Across the globe, more than 200 health journals have gathered to publish an editorial at the same time, beckoning world leaders to take immediate measures to stop nature’s destruction, restrict global temperature raises and safeguard health.
The latest targets to conserve biodiversity and decrease emissions are accepted, but they are not sufficient and have still not been matched with reasonable short- and long-term plans.
The editorial has been reported in leading titles from every continent, including The BMJ, The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the East African Medical Journal, the National Medical Journal of India, the Medical Journal of Australia, the Chinese Science Bulletin, and 50 BMJ specialist journals comprising BMJ Global Health and Thorax.
It is the first time that so many journals have joined hands to make the same statement, which reflects the severity of the climate change emergency faced by the world at present.
The editorial is being launched ahead of the UN General Assembly next week, one of the last international meetings before the (COP26) climate conference in Glasgow, UK in November 2021. This is considered an important moment to push all countries to provide improved and ambitious climate plans to honor the targets of the Paris Agreement, the international treaty on climate change that was approved by 195 countries in 2015.
Over the last several decades, health journals and health professionals have been providing an alert regarding the severe and increasing impacts on health from climate change and nature’s destruction.
The effect of extreme temperatures on health and survival, the extensive degradation of necessary ecosystems and the destructive weather events are some of the consequences that people face more as a result of a changing climate.
The variation in the climate tends to unduly impact the most susceptible members of society, including children and the elderly, poorer communities, ethnic minorities and those with basic health conditions.
The editorial calls for governments to take measures to change economies and societies, for instance, assisting the redesign of transport systems, cities, health systems, production and distribution of food and markets for financial investments.
The authors described that there is a requirement for considerable investment, but this will lead to huge positive health and economic benefits, such as reduced air pollution, high-quality jobs, improved housing and diet and increased physical activity.
Most significantly, cooperation relies on wealthy nations contributing more. Countries that unduly created the environmental crisis should do more to assist low- and middle-income countries to construct healthier, cleaner and stronger societies.
The authors wrote, “As health professionals, we must do all we can to aid the transition to a sustainable, fairer, resilient, and healthier world. We, as editors of health journals, call for governments and other leaders to act, marking 2021 as the year that the world finally changes course.”
Health professionals have been on the frontline of the covid-19 crisis and they are united in warning that going above 1.5C and allowing the continued destruction of nature will bring the next, far deadlier crisis.
Dr. Fiona Godlee, Study Co-Author and Editor-in-Chief, The BMJ
“Wealthier nations must act faster and do more to support those countries already suffering under higher temperatures. 2021 has to be the year the world changes course — our health depends on it,” added Godlee.
According to Seye Abimbola, Editor-in-Chief of BMJ Global Health, “What we must do to tackle pandemics, health inequities, and climate change is the same — global solidarity and action that recognize that, within and across nations our destinies are inextricably linked, just as human health is inextricably linked to the health of the planet.”
Global warming affects the future of our planet and right now it is affecting the lung health of all of its inhabitants across all ages, from young to old. This editorial is a call to world leaders at COP26 to take immediate and proportionate action to limit the rise in global temperatures.
Alan Smyth, Professor and Joint Editor-in-Chief, Thorax
Atwoli, L., et al. (2021) Call for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health. The BMJ. doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1734.