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Doctors Urged to Take Action on Climate Change

Author calls upon doctors to inspire patients and politicians to reduce carbon footprints

FRIDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Just as doctors helped change public attitudes about smoking, they should lead the way in changing attitudes about climate change, according to a Views & Reviews article published June 28 in BMJ.

Mike Gill, M.D., of the University of Surrey in Guildford, U.K., co-chair of the Climate and Health Council, a not-for-profit organization that urges health professionals to take action on climate change, states that doctors have not yet developed the professional attitudes, language or conceptual framework to address society's addiction to a high-carbon lifestyle, in a clinical setting.

Gill argues that doctors should initiate a stepwise change in their focus to decrease health threats related to high-carbon lifestyles, mainly obesity, injuries from road crashes and seasonal deaths. He also argues that doctors should set a good example for patients and politicians by reducing their own carbon footprints. While applauding doctors for no longer smoking in front of patients, he faults them for continuing to drive to work in large gas-guzzling vehicles.

"Imagine that all doctors in the United Kingdom halved their car driving and flying, reduced energy consumption at their workplace by 20 percent, halved their meat consumption, and enthused 10 colleagues each year to reduce their carbon footprint by 5 percent," he writes. "Imagine also that every general practitioner persuaded three patients a week to halve their driving and meat consumption, and catalyzed increases in fuel efficiency in 10 homes a year. What would the net effect on carbon emissions be?"

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