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climate change

Richard Smith: Non communicable disease and sustainable development

13 Feb, 13 | by BMJ

Richard SmithThere is a sense that if you are not working at something that helps counter climate change (or climate disruption, as it should be called) then you are wasting your time. You are Nero, and Rome is burning. Those of us who work on non communicable disease (NCD) are “lucky” in that most of what needs to be done fits with reducing the harm from climate change. The time has come for the “NCD agenda” to be integrated with the broader “sustainability agenda,” and this was the focus of a joint meeting this week between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Lancet. more…

Mike Knapton and Tom Pierce: Doctors should take a leading role in tackling climate change

11 Apr, 12 | by BMJ

The recent Cambridge University Leadership Programme looked at sustainable development in health services worldwide. It was an opportunity to hear the evidence and arguments which were both persuasive and alarming. The link between population growth and our reliance on a carbon-based economy, leading to rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the consequent changes in climate was compelling. This is relevant to healthcare systems, and the professionals that work within it, not only because climate change itself is having significant consequences on the health of populations, but because healthcare systems themselves have a significant carbon footprint. more…

David Pencheon: Death by consumption—again

30 Mar, 12 | by BMJ

David Pencheon

Tuberculosis used to be (and sometimes still is) the great scourge, causing death and disease on a global scale and changing the course of human history over millennium. It is often called consumption—partly because the disease seems to “consume” the body.

Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it. The evidence strongly suggests that the biggest global health threat we now face is due to another sort of consumption: unfettered use and disposal of resources that leads to unmanaged climate change; something we understand much more that we care to admit, and certainly in enough detail to warrant much more action. But, as the Nobel Laureate Sherwood Rowland says, “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions, if all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true.” more…

Sarah Walpole: The NHS sustainability day audit is “a very good place to start”

16 Mar, 12 | by BMJ

Sarah Walpole

“The very beginning” has famously been advocated as “a very good place to start,” but when it comes to sustainability, this doesn’t seem to be such an easy mantra to follow. For one thing, it’s not altogether clear where “the very beginning” is, and for a second, we in the NHS are so busy trying to keep up with the here and now, that hunting around to find the ideal starting place seems out of the question.

Well, here is an altogether easier and more accessible approach—let’s start at the NHS sustainability day audit… NHS sustainability day is coming up on the 28 March, and there are a whole host of reasons why this is a good opportunity for anyone who works in the health service to get involved. more…

Nell Crowden: Climate week—cleaning up the sponsorship debate

16 Mar, 12 | by BMJ

Action on climate change is good for our health, good for our wealth, and good for our environment—our life-support system.

We are all complicit in the degradation on our once-reliable, stable climate. The climate science is clear. The economic arguments are clear. And the health message is clear: we can all do things that impact—for good and for ill. more…

Nell Crowden: What’s bad for the climate is bad for health

7 Feb, 12 | by BMJ Group

“Perverting the course of evidence-based policy on climate change adaptation and mitigation damages our health resilience, our economic prosperity, and our environmental stability.” (Transparency needed on donors to climate sceptic lobby, Guardian, 26.1.12)

Recently there was a freedom of information (FOI) hearing at the Information Rights Tribunal into whether to publicly reveal the funders behind Lord Lawson’s influential think tank, Global Warming Policy Foundation. Leading climate scientists, including NASA’s James Hansen, support the FoI request, as do medical leaders, including the BMJ, the Lancet, and the Climate and Health Council. Science is sceptical, and the science on climate change has been thoroughly interrogated and tested – as has the science around health and climate change (Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change): more…

Tracey Koehlmoos: Disaster preparedness and resiliency

21 Dec, 11 | by BMJ Group

Tracey KoehlmoosThis week I have had the pleasure of attending a workshop in Honolulu with the centre for excellence for disaster management and humanitarian assistance (CoE-DMHA). The CoE is interested in thinking about resiliency and support for relief and rebuilding from a multi-lateral perspective. With its partners from the Oak Ridge and Argonne National Laboratories, the CoE is polishing up its efforts to develop a system by which all players in a disaster can share and receive information. more…

Robin Stott: How to avoid an 18th COP out

16 Dec, 11 | by BMJ Group

Three separate images from the recent 17th conference of the parties (COP 17)  in Durban, where I was as an observer on behalf of the climate and health council, frame my view of how we can rescue the COP process from its terminal decline. We might then have a better chance of rescuing the globe from a three degree increase in temperature, with the 70% predicted species extinction and the unimaginable human catastrophe that this will produce.

The first is the widely distributed photo of The UNFCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres, the EU chief negotiator Connie Hedegaard, and the South African chair of the conference Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, turning the tables in the last few hours of negotiations. The caption could well have been “It takes the efforts of three women to rescue some semblance of progress from the negotiations, and to avert catastrophe.” more…

David Pencheon: Sustainability by stealth – 8 steps to heaven

13 Dec, 11 | by BMJ Group

David PencheonWhen I used to teach public health to medical students and other health professionals, I tried to set myself the challenge of helping people learn about populations, prevention, screening, social determinants of health, quality of healthcare, and such things without mentioning the words public health at all. You may know why.

A great paper by Dror Etzion, assistant professor, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University (Sustainability by Stealth: four ways to make sustainability more attractive) addresses the same approach with sustainable development, another area that elicits various emotional responses. With his permission, I have taken this excellent paper and expanded it to help us engage others in issues like sustainable development and climate change: areas that make us question our values and beliefs as well as our actions, areas where we should use the precautionary principle: where action is needed when the evidence is sufficient but neither perfect nor complete. more…

Maya Tickell-Painter: Where is health being included in the UN climate change negotiations?

12 Dec, 11 | by BMJ Group

Recently, you heard from Johnny Meldrum about why health professionals should care about climate change, and their role in the climate change negotiations. More than ever before, health professionals were present and engaging with the UN climate talks in Durban. During this conference there has been: a health summit, 6 official side events, two health-related actions, and numerous other informal and peer-to-peer education sessions. But how far have we really got at having health meaningfully included within the climate change negotiations? more…

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