Article

How on earth do we combat climate change?

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract

The greatest risk to human health is neither communicable nor non-communicable disease, it is climate change. Saying this, as I and others have started doing at conferences, seems to take a certain courage. We’ve been emboldened by clear statements from WHO’s director general Margaret Chan and from the Lancet (www.thelancet.com/climate-change). But this week, at a meeting hosted by the BMJ in collaboration with an extraordinary alliance of organisations (http://climatechange.bmj.com, doi:10.1136/bmj.d6775), it became clear that we are going to have to get braver still.Let me begin by acknowledging that putting climate change at the top of the list of things to worry about is hard when faced with the daily challenges of clinical care: supporting the family of a suicidal person (doi:10.1136/bmj.d5801), advising a woman with polycystic ovaries about the possible outcomes of a pregnancy (doi:10.1136/bmj.d6309), telling a young person he or she has maturity onset diabetes (doi:10.1136/bmj.d6044), or treating asylum seekers while under pressure not to do so (doi:10.1136/bmj.d6637).But to the top of your list climate change must go. The meeting of over 300 delegates from healthcare, the military, climate science, industry, business, and politics, heard frightening news that none of us want to hear, made more frightening by the measured way it was delivered. As Lord Michael Jay said in his opening remarks, there is no need for hype; the cold hard science is scary enough. Chris Rapley, former director of the Science Museum and head of the British Antarctic Survey, told us that “the science is overwhelming and settled.” His conclusions were unflinching: “Is the planet warming? Yes. Is it us? Yes. Does it matter? Yes. Must we do something about it? Yes.”To prevent catastrophic climate change, global temperatures will need to rise by less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. At or above such temperatures, health and military experts painted a picture of economic and social breakdown, with death and disease on a massive scale caused by resource shortages, migration, and conflict (BMJ 2011;342:d1819). Business as usual will raise temperatures by 5°C. Even if all current pledges on carbon emissions are met, we will hit 4.3°C. The consequences of such global temperatures are unsurvivable. A statement released at the meeting calls for governments to aim for a safer, lower rise of 1.5°C by 2100 (doi:10.1136/bmj.d6760). But how on earth to achieve this?Professor Hugh Montgomery of University College London, who instigated the meeting, concluded with stark honesty: “What can we do? I don’t know.” The UK’s Climate and Energy Security Envoy, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, agreed that there was no clear answer but that we now need to own the problem and the solutions, both as individuals and at an institutional level. “No more talk of them and us,” he said. The meeting concluded that we must give politicians the ammunition they need if we are to create radically different ways of living, and we must develop better narratives to articulate the health and economic benefits of tackling climate change. An editorial this week takes up the challenge (doi:10.1136/bmj.d6520).To read and sign the statement, go to http://climatechange.bmj.com/statement.NotesCite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6789FootnotesFollow BMJ Editor Fiona Godlee on Twitter at twitter.com/fgodlee and the BMJ at twitter.com/bmj_latest

