Michigan health care leaders support governor’s executive action on climate

climate and health

For immediate release
Feb. 13, 2019

Media contact:
Sarah Spengeman, 510-543-8196, sspengeman@hcwh.org

LANSING — Michigan doctors and health care providers from all corners of the state are praising Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for taking steps to combat climate change and protect the health of all Michigan residents.

Last week, Gov. Whitmer signed executive orders to tackle a host of environmental issues ranging from energy to water, including one aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions. She also signed an executive directive to add Michigan to the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 20 governors working to address climate change and advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.

By tackling climate pollution and investing in clean energy, Michigan can reduce the frequency and intensity of climate impacts while also improving public health. Curbing greenhouse gas emissions also improves air quality and helps to reduce asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses, the number of emergency room visits, and lost work and school days.

These Michigan health care providers and leaders and others support the governor’s efforts:

“As a family physician and educator I agree with Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order to urgently address climate change,” said Steven Ashmead, MD, a family physician in Grand Rapids. “Failure to address our warming environment will endanger the health and quality of life of all Michigan residents. It is imperative that the state of Michigan joins with others to work toward clean energy alternatives.”

“I am a nurse researcher who studies how disasters affect human health. Unfortunately, with the ever-increasing impacts of climate change on health, this work is all the more important,” said Sue Anne Bell, PhD, FNP-BC, an assistant professor at University of Michigan School of Nursing. “I support Gov. Whitmer’s creation of an Office of Climate and Energy, as well as Michigan joining the U.S. Climate Alliance. Taking these steps now can help decrease the effects of climate change for future generations.”

“As a physician, I applaud Gov. Whitmer's efforts to address climate change in the urgent manner it requires,” Elizabeth Del Buono, MD, of Grand Traverse Pathology in Traverse City. “Our warming climate is impacting the health of Michiganders today. By transitioning to clean forms of energy, making our cities greener and more easily navigated on foot and by bike, we can realize immediate health benefits while at the same time addressing climate change.”

“As an emergency physician I care for people suffering from asthma exacerbations and heat stroke, both of which are increasing in frequency due to poor air quality and rising temperatures,” said Matthew Mueller, DO, MPH, of Detroit. “Gov. Whitmer’s leadership on climate and energy will enable Michiganders to effectively prepare for and respond to the already devastating impacts of climate change such as these.”  

“As a medical student and future pediatrician, I applaud Gov. Whitmer’s actions on climate change. Our human-created climate crisis threatens human health and well-being, particularly for vulnerable populations including children. Prenatal exposure to extreme heat, air pollution, and other climate-related factors increase the risk for health consequences in childhood and beyond,” said Hanna Saltzman, a University of Michigan Medical School student. “I support Gov. Whitmer’s creation of the Office of Climate and Energy to address climate change here in our state, as well as her decision to join Michigan with the broader U.S. Climate Alliance to create positive change nationwide.”

“As a medical student and lifelong Michigan resident, I ardently support Gov. Whitmer’s steps in addressing climate change,” said Alex Zheutlin, an MD/MS candidate at University of Michigan Medical School. “Ensuring the reduction of environmental exposures and greenhouse gases are key measures in protecting the health and safety of Michigan residents. Acting on climate change and promoting the health of Michigan residents go hand-in-hand.”

Health Care Without Harm welcomes Gov. Whitmer’s actions to address climate change in Michigan and is looking forward to working with health professionals and health care organizations to advance the state’s climate goals.


About Health Care Without Harm

Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform health care worldwide so the sector reduces its environmental footprint and becomes a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice.