From The Guardian:

Doctors must take a leading role in highlighting the dangers of climate change, which will lead to conflict, disease and ill-health, and threatens global security, according to a stark warning from an unusual alliance of physicians and military leaders.

Writing in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday, a group of military and medical experts, including two rear admirals and two professors of health, sent out an urgent message to governments around the world. “Climate change poses an immediate and grave threat, driving ill-health and increasing the risk of conflict, such that each feeds upon the other,” said the authors, Lionel Jarvis, surgeon rear admiral at the UK’s Ministry of Defence; Hugh Montgomery, professor of human health at UCL, London; Neil Morisetti, rear admiral and climate and security envoy for the UK; and Ian Gilmore, professor at the Royal Liverpool hospital. “Like all good medicine, prevention is the key.”

The threat to national security and health from global warming have been addressed separately in the past, but the BMJ editorial urges governments to treat them together. “It might be considered unusual for the medical and military professions to concur,” wrote the authors. “But on this subject we do.”

The authors urge doctors to use their position of trust in society to build support for action on climate change. “Although discussion is good, we can no longer delay implementing tough action that will make a difference, while quibbling over minor uncertainties in climate modelling. Unlike most recent natural disasters, this one is entirely predictable,” they warned. “Doctors, often seen as authoritative, trusted, and independent by their communities, must make their voices heard in calling for such action.”

Prof Montgomery told the Guardian that doctors should take up the climate challenge just as they did with the harm from tobacco. “Many doctors see suffering and death first-hand on a daily basis. They recognise that prevention is far better than waiting for disease, when cure may not in fact be possible. They are also uniquely able to translate abstract harm into a vision of real suffering- just as they were with cigarette smoking and lung cancer,” he said. “Now, as then, they must play their part – impressing upon their governments the immediacy and gravity of climate change and its impacts on their citizens, and those of other countries.”

Prof Gilmore added that doctors could have an influence both as a body and in their individual work: “Some of the things that are good for health are also good for the climate, like exercise and a diet that is lower in meat. That’s a win-win situation.”

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