Climate change is even deadlier than ebola according to the editor of one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished medical journals.
Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal; established 1840), claims in her latest editorial:
Deaths from Ebola infection, tragic and frightening though they are,
will pale into insignificance when compared with the mayhem we can
expect for our children and grandchildren if the world does nothing to
check its carbon emissions. And action is needed now.
Not all BMJ readers will necessarily agree with this assessment, Godlee concedes:
When The BMJ started publishing articles on climate change, some readers told us to stick to our knitting (www.bmj.com/content/332/7554/0.7/rapid-responses). “What did this have to do with medicine?” they asked. And wasn’t climate change a myth, a result of natural climatic variation, nothing to do with human activity? There were surely more immediate challenges that The BMJ and its readers should be focusing on.
But Godlee has decided she knows better.
We listened politely but carried on, convinced of the threat to human health and survival. With others we set up the Climate and Health Council (climateandhealth.org). We published editorials and articles (thebmj.com/content/climate-change), co-hosted conferences and seminars, lobbied funders, talked to policy makers and politicians, and worked with the BMA, the royal colleges, and their equivalents in other countries, all the time worrying that this was not enough. Our hope was to encourage doctors and other health professionals to take a lead in tackling climate change.
Now we have gone a step further, with the publication of an article that contains no medicine or healthcare at all. “The science of anthropogenic climate change: what every doctor should know” is pure climate science. Why? Because if we doctors are to become effective advocates against climate change, a better understanding of the science will help us.
Unfortunately, in her haste to publish this dramatic mission statement, Godlee appears to have missed out several key phrases.
The sentence beginning “an article that contains no medicine or healthcare” should have continued “or facts or evidence or credibility of any kind.”
And the one that says “pure climate science” should, in fact have read, “the purest climate bollocks.”
One giveaway is the bit at the bottom of the article, which notes the “competing interests” of the authors Brian Hoskins and David McCoy.
It says: “BH is a member of the IPCC’s Working Group 1 and DM is chair of Medact, a
registered charity that promotes sustainable and equitable development.”
This is no small admission. What ought to have been a fair-minded and neutral briefing paper turns out to be little more than an apologia for the more extreme – and thoroughly discredited – claims of the IPCC assessment report (on which Hoskins worked), coloured with the kind of leftist advocacy embodied by pressure groups like Medact.
Godlee ends her editorial by demanding that the World Health Organisation declare climate change a pubic health emergency on a par with ebola.
But as Dr Benny Peiser, of the Global Warming Policy Forum, has noted: “The World Health Organisation would become a global laughing stock if they were to follow the ridiculously over the top demands of a green alarmist editor. There is a real disconnect between what they are saying and the reality.”