“This is an emergency”

One of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journals makes an absolutely unequivocal statement on the health effects of climate change – and remarkably, proposes action:

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.

… 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.

via Climate change and human survival | BMJ.

So in spite of the pooh-poohing from institutions like Harvard, BMJ calls for institutional divestment.

In any event, climate has obvious and gigantic health implications. Leadership from medical professionals — who are typically among the most respected members of any community — . would help to galvanize the public to act.

There are some signs that climate is emerging as a central and motivating issue — among progressives and Democrats, for sure, but also in the corporate world. Witness the Senate’s recent climate all-nighter (featuring our Ed Markey); or Apple CEO Tim Cook’s rebuke to climate-denialist activist shareholders; or even ExxonMobil’s acceptance of a future cost of carbon. Ignore the deniers: even they know in their heart of hearts that they’re wrong. The key is to use the levers of power that are available. May BMJ’s strong wording convince those insitutional players in the medical field to take immediate action.


7 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I can only assume that the lack of response to this post

    is due to everyone being in complete agreement with it, or due to some feeling that there’s no political solution to the problem. To whatever extent it’s that second one, I disagree. Our state’s encouragement of renewable-energy installations has been very successful, It should be made even more effective, and should be adopted by the Federal government as well.

    Efforts in other places to hinder renewable energy, such as laws punishing residential solar power, or the attempts in several states to ban direct sales of Tesla electric vehicles, should be shown as the corporate welfare they are. The polluting corporations are literally profiting by ruining our world. They need to be stopped, and government is the only agency capable of that.

    • Nothing to add.

      I don’t have any brilliant ideas or reason to disagree. If a non-editor had written it I might have recommended it and I see others did. I generally recommend to make a diary more visible, but since editors’ posts are automatically front paged that’s already taken care of.

    • ditto to what Christopher said

      This is at the top of my issues list, but I’m really at a loss for something to do that will help to really make a difference.

    • Very successful?

      To whatever extent it’s that second one, I disagree. Our state’s encouragement of renewable-energy installations has been very successful

      We require Massachusetts to procure an additional 0.86% of renewables each year (the RPS program). That’s the sum total. It would be an even 1% if we’d require munis to participate in the same renewable programs that we require investor owned utilities (NStar, NGrid, Unitil, WMECO), but we don’t even do that.

      Now, it’s true, MA also has really good energy efficiency programs, and has a program to encourage combined heat and power generation from sites which have the (relatively easy) technical potential to add an electric generator to their existing steam system.

      MA has a good RPS program, to be sure. But, (a) it’s not comprehensive, and (b) it’s not aggressive enough. Our legislature should strengthen our RPS programs.

  2. I appreciate the good news though

    To the extent that others are recognizing human life as we know it will end if we don’t do anything being good news.

    I also am glad that developing countries aren’t going to sit idly by and allow the developed world to drown them. Particularly in the case of Bangladesh and the Philippines.

    It was truly sad that this cartoonish weatherman I saw on Filipino TV gave a far more credible and quick presentation on global warming than any weatherman I saw on American TV. And this was during the middle of the afternoon variety shows, but he concisely explained the greenhouse effect and how it caused Haiyan (Yolanda). I am hopeful that the popularity of Cosmos and Bill Nye can finally break the stupid duality of the American media (shows both “sides” and call it objective reporting). Evolution and climate change are part of objective reality, they are not up for debate. What is up for debate is how we respond, I would argue we should do so forcefully and quickly.

  3. I'm In the total agreement column.

    But no one seems to be willing to make Massdems accountable on environmental issues in general, let alone climate change. Hell, we can’t even get the bottle bill updated! How about a challenge to “Mr. Business” DeLeo? Oops, sorry, that would be bad for “Party Unity”.

    • We are taking steps

      A mere prospect of a strong challenger scared Charlie Fallon off, I would argue we should get a list of the bad Dems, and they are at least 20 in the House and 5 in the Senate, and get them out with a better Democrat. Let’s keep winning races against Republicans too.

      In terms of the environment, I truly wish the Greens would start challenging incumbents at the local level in cities and at the statehouse. If they really wanted to build their party they would do it from the grassroots up (which ostensibly is what their whole mantra is). Strong green parties in coalition governments in Canada and Europe (and on major city councils) force the conversation, we could use it here inside and outside the Democratic Party.

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Tue 21 Feb 8:32 PM