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Doctors Unite to Affect Climate Change and Protect Human Health

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A group of senior physicians have formed the International Climate and Health Council to warn policy makers about the “urgent need” to protect human health by reducing carbon emissions. The goal is to push the government into taking action on climate change ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

The Climate and Health Council includes Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Muir Gray, Director of the Campaign for Greener Health Care, Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the British Medical Association, Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief of the British Medical Journal and Lancet Editor, Dr Richard Horton. The group has officially launched their climate change campaign today, and coincides with a series of papers published by the Lancet on the health impact to the public of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Professor Mike Gill and Dr Robin Stott, co-chairs of the UK Climate and Health Council say, "This is the first step towards a global network of health professionals which by speaking out has the potential to protect and improve the health of people in both rich and poor worlds." Failure to address climate change will lead to global catastrophe.

Dr Fiona Godlee says politicians might be scared to push for climate change…”because some of the necessary changes to the way we live won't please voters.” She says doctors are in positioned to promote change because it is good for human health, saying …”we have a responsibility as health professionals to warn people how bad things are likely to get if we don't act now. The good news is that we have a positive message - that what is good for the climate is good for health."

The International Climate and Health Council is launching a global effort with colleagues from Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas to promote climate change that can improve public health. The goal is to get health professionals involved, and is a call to action for professionals to help tackle climate change by promoting changes that address the ill effect of carbon emissions on human health. increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, increased incidence of infectious diseases and death, water and food shortage, and pyshocosocial stress.