Today, OHSU joins many others in Oregon and across our nation in declaring our continued support of climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.
We do so in simple recognition that nothing is more fundamental to human health than the health of our environment and the threat to human health from climate change is significant. As Oregon’s academic health center, our mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of Oregonians and beyond. As such, it is our duty to speak up when we see health threatened.
There is little doubt that climate change threatens health at multiple levels: Air pollution drives increases in Asthma and cardiovascular disease; climate-driven spread of vectors such as ticks and mosquitoes increase Malaria, Lyme disease, Dengue and a host of other infectious diseases; flooding and sea-level rise degrade water quality, creating the conditions for the spread of Cholera, campylobacter and other water-borne diseases.
This is just the start of the list of impacts to human health of climate change – impacts which threaten to reverse a century of progress in assuring the conditions in which people can be healthy. As healers we must be leaders in ensuring that does not happen.
In addition to speaking up, there are things we can do as a community to make an impact. Specifically, at OHSU that means: continuing our commitment to alternative transportation including biking, transit and walking; It means continuing to build our new clinic and laboratory buildings to the highest standards of energy and resource efficiency; and it means continuing to promote waste reduction, recycling and re-use across our 16,000 person organization. It also means committing to continually finding new ways to serve the cause of human health through environmental stewardship.
For these reasons, OHSU is proud to add its name to the list of hundreds of businesses, government organizations and universities committing to continue the work of slowing global warming. We are committed to human health. We are committed to environmental health. We are committed to meaningful practices and policies that promote both. We are still in.
Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A., President, Oregon Health & Science University.