By Samantha White
A new report on the disastrous health impacts of climate change was recently released by the Texas Physicians for Social Responsibility. The organization’s report, “Texas Climate 2040: How Climate Change Impacts the Health of Texans,” examines the various consequences of the climate crisis and the public health problems they create.
“Climate change is the greatest public health threat of our time,” said Dr. Lisa Doggett, a family physician and president of Texas PSR. “Urgent global action is needed to reduce its impact and mitigate its effects. We need a massive shift to renewable energy to protect the health and future of Texas families and communities.”
The report says that days over 100 degrees will nearly double between now and 2036, creating more heat stroke problems. Hurricanes, rain, and flooding will contaminate water supplies more intensely, and droughts and wildfires will become more common, impacting food systems, air quality, and the very survival of Texans.
The health impacts of climate change will not be equally felt throughout the state, either. They will disproportionately impact Black and Latino Texans, as well as lower income families, immigrants, and refugees, TPSR says.
“Climate change perpetuates the environmental injustice that socioeconomically disadvantaged groups have historically endured,” said Dr. Pooja Pundhir, an internist and board member of Texas PSR. “These families are exposed to toxic, cancer-causing agents, polluted air and water, extreme temperatures and also disastrous extreme weather events because of where they live, leading to a higher incidence of cancers, premature births, and respiratory illnesses. Equitable health and safety must be prioritized over profit.”
TPSR makes numerous recommendations in the report, for both federal and state governments, as well as individuals and the Texas health care community. Among the recommendations are reaching 100% renewable energy by 2035, making evidence-based climate action plans, eating a plant-based diet, and addressing the mental health impacts of climate change.