Earth Day 2020: Parallels Between the COVID-19 & Climate Crises

April 21, 2020
AMSA Medical Students for Earth Toolkit, 1997 (click to view)

As we recognize the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we want to call attention to the stark but unsurprising health disparities seen as a result of climate change. These disparities parallel those seen in the COVID-19 pandemic. This is no coincidence.

The novel coronavirus and climate change are both public health emergencies that disproportionately affect marginalized communities. This same trend is seen across a myriad of illnesses. AMSA, as the collective voice of over 30,000 future physician members, will not stand on the sidelines as another invisible public health threat approaches our doorstep.

As medical students helped lead the way on the 1st Earth Day’s clarion call to protect public and climate health, on this 50th Earth Day, AMSA commits to escalating actions to protect our patients, our colleagues, our communities, and our environment.

To begin with in 2020-2021 AMSA will:

  • BUILD a core of future physicians with skills and resources needed to effectively engage with local, state and federal policy makers
  • EXPAND our COVID-19 Speaker Series and Roundtables for Medical Students through the lenses of health disparities and climate change
  • LAUNCH a new AMSA Health Disparities Scholars Program that will include exploration of the impact of COVID-19 and how climate and environment impact health

Just like the COVID-19 crisis, we must take action for our patients’, our colleagues, our communities’ and our environment’s health now — before it is too late. Add your name to the new AMSA Health Disparities Scholars Program waiting list here, find links to additional action resources below.

The actions we take now to protect our communities will ensure the survival and health for tomorrow. We have already seen the ramifications of denying the existence of a public health emergency in this COVID-19 pandemic. Our elected officials cannot make this same mistake with global climate change. It is up to us, as the next generation of physicians, to ensure that we have a future with healthier and cleaner environments.