In mid-January, more than 20 health professionals presented testimony to Gov Tim Walz’s office on the health risks of Line 3. As a first-year medical student at the University of Minnesota Medical School and as a tribal member of the Ohkay Owingeh and San Felipe Pueblo, I spoke about the impacts Line 3 could have on manoomin (wild rice) and its effects on the tribal communities whose culture and lives are deeply rooted.
Health care professionals and organizations have attempted to advance sound climate policies through educational efforts including conferences, symposia, webinars, and policy and scientific statements. Unfortunately, these approaches have failed to make a substantial impression on the public or elected officials.
Braving the cold Wednesday morning, more than 20 health professionals, students and climate advocates around Minnesota held a teach-in at the Minnesota State Capitol, educating senior staffers about the potential risks of a proposed replacement oil pipeline.
Unfortunately, it’s no longer a matter of what we are willing to pay. It is the matter of paying whatever it takes to save ourselves.
Hold the kudos for a legislative session well done, because the Senate refused to even allow hearings on how Minnesota needs to address the climate and health crisis that is bearing down on us.
Climate change is the greatest health threat of the 21st century. Surveys consistently show that more physicians than the general public agree with the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change. For physicians, the question isn’t whether climate change is occurring, but “How do I address this complex topic in an already short patient visit?”
No foreseeable technologic “fix” can allow us to avoid hard choices.
Minnesota alone cannot solve the global climate challenge, but we can and must do our part. The health and well-being of our communities depend on it.
“Climate change is the number one threat to global public health of the 21st century. Governor Walz is leading Minnesota to a clean, healthy and equitable future,” Laalitha Surapaneni of Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate said in a statement.
Growing up in India, Dr. Laalitha Surapaneni watched the number of heat waves grow. They got more intense. And the beach stalls in her coastal city had to be moved inland when the shoreline began to encroach as the seas rose: All of them were effects of climate change.