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caption: Kathalina Hoffman, left, and Brian Muoneke, right, look toward downtown Seattle inside a massive plume of smoke from wildfires burning in California and Oregon on Sept. 11, 2020, at Kerry Park in Seattle.
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Kathalina Hoffman, left, and Brian Muoneke, right, look toward downtown Seattle inside a massive plume of smoke from wildfires burning in California and Oregon on Sept. 11, 2020, at Kerry Park in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

'Like Covid every year': doctors, nurses urge fast action to save the climate

More than 4,000 U.S. doctors and nurses are urging their patients to push for action on climate change.

The 14 medical and health organizations behind the effort say the rapidly warming climate is a clear and present danger to every American’s health.

With the average temperature just 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels, amplified heat waves, wildfires and storms have already begun to take their toll on human health.

“It’s kind of like Covid every year," said Matt Hollon, an internal medicine doctor with the University of Washington and Gonzaga University in Spokane. "It’s a global public health crisis that will face us year in and year out for the rest of the century unless we take action now.”

Climate scientists say, even with rapid action to stop burning fossil fuels, the climate will continue heating to some extent because of the heat-trapping pollution already in the atmosphere. But quickly ending greenhouse gas emissions would prevent our world from getting vastly hotter than it already is.

The doctors and nurses want their patients to vote for climate-conscious candidates and push elected officials to support a rapid transition to clean energy.

The self-described “non-partisan” letter does not endorse or condemn any specific candidates, though prestigious medical and scientific journals have been more explicit in reacting to the Trump administration’s dismissal of science on various crises.

The New England Journal of Medicine, for the first time since its founding in 1812, weighed in on a presidential election, calling the current administration “dangerously incompetent” in its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and urging voters not to let it squander more lives.

Scientific American rejected Trump’s “ongoing denial of reality” on health and environment and endorsed Joe Biden for President, its first presidential endorsement in 175 years.