Planetary Health, Climate Change, and Lifestyle Medicine: Threats and Opportunities
Global environmental degradation and climate change threaten the foundation of human health and well-being. In a confluence of crises, the accelerating pace of climate change and other environmental disruptions pose an additional, preventable danger to a global population that is both aging and carrying a growing burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Climate change and environmental disruption function as “threat multipliers,” especially for those with NCDs, worsening the potential health impacts on those with suboptimal health. At the same time, these environmental factors threaten the basic pillars of health and prevention, increasing the risk of developing chronic disease. In the face of these threats, the core competencies of lifestyle medicine (LM) present crucial opportunities to mitigate climate change and human health impacts while also allowing individuals and communities to build resilience. LM health professionals are uniquely positioned to coach patients toward climate-healthy behavior changes that heal both people and the planet.