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Global warming ‘poses greatest threat to health’

Medical journal editors issue unprecedented joint warning

THE biggest threat to global health is the failure of world leaders to act on the climate emergency, more than 200 health journal editors worldwide warn today. 

The joint call is the first time that so many journals have come together to publish the same editorial, the BMJ said, reflecting the severity of the situation. 

Published across the globe from China to east Africa and from India to Australia, the statement comes ahead of the United Nations general assembly and the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November. 

“Ahead of these pivotal meetings, we, the editors of health journals worldwide, call for urgent action to keep average global temperature increases below 1.5°C, halt the destruction of nature, and protect health,” it reads. 

“Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world, a state of affairs health professionals have been bringing attention to for decades.

“Reflecting the severity of the moment, this editorial appears in health journals across the world.

“We are united in recognising that only fundamental and equitable changes to societies will reverse our current trajectory.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “code red” report warned that many human-made climate changes are already “irreversible,” with global temperatures set to rise by 1.5°C a decade earlier than previously predicted. 

“The greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C and to restore nature,” the editorial adds. 

“Urgent, society-wide changes must be made and will lead to a fairer 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.”

BMJ editor-in-chief Dr Fiona Godlee, one of the authors of the editorial, urged wealthier nations to act faster and do more to support countries already suffering high temperatures.

The editorial will appear in the BMJ, the Lancet, African Medical Journal, the Chinese Science Bulletin, the National Medical Journal of India, the Medical Journal of Australia and 50 BMJ specialist journals. 

On Saturday, thousands of people marched through central London to draw attention to mass species loss worldwide and demand urgent repairs to nature. 

The March for Nature wrapped up Extinction Rebellion’s two-week campaign of civil disobedience, dubbed the Impossible Rebellion, during which major roads and bridges in the capital were blockaded and more than 500 people arrested. 

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