Climate change has aided wildfires and pandemic

Thank you for The Herald’s Sept. 17 article, “Two simultaneous health crises: Wildfire smoke, coronavirus,” by reporter Joseph Thompson. Both of these conditions pose serious threats to our wellbeing and, as a physician, I am deeply concerned about the health impacts that each of them cause. While this article correctly points out the link between being exposed to toxic wildfire smoke and increased susceptibility to the Covid virus, what it fails to mention is the direct link of both of these problems to the worsening climate crisis.

Climate change has created conditions (increased heat and worsening drought) which have caused wildfires to become much more frequent and severe in recent decades. Gov. Jay Inslee was correct when he recently stated that these fires should be called “climate fires” instead of “wildfires.” Climate change has also resulted in more widespread and frequent outbreaks of many infectious diseases, including the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The article does mention, if only in passing, the disproportionate impact that the wildfire smoke is having on the area’s homeless population. This is part of the vast social and economic inequity inherent to the climate crisis. For example, the infection rate and death rate for Covid-19 is much higher in low-income communities, communities of color, and indigenous populations than in other groups. Similarly, the death rate caused by air pollution is also higher in these disadvantaged populations.

It is clear that climate change is not only causing a climate crisis, but is also causing a social injustice crisis.

Jonathan Witte

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility


Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Friday, Sept. 22

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Flowers bloom on the end of a dead tree on Spencer Island on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Restore salmon habitat but provide view of its work

Comments are sought on a plan to restore fish habitat to the island east of Everett with popular trails.

FILE - Six-year-old Eric Aviles receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from pharmacist Sylvia Uong at a pediatric vaccine clinic for children ages 5 to 11 set up at Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. In a statement Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, California's public health officer, Dr. Tomas J. Aragon, said that officials are monitoring the Omicron variant. There are no reports to date of the variant in California, the statement said. Aragon said the state was focusing on ensuring its residents have access to vaccines and booster shots. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Editorial: A plea for watchful calm this time regarding covid

We don’t need a repeat of uncontrolled infections or of the divisions over vaccines and masks.

A construction worker caulks the siding on a townhouse at The Towns at Riverfront housing development in Everett on October 25, 2017. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Editorial: How do we put housing within reach of everyone?

A Herald Forum panel discussion considered the challenges and solutions for affordable housing.

Schwab: GOP ‘projection’ is slideshow of hypocrisy, deflection

Trump, of course, is guilty, but so are House Republicans desperate to ferret out elusive dirt on Joe Biden.

Arlington Mayor Tolbert has helped her region rebuild, grow

Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert has implemented the best programs to help people… Continue reading

Johnson’s endorsements reason enough to earn vote for sheriff

Another week. Another death at the Snohomish County jail (“Man, 38, identified… Continue reading

Resumption of expanded child tax credit can fight poverty

The U.S. Census Bureau has released poverty data for 2022 and the… Continue reading

Comment: Musk is his CEO’s X-factor (and not in a good way)

Musk is the widely variable variable for the X chief executive who can’t make headway on advertising.

Most Read