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WI Doctors Encouraged by Biden's Environmental Moves


Wednesday, January 27, 2021   

MADISON, Wis. -- President Joe Biden is taking more action this week to reverse the environmental rollbacks of the Trump administration.

Some in the Wisconsin medical community see these orders as welcome news, as they see the impacts of climate change on their patients.

Today Biden was expected to announce a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on public lands, and a new task force on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Several other orders are expected as well.

Andrew Lewandowski, Madison-based pediatrician, said health professionals are taking notice, given the connection between climate change and human health.

"You can't, you know, measure something in a child and say, 'Oops, you know what, as a result of climate change, this happened,'" Lewandowski explained. "However, as we look at those climatic factors and influences on disease, we know that some of those factors are going to be more likely."

For example, health experts say ground-level ozone from air pollution adversely affects people with asthma and other respiratory issues.

Lewandowski, one of more than 270 members of Wisconsin Health Professionals for Climate Action, remarked he's happy to see Biden target fossil fuels and rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. However, the oil and gas industry accused Biden of taking away thousands of jobs in doing so.

Lewandowski noted common themes in the debate over climate change, such as shrinking ice covers and the energy industry, tend to overshadow the human health factor, which he feels should be a key focus.

"There are psychological impacts on human health as a result of climate change, and social determinants that factor into that as well," Lewandowski outlined.

As a pediatrician, he added he also worries about how extreme heat will affect kids in outdoor sports.

On a broader scale, nearly 150 health and medical associations across the U.S., including those with national reach, have recognized climate change as a health emergency.

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