Letter to The Times from Doctors about Climate Change

Daniel Maughan's picture

The following letter appeared in the Times on Saturday 29 March 2014. 

Sir, On Monday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due to publish its latest report on the current and projected impact of global warming and climate change. The report will add substantially to the existing evidence that climate change represents, as the medical journal The Lancet put it, ‘the greatest threat to human health in the 21st Century’.

Leaked drafts of the report describe how human health and social stability will suffer. Altered patterns of disease, extreme weather events, food and water scarcity, human migration and violent conflict will affect hundreds of millions of people within our lifetimes and those of our children. These impacts are already affecting populations worldwide.

The IPCC is not alone in its conclusions. The American Association for The Advancement of Science (AAAS) confirm that 'the well-being of people of all nations [is] at risk' and that there is now a 'real chance of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts' on people around the globe.

As medical professionals, we call for immediate preventative action through a drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and rapid transition to a zero-carbon world, at a pace far beyond that which is already planned. This will require transformative and radical change to energy policies, patterns of consumption, and transport systems, amongst other things. Such change may be considered disruptive and difficult, but such actions are necessary and can bring enormous benefits to human health and wellbeing both in the short term and in the years and decades to come.

Never before have we known so much and done so little. Failing to act decisively and quickly will inevitably cause great suffering and potentially catastrophic consequences.

Yours sincerely

  • Professor Hugh Montgomery, University College London (UCL), Professor of Intensive Care Medicine and Director, UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance
  • Dr. David McCoy, Chairman, Medact
  • Dr. Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief, British Medical Journal
  • Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, University of Liverpool
  • Dr. Michael Dixon, Chair, NHS Alliance
  • Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, President of the British Medical Association and President of International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics
  • Dr. David Pencheon, Director, Sustainable Development Unit
  • Dame Julie Moore, Chief Executive, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Professor Steve Field, Chief inspector of General Practice, CQC & Chair National Inclusion Health board
  • Dr. Peter Carter, Chief Executive, Royal College of Nursing
  • Dr. Amit Bhargava, Chief Clinical Officer for Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group and national co-lead for the NHS Alliance GP Commissioning Federation
  • Dr. Harry Brunjes, Vice President, College of Medicine
  • Professor Chris Drinkwater, President NHS Alliance
  • Sir Graeme Catto, previously Chair of the General Medical Council
  • Professor Trish Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care, Queen Mary's University London
  • Professor Michael Depledge, Chair of Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School.
  • Professor Ian Roberts, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Professor Dame Sue Bailey, President Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Dr. CRV Tomson, Consultant Nephrologist, North Bristol NHS Trust
  • Professor Nick Black, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director, UCL Institute of Health Equity, UCL Dept of Epidemiology and Public Health
  • Dr. Paul Zollinger-Read CBE, Chief Medical Officer, Bupa
  • Dr. Clare Gerada, NHS London
  • Professor Martin McKee, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Professor Sian Griffiths, Emeritus Professor CUHK, Visiting Professor, Institute of Global a Health Innovation, Imperial College. Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart FRCP, Retired physician and patron of Medact
  • Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, Hon Professor of Public Health Department of Primary Care & Public Health Sciences, Kings College London School of Medicine
  • Dr. Fiona Butler, General Practitioner and West London Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Professor Alison Macfarlane, Professor of Perinatal Health, City University London
  • Dr Graham Winyard CBE FRCP FFPH, retired public health Physician, and previously Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director of the NHS in England
  • Professor Peter Piot, Director, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Prof John S Yudkin MD FRCP, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University College London
  • Professor Gill Walt, Emeritus Professor of International Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Professor Rod Griffiths CBE, Former President of the Faculty of Public Health
  • Professor Anthony Costello, FMedSci, Director, UCL Institute for Global Health
  • Professor Martin White MD FFPH, Professor of Public Health, Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University
  • Professor Walter W Holland, Visiting Professor of Public Health, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Sir Iain Chalmers, Co-ordinator, James Lind Initiative
  • Dr. James A R Willis FRCGP, BA, General Practitioner (retired)
  • Professor Allyson Pollock, Professor of Public Health, Queen Mary University London
  • Professor John Ashton, President of the Faculty of Public Health
  • Dr. John Middleton, Vice President of the Faculty of Public Health
  • Professor Rod Griffiths CBE, Past present of the Faculty of Public Health
  • Professor Carol Brayne, Professor of Public Health Medicine, University of Cambridge
  • Lord Ara Darzi, Clinical lead, Crawley Commissioning Group
  • Dame Gill Morgan DBE, FRCP, FFPM, MRCGP, DRCOG, CIHM, CCIM, Chair Alzheimer's Society and Chair of Foundation Trust Network
  • Dr. Sam Everington, Chair of Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins, Chair, British Medical Association Board of Science
  • Dr. Tim Ballard FRCGP, Vice Chair (Policy and External Affairs) Royal College of General Practitioners

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