Biden administration declares climate change a major health issue

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established an office to make climate change a health issue.

The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) will “protect vulnerable communities who disproportionately bear the brunt of pollution and climate-driven disasters, such as drought and wildfires, at the expense of public health,” according to a Monday Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) press release announcing the new office.

The OCCHE’s priorities include helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and supporting a “climate and health workforce.”

The HHS press release announcing the new office cites “threats of extreme heat and drought, growing wildfires, and a high risk of hurricanes” in addition to the World Health Organization’s prediction that the world will see 250,000 additional climate change-caused deaths each year between 2030 and 2050.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points to many conditions, including asthma, malaria, malnutrition and mental health impacts in describing the human health impact of climate change.

“History will judge us for the actions we take today to protect our world and our health from climate change. The consequences for our inaction are real and worsening,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

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“Healthy fresh air is no longer a given when every breath brings in climate change,” states the narrator of a video HHS tweeted to announce its establishment of OCCHE. “We’ve always known that health is at the center of climate change, and now we’re going to double-down on a necessity: fighting climate change in order to help protect public health in our communities,” Becerra said.

President Joe Biden directed Becerra to establish the office in a January executive order as part of the administration’s priority of tackling “a profound climate crisis.”


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Biden Administration Creates Federal Office To Treat Climate Change As A Health Issue

Jennie Taer on August 30, 2021

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