British Medical Journal: This is an Emergency.

March 30, 2014

British Medical Journal:

This is an emergency. Immediate and transformative action is needed at every level: individual, local, and national; personal, political, and financial. Countries must set aside differences and work together as a global community for the common good, and in a way that is equitable and sensitive to particular challenges of the poorest countries and most vulnerable communities.

What we all do matters, not least in how it influences others. Those who profess to care for the health of people perhaps have the greatest responsibility to act. And there are signs of action being taken. Within the health system, organisations and health facilities are reducing their carbon footprint. Barts Health NHS Trust has, for example, reduced its energy bill by 43% since 2009. The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, himself a public health physician, has called for divestment from fossil fuels and investment in green energy.7 We should all respond.

Such action not only limits the threats of climate change, but could offer a health dividend, including potentially large financial savings for health systems. More active forms of transport and the consumption of less red meat will cut death and illness from cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Less air pollution will cut the global burden of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, and heart disease.3 The IPCC has incorporated this new understanding into its latest report on impacts, and we can expect to see this message flowing into the World Health Organization’s plans for action, to be discussed at its climate conference in August.

So what can health professionals do? Firstly, we should push our own organisations (universities, hospitals, primary care providers, medical societies, drug and device companies) to

divest from fossil fuel industries completely and as quickly as possible, reinvest in renewable energy sources, and move to “renewable” energy suppliers. Secondly, we should each use whatever influence we have to change the minds and behaviour of others who are in positions of influence.

Thirdly, we need to build an alliance of medical and other health professionals to speak clearly to the public, the media, governments, and intergovernmental bodies to provide a strong and unified message—that climate change is real and is the result of human activity; that it is already affecting people around the world and is the greatest current threat to human health and survival; and that there are many positive and practical things we can do systematically and at scale to avert its worst effects.8

If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change and bequeath a sustainable planet worth living on, we must push, as individuals and as a profession, for a transformed, sustainable, and fair world.

For more information on what health professionals can do in support of the IPCC’s report and to learn more about the implications of the report for human health, visit: www.

Sydney Morning Herald:

The Earth is warming so rapidly that unless humans can arrest the trend, we risk becoming ”extinct” as a species, a leading Australian health academic has warned.
Helen Berry, associate dean in the faculty of health at the University of Canberra, said while the Earth has been warmer and colder at different points in the planet’s history, the rate of change has never been as fast as it is today.
”What is remarkable, and alarming, is the speed of the change since the 1970s, when we started burning a lot of fossil fuels in a massive way,” she said. ”We can’t possibly evolve to match this rate [of warming] and, unless we get control of it, it will mean our extinction eventually.”
Professor Berry is one of three leading academics who have contributed to the health chapter of a Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report due on Monday. She and co-authors Tony McMichael, of the Australian National University, and Colin Butler, of the University of Canberra, have outlined the health risks of rapid global warming in a companion piece for The Conversation, also published on Monday. The three warn that the adverse effects on population health and social stability have been ”missing from the discussion” on climate change.
”Human-driven climate change poses a great threat, unprecedented in type and scale, to wellbeing, health and perhaps even to human survival,” they write.
They predict that the greatest challenges will come from undernutrition and impaired child development from reduced food yields; hospitalisations and deaths due to intense heatwaves, fires and other weather-related disasters; and the spread of infectious diseases.
They warn the ”largest impacts” will be on poorer and vulnerable populations, winding back recent hard-won gains of social development programs.
Projecting to an average global warming of 4 degrees by 2100, they say ”people won’t be able to cope, let alone work productively, in the hottest parts of the year”.
They say that action on climate change would produce ”extremely large health benefits”, which would greatly outweigh the costs of curbing emission growth.



7 Responses to “British Medical Journal: This is an Emergency.”

  1. […] British Medical Journal: This is an emergency. Immediate and transformative action is needed at every level: individual, local, and national; personal, political, and financial. Countries must set …  […]

  2. omnologos Says:

    Actual bmj link

    Footnote explains why a medical journal suddenly blathers about sustainability.

    You ought also be careful when medics parrot about climatic changes they cannot possibly understand.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      The village idiot once again manages to be the first commenter on a thread, and demonstrates to all why he IS the village idiot. He blithely ignores ALL that is said in this piece and the full BMJ article, (which is a thoughtful “op-ed” with 8 substantial references), and zeroes in on a tiny straw to grasp that his warped mind THINKS proves something, the FOOTNOTE?

      The village idiot implies that there is some hanky-panky afoot, and is so out of touch with reality that he talks about OTHERS “parroting about climatic changes they cannot possibly understand”, not realizing that HE is the one who lacks understanding of so many things.

      To “parrot” other commenters on other threads, “Jesus Fracking Christ” and Omnoknownothing is a “freaking idiot” etc. etc. etc. Someone also suggested that what needed to be signed is a “termination order” for Omno’s participation on Crock.

      I myself am finding that Omno is doing great damage to my personal enjoyment of Crock. It is a bummer to start reading a new post and nearly always find Omno as the first commenter, gumming up the works and getting the discussion off to a messy start with his narcissistic stupidity.

      I realize that we need some “useful idiots” and it’s fun to play with Omno—–Omno fills that slot better than daveburton, kingdube, or swallow did, but we are wasting too much time on him (and being left too often with a bad taste in our mouths). I won’t launch into any deep telepsychiatry here, but Omno has mental health issues, and because of that does damage to the collective psyche of all Crockers. He needs to be reined in or banished.

      Actual bmj link

      Footnote explains why a medical journal suddenly blathers about sustainability.

      You ought also be careful when medics parrot about climatic changes they cannot possibly understand.

    • Phillip Shaw Says:

      My how you do carry on – but your posts consistently distill down to empty rhetoric. Totally substance free.

      This was an editorial piece, not a peer-reviewed research paper, and the authors were open and transparent as to their affiliations. Readers can agree or disagree with their points, but there is nothing inappropriate about their editorial or its publication in the British Medical Journal.

      As for your snark about medics discussing climate changes “they cannot possibly understand” – to quote Wolfgang Pauli, you are not even wrong. Almost anyone can understand at least the fundamentals of AGW if they put in the time and effort to study, Heck, I’ll bet even you could learn to understand it some day.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      thanks for link correction.

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