Hoping to increase awareness within the healthcare community, and eventually all of New Jersey, of how climate and the health of the environment impact the well-being of Garden State residents, multiple medical organizations around the state have united to form a new advocacy group, New Jersey Clinicians for Climate Action.

Together, the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New Jersey Public Health Association, New Jersey State Nurses Association, Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, and Health Care Without Harm will not collaborate on the same kind of research as, for instance, the Rutgers Climate Institute, according to pediatrician Dr. Pauline (Polly) Thomas.

"Some of our members are actually members of the Rutgers Climate Institute, so they are involved in research and data assessment," Thomas said. "The idea was to create a venue where clinicians can come together and have a common voice."

Presenting that united front, Thomas said, is a concept modeled after the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health at George Mason University in Virginia, with which this new group is officially affiliated.

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The questions they will seek to answer are much more community-based than the larger concerns of climate trends, hoping to offer "credible, health-based perspectives" on policy, according to a release announcing the partnership.

"Can we further reduce the carbon footprint of our towns? Some New Jersey towns are doing tremendous work in this area, and others don't have the resources," Thomas said.

The release tasks healthcare professionals with considering their individual relationship with the environment, and sharing what they learn with patients and colleagues.

Thomas said she hopes word will spread about the group's efforts, even though the parent organizations involved represent thousands of New Jerseyans already.

"You know, we'll see who joins and we'll see where we go. I can't predict that," she said.

For more information, visit newjerseycca.org.

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