COMMENTARY

Global Warming May Be a Graver Public Health Threat Than Nuclear War. Part 1 -- Getting Your Attention

 

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Would the forecast of billions of premature human deaths seem like a medical and public health issue to you? Well, yes! Is there any modern precedent of such scope? Yes -- the 20th-century threat of nuclear war. Did the world's community of physicians help to prevent nuclear war? Yes it did; big time. Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) in the US and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) in many countries, especially the former Soviet Union, are given a lot of credit for preventing nuclear war, even a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.[1] So what is the big problem now? The threat of nuclear war is still with us, but now leading environmental scientists have unambiguously documented onrushing climate change called global warming, produced largely by excess human use of fossil fuels that builds up more gases like carbon dioxide than can be tolerated by our fragile planet's environment. Some scientists say it is already too late to save our world for humans[2,3]; almost all say we are nearing the point of no return.[4] How would global warming kill billions? Heatstroke, drowning, famine, new and old diseases out of control, and war for competitive survival on a greatly decreased inhabitable land mass near the poles. How soon might this cataclysm be upon us? As early as the end of the 21st century.

Surely, the medical and public health communities are working really hard to prevent such a catastrophe? Sorry. Guess again. For the most part, physicians and their organizations seem to be ignoring the threat, preferring to fight over issues like malpractice or the size of their fees, in effect rearranging the deck chairs on this sinking Titanic while exercising denial. But don't the doctors care about their great-great-great-grandchildren? Looks like they may never have any. You have got to be kidding? The risks must be overblown! Hope so; don't think so. ohmygod!

That's my opinion. I'm Dr. George Lundberg, Editor-in-Chief of MedGenMed.

 

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