Dermatologists Must Help Fight Climate Change

September 9, 2022

Significant reductions in carbon emissions are readily achieved in dermatology by increased use of telehealth services and virtual medical meetings and residency interviews

Dermatologists should engage more meaningfully on key climate issues and to move beyond discussions of the skin-related impacts of climate change, according to a commentary in the International Journal of Dermatology.

The authors note that they and other dermatologists are professionally charged with diagnosing, treating, researching, and mitigating the health harms from climate change but also must consider that healthcare is among the most carbon-intensive service sectors worldwide.

They point out that significant reductions in carbon emissions are readily achieved in dermatology by increased use of telehealth services and virtual medical meetings and residency interviews. Also, dermatologists should prioritize funding for climate-health research to improve healthcare sustainability and decarbonize the profession.

“Our research, advocacy, and policies must be ambitious in scope, reaching beyond cutaneous disease to integrate the impact of climate change on social determinants of health and support resiliency and social justice invulnerable populations,” the authors wrote. “We have an ethical imperative to act. The time is now for dermatologists and our medical societies to collectively rise to meet this crisis.”

The article follows a 2021 editorial published en masse by 233 international medical journals that called for emergency action to limit global warming and adverse health effects related to climate change.

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