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Hopeful not helpless: How doctors are combating climate change

BMJ 2022; 379 doi: (Published 10 October 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;379:o2429

Read our special issue on the climate emergency

  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

As COP27 approaches and after a year of climate related disasters, from heatwaves and wildfires to flooding, The BMJ speaks to doctors about how the profession can respond

“Climate change is the greatest threat to human health we face right now,” says Hannah Chase, an FY1 doctor working in Oxford. “I don’t think there is a more appropriate and potentially effective group of people to communicate this than health professionals, including doctors.”

However, with so much climate doom, it can be hard to find the motivation to make changes. “I think if we say it’s hopeless then we’re doomed,” says London GP Jackie Applebee. “If you look at what’s happening to the climate, the heatwaves we’ve had this year, it’s not just something that’s coming. It’s here . . . We can’t afford to do nothing.”

But where to start? Doctors from the UK, Ireland, and US have shared their thoughts.

Join national or international initiatives

Numerous initiatives worldwide are working to reduce the negative impact of healthcare on the planet and in turn the effects of climate change on health.

Irish family medicine registrar Oisin Brady Bates, who leads the planetary health special interest group for the European Young Family Doctors Movement, recommends getting involved in groups like the one he leads but also the Centre for Sustainable Health Care (CSH) and the Planetary Health Alliance.

CSH is a charity that helps the NHS and other health systems to be more sustainable …

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