Thursday, November 26, 2009

Senior doctors unite to form International Climate and Health Council

Yesterday a group of physicians launched the International Climate and Health Council. The goal is to drive policy makers toward action on climate change policies that affect human health. In conjunction with colleagues from Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, the group of doctors are speaking out about carbon emissions, climate change, and the impact on human health.

According to the group, failure to address climate change would lead to global catastrophe. Multiple studies show that even low level carbon emissions promote inflammation that affects respiratory health, even in unborn children whose mothers are exposed to particulate matter. Other impacts of climate change on health include increased risk of heart disease and stroke, second heart attack, and asthma.

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.

According to Dr Fiona Godlee, doctors are in a position to push for climate change ..."because some of the necessary changes to the way we live won't please voters.”, adding "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."

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a priority for reducing risk of disease in humans. The Climate and Helath Council coincides with a with a series of papers published by the Lancet on the health impact reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The senior doctors have united to warn politicians that climate change is needed to protect human health. Serious efforts to curb carbon emissions and produce sustainable lifestyles are needed to prevent catastrophe, according to the doctor's group.

Professor Mike Gill and Dr Robin Stott, co-chairs of the UK Climate and Health Council said, "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."