Editors of 220 leading medical, nursing and public-health journals from around the world called for urgent action on climate change, in a joint editorial published on Sunday.
The editorial, which appeared in journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal and The Lancet, warns that current efforts aren’t enough to address health problems resulting from rising global temperatures caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
“Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world,” the journals’ editors say in the editorial. If unchecked, they say, rising temperatures “risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.”
In their shared statement, the editors press for “fundamental changes in how our societies and economies are organized and how we live” to limit future global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels—a goal arising from the 2015 Paris climate summit.
“It is an unusual happening and it is driven by unusual circumstances,” Dr. Eric J. Rubin, editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, said of the editorial. “It is evident that climate change is a problem. What is less evident to people is that it is a public-health problem, not just a physical catastrophe.”
“Health professionals have been on the front-line of the Covid-19 crisis,“ Dr. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the British Medical Journal, said. “And they are united in warning that going above 1.5 C and allowing the continued destruction of nature will bring the next, far deadlier crisis.”
I showed the article to a medical school professor friend: “Since doctors can’t help COVID-19 patients, they need something to stay relevant.”
I remain just as confused as ever about why people who predict impending climate doom also worry about COVID-19. Regardless of coronapanic level and government action or inaction, there is no country in which more than 1 percent of people have died with a COVID-19 tag (stats by country). If something like 50 percent of humans will soon be killed by climate change, absent some sort of dramatic coordinated action by all of the world’s nations (unprecedented in the history of humanity), why spend a huge amount of attention, time, effort, and money on COVID-19?
Maybe doom isn’t impending? The article itself contains enough information to predict certain doom. We are 1.1 degrees C warmer than 150 years ago:
Greenhouse-gas emissions from human activity have raised global temperatures by 1.1 degrees C since the Industrial Revolution began in the mid-19th century, according to scientific studies.
In the excerpt above, the article tells us that 1.5 degrees C is where Mother Earth will strike back by killing many or most of her human parasites. But if the mechanism by which we got to 1.1 degrees warmer is the greenhouse effect from CO2, isn’t it certain that there will be an additional 0.4 degrees of warming? Even if human C02 emissions went to zero tomorrow, wouldn’t there be enough CO2 in the atmosphere to keep us on the Venusian trajectory?
If the authors believe their own cited science, shouldn’t their recommendation be to shut down most health care services and put the money (20% of U.S. GDP!) into CO2 vacuums?