Health and Fitness

Physicians and the Environment

I read with great sadness and dismay this week that the Ford motor company is essentially stopping the production of all sedans in North America. As the owner of multiple Ford cars over the past 35 years, this is hard for me to believe. I have always been happy with the performance reliability and gas mileage of the Ford, Mercury and Lincoln cars I’ve driven.

I currently drive a Lincoln MKZ hybrid. I can easily achieve 40 miles per gallon in this relatively large sedan. I’ll never understand why people turned from gas efficient cars to large gas guzzling SUV’s. Once the floodgates were opened, however, nobody wanted to be the one without an SUV with its large size and and elevated sight lines. Now all American car companies are following each other like lemmings off the SUV cliff.

I can’t help but think this is a bad idea. In inflation adjusted dollars, gasoline is at a historically low price. At some point, however, this is going to change. When this happens, many people will be stuck with vehicles they can’t afford to drive. Also, it just doesn’t make sense to me to waste so much gasoline. Our country could literally burn 40% less gasoline if we would simply switch to small American made cars and not drive around alone in large SUVs or pick up trucks. Obviously, I don’t mean people who need a truck or large SUV for hauling or work activities.

As physicians, we must be concerned with the health of our environment. If we as individuals all made simple changes in our lives, it would have a profound impact. We could all burn less gasoline, use less water and electricity, recycle more, and turn down out thermostats.

Paul S Auerbach wrote in JAMA that “Environmental conditions contribute to the presence or intensity of many medical conditions, as with temperature-related morbidity and mortality, health effects of extreme weather conditions and their sequela, ecological change, starvation, allergies, pollution rated health effects, water and food borne diseases and vector-rodent born diseases.

Our health and the health of the world in which we live are interconnected.

Stay well!Stay well!


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