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... To all four questions Professor Rapley's answer was "yes". 2 A concerted response to the fourth question is now more urgent than ever. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: The scientific evidence for global warming is overwhelming. Health organisations, as large carbon polluters, are at significant ‘carbon risk’ and must act to reduce their carbon emissions. Many environmental sustainability initiatives, if properly implemented, would not only reduce harm, waste and pollution but also deliver health, social and financial benefits. Method: We have been involved for more than a decade in efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of New South Wales (NSW) Health organisations in which we have worked. We draw on our collective experience to offer eight key lessons about implementing environmental sustainability initiatives in health organisations. Results: Sustainability plans have been developed in at least three Area Health Services/Local Health Districts in NSW, but in each case they have been imperfectly implemented. Lessons learnt: Based on our experience, we offer eight key lessons relating to leadership, engagement and developing networks, data, complex adaptive systems, broadening the issue, and political factors.
... Despite this, efforts to both mitigate emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) and put in place adaptation strategies have been emerging slowly. 3 Reducing carbon emissions is a key objective to achieving sustainability, 4 requiring research that is both disciplinary and interdisciplinary as well as the identification of the source of emissions. 5 Globally, 72% of GHG emissions are due to domestic consumption. ...
Article
Increasing greenhouse gas emissions threaten human health and the environment. In response, healthcare managers face significant challenges in balancing operational decisions about patient care with carbon mitigation targets. We explore a bottom-up modelling framework to aid in the decision-making for both carbon and cost in healthcare, using data from a case study in Cornwall, UK..A model was built and run for secondary healthcare, specifically outpatient clinics, theatre lists, beds, and, diagnostic facilities. Five scenarios were tested: business-as-usual; service expansion; site closure; water temperature reduction; and theatre optimisation. The estimated emissions from secondary healthcare in Cornwall ran to 5787 T CO2eq with patient travel adding 2215 T CO2 eq. Closing selected sites would have reduced this by 4% (261 T CO2 eq), a reduction less than the resulting increases in patient transport emissions. Reducing hot water temperatures by 5 ºC and improving theatre usage would lower the footprint by 0.7% (44 T CO2 eq) and 0.08% (5 T CO2 eq), respectively. We consider bottom-up models important tools in the process of estimating and modelling the carbon footprint of healthcare. For the carbon reduction targets of the healthcare sector to be met, the use of these bottom-up models in decision making and forward planning is pivotal.
Article
Full-text available
Kömürlü termik santraller, santral çevresinde yaşayanlarda rahatsızlanmaya, hastalanmaya ve erken ölümlere yol açan doğrudan sağlık etkilerinin yanında; küresel ısınma ve iklim değişikliklerine katkıları nedeniyle yaralanma, hastalanma ve ölümler gibi dolaylı sağlık etkilerinin oluşmasına da katkıda bulunmaktadır. Sermayenin daha fazla kâr elde etmek arzusuyla, halk sağlığına olumsuz etkilerine aldırış etmeksizin kurmaya çalıştığı kömürlü termik santraller, hem dünyanın birçok yerinde hem de ülkemizde tepki ile karşılanmış; toplumun duyarlı kesimleri tarafından güçlü bir direnişin örgütlenebildiği yerlerde kömürlü termik santrallere karşı etkin bir mücadele yürütülmüştür. Halkın, kendi sağlığını korumak için tek çıkar yolu örgütlü mücadeledir ve bu yazıda dünyada ve Türkiye’de kömürlü termik santrallere karşı yürütülen mücadelelerden bazı örneklerde gözlendiği gibi; kararlılıkla yürütülen etkin mücadelelerin başarı ile sonuçlandığı ortadadır. Anahtar sözcükler: kömürlü termik santral, çevre, çevre platformları, çevre mücadelesi
Article
You are working in public health for a development charity in rural Egypt. The country is experiencing a major drought for the second year running, and you investigate whether climate change is responsible. The drought has contributed to a steep rise in food prices which is making food unaffordable for the poor. You investigate the impact of population growth and the challenge of supplying sufficient food, and the wider issues of food security. You discuss other theories of famine to inform responses that look beyond food aid. You then investigate demographic transition as a role for development and the obstacles in its path.
Article
Objectives Climate change has the potential to threaten human health and the environment. Managers in healthcare systems face significant challenges to balance carbon mitigation targets with operational decisions about patient care. Critical care units are major users of energy and hence more evidence is needed on their carbon footprint. Study design The authors explore a methodology which estimates electricity use and associated carbon emissions within a Critical Care Unit (CCU). Methods A bottom-up model was developed and calibrated which predicted the electricity consumed and carbon emissions within a CCU based on the type of patients treated and working practices in a case study in Cornwall, UK. Results The model developed was able to predict the electricity consumed within CCU with an error of 1% when measured against actual meter readings. Just under half the electricity within CCU was used for delivering care to patients and monitoring their condition. Conclusions A model was developed which accurately predicted the electricity consumed within a CCU based on patient types, medical devices used and working practice. The model could be adapted to enable it to be used within hospitals as part of their planning to meet carbon reduction targets.
Article
We know how to combat climate change,1 and several health professional organisations are already engaged, including the Climate and Health Council (www.climateandhealth.org). Our narrative is that climate change is bad for health, particularly for those living in poor and marginalised communities. Implementing a fair shares solution, which means radically reducing our dependence on fossil fuels while transferring resources to …
Article
Periodically the BMJ tries to convey the importance with which it claims to regard the threat of climate change,1 and it boasts a fine sounding environmental policy proclaiming “BMJ Group [is] going green.”2 The BMJ continues to rely on the circulation of print copies when increasing numbers of readers have other options available: online through BMA membership and employer’s …
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.