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Healthcare professionals must lead on climate change

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 04 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5245
  1. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, distinguished professor of climate sciences1,
  2. Andy Haines, professor of public health and primary care2
  1. 1University of California at San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
  2. 2London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: V Ramanathan vramanathan{at}

Short lived climate pollutants and unchecked carbon dioxide emissions are both a serious threat to human health

Carbon dioxide and short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) are the main contributors to climate change.1 While carbon dioxide is the largest contributor to climate change, the four SLCPs2—methane, black carbon, ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons—contribute as much as 40%.1 3 SLCPs are super pollutants since they are, on a per molecule basis, about 25 (for methane) to 2000 times (black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons) more potent than CO2 in warming the climate.1 SLCPs, especially black carbon particles, are also super pollutants in terms of public health effects.2 About 40% of the global black carbon emissions are from cooking and lighting with solid biomass fuels (such as firewood and dung) and kerosene; the smoke particles from these household fuels along with household use of coal cause about 4.3 million deaths annually.4

More widely, fine particulate pollution from burning fossil and solid biomass fuels for energy contributes …

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