Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Climate Change is a Health Problem and Divestment is the Cure

Climate change is commonly framed as an environmental issue, while this is undeniably true, it is also very much a human health issue. Hundreds of thousands of people are already dying each year from climate change and left unchecked this will get far worse.

From air pollution, to diminishing clean water supplies to food insecurity and extreme weather, climate change has a host of impacts that make it a grave threat to human health.

The Hippocratic Oath, the cornerstone of medical ethics states: "I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage.." Bearing this in mind medical workers cannot in good conscience ignore climate change.

That is why a number of health care professionals are coming together in support of action on climate change. In particular some are showing their support for divestment from fossil fuels as an important first step towards improving human health.

As explained by Medical student and Healthy Planet UK Coordinator, Isobel Braithwaite, "climate change has profound implications for human health, as does the air pollution produced by fossil fuels. By adding the voice of health professionals, this decision will add considerable momentum to the international movement for divestment from fossil fuels."

Divestment is a preventative health issue. After US nurses rejected the Keystone XL earlier this year, Doctors in the UK voted to divest from fossil fuels. There are some powerful reasons why doctors want to ensure that they are not contributing to fossil fuel production.

"Climate change has profound implications for human health, as does the air pollution produced by fossil fuels. By adding the voice of health professionals, this decision will add considerable momentum to the international movement for divestment from fossil fuels," said Medical student and Healthy Planet UK Coordinator, Isobel Braithwaite,

Speaking about divestment to combat climate change, David McCoy, public health doctor and Chair of Medact, said, we need a, "radically different and sustainable pattern of energy production and consumption. Shifting money away from the fossil fuel industry is an important step in that direction. In the same way that ethical investors choose not to profit from tobacco and arm sales, the health community worldwide is correctly calling for divestment from another set of harmful activities."

Health care workers are increasingly realizing that they cannot work for people's well being while profiting from an industry that makes people sick.

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