She agrees with the recent focus on im-

minent health issues, and is encouraged that a growing number of healthcare profession- als feel it’s their duty to inform their patients about climate change to mobilize action.

“When you talk about climate change not only in terms of the health impact it has on individuals and families, but also in terms of the real-time benefits of taking action against it, people are a lot more interested in doing something,” says Sarfaty. For instance, shiſting to clean energy

sources like wind and solar instead of coal can effect better air quality and easier breathing now. Cycling or walking to work rather than driving can reduce carbon emissions, boost feel-good brain chem- icals and keep weight in check. Writing

letters to editors or attending rallies to urge lawmakers to pass climate-friendly policies can not only fend off the anxiety and depression that comes with feeling helpless, but also effect real change. Ahdoot is taking these steps now. She

has solar panels on her roof, is assisting the local hospital to reduce its carbon foot- print, takes public transportation to work and encourages her kids to walk whenever possible. “I don’t feel powerless at all. I feel empowered and optimistic,” she says. “Te more we know, the more we are moved to act. We can all do something small every day to protect our climate.”

Lisa Marshall is a freelance health writer in Boulder, CO. Connect at


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Swap tailpipes for pedals: Bike or walk instead of driving, especially for distances of less than

two miles, which comprise 40 percent of all car trips. A study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that if everyone did this in just 11 cities in the Midwest, not only would carbon dioxide (CO2

) emissions fall,

but it would extend 1,300 lives and save $8 billion in healthcare costs due to better air quality and less sedentary lifestyles.

2 3

Eat less red meat: Producing red meat results in five times more climate-warming emissions

per calorie than chicken, pork, dairy or eggs, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. It also creates 11 times more emissions than the production of pota- toes, wheat or rice. Eating less red meat can also decrease an individual’s risk of certain cancers.

Encourage hospitals and doctors’ offices to go green: Te healthcare system is re-

sponsible for about 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent study by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven, Connecticut. Boston-area hospitals recently slashed their overall emissions by 29 percent in five years.

4 5

Plant more trees: As they grow, trees remove carbon dioxide from the air. Being around green

space has also been shown to boost mental and cognitive health.

Show compassion:Ameri- cans, per capita, emit six times more CO2

than the global aver-

age, according to research by Jonathan Patz, a medical doctor who directs the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In a TED Talk, he observed that U.S. lower-income populations and those in developing countries are oſten hit hardest by gas- eous emissions. “Tose most vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change are oſten the least responsible,” he says. “Doing something about this is a mat- ter of compassion.”

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