You don't need to be signed in to read BMJ Blogs, but you can register here to receive updates about other BMJ products and services via our site.

climate change

Colin D Butler: Regional overload and the consequences it has for health

20 Jan, 17 | by BMJ

Almost 1% of the world population, mostly children, is forcibly displaced (including 11.7 million Syrians), an increase of over 50% from 2011. [1] Here I propose that the public health catastrophe in Syria be conceptualized as a canary case of “regional overload,” relevant to the emerging public health sub-specialty of planetary health. [2,3,4] more…

Chris​ Simms: The Global Risk Report 2016—who listened?

5 Jan, 17 | by BMJ

Chris_simsWhat has the global community learnt from the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risk Report released last January? The evidence suggests it has not learnt enough to prioritize and take effective steps to mediate risk and, instead, over the past 12 months we have seemed transfixed and bewildered by an onslaught of world events. As a new year begins, we’re confronted by what many are calling “a new world order.”

The 29 interconnected global risks (divided into five categories: economic, societal, geopolitical, environmental, and technological) cited by the report are portrayed in figure 1 of the report and include (to name a few) food crises, interstate conflict, and extreme weather events. Its authors warned that these risks are becoming more potent, more frequent, more probable, and more interconnected than ever before. more…

Nick Hopkinson: Air quality—what’s the point of warnings?

8 Dec, 16 | by BMJ


The Thames is wreathed in smog—the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, issues an air quality alert and announces a new system of air quality warnings. There will be road-side dot matrix message signs on the busiest main roads into London, with instructions to switch engines off when stationary to reduce emissions. Air quality messages will be displayed on countdown signs at bus stops and river pier signs across the city as well as electronic update signs in the entrances of all 270 London Underground stations. Down the line from the studio the breakfast TV interviewer asks “what’s the point of the warnings, what can anyone do?” We have no choice but to breathe the air that’s there, so on the face of it this is not an unreasonable question. In fact there are three important constituencies these warnings are addressed to. more…

Pauline Castres: A coal free future on the horizon—UK Government pledge to end coal use by 2025

9 Nov, 16 | by BMJ

pauline_castresWith the media abuzz with e-cigarettes and sugary drinks it is easy to overlook the health risks of coal plants. The black smoke from coal-fired power stations may not be as visible as it used to be but that does not mean that coal fumes’ impact on our health has disappeared.

Air pollution is responsible for killing 40,000 people each year in the UK and is the biggest public health risk after smoking. It does not only kill, but also severely reduces quality of life by exacerbating chronic long-term conditions, including cardiovascular disease, asthma, and chronic bronchitis.   more…

Jeph Mathias: The human face of inequality

6 Oct, 16 | by BMJ

Long ago an MSF (Doctors Without Borders) poster transfixed one junior doctor. Me.

msf_posterIt was black and white. Two figures, photographed from behind, dominate the foreground: a poor black child, desperately malnourished and in need (yet another African war?), being led by a white man (a doctor maybe?) to a makeshift clinic that is but a grass hut. In the background, a black man in sandals with x-rays in a plastic bag tries to talk his way past another black man at the clinic entrance. We know that with his guardian our little black child will get past the gatekeeper.

It’s all here: a dangerous place, a boy in need, more…

Canada’s new government: Climate change, “regulatory capture,” and “cathedral thinking”

6 Oct, 16 | by BMJ

Chris_simsIt’s a year this month since Justin Trudeau was elected as Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister, ending a decade of conservative rule under Stephen Harper. By most accounts he has set a progressive and inclusive agenda at home, while internationally he has eschewed populist sentiments (seen in many countries)—welcoming instead 25 000 Syrian refugees, re-engaging with UN agencies, and endorsing free trade.

Despite this promising start, evidence suggests that he has paid inadequate attention to the influence of resource industries on public policy making more…

Nick Hopkinson: The burden of asthma—how to frame it and what needs to be done?

31 Aug, 16 | by BMJ

nick_hopkinsonA study this week from the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research at the University of Edinburgh, widely reported in the media, estimates that asthma costs the UK £1.1 billion/year in direct healthcare and disability allowance payments. News reports focused on the scale of these costs and the suggestion that 1100 people are dying “needlessly” each year.

Some of these deaths do arise from poor care—the Royal College of Physicians report Why asthma still kills contains examples. Yet the finding that many deaths are preventable with optimal long term treatment, self-management, and emergency care does not mean that their prevention is straightforward more…

Farewell to DECC: What does its closure mean for the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change?

21 Jul, 16 | by BMJ

In among all the recent political developments, it may have been easy to miss that the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) became the latest fatality of the Cabinet reshuffle. DECC has been folded into the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), to now become the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Removing “climate change” from the Department’s title sends out a foreboding message about the government’s commitment to combating global warming. Yet, we might also ask what is really in a name and does this actually mean a major setback for the fight against climate change? more…

Sarah Walpole: Collaborating across continents—what is the best that technology can offer?

4 Jul, 16 | by BMJ

sarah_walpole_2016The world may be getting smaller, but it’s not getting simpler. In the lead up to the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) annual conference 2016, we are working to prepare sessions fit for an international audience and our globalised world.

A symposium I was part of last year at AMEE on “Social accountability: medical students as leaders for sustainable healthcare” addressed a new and challenging topic from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Yet there was one major aspect of that symposium that we wish we’d done better: creating an environment for active participation, group work, and networking. more…

Sarah Walpole: Staying in the EU is better for health and the environment

23 Jun, 16 | by BMJ

The EU debate is a fantastic example of how statistics can tell you what you want to hear, with both sides appearing to use the same facts to come to opposing conclusions. Yet on environmental issues, the story is not so perplexing.

Environmental organisations, from the Wildlife Trust to the RSPB to Friends of the Earth, are firmly in the Remain camp. The EU guarantees a minimum level of environmental protection, because it defines the environment as a “shared competence” where there are minimum standards that member states must meet. The EU is also the right forum to create and monitor policy on international issues, for example fisheries, where reforms have allowed the protection of fish stocks. more…

BMJ blogs homepage


Helping doctors make better decisions. Visit site

Creative Comms logo

Latest from The BMJ

Latest from The BMJ

Latest from BMJ podcasts

Latest from BMJ podcasts

Blogs linking here

Blogs linking here