Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors and climate change

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 18 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6357
  1. Ian Roberts, professor of epidemiology and public health1,
  2. Robin Stott, co-chair 2
  3. On behalf of the Climate and Health Council executive
  1. 1London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT, UK
  2. 2Climate and Health Council (
  1. ian.roberts{at}

Links between climate policy and health policy must not be overlooked

In November 2010, representatives from countries around the world will meet in Cancún, Mexico, at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference.1 Here they will attempt to draft a treaty aimed at stabilising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that will prevent catastrophic climate change. What a pity the meeting had not been scheduled in Pakistan. Then the anger of those whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the biblical floods that have washed away the hopes of a nation would surely have focused the delegates’ minds. Alternatively, the meeting could have been held in Western Russia, where record high temperatures, wild fires, droughts, and crop failures have precipitated a state of emergency. The conference might even have been held in Mozambique, where rapidly rising wheat prices have caused rioting in the streets. All of these climatic events and their predictable human aftermath occurred this year and all are made more probable by climate change, the main cause of which is the increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels.

Conor Caffrey/Science Photo Library

But perhaps Mexico is not such a bad location for the climate conference after all. Mexico is second only to the US with regard to the prevalence of obesity. One in four Mexicans is obese.2 If the delegates at the climate conference think that obesity and climate change …

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