Can we talk about the first patient diagnosed with "climate change" please?

(AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)

So this is a thing that’s happening in Canada right now, but as soon as the word gets out you can look for it at a hospital near you. A Canadian emergency room doctor has recorded a diagnosis of an elderly woman who he determined was suffering from “climate change.” The woman, who is unnamed due to privacy reasons, is in her seventies and had reported acute breathing problems. This, in the professional opinion of Dr. Kyle Merritt, is a symptom of global warming rather than anything to do with the patient’s actual physical condition. And what is the doctor’s prescription to bring her back to health? Why, he’s helping to organize a medical activist group, of course. It’s called “Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health.” I haven’t had the opportunity to interview the patient in question myself, of course, but I’m sure she must be feeling all sorts of better already. (The Hill)

A Canadian woman could be the first patient to be diagnosed as suffering from “climate change” after doctors said heatwaves and poor air quality brought on acute breathing problems.

Kyle Merritt, an emergency room doctor in Nelson, British Columbia who was responsible for the diagnosis, told Glacier Media that it was the first time in a decade he had determined a patient’s cause of suffering to be climate change.

“If we’re not looking at the underlying cause, and we’re just treating the symptoms, we’re just gonna keep falling further and further behind,” he said.

Here are a couple of things to know about this incident. First of all, it took place during the summer when British Columbia was in the midst of a record-setting heatwave, with temperatures in some places approaching 120 degrees. There were also a number of wildfires breaking out in the region. Second, the woman in question is in her seventies and has a history of diabetes and heart disease. And finally, she lives in a trailer home with no air conditioning.

Even if she wasn’t a septuagenarian, putting anyone with those underlying conditions in those temperatures with smoke clogging the air is probably going to produce a very bad medical outcome. She was far from the only one. There were thousands of people in British Columbia who sought treatment for heat-related maladies during that month and at least 500 of them died.

So yes, the air quality and the heat were particularly awful. If you want to attribute those factors exclusively to climate change, global warming, or whatever else, feel free. Of course, it’s not the first time in the planet’s history that Canada has been boiling over.

But we’re talking about a doctor here. His job is to correctly diagnose a patient’s underlying condition and propose a treatment regimen to address it. Look, I’m not even a doctor and I can tell you what was going on with that woman. She was suffering from heat exhaustion complicated by underlying respiratory and circulatory issues. It’s an extremely serious medical emergency that can result in potentially lethal heatstroke.

But that doesn’t mean she was “being treated for climate change.” The same thing would have happened to her if she had tried to go hiking in the Sonoran Desert in the middle of any given summer. If your carpenter drops a claw hammer onto your head while repairing your roof and you’re rushed to the hospital, the doctor isn’t going to be “treating you for a hammer.” You will be experiencing something along the lines of a fractured skull and potential brain damage. The event precipitating the medical emergency is irrelevant.

This just seems like an obvious play to attract media attention and promote this doctor’s new climate initiative along with the group he’s working with. And he’s using the suffering of one of his patients to pull off this promotional play. If she agreed to go along with this because she’s also some sort of climate activist, I suppose that’s fine. But if it’s being done without her knowledge, even if her name isn’t being used, this guy should lose his medical license.