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Just 11 years to avert disaster

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 16 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1801

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Re: Just 11 years to avert disaster

The Extinction Rebellion has made its mark in London and Edinburgh, with endorsement from the school strikes Swedish leader Greta Thunberg as she toured Europe and the Vatican over Easter.

Across the country Councils have declared a Climate Emergency; to put spending priorities behind delivering a zero carbon sustainable long term strategy, now.

The rule book is being rewritten from the bottom up, as Westminster fails, navel gazing. Its not order, order, but disorder, division, loss of focus, a gross waste of time; and thence a timely rebellion.

Of course Brexit matters, HMG cannot renationalise the railways, cancel HS2, or be executive to deliver a anti-competitive strategy whilst in the EU.

The IPCC 1.5 degrees C report is the fuel to the climate extinction fire: actions are needed now, not tomorrow.

This is not just about Dirty Diesel and air quality as a Public Health issue: carbon fuels, greenhouse gases, global temperature elevation, and rising sea levels threaten life as we know it.

I was in the super sceptic group, but that has been trumped by recent research looking at pre-historical CO2 levels, and the realisation that ambient CO2 concentrations have changed since taking the 2nd MB in the last millennium!

We have the technology to have carbon neutral electricity, and to move beyond coal, gas, and oil fuels; there are state of the art solar cells, nuclear batteries, electric cars, trains and trucks.
Indeed the City of London bin lorries will be electric!

The UK does not plan to electrify all its railways, is to build a third Heathrow runway, and lacks strategy to deliver for our futures.

Austerity was always going to fail under Dickensian economics: result, misery!

The UK can come together to heal the Brexit virus, in common purpose to save the planet; act to cut coal, gas, diesel and petrochemical use, and to invest in our futures through infrastructure development.

The building of infrastructure to the carbon neutral agenda could gear up the economy, from Severn Barrage, new towns, nuclear batteries, national maglev network, and electric transport hubs, to transform the UK ready and fit for purpose when sea levels rise: result, happiness!

Our profession has a interest in the UK Public Health future. If the BMA declares a Climate Emergency then institutions and HMG may yet awake from the Brexit nightmare and discover there is a real and present threat, which is an opportunity to unite the nations in common purpose!

The period of Lent is behind us, Easter is with us; and we can recalibrate to transform our society for its future with a renewed leadership and long term sustainable strategy.

Or is it back to the streets and the Extinction Rebellion part II?

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 April 2019
John S Hyslop
BMA ARM rep motion to declare Climate Emergency