Editorial letters in both medical journals urge doctors in 18 worldwide medical associations – including the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada – to pressure their politicians and governments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions for the good of the human race.
Carbon dioxide emissions need to be cut by 50 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050 to at least give us at least a 50 per cent chance of preventing a global climatic event which could pose serious health issues for our species, according to the editorials.
"Failure to agree to radical reductions in emissions spells a global health catastrophe, which is why health professionals must put their case forcefully now and after Copenhagen," says the editorial written by Lord Michael Jay, who chairs the health charity Merlin, and Prof. Michael Marmot of University College London.
This editorial comes in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, being held in Copenhagen this December.
This past May, medical experts warned of the health implications of climate change, including increases in malaria spread by more mosquitoes, declining crop yields due to dramatic climate changes, and more extremes in weather such as flash flooding, more powerful and dangerous hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe storms.
Those living in poor tropical countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, will suffer more from climate change due to the poverty and the lower standards of living.
"There is a real danger that politicians will be indecisive," the medical experts write. "We call on doctors to demand that their politicians listen to the clear facts that have been identified in relation to climate change and act now."
On the verge of political unrest in the States – as American President Barack Obama battles Congress to send more American soldiers to Afghanistan, and to pass his government-funded universal healthcare plan, the environment may have taken a back seat south of the border.
Here in Canada, there has been more talk on Parliament Hill about the constant squabbling among the federal political parties – each one threatening to dissolve The House and call an election – rather than debate the issues.
But if the editorials in both highly regarded medical journals have even the slightest impact on doctors in Canada and the States, your doctor may be able to push the environmental issue back into the political spotlight – where it should be.
"[We] have a responsibility as health professionals to warn people how bad things are likely to get if we don't act now," said Dr. Fiona Godlee, Editor-in-Chief of the British Medical Journal.