Climate change—thinking widely, working locally, acting personallyBMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7111.758 (Published 27 September 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:758
Health workers have a crucial role
- Cathy Read, Registrar in public health medicinea,
- Robin Stott, Consultant physician and Chairmana
- a MEDACT: Medical Action For Global Security, London N19 4DJ
One of the aims of public health is to seek the tools with which we can implement policies to improve the health of our populations. But the potential health effects of climate change spelt out in papers by McMichael and Haines in this issue (p 805)1 and next week's seem so remote that implementing change is difficult. The rich populations of the north are not sufficiently exercised by the plight of small island states that may not exist by 2050, by the aggravation of the food crisis in Africa, or, indeed, by the spread of vector borne diseases. Notably, President Bill Clinton is not ready to commit America to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming, by 20% by 2010.
The underlying pressure causing climate change—the unsustainable pattern of consumption in the world's rich countries— also has other, more immediate consequences. Changes in technology, social organisation, and lifestyles that have accompanied the changes in consumption are associated …