Doctors Weigh in on Climate Change

Because why the hell not.

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Some 230 medical journals have cross-published an open letter calling climate change the “greatest” threat to global health, Axios reports.

Global warming is affecting people’s health — and world leaders need to address the climate crisis now as it can’t wait until the COVID-19 pandemic is over, editors of over 230 medical journals warned Sunday evening.

Why it matters: This is the first time so many publications have come together to issue such a joint statement to world leaders, underscoring the severity of the situation — with the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Lancet and the British Medical Journal among those issuing the warning.

One can read the op-ed at, among lots of places, the New England Journal of Medicine. It reads, in part,

Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world, a state of affairs health professionals have been bringing attention to for decades.1 The science is unequivocal: a global increase of 1.5° C above the pre-industrial average and the continued loss of biodiversity risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.2,3 Despite the world’s necessary preoccupation with Covid-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to pass to rapidly reduce emissions.

Reflecting the severity of the moment, this editorial appears in health journals across the world. We are united in recognizing that only fundamental and equitable changes to societies will reverse our current trajectory.

[…]

Global heating is also contributing to the decline in global yield potential for major crops, which has fallen by 1.8 to 5.6% since 1981; this decline, together with the effects of extreme weather and soil depletion, is hampering efforts to reduce undernutrition.4 Thriving ecosystems are essential to human health, and the widespread destruction of nature, including habitats and species, is eroding water and food security and increasing the chance of pandemics.3,7,8

And it includes calls for drastic measures to mitigate these risks:

Equity must be at the center of the global response. Contributing a fair share to the global effort means that reduction commitments must account for the cumulative, historical contribution each country has made to emissions, as well as its current emissions and capacity to respond. Wealthier countries will have to cut emissions more quickly, making reductions by 2030 beyond those currently proposed20,21 and reaching net-zero emissions before 2050. Similar targets and emergency action are needed for biodiversity loss and the wider destruction of the natural world.

To achieve these targets, governments must make fundamental changes to how our societies and economies are organized and how we live. The current strategy of encouraging markets to swap dirty for cleaner technologies is not enough. Governments must intervene to support the redesign of transport systems, cities, production and distribution of food, markets for financial investments, health systems, and much more. Global coordination is needed to ensure that the rush for cleaner technologies does not come at the cost of more environmental destruction and human exploitation.

Many governments met the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic with unprecedented funding. The environmental crisis demands a similar emergency response. Huge investment will be needed, beyond what is being considered or delivered anywhere in the world. But such investments will produce huge positive health and economic outcomes. These include high-quality jobs, reduced air pollution, increased physical activity, and improved housing and diet. Better air quality alone would realize health benefits that easily offset the global costs of emissions reductions.22

So, here’s the thing. I’ve long been persuaded that climate change is a serious problem. While I’m skeptical of many of the specific cures being proposed—and especially of our ability to act collectively across the globe to enact them—it’s obvious that significant response is required.

But why are medical doctors, who have no more expertise on these matters than I do, pretending that they have useful expertise to offer here? Their opinions on public policy regarding transportation infrastructure, emissions, equity, and the like are no more valuable than those of television repairmen or cable television installers.

Literally the only thing in the editorial that falls into their expertise is this paragraph:

The risks to health of increases above 1.5° C are now well established.2 Indeed, no temperature rise is “safe.” In the past 20 years, heat-related mortality among people over 65 years of age has increased by more than 50%.4 Higher temperatures have brought increased dehydration and renal function loss, dermatological malignancies, tropical infections, adverse mental health outcomes, pregnancy complications, allergies, and cardiovascular and pulmonary morbidity and mortality.5,6 Harms disproportionately affect the most vulnerable, including children, older populations, ethnic minorities, poorer communities, and those with underlying health problems.2,4

To the extent that the health implications are under-reported and highlighting them is helpful in signaling the urgency of the problem, it’s useful for medical journals to leverage their prestige to do so. But why the hell should we care what physicians think about the other issues escapes me.

FILED UNDER: Climate Change, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Well, the doctors are missing a part of the picture they actually should be aware of, which is the effect on young people. You’re going to see more and more depression, pessimism, a sense of futility in the youth who are looking 20 years into their future and seeing the pointlessness of career-building, or family, or much of anything. Society relies on young people to keep the engine running, and young people are edging into despair.

    I’ve been slow to engage seriously on climate change, but I’m convinced now that my kids will live to see millions starve. I suspect they’ll see a militarized border with Mexico. My kids are Americans so they’ll be among the best protected from the effects, but still they’ll see more floods, fires and hurricanes. The future is shutting down from the perspective of young people.

    I wonder, James, if you’ve talked about this with your kids? I have talked at length with my eldest and I have to tell you, it’s a damned uncomfortable conversation.

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  2. gVOR08 says:

    Yes, doctors are opining outside their areas of expertise. And the harm this does is??

