Over 200 Health Journals, Urge Government Leaders Properly Address The Devastating Effects Of Climate Change. Over 200 health journals from around the world have collaborated to publish an editorial simultaneously urging world leaders to take emergency action to limit global temperature increases, halt environmental destruction, and safeguard human health.
While recent targets for emissions reduction and biodiversity conservation are welcome, they are insufficient and have yet to be accompanied by credible short and long term plans, the report warns.
The editorial has been published in leading journals on every continent, including The BMJ, The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the East African Medical Journal, the Chinese Science Bulletin, the National Medical Journal of India, and the Australian Medical Journal, as well as 50 BMJ specialist journals, including BMJ Global Health and Thorax.
Never before have so many journals come together to make the same statement, highlighting the gravity of the global climate emergency currently underway.
The editorial is being published ahead of next week’s United Nations General Assembly, one of the final international gatherings before the (COP26) climate conference in Glasgow, United Kingdom, in November. This is a critical time to urge all countries to develop more ambitious climate plans in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, the 2015 international climate treaty signed by 195 countries.
For decades, health professionals and journals have warned of the severe and growing health consequences of climate change and environmental degradation.
Extreme temperatures, destructive weather events, and widespread degradation of critical ecosystems are just some of the consequences of a changing climate.
They disproportionately affect the most vulnerable, including children and the elderly, ethnic minorities, economically disadvantaged communities, and those with pre-existing health conditions.
Governments are urged to intervene to transform societies and economies, for example, by promoting the redesign of transportation systems, cities, food production and distribution, financial markets, and health systems.
Significant investment will be required, but the authors explain that this will result in enormous positive health and economic benefits, including high-quality jobs, reduced air pollution, increased physical activity, and improved housing and diet.
Crucially, they assert, cooperation is contingent on wealthy nations doing more. Countries that contributed disproportionately to the environmental crisis, in particular, must do more to assist low- and middle-income countries in developing cleaner, healthier, and more resilient societies.
“As health professionals, we must do everything possible to aid the transition to a more just, resilient, and sustainable world,” they write. “As editors of health journals, we urge governments and other leaders to take action, designating 2021 as the year the world finally turns around.”
Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor-in-Chief of The BMJ and one of the editorial’s co-authors, said: “Health professionals have been at the forefront of the covid-19 crisis, and they are united in warning that exceeding 1.5C and allowing continued destruction of nature will usher in the next, far deadlier crisis.” Wealthier nations must act more quickly and provide additional assistance to countries already suffering from rising temperatures. 2021 must be the year when the world changes course; our health is at stake.”
Seye Abimbola, Editor-in-Chief of BMJ Global Health, stated, “What we must do to combat pandemics, health inequity, and climate change is the same: global solidarity and action that recognizes that our destinies are inextricably linked within and across nations, just as human health is inextricably linked to the health of the planet.”
Professor Alan Smyth, Joint Editor-in-Chief of Thorax, stated, “Global warming has an effect on the future of our planet and is already having an effect on the lung health of all of its residents, young and old.” This editorial is a plea to world leaders gathered at COP26 to take immediate and proportionate action to rein in the rise in global temperatures.