This is what the top flight medical journal, The Lancet, says. In the latest edition, an article entitled “Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change” makes this claim. See this article, and other similar ones here. The article is a collaboration between Lancet and University College London Institute for Global Health Commission.

Health and global warmingIt is a 41 page scholarly article, with a four page Executive summary. So I’m not going to reproduce it here – not even the Executive summary. The bottom line, though, is that we need to be taking this issue a lot more seriously than we are. With the mounting scientific evidence, I cannot understand global warming deniers.

I can sort of understand some of the denialism. It is true that human beings are not the only cause of global warming. It may be true that we are not even the primary cause of it. We’re in a natural warming cycle that has been in operation for millions of years (we have data for about 450,000 years of a oscillating hot and cold cycle). That may be true, but human activity nevertheless is a contributor to global warming. And more importantly, it is the only thing we can control. So, given that we MUST do something about it, we can only do what we can actually do (I know that sounds so simple it isn’t worth saying, but this is part of the problem – not enough people are saying it!).

We must do what we can do.

I also sort of understand the attitude that says “why bother”, especially when looking at India and China and other developing nations.

I was recently sent an article entitled, “The Geography of Carbon Emissions”. Here’s an indicative extract:

“The combined carbon dioxide emissions from the 850 new coal-fired power plants that China and India are building between now and 2012 are five times the total savings of the Kyoto accords. So you can put in all those curly light bulbs and drive all the Priuses you want: India just ate that for breakfast and China will eat the next round of conservation for lunch.” This is attributed to journalist and broadcaster, Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World, (New York, W. W. Norton & Co., 2008), 90.

Peter Huber sums this up quite well:

“Cut to the chase. We rich people can’t stop the world’s 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach. We can’t even make any durable dent in global emissions-because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast, because the other 80 percent of humanity desperately needs cheap energy, and because we and they are now part of the same global economy. What we can do, if we’re foolish enough, is let carbon worries send our jobs and industries to their shores, making them grow even faster, and their carbon emissions faster still.”

This last quote maybe betrays some of the agenda for those who say we should do nothing about global warming or CO2 emission. Is it more about protectionism and fear of globalisation?

But let’s leave that red herring alone, and concentrate on the logic.

Saying that “we shouldn’t do anything because other people are doing worse than we are” is completely illogical. It’s like saying, “because China does not respect human rights, we can torture people.” Or maybe less controversially, like saying that “because Mexico is not doing anything about swine flu, we might as well not bother coming up with a vaccine.” This is a misunderstanding about globalisation and our responsibilities.

We must do what we can do, and continue to put pressure on others to follow suit.

The health of our world, and our health too, depends on it.

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