Series of studies highlights health benefits of action on climate changeBMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b5024 (Published 25 November 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5024
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There is something extremely sad about the world when genuinely good ideas for improving public health need to be bundled with the global warming bandwagon in order to gain attention. In fact, we face a significant risk that the attention spent on global warming will damage world health.
Even if I believed the world was about to enter another ice age, I would regard the replacement of indian wood-burning stoves as a good public health intervention. Even the skeptics who don't believe in global warming would agree that London's health would improve if the population did more exercise.
Pretending that either have much if anything at all to do with climate change is both nonsense and an outrageous distraction from the actual public health case for the ideas (and this is probably true for the other interventions: i've just picked the easiest to ridicule).
But there is a worse effect. The current case for the health impact of warming itself is far far more tenuous than the case for the existence of warming. The case for avoiding warming rather than adapting to it is also pretty poor. In both cases we are urged by the lobby to spend extraordinary amounts of money for small and highly uncertain gains. If we spent a fraction of the proposed sums on intervention where we are certain health and quality of life could be improved, we could guarantee to achieve much larger benefits. The risk of attaching such good projects to the warming bandwagon is that they will be squeezed out of the portfolio by the vast expenditure on warming avoidance projects of dubious benefit. In addition, urging health professionals to campaign specifically on climate change will take time away from the pursuit of easily reachable health gains.
Hitching good public health projects to the climate bandwagon will ultimately damage public health.
Competing interests: None declared