According to the report published in the Medical Journal of Australia, doctors are called to take the lead in finding practical solutions to decrease the carbon footprints correlated with obesity, chronic disease and population growth.
Ageing, obesity and related conditions make up for extremely huge proportion of disability and rapid increase in health care use and the health care sector itself has a momentous and growing carbon footprint, says Robyn McDermott, public health professor at the University of South Australia.
When we add the increasing costs of health care and the health industry's carbon footprint to the entire preventable loss of years of life and wellness caused by physical inactivity, we have a compelling case for specific action led by doctors in four health-related domains, said Prof McDermott.
These four health-related domains are:
- Reducing the adverse environmental impact of the health care industry
- Developing a comprehensive food and nutrition policy that addresses food quality, safety and security
- Upgrading urban planning rules to make climate change mitigation measures enforceable
- Supporting more robust policies to protect sexual health and reproductive rights of women globally to enhance overall quality of life and indirectly slow population growth
Prof McDermott says, finally the climate change policies should be assessed for their effects on global health and equity.
Professor Colin Butler from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University recognizes doctors' powerful functions but states the complete absence of health as an agenda point during recent climate change discussions in Copenhagen tells how far there is to go.
He says it is easy to call for whole-of-government measures, whether to slow climate change, fix the obesogenic environment or to improve equity yet in reality it is hard to achieve the goal.
The law of increasing returns (how groups with influence are able to rig public opinion and legislate to benefit powerful minorities rather than the public good( is a powerful impediment, not only to whole-of-government reforms, but to the transition to sustainability more broadly, he said.