Over 200 health journals from around the world have joined forces to write an editorial calling on world leaders to take immediate action to limit global temperature rises, stop environmental damage, and safeguard human health.
While recent objectives to decrease emissions and protect biodiversity are commendable, it warns that they are insufficient and must be accompanied by realistic short and long-term strategies.
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, the Medical Journal of Australia, and 50 BMJ specialized publications, including BMJ Global Health and Thorax, have all published the editorial.
Never before have so many journals joined together to make the same declaration, demonstrating the gravity of the global climate change crisis.
Releasing Before the UN General Assembly
The editorial is being released ahead of the United Nations General Assembly next week, one of the last international gatherings before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, United Kingdom, in November. This is a critical time to push all nations to produce upgraded, and ambitious climate plans to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, a global climate pact signed by 195 countries in 2015.
According to health specialists and publications, climate change and environmental devastation have been causing significant and rising health effects for decades.
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Worsening Climate Effects
Extreme temperatures, devastating weather events, and widespread destruction of vital ecosystems are just a few of the effects of a changing climate on people's health and survival.
Children and the elderly, ethnic minorities, impoverished areas, and those with underlying health problems are all disproportionately affected.
According to the editorial, governments should act to alter society and economies by supporting the redesign of transportation networks, cities, food production and distribution, financial markets, and health systems.
The authors explain that substantial investment would be required, resulting in several beneficial health and economic outcomes, including high-quality jobs, decreased air pollution, greater physical activity, and improved housing and food.
They argue that collaboration is predicated on affluent countries doing more. Nations that have contributed disproportionately to the environmental catastrophe must do more to assist low- and middle-income countries in developing cleaner, healthier, and more resilient societies.
Importance of Health Professionals
They add, "As health professionals, we must do everything we can to help the transition to a greener, fairer, more resilient, and healthier world." "As editors of medical journals, we urge governments and other leaders to take action, making 2021 the year the world ultimately reverses direction."
Editor-in-Chief of The BMJ and one of the editorial's co-authors, Dr. Fiona Godlee, said: "Health professionals have been on the front lines of the covid-19 crisis, and they are united in their warning that going above 1.5 degrees Celsius and allowing the destruction of nature to continue will usher in the next, far deadlier crisis. Wealthier countries must act more quickly and do more to assist countries already suffering from rising temperatures. Our health relies on the year 2021 being the year the globe reverses direction."
"What we must do to tackle pandemics, health inequities, and climate change is the same - global solidarity and action that recognizes that within and across nations, our destinies are inextricably linked, just as human health is inextricably linked to the health of the planet," said Seye Abimbola, Editor-in-Chief of BMJ Global Health.
Professor Alan Smyth, Thorax's Joint Editor-in-Chief, said: "Global warming has an impact on our planet's future, and it is now harming the lung health of all of its people, young and old. This commentary is a request to world leaders attending COP26 to take prompt and appropriate action to prevent global warming."
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