    3
  3. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: That’s an interesting point. My own kids are 12 and 10, so they’re probably young for the conversation. But the stepkids are 22, 20, and 18 so maybe time.

    @gVOR08: Having run a blog for almost 19 years, I have no problem with going outside my expertise or others doing the same. But, even here, I tend to point out where I’m out of my depth and where I have actual expertise or experience to add to the conversation.

    Physicians are bright folks with interesting insights. But Twitter and blogs aren’t the same as professional outlets. Publishing this in JAMA or NEJM sends the message that this is somehow peer-reviewed, expert opinion. It’s just not and I think this diminishes their authority where it’s actually earned.

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  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    Several years ago the military and intelligence services offered their predictions as what climate change will bring, which can be summed up as conflict. Can’t recall if they advocated specific remedies, but the military did outline what it would begin doing. IIRC, those items were in the categories the docs mentioned.

    What needs to happen and the path to stemming climate change is well established and the docs in their statements are following the science.

    But like @james, I have little confidence that we’ll react sufficiently and quickly enough to make a difference.

    2
  5. James Joyner says:

    @Sleeping Dog: It makes sense for the IC, which employs lots of scientists, to present forecasts about the impact of climate change on our national security. And DoD has to anticipate the future operating environment, presumably in conjunction with the IC (much of which is actually housed in DoD, anyway).

    2
  6. Andy says:

    IMO the open letter is nothing more that virtue signalling pablum. Nothing screams “unserious” more than asserting there is a crisis and then immediately declaring that “equity” is the most important goal, a goal which is counterproductive to actually dealing with climate change.

    The US could zero emissions in the next decade and it wouldn’t matter in light of emissions growth in the rest of the world, particularly China and India. Climate change is mainly a foreign policy problem which isn’t to suggest we shouldn’t reduce emissions. The idea of “equity” as the letter describes it would therefore not solve the crisis the authors claim to want to solve.

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  7. Tim D. says:

    If doctors wrote a letter saying they’re seeing lots of automobile fatalities in the ER and then citing research saying that seatbelts save lives, would we scoff at them for not being mechanical engineers? I guess I don’t see the problem here.

    Als0 worth noting that the research on this is very solid and doctors have basically been writing this letter every year for the past several years.
    https://www.thelancet.com/countdown-health-climate

    And thanks to Andy for illustrating why “equity” is so important for solving climate change. Lots of other countries around the world will refuse to take action if the historical polluters don’t lead and don’t provide funding for adaptation and mitigation.

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  8. Modulo Myself says:

    @Andy:

    All equity means is the possibility of balancing development and emissions. The US emits a ton of carbon and its per capita emissions are way higher than China and India. Whichever way you want to cut it, the US is the country of the big emitters that has to make its sacrifices. The foreign policy problem was and is a domestic US problem.

    And I agree with what Michael said about the psychological cost. Climate change was all facts in the 90s. We spent a decade and a half having a ‘debate’ with dipshit ‘sceptics’ who everybody with half a brain knew were liars when what needed to happen was a change in how Americans live. There’s no defense for this. It wasn’t like anybody can point to the sprawl, giant trucks, incessant traveling, and the ability to have cheap shit delivered from China to your door in a day and say well it was all worth it. It wasn’t. Maybe the warming increases were never stoppable. But America didn’t even try. The idea that this is just going to be accepted by the next generation is crazy.

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  9. drj says:

    But why are medical doctors, who have no more expertise on these matters than I do, pretending that they have useful expertise to offer here?

    You could, of course, explain, why these physicians are wrong.

    Sometimes people are capable of listening to experts in other fields, you know.

    But, of course, it’s way easier (or comfortable?) to find some extremely weak reason to ignore what these physicians are saying.

    @Andy:

    IMO the open letter is nothing more that virtue signalling pablum. Nothing screams “unserious” more than asserting there is a crisis and then immediately declaring that “equity” is the most important goal

    Nothing screams “unserious” more than seeing a word like “equity” and pretending that a) this is what the letter is mainly about; and b) willfully ignoring the letter writers’ explanation why this global problem won’t get solved if the wealthiest nations don’t contribute more than the poorer ones.

    This is really one big, sad exercise in finding superficial fault with the messenger (how rude and unserious they are!) – while younger generations continue to get fucked.

    Really guys, great work.

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  10. becca says:

    James, poor air and water quality create major health problems. I think doctors have a bit more expertise than you are willing to admit.

    Anyway, at this point, I welcome anyone promoting a cleaner and safer planet.

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  11. MarkedMan says:

    What Tim said. Climate change is almost the perfect example of a “public health” issue. How many deaths are going to be caused by Ida and the other natural disasters to follow? So much of the damage are in the Trump states which seem to be actively promoting COVID (not sarcasm, the Republican stand seems to be “let everyone get it and the string willl survive), and tens or hundreds of thousands were crowded together in shelters with poor ventilation, inadequate sanitary conditions and under extremely stressful circumstances. Multiply this by thousands over the next decade.

