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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: NEJM Perspective by Dr. Frederica Perera Addresses the Case of Juliana v. U.S. — Children and the Health Burdens of Climate Change

A “Perspective” in the NEJM co-authored by Dr. Frederica Perera, professor of environmental health sciences at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, presents the merits of the case Juliana v. United States whose oral arguments went before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on June 4. The outcome will determine whether the government’s inaction on addressing climate change violated the children’s constitutional rights and if the case will proceed to trial. In 2015, 21 children, including Ms. Kelsey Juliana, filed the lawsuit against the federal government.

Dr. Perera, who is director of Translational Research at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia Mailman, and her co-authors agree with the Juliana plaintiffs that climate change is the greatest public health emergency of our time and the medical and public health community should recognize and speak out about the health burdens of climate change and the disproportionate effects on children. “It is for this reason that we, together with nearly 80 scientists and physicians and 15 health organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, submitted an amicus brief to help educate the 9th Circuit about this extraordinary threat,” they wrote. “More frequent and longer heat waves, increasing intensity of extreme weather events, worsening infectious-disease exposures, food and water insecurity, and air pollution all threaten to destabilize our public health and healthcare infrastructure.

Because of climate change’s worsening effects, children today are expected to have poorer health as they age than today’s adults, and the mental health effects experienced by children today may have a long-lasting impact that extends to future generations.

Read the Perspective.

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