LiveGreen: American Medical Association takes a stand

by Melanie Stewart, LiveGreen | July 10, 2018

Image with caption: Photo courtesy freeimages.com/nikitagolovanov

Photo courtesy freeimages.com/nikitagolovanov

The American Medical Association (AMA) is one of the most well-known and respected medical organizations in the country, having been established in 1847 and publishing the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

At its annual meeting in June, the AMA joined the World Medical Association, British Medical Association, and Canadian Medical Association in the decision to completely divest from fossil fuels.

The resolution will "end all financial investments or relationships with companies that generate the majority of their income from the exploration for, production of, transportation of, or sale of fossil fuels." This is quite a statement, given that fossil fuel companies continue to be profitable. The AMA's choice is about health and care of patients, not money.

In their public statement, they were very clear: "It is meaningful that the American Medical Association . . . is saying to the dirty fuels industry now just what it said to tobacco a generation ago: You are killing our patients and we will not allow it anymore," said Todd Sack, M.D., who co-authored the resolution.

Did you know air pollution from fossil fuels causes 200,000 premature deaths each year in the United States alone? Or that closing coal and oil plants immediately lowers the risk of pre-term births in surrounding areas? Carbon pollution from fossil fuels also is the leading cause of climate change, which contributes to an increase in many public health concerns including but not limited to: vector-borne diseases, food and water scarcity and contamination, migration and heat-related illnesses.

This resolution also calls for the AMA to choose vendors, suppliers, and corporations that have demonstrated environmental sustainability practices that seek to minimize their fossil fuels consumption. It also intends to support physicians/health professional associations with policy analyses, education, and informing patient/public/government policy makers.

This is why Nebraska Medicine and UNMC have made a strong commitment to sustainability, pledging to by 2030:

  • Become carbon neutral (net zero building emissions);
  • Achieve zero waste (90 percent of all non-biohazardous materials leaving campus will be diverted from the landfill and incineration);
  • Use less water than what falls on the main campus during an average rainfall year (54 percent reduction); and
  • Increase the trips made to campus using active transportation to 35 percent.

It's about health. It's preventive health care. It's our mission. We will lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities.

To learn more about our goals and their impacts, click here.

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Myrna McColley
July 12, 2018 at 6:58 AM

Too bad our president is not an environmentalist!

Robert Fuchs
July 10, 2018 at 4:07 PM

Good to hear that the AMA is divesting from fossil fuels. Good to know that UNMC is trying to reduce it's global footprint.

Sonja F. Tutsch
July 10, 2018 at 9:27 AM

Proud to be a part of UNMC. Couragous and important steps in the right direction.

Barbara Glover
July 10, 2018 at 8:13 AM

Large enterprises banding together are the only way to make a change. I am proud to be part of UNMC taking a stance!