    James, I can’t even imagine why you DON’T think climate change is a public health crises.

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  12. Tim D. says:

    If you read the NEJM letter they also point out that acting on climate will bring tons of local benefits to Americans even if the dreaded “India and China” do nothing.

    To quote:
    “Better air quality alone would realize health benefits that easily offset the global costs of emissions reductions.”

    3
  13. JDM says:

    @James Joyner: As a retired physician, I have no problem if physicians speak on topics outside their area of expertise. Why should we be any different than lawyers, politicians, generals, admirals, academics…..

    I only learned a few important concepts in medical school. First, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Second, half of what they teach in medical school is wrong, they just don’t know what half. And finally, half the people you meet are, by definition, below average in intelligence.

    The best lesson learned was from the 1970’s Chiffon Margarine TV commercial: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijVijP-CDVI

    Human civilization is messing with Mother Nature. How and when she strikes back will be interesting.

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  14. inhumans99 says:

    @Andy:

    It is interesting that you say this is primarily a “foreign policy” issue rather than a domestic one. I would argue that we in the U.S. have contributed greatly to the emissions spewed out by countries like India and China. China would certainly be less of a global leader in spewing emissions that contribute to global warming if over the past several decades countries like the U.S. had not contributed to them becoming the manufacturing capitol of the world. We basically exported the emissions we would need to reduce to foreign countries.

    So technically, yes, this is more of a foreign policy issue, but what if the dream of folks like Trump, who wanted to put the squeeze on folks manufacturing abroad (or even in neighboring countries like Mexico) were to come true in the next decade or two?

    It is not just Trump’s irrational hatred of the other, or foreigners that caused him to go wild with putting tariffs on goods manufactured in other countries, he wanted to put the squeeze on folks and hope that like magic, the “job makers” in America would decide that now is the time to go crazy building manufacturing plants and the U.S. would regain its status as a manufacturing powerhouse (maybe we still are a huge manufacturing power in the world, but so many goods would not be currently produced in China and sold in the U.S. if we did not have a lot of ground to make up in that regards).

    Imagine if on top of all those superfund sites that have yet to be cleaned up, that trillions of dollars worth of manufacturing ability was built on American soil in a fairly rapid period of time, lots of new factories belching emissions into the sky, and tons of lots filled with mostly empty industrial barrels that contained toxic chemicals just waiting to jack up the natural balance of our rivers/oceans/lakes, etc., even more (and messing with temps/conditions in our oceans is a huge driver of stronger storms).

    Now imagine huge backlots filled with chemical barrels during a storm like Hurricane Ida, wouldn’t it be fun to have all those barrels tossed about and leaching into the flood waters, places like MI, LA, and even parts of NY (which was flooded out big time by Ida) would enjoy the stench of waters filled with chemicals, and of course folks would get to wade through a toxic soup as the waters begin to recede after such a weather event.

    We traded having even more emissions belching into the sky from the U.S. production of goods, having even more waterways/watersheds polluted by chemical run-offs, by shifting the manufacture of goods that a massive amount of Americans purchase overseas or to countries like Mexico, so we do not experience the more immediate effects of massive manufacturing cities creating so much pollution that you need to wear a mask (very much pre-covid) just to be able to barely breathe on your own without fully ingesting all the nasty particulates in the air.

    So, yes, I feel a good argument could be made that we could share more of the responsibilities of doing our part to continue to reduce emissions in the U.S. and to help countries like China and India slowly but surely reduce their contribution to global warming.

    If most of America decided to embrace minimalism (hah, as if that would happen!) putting aside that the economy of countries like Mexico and China would crater, the biggest silver lining would be that global emissions would be drastically reduced over the next few years but I do not see this embrace of not buying more stuff happening anytime soon. As George Carlin said, a home is where we put stuff in it, and boy oh boy, do us Americans have a lot of stuff stuffed in our homes and apartments (I am guilty of having tons of stuff in my apt).

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  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    If I were a supervillain with the usual fantastic lair and an endless supply of minions, I would try to engineer a nuclear war. China vs. India would be best. It would drastically cut population and industrial pollution, and throw billions of tons of dust into the high atmosphere where it would reflect sunlight. CO2 output down sharply, albedo up sharply. Sure, 007 would try to stop me, but if I remember to take away his laser watch I think I could deal with him immediately post-monolog.

    7
  16. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Successful super villains need to learn to be satisfied with exposing their clever master plan to a corpse.

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  17. JDM says:

    @Michael Reynolds:Part of my original response to the question was something to the effect of:

    The answer to anthropomorphic global warming is to go nuclear. Not power but bombs. Eliminating most of human civilization will decrease CO2 emissions and the subsequent nuclear winter will reverse temperature increases. The planