Health professionals support a Green New Deal for Seattle

As conversations about a Green New Deal multiply and gain more prominence nationally, we’re excited to be part of a new effort focused on creating a city-wide Green New Deal for Seattle. This campaign led by 350 Seattle and local environmental justice organization Got Green urges City of Seattle leaders to eliminate climate pollution by 2030, address historic injustice in the city and its policies, and create thousands of living wage jobs.

WPSR is one of nearly 200 organizations to sign-on in support of Seattle’s Green New Deal. Four physician members of our Climate & Health Task Force have represented WPSR’s support for this initiative before City Hall in recent weeks. On August 13th, Dr. Annemarie Dooley, a nephrologist and active member of our Climate & Health Task Force, and Dr. Margaret Kitchell, a retired psychiatrist and longtime Task Force member, testified before City Council in support of the plan. Watch their testimonies here (starting at minute 11:00).

The Seattle Green New Deal is likely to include policies that will be introduced over time, including one that would prevent new fossil fuels in buildings (following the recent move by the City of Berkeley, CA to ban all new natural gas hookups). Most of our natural gas is derived from fracking, a clear and severe example of how fossil fuel extraction harms communities. Pollution from fracking is linked to low birthweights, neurological disorders, respiratory illness, harm to pregnant mothers, and even certain cancers. The combustion of gas inside our homes produces harmful indoor air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and ultrafine particles. A policy like that just passed in Berkeley that promotes all-electric new construction in homes and buildings can also significantly support human health by improving indoor air quality. 

Last month, the American Medical Association, Academy of Family Physicians, the American Lung Association, and dozens more public health and clinician organizations developed a Call to Action on Climate, Health, and Equity. Rapidly transitioning away from natural gas in order to improve human health and reduce contributions to climate change was a key priority in their joint statement. 

Climate change is an existential threat to health, but as the medical journal The Lancet reminds us, the climate crisis and efforts to address it pose “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”. A Seattle Green New Deal effort led by communities most impacted by climate pollution and fossil fuel infrastructure is an important step towards realizing climate justice and supporting the health of all people.

Photos left to right: Dr. Dooley listens to testimony during a committee hearing on the Green New Deal resolution, Carly Brook, Dr. Ken Lans, and Dr. Rich Lipsky at City Hall for the Green New Deal campaign launch, and founder of Standing Rock Siox camp LaDonna Brave Bull Alard testifies before City Council as Dr. Dooley sits behind (credit: 350 Seattle).