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Opinion >  Letters

Willingness to change habits

In response to “Forces of Nature,” (Aug. 8) and “Clean summer air is but a dream,” (Aug. 11):

I worry your readers might be lulled into thinking their only options around climate change are denial or fatalism. Or we may mistakenly think that wildfire smoke is the only health hazard aggravated by climate change.

When the American Medical Association and 70 other U.S. health groups stated that climate change is “a true public health emergency,” they also offered a 10 point policy proposal to change that course. Leading health care organization assert that addressing climate change is the public health opportunity of the 21st century.

Let’s not skip from denial to fatalism. Let’s act. We enacted seat belt laws, established immunization programs, restricted secondhand smoke, and eliminated lead from gasoline and paint. As a result, we reaped the benefits of 30 years longer life expectancy, improved quality of life and reduced violent deaths.

We can have clean air, clean water and a safe, secure future. We can transition off fossil fuels with electric transportation and efficient electric heat, which will improve our air quality and our health. We can improve energy efficiency, and build clean energy production and storage so we need not merely accept food insecurity, more dangerous storms, heat waves, flooding and increasing disease.

What we need is a willingness to change our habits, just as we did with seat belts, smoking and unleaded gasoline. With some effort and shared concern, we can make the future even better than the past, with clean air, clean water, and better health for all. Visit

Rebecca MacMullan



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