Doctors urged to take climate leadership role
April 6, 2011
Doctors must take a leading role in highlighting the dangers of climate change, which will lead to conflict, disease and ill-health, and threatens global security, according to a stark warning from an unusual alliance of physicians and military leaders.
Writing in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday, a group of military and medical experts, including two rear admirals and two professors of health, sent out an urgent message to governments around the world. “Climate change poses an immediate and grave threat, driving ill-health and increasing the risk of conflict, such that each feeds upon the other,” said the authors, Lionel Jarvis, surgeon rear admiral at the UK’s Ministry of Defence; Hugh Montgomery, professor of human health at UCL, London; Neil Morisetti, rear admiral and climate and security envoy for the UK; and Ian Gilmore, professor at the Royal Liverpool hospital. “Like all good medicine, prevention is the key.”
The threat to national security and health from global warming have been addressed separately in the past, but the BMJ editorial urges governments to treat them together. “It might be considered unusual for the medical and military professions to concur,” wrote the authors. “But on this subject we do.”
The authors urge doctors to use their position of trust in society to build support for action on climate change. “Although discussion is good, we can no longer delay implementing tough action that will make a difference, while quibbling over minor uncertainties in climate modelling. Unlike most recent natural disasters, this one is entirely predictable,” they warned. “Doctors, often seen as authoritative, trusted, and independent by their communities, must make their voices heard in calling for such action.”
This article was posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 5:32 am