With each passing day, the magnitude of the climate crisis worsens. Droughts, storms and unbridled forest fires continue to destroy the world's ecosystems.
Now medical experts warn that as the climate crisis worsens, it can threaten hospitals and the weak and vulnerable patients they treat.
James Dunk, a researcher at the University of Sydney, wrote an article The conversation on the back of a damn editorial piece published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
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In a grim editorial, readers of the New England Journal of Medicine were reminded that hospitals, even air-conditioned and sterilized, are not protected against & # 39; the environmental chaos occurring outside & # 39; (stock)
Last week, one of & # 39; s leading medical journals in the world stated that the medical community must act now to limit the health effects of climate change.
In a grim editorial, readers of the New England Journal of Medicine were reminded that hospitals, even air-conditioned and sterilized, are not protected against & # 39; the environmental chaos that is going on outside & # 39 ;.
The effects of climate change are & # 39; frighteningly broad & # 39 ;, editors continued, including risks for medical supply chains, health infrastructure and all aspects of human health.
The special issue represents an important new focus for the journal and for the medical community: protecting human health in a changing climate requires urgent, dramatic climate action.
Our contribution shows how doctors have tackled problems on a planetary scale in the past and have contributed to shifting the course of history.
We show how doctors learned in the 20th century how to apply environmental ethics to drugs and how to apply drugs to politics – and how these developments were reflected in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Nuclear war, no cardiac arrest, the threat
WHO WAS PHILLIP NOEL-BAKER?
Phillip Noel-Baker is the only person in history who has won an Olympic medal and received a Nobel Prize.
He won a silver medal for the 1500m at the 1920 Summer Olympics and also received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1959.
He won the Nobel Prize for his belief in multilateral nuclear disarmament.
He was also a serving MP for Derby in from 1929 to 1931 and from 1936 to 1970.
He also served in the war cabinet of the Second World War and in various other positions.
Noel-Baker became a bon vivant in 1977.
He was a Quaker, a socialist and a well-known pacifist, but he did not stand still in times of conflict.
He founded the Friends Ambulance Unit in the First World War.
This was a completely independent initiative and involved bringing the front line and the injured to a hospital station while there was still time to save lives.
His granddaughter remembers the time he gave a lecture at the University of Edinburgh at the age of 92 and was welcomed by a great applause and students shouting at desks to stand and clap him.
He died in 1982 and was buried in Westminster.
A school in Alvaston, Derby, its old constituency, is still in its name to this day.
The extensive Academy, with the motto & # 39; Excellence in all things & # 39 ;, bears the name Noel-Baker in honor of one of the greatest people of the county ever.
In the early 1960s, when nuclear weapons expanded, a group of doctors inspired by Nobel Peace Prize winner Sir Philip Noel-Baker decided that nuclear war, not a cardiac arrest, was the greatest threat to human health.
They organized themselves as social responsibility doctors and published a series of articles in the New England Journal of Medicine, describing the likely effects of a 20-megaton explosion over Boston: death, injury, environmental damage, and serious disruption of social structures.
At the introduction of the articles, the editor stated that no group could be more interested in the prospect than doctors, since none were more committed to human health and survival.
Despite the threats to other species and natural systems, these articles emphasized the threat to human health.
Australian pediatrician Helen Caldicott revived the group in 1978 while working in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Together with international doctors for the prevention of nuclear war, the leaders helped doctors and concerned citizens around the world with the dangers of a nuclear war.
They showed that the main threats to human health could be outside of conventional medicine, and to protect it, doctors may need to do more than practice medicine.
And it worked. The membership of doctors for social responsibility grew rapidly and the model was exported on a large scale. Caldicott then met US President Ronald Reagan and international nuclear war prevention doctors who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
In the early sixties, when nuclear weapons expanded, a group of doctors inspired by Nobel Peace Prize winner Sir Philip Noel-Baker (photo) decided the nuclear war, and not a cardiac arrest, the greatest threat to human health. He is the only person in history who has won an Olympic medal and received a Nobel Prize
The disadvantages of economic growth
Ecological education goes deeper into the 20th century, with a greater awareness of the environmental effects of post-war economic growth.
However, it was the increasing evidence of damage to the ozone layer in the 1980s that brought the lesson home. People not only changed the face of the earth, but also the composition of the stratosphere.
In 1987, the World Commission for Environment and Development, chaired by physician and former Prime Minister of Gro Grolem Brundtland, Norway, expressed human threats to the species and systems of the planet.
The Brundtland report regretted the withdrawal of government and industry from social and environmental issues, and yet called for optimism. It advocated & # 39; sustainable development & # 39; and working together towards a & # 39; common future & # 39; addressing ecological and economic issues together.
Others were less optimistic. While the evidence of ecological collapse on a planetary scale gathered like storm clouds, doctors who had expanded their view of health due to the nuclear threat picked up their pens.
Alexander Leaf, professor of preventive medicine at Harvard University and a prominent member of the Physicians for Social Responsibility and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, was one. He was deeply concerned about the Brundtland report and how little had been written about the impact on health of environmental changes.
In 1989, Leaf, encouraged by his friends Arnold Relman, the new editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, and physician and researcher Marcia Angell, wrote an article for the magazine about the likely effects of ozone depletion, air pollution, and global warming. Earth.
If the planet's systems could not support explosive population growth and consumption habits, nor human bodies, Leaf argued. The actual effects of global environmental changes can be just as catastrophic as the theoretical effects of a nuclear war. What was the physician's role in dealing with these global environmental challenges, Leaf asked his colleagues.
With the end of the Cold War, Leaf and Harvard psychiatrist Eric Chivian, who founded the Center for Health and the Global Environment in Harvard in 1993, urged Physicians for Social Responsibility to develop an environmental program.
Yet many doctors proved reluctant to organize themselves against environmental threats such as they had against a nuclear war.
Doctor and former Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, wrote a historical report on the influence of human activities on the planet
Reset the research agenda
The Brundtland report also helped to prepare a new research agenda. The Intergovernmental Panel's first assessment report on climate change focused on health effects, and in 1990 the World Health Organization and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council published reports on the likely link between greenhouse gases and human health.
Andrew Haines, at the London School of Tropical Medicine, started writing about the health effects of climate change.
And in Australia, Anthony McMichael assumed the cause. The & # 39; bottom line & # 39; he suggested, was that threats to human health (not deforestation or extinction of species) would stimulate human responses to environmental degradation.
As the evidence of ever-increasing disruptions of natural systems grows, the wider medical community is again taking action to protect human health in a planetary crisis.
Pushing the boundaries of medicine
Our research shows how the boundaries of medicine have shifted from emerging threats, which are spreading to a planetary scale, to political advocacy, to new research directions and efforts to translate scientific evidence into powerful public messages.
It draws attention to the new ethical obligations that have been realized in crisis situations – obligations to current and future generations, other species, and to the planet itself.
The original article was published in The conversation and republished with permission.
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