Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Curing the Patient

This article drew the blog's attention to a new report

"Climate Change is a medical emergency," said Dr. Hugh Montgomery, commission co-chair and director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance. "It thus demands an emergency response…Under such circumstances," he said, "no doctor would consider a series of annual case discussions and aspirations adequate, yet this is exactly how the global response to climate change is proceeding."

Mike Childs, the head of policy for the Friends of the Earth-UK, said  "When health professionals shout 'emergency', politicians everywhere should listen."

The message from one of the world's foremost institutions on public health has given powerful new evidence to the argument that “radical action is urgently required" to avoid further climate catastrophe.

In a report by The Lancet, a report—titled Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health explains that the negative impacts of human-caused global warming have put at risk some of the world's most impressive health gains over the last half century. What's more, it says, continued use of fossil fuels is leading humanity to a future in which infectious disease patterns, air pollution, food insecurity and malnutrition, involuntary migration, displacement, and violent conflict will all be made worse.

The Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, a collaboration between international climate scientists and geographers, social and environmental scientists, biodiversity experts, engineers and energy policy experts, economists, political scientists and public policy experts, and health professionals argues the "catastrophic risk to human health posed by climate change" has been grossly "underestimated" by others. The Commission argues that human health would vastly improve in a less-polluted world free from fossil fuels. "Virtually everything that you want to do to tackle climate change has health benefits," said Dr. Costello. "We're going to cut heart attacks, strokes, diabetes."

In a companion paper, commission members Helena Wang and Richard Horton explained why human health impacts are an important part of the larger argument regarding climate change:
“When climate change is framed as a health issue, rather than purely as an environmental, economic, or technological challenge, it becomes clear that we are facing a predicament that strikes at the heart of humanity. Health puts a human face on what can sometimes seem to be a distant threat. By making the case for climate change as a health issue, we hope that the civilisational crisis we face will achieve greater public resonance. Public concerns about the health effects of climate change, such as undernutrition and food insecurity, have the potential to accelerate political action in ways that attention to carbon dioxide emissions alone do not.”

The health community has responded to many grave threats to health in the past," said another commission co-chair, Professor Peng Gong of Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. "It took on entrenched interests such as the tobacco industry and led the fight against HIV/AIDS. Now is the time for us to lead the way in responding to another great threat to human and environmental health."

SOYMB however notes that despite the diagnosis that the planet requires emergency treatment, this report falls sadly short of the necessary cure and merely prescribes some palliatives already described by many experts as quack-remedies such as the carbon tax. Even if implemented it would still simply mean keeping the patient on life-support. We suggest something far more effective which is cutting out the cancer – ending the cause of the disease - and we all know what that is - capitalism.

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