Friday, January 27, 2017

''Global Warming is a Greater Threat to Health Than Nuclear War'' -- an Oped by Dr. George Lundberg, MD

Is Global Warming a Greater Threat to Health Than Nuclear War?


| Disclosures | January 26, 2017

          ''Global Warming is a Greater Threat to Health Than Nuclear War'' -- an Oped by Dr. George Lundberg, MD, [80 years old ]--

Hello and welcome. I am Dr George Lundberg and this is At Large at Medscape.

Is the climate changing? Well, yes, the climate of planet Earth is changing—always has, always will. In that case, what's the big fuss about? The fuss is about the relatively recent general recognition of the rate and scope of change and the anticipated consequences, which are likely to be dramatic.
Specifically, is planet Earth warming? Yes; there is no question about that. But it is the rate at which the temperature of the globe is rising and the extent of projected warming that is a really big deal. Accepting that this warm-up is real, can anything be done about it?

The intense argument that goes on has to do with the extent to which human activity contributes to the changing climate, and whether and what can and should be done to stop or at least slow it. We all know that money is central to the debate. Who is profiting from the activities that produce climate change and would stand to lose money by altering those activities? And who can profit from the activities necessary to slow, halt, or reverse the temperature rise?

But Medscape is a medical site. What does this have to do with health?

My earliest recollection of global warming as a health issue dates from January 17, 1996, when we at JAMA led an international group of 36 journals in 21 countries on all continents to publish concurrently more than 200 articles on the theme of "emerging and reemerging global microbial threats."[1]

The lead Original Contribution was titled "Global Climate Change and Emerging Infectious Diseases,"[2] by Jonathan Patz and three colleagues at Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and George Washington Universities. This article, consistent with the declared theme, was all about how diseases such as malaria, dengue, hemorrhagic fever, arboviral encephalitis, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, trypanosomiasis, cholera, and others were affected by global warming. The authors included several paragraphs with references as to the observations, projections, uncertainties, and likely effects of climate change, including extreme weather events, effects on agriculture and nutrition, and immunosuppression.

They also reported ongoing studies by the National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine and the leadership of the World Health Organization, which asserted that global warming would be one of the most important challenges to public health in the 21st century.

The number of publications about global warming and health was quite limited at that time—only in the hundreds from 1990 into the next century.

Fast-forward 10 years, to March 17, 2006, while I was the editor of MedGenMed (Medscape General Medicine). I published a webcast video editorial entitled Global Warming May Be a Graver Public Health Threat Than Nuclear War.
Comparing the two threats, and calling for physician leadership against global warming similar to that which had been successful in the movement to prevent nuclear war, I wrote:
The threat of nuclear war is still with us, but now leading environmental scientists have unambiguously documented onrushing climate change called global warming, produced largely by excess human use of fossil fuels that builds up more gases like carbon dioxide than can be tolerated by our fragile planet's environment. Some scientists say it is already too late to save our world for humans; almost all say we are nearing the point of no return. How would global warming kill billions? Heatstroke, drowning, famine, new and old diseases out of control, and war for competitive survival on a greatly decreased inhabitable land mass near the poles. How soon might this cataclysm be upon us? As early as the end of the 21st century.

Surely, the medical and public health communities are working really hard to prevent such a catastrophe? Sorry. Guess again. For the most part, physicians and their organizations seem to be ignoring the threat, preferring to fight over issues like malpractice or the size of their fees, in effect rearranging the deck chairs on this sinking Titanic while exercising denial. But don't the doctors care about their great-great-great-grandchildren? Looks like they may never have any. You have got to be kidding. The risks must be overblown! Hope so; don't think so; ohmygod!
A lot of 2006 readers loved that piece. Others called it unnecessarily alarmist.

Fast-forward another 10 years. A lot of water has washed over the dam since 2006 and a lot of carbon has been released into the air. There is now a global consensus among informed scientists and science-informed politicians, as well as the educated general public, that this is a super-serious threat, that we are getting farther and farther behind, and that it is imperative that a mass change in human behavior as regards energy production and use now take place.
This is not an issue to be dealt with by measuring the quarterly shareholder reports of capitalism's lions.
This is not an issue to be dealt with by measuring the quarterly shareholder reports of capitalism's lions. Nor is it an issue upon which to cast doubt à la the tobacco industry's great success at delaying tactics. The basic science has been settled for a long time. The applied science determining the best ways forward can benefit from ongoing research and new engineering.
Worst-case scenario: If all of the fossil fuels are burnt, a rise in the sea level of some 200 feet is likely, but this would take hundreds of years. Thinking only about your lives and the lives of your children and grandchildren is natural but so selfish. We should be thinking about all life, human and other, forever, on planet Earth, writ large. The human animal and various world cultures can deal with this, but enlightened leadership will be required in large doses. If we can make positive energy economics the driver, the human race has a fighting chance.

