Biden Opens New Federal Office for Climate Change, Health and Equality


WASHINGTON – In between deadly heat waves and new evidence to suggest that wildfire smoke can be contribute to premature birthsThe Biden administration is establishing a new federal office to address the health consequences of climate change and their disproportionate impact on poor communities.

The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, which government officials plan to announce officially on Monday, will be the first federal program aimed specifically at understanding how planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels affect human health. It will be subordinate to the Department of Health and Human Services.

This is an area where medical professionals are urging government to take it more seriously, and public health leaders said the new office was overdue.

“The health of the American people is falling through the cracks as there is no targeted focus on climate risk,” said Aaron Bernstein, interim director of the Harvard TH Chan School’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment. Public health. “This is an opportunity to plug that hole.”

In 2009, scientists warned in the medical journal The Lancet that global warming would harm crop yields, causing tropical diseases and water shortages in new parts of the world. In 2020, the magazine said: these threats no longer belonged to the distant future.

“Climate change is fundamentally a health threat,” said Gina McCarthy, White House national climate change adviser. He said part of the office’s mission will be to encourage doctors to talk to their patients about protecting themselves from things like heat waves, wildfire smoke and other air pollution.

In particular, more needs to be done to understand how extreme weather affects the elderly and communities of color where families are more likely to live in areas most affected by disasters.

“There’s a saying that if Whites get the cold, Blacks get pneumonia,” said Beverly Malone, president of the National Nursing Association. “Health equity has a lot to do with where you live, and we understand the connection.”

President Biden requested $3 million to fund his climate office next year, and that amount still requires congressional approval. Those who set up the office were brought in from other institutions that benefited from the available funds. John Balbus, senior adviser to the director of the National Institutes of Health on climate change, will serve as interim director.


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