Medical Journals Urge Health Workers to Support Climate Change Policy

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Several medical journals have issued a call to action from health care professionals to support climate change policies that they say cannot be ignored for advancing public health. The link between climate change and the impact on poor heath cannot be ignored, and it's up to health care professionals to advocate for climate change policy that aligns with health policy..

Written by Robin Stott and Ian Roberts, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on behalf of the Climate and Health Council, and published simultaneously in the BMJ, the Lancet and the Finnish Medical Journal, the editorials warn climate policy and health policy must not be overlooked. Health care professionals must put human health at the forefront of climate change negotiation.

Climate Change Already Affects Human Health

Dr. Roberts writing in the Lancet warns, “Climate change already affects human health, and, if no action is taken, problems such as malnutrition, deaths and injury due to extreme weather conditions, and change in geographical distribution of disease vectors will worsen.”


The Lancet, the British Medical Journal, and the Finnish Medical Journal are working together to highlight the importance of the effects of climate change on human health. Climate change policy is the topic of discussion at a high-level UN meeting Nov 29-Dec 10, 2010 in Cancun, Mexico.

Stott and Roberts say, "If the delegates at this conference think that obesity and climate change are unrelated, they would be wrong. The planet is getting hotter, its people are getting fatter, and the use of fossil fuel energy is the cause of both."

"We invite colleagues everywhere to join us in tackling this major public health scourge of the 21st century." Advocating for a low carbon economy can only have a positive impact on human health that "could be the next great public health advance”. They cite the benefits of more physical activity, a lower incidence of cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even depression. Eating less meat and switching to a low carbon diet and fewer cars would reduce food prices.

The Medical journals are asking health care professionals to take the Climate and Health Council pledge They say failure to radically reduce carbon emissions would mean “global catastrophe.” The medical journals are calling on health care professionals “to ensure that the links between climate policy and health policy are known and fully taken into account in all climate change negotiations."

BMJ 2010; 341:c6357