Are   we  hyped   excessively  about   this   scientific  observation  of  global  warming   trend  , projected  by
their  sophisticated  climate  models , that  is  supposed  to  be  caused  by anthropogenic  human  made  forces
&  natural  variables.
The  way  I  see  it  &  most  of  us  think   that  as  most  of  earthly  regions  still  have  heavy  snow  &  harsh  winters  for 4-7months  of  year &  crops  are  growing  good  in  summer  monthes,harvest   extends  into  fall  in  certain  parts  of  world  & there   is  progressive  sustainable  economic  improvements   have  occurred   in  developed &  developing  countries  on  this  planet. This  sounds  good , better  than  expected  for  all  practical  reasons.
Should  we  be  realy  concerned  about  earthly  temperature  rising 2degees ?  or  rather  worry  about  air  quality?
I  am  worried  about  the  atmospheric  pollution  that  has  caused  by  these   gases & emissions  which  has
increased the  human  ailments  of  respiratory  illnesses &  blood  cancer ,  but  the  heavy  rainfalls  has
settled  the  pollutants  on  the  ground , that  is  good  effect as  well  ,can't  be  ignored  either.
 All  &  all  ,I  worry  about  the  drilling  in  the  ground  that  occurs  with  excuse  of  oil  search  within ground
 for  release  of  pressure  from  gases  created  inside  the  earth  &  then  there  is  violence  in  society  &
 greed  for  money  &  power , are  other  important  concerns ,  worth  paying  attention for.
 By  the  way ,  nuclear  energy  is  good  if  safety  is  observed  in  production & storage &  pollution  free ,
 Great  thinking.

Correct Stephen, but I think he does believe he's the greatest and most beloved (fill in the blank) that ever lived or will ever live. I suggest we all reread Orwell's 1984. We now live in that age of "newspeak" no=yes, wrong=right, war=peace and slavery =freedom. Change the definition of a word and you co-opt it and open the door to confusion and misunderstanding. If you do this to a language, you eliminate the population's ability to express themselves and any dissent or democratic ideas cannot be properly expressed, and in doing so create slaves.
The Big Brother of Orwell speaks in generalities that conflict,... everything in absolutes,....always the most, least, biggest, worst, always the extremes, no middle ground is permitted, no shades of gray that comprise this analog universe and make sanity possible. A dialog of hate, totality, chaos and fear uttered in a tone of true wisdom to be believed..... Or else.
One thing Big Brother is never absolute about is the concept of truth. Truth use to be an absolute, .... the universal solvent that dissolved argument, quelled fears, built society, and restored sanity. It WAS the light that vanquished the ignorant darkness. Oh, what has it become, but a twisted, relative, transient device to pervert, invert, subvert and spin the mind of anyone sane. What must be the motivation behind such deeds if not power, control, vanity, greed....surely nothing laudable, honest, or of betterment to ALL our future survival. No, the basis is fear, hate, and evil intentions of those minds. They must reason their only chance to survive is to conquer, hinder, destroy, kill or drive insane all who oppose them. They "reason" they can only really be safe on this planet when there is no opposition from anyone, hence, they will only survive when everyone else is dead! That is the computation of an insane being. That IS true insanity, and in any civilization, that society lasts only as long as its ability to say "NO!" to such people. Truth, reason, personal integrity, education, competency, and above all,  courage are the tools that keep people free, societies free, and the show on the road for our great, great, great great..... grandkids as the very good Dr. Lundberg put it.
Personally, I'm apolitical. I vote my conscious and for who I think will do the most good and the least harm; this usually turns out to be the most sanest one of the bunch. As we go forward into a much warmer world where (as models done by Brookings, WHO, and I believe the CDC are showing) by 2087 most of northern Africa and LARGE parts of the middle east will be uninhabitable due to >127deg F average temps, famine, disease, conflicts over resources will kill millions and force mass migrations into more livable areas, putting a tremendous load on the social and medical fields that, even as we speak, are under attack by the uninformed and self-centered. I thank Dr. Lundberg for his contributions not only to his field but to society itself, as only a brilliant, kind and courageous person can accomplish. I wish him long and good health and the continued ability to do what he does best.... help all of us do better through his teachings and comments.

P.S. Those of you that know me know I'm NEVER this verbose!  In my defense I will say, the Dr. struck a nerve and I was "compelled" to comment. lol
Dr. Bob DEmidio


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