved with the Academy of Pediatrics on a state and national level on practice management issues and environmental health. J. Gary Wheeler, MD, MPS is a pediatric infectious disease specialist in Little Rock, AR now retired from Arkansas Children's Hospital and Arkansas Health Department where he served as chief medical officer. Currently serves as chapter president for Arkansas AAP and board president for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. Was committee chair for AAP State Government Affairs committee. Has worked in all settings to increase data and improve knowledge of climate damage and mitigation opportunities. Dr. Robert Byron is an internist in Hardin, Montana, where he practiced for over two decades on the Crow Indian Reservation. A founding member of the Bighorn Valley Health Center, a federally qualified health center in eastern Montana, he is also former governor for the Montana Chapter of the American College of Physicians. He co-chairs the Citizens Climate Lobby Health Team, helped found Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate. He works and presents at the state and national levels to stimulate effective action on climate change and health. Lori Byron, MD, of Hardin MT, practiced pediatrics for 27 years on the Crow Indian Reservation., and now works as a Pediatric Hospitalist in Billings MT and volunteers in climate advocacy.. She co-chairs the Citizens' Climate Lobby Health Team and the Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate. She is on the Children’s Health Advisory Committee to EPA. She works with the Montana Chapter of the American of Pediatrics on climate and legislative issues. She recently earned a MS in Energy Policy and Climate from Johns Hopkins.
The views and examples provided are those known to the authors and represent diversity in advocacy by pediatricians. They are not the extent of the pediatric activism effort, nor do they necessarily represent the official position of the AAP.
Rai, Pragya; Sutter, John I.; J Gary Wheeler; Byron, Robert G.; and Byron, Lori G.
"Pediatric Climate Change Advocacy: A Call to Action for Health Care Providers,"
Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 12:
1, Article 11.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/childrenatrisk/vol12/iss1/11