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Engaging Montana health professionals in climate comms
March 13, 2024

The body of research about the multitude of health conditions worsened by climate change and air pollution is growing rapidly. Health care professionals are emerging as crucial players in the realm of climate action. Gallup polls show them to be among the most trusted professionals in the country; climate research indicates that the health message is one of the most influential in getting people to care about and act on climate.

As providers see patients from all walks of life, political persuasions and cultures, their trusted voices may be pivotal to inspiring acceptance of anthropogenic climate change and motivating action within diverse communities. With that idea in mind, the Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate was formed 5 years ago. Now 1000+ strong, Montana HPHC works to amplify the health voice for climate action in their state and beyond.

The CO2 Foundation is supporting a 2024 conference, “Climate and Health in the 406,” that will enable healthcare professionals to communicate better about health and climate. The conference will be followed by an expansion of Montana HPHC’s work to increase the presence of climate and health stories in the media across Montana: articles and solutions-based stories will abound.

The “Climate Change and Human Health in Montana” report noted that heat, air pollution from wildfire smoke, and drought are the weather conditions most likely to affect human health in Montana. The worsening of extreme weather events, and their health effects, make healthcare professionals some of the best messengers. They see the impacts firsthand. While action to limit climate change is a long-term project, everything done to decrease air pollution has immediate health benefits across the spectrum of life, from fetuses to the elderly. Communities and the healthcare industry need to prepare more to adapt to extreme weather and climate change; the articles, opinions, blogs, and podcasts will emphasize this.

This project will complement other projects, including the climate and health stewards program working to catalyze Montana healthcare professionals to initiate climate action. Another new research project, to learn what climate and health messages appeal to people and healthcare professionals in persistent poverty areas, will also help guide this work.

This work is central to Montana HPHC’s vision to educate, advocate, and lead to build a healthy and just Montana, and the CO2 Foundation is proud to support its grounded and effective work.