When you turn on the news or scroll through your social media, it's become a regular occurrence to see the overwhelming effect that climate change is having on the world. Catastrophic events are everywhere, from rampant wildfires, historic heat waves and devastating floods – all directly related to climate change.
In partnership with Axios, Amgen recently hosted an Expert Voices roundtable on climate change and its impact on lung health. Leaders, subject matter experts and policy makers from across disciplines gathered virtually to discuss the widening socioeconomic disparities and how to better prepare for future and long-term effects of climate change on lung health.
Key takeaways from the discussion included:
- Climate change is not a problem of tomorrow, it's a problem for today. These issues are becoming more recognized as the impacts start to directly affect larger portions of the population. However, current solutions are a temporary fix. Transitioning from a reactive to a predict and prevent approach can help to curtail the ripple effects of climate change.
- Much like COVID-19, many climate change-related health issues first impact the most vulnerable communities. Solutions are needed to alleviate this disproportionate burden on these communities while also considering the existing challenges to resources and access they face.
- Wildfire impact has swept across the country, from coast to coast. There's an increase in concentrations of particle matter in the air contributing to poor air quality, which has caused a significant uptick of ER visits for pulmonary issues.
- All too often outdoor air quality is the only focus. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on indoor air quality as well. There have been more than 1,000 school closures in 38 states because of air quality issues, which is especially alarming for children's developing lungs.
- While there are perceptions that transitioning to more sustainable power approaches are expensive, billions of dollars are spent on the cost of climate change because of the immense damage caused by non-renewable resources and the resulting hospital visits often for respiratory issues.
"It's clear now more than ever that climate change and health, particularly lung health, cannot wait. More than 90% of the global population breathes unhealthy air, a statistic that is only expected to increase on our current trajectory," said roundtable panelist Andrew Lindsley, M.D., Ph.D., medical director and U.S. Medical Affairs Asset Lead at Amgen. "While it was a sobering discussion, there is also hope – as seen through the efforts that my fellow roundtable participants are driving through their respective organizations. A key conclusion from the roundtable is that tackling climate change cannot be done by one group alone, but it will take many perspectives and disciplines to sound the alarm and develop solutions to bring change."
In January of this year, Amgen announced a new environmental sustainability plan that included the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2027, as well as a 40% reduction in water used and a 75% reduction in waste disposed.
To read more about the conversation, visit Axios' event recap here.
To read more about Amgen’s ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability, click here.