Dear Patients—A Note on Climate Change by Current, Retired and Future Doctors and Nurses

October 23, 2020

AMSA’s Environmental Health Action Committee joined a coalition of health professional organizations in sending a letter to our future patients about the risks to health posed by climate change. Take a look at our letter below, and add your name here to the list of over 5,000 medical professionals and trainees endorsing this message.


Dear Patients,

As your physicians and nurses, your well-being and safety is our greatest concern. We take oaths to protect you from harm. It is therefore our responsibility to counsel you about the risks that climate change poses to your health– and to future generations.

People are already suffering from the harmful health effects of climate change. Across the country we are seeing climate change’s devastating impact on:

  • A 10-year-old child with asthma and allergies who must quit her beloved softball team because breathing polluted air — made worse by a warming climate — makes her too sick.
  • A 55-year-old postal worker who suffers heat stroke carrying mail during another extreme heatwave.
  • A 65-year-old man with a heart attack triggered by wildfire smoke exposure.
  • An 80-year-old woman who broke her hip trying to evacuate before yet another 500-year hurricane hit.

We see children, teenagers, parents and grandparents suffering from increasing anxiety and depression as they attempt to recover from loss of their homes and livelihoods due to extreme weather events and as they grapple with what the future will look like in the face of climate change. Chances are, you or someone you know may have already experienced such impacts.

Every American’s health is at risk due to climate change, but some populations are at greater risk, including infants, children, seniors, pregnant women, low-income communities, many communities of color, people with disabilities, and many people with chronic diseases. Evidence and experience show that these populations will disproportionately bear the health impacts of climate change. In 2020, at 1ºC of warming, we already see that health harms are widespread. If we let the temperatures continue to rise, we will only see more harm and suffering.

Fortunately, there is reason for hope: if we take action now, we can prevent many of the most terrifying health harms. However, we must act together to create the future that our children deserve. By working together we can convince our nation’s leaders to enact policies that accelerate America’s transition from a dirty energy economy (based on coal, oil and gas) to a clean, renewable energy economy (based on solar, wind and geothermal). The sooner we do this, the sooner we will all enjoy the benefits of cleaner air and water, better health, and a more vibrant and sustainable economy.

We need leaders to protect our health and our climate by:

  • Prioritizing your health and the health of future generations over the profits of the fossil fuel industry.
  • Listening to health experts, climate scientists, and members of communities already most impacted by climate change and using their knowledge to protect our communities.
  • Solving our climate crisis with policies that speed up the transition to a clean energy economy and create millions of family-supporting jobs in the process.

Learn how your candidates stand on issues that matter to you by checking legislative scorecards and climate report cards.

Your voice matters. Please vote by November 3rd.

Your Current, Retired and Future Doctors and Nurses


Sign the letter here.