Climate change – or climate chaos, as George Monbiot would have us say – is a phrase on everybody’s lips these days. Once the domain of environmental activists and nature lovers alone, it is now widely recognised as the serious threat that it is – to our planet, to our economy and to our health.
Irish Doctors for the Environment was established in autumn 2018 to co-ordinate a team of clinicians in Ireland who are passionate about climate action. We strongly believe that climate change and human health are irrevocably linked, and thus it is our responsibility as doctors to raise awareness of this link, to take action on environmental health issues and to encourage clinicians and patients alike to do the same. We take our direction from the concept of of ‘Planetary Health’ – a term coined by the Rockefeller Foundation Lancet Report as the “health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends” (1).
From air pollution, to heatwaves, to ocean health, the links between the environment and human health are abundant. At IDE, we focus on a particular area of concern each month, releasing a monthly newsletter on this theme and sharing articles, facts and resources on our social media. Every 1-2 months, we host an event such as a speaker, panel discussion or activity relating to our theme at that time. We also endeavour to effect change in our workplaces, tackling issues such as waste management, energy use and sustainable food choices in hospitals. We aim in the future to expand our reach to bigger projects such as divestment by healthcare faculties.
To get involved, sign up for our newsletter at www.ide.ie. Membership is at present available only to clinicians, however, anyone can receive the newsletter. For those interested in taking a more active role, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or come along to one of our fortnightly meetings for more information.
IDE fully support the idea that “tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century” (2). There has never been a more exciting time to get involved– so why wait?