(CN) – A group of respiratory doctors from the United States and Great Britain encourage President Donald Trump to “make America great again” by leading a global effort to address climate change.
In an editorial published Thursday in the journal Thorax, the doctors say spearheading policies and international coalitions to reduce manmade threats to the planet would also align Trump with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whom Trump has called “a great leader and ally of America.”
Thatcher helped lead international efforts to ban chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in refrigeration and aerosol sprays. She worked with former United States President Ronald Reagan to secure the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which phased out the manufacture and use of CFCs.
While the effects of curtailing the use of these chemicals will not be fully realized until 2060, the authors say the planet would already be nearly 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer without the Montreal Protocol. This, combined with increased levels of radiation, would have left most of Earth uninhabitable by the middle of the century, the authors write.
They argue that the world faces similar challenges now.
“If Trump wants America to lead, then he needs to be at the front of the international climate change pack, not at the back,” the authors write. “No one will be quitting the race onwards to the betterment of their peoples.”
Disrupted ecosystems and rising temperatures as a result of climate change heighten the risks posed by vector-borne diseases such as malaria, and crop failure. These factors also boost exposure to the effects of air pollution, which is now the third leading cause of death worldwide after high blood pressure and smoking.
“Responding directly to the threat of climate change will require innovation and global leadership,” the doctors write. “Action now is crucial if we are to protect the health of our people now and in future generations.”
They also included a “to-do” list for Trump, which includes acknowledging the scale of the problem, using government policy to drive investment and build markets, and moving away from fossil fuels to clean energy, among other suggestions.
The authors also noted that limiting climate change will be far easier and cheaper now than in the future, a dynamic that makes immediate actions vital.
“There is a practical and moral imperative to take action now to reduce current and future impacts of climate change, they write. “These actions have the potential also to improve health and prosperity directly.”
Trump has consistently denied that human-caused climate change exists, famously tweeting in 2012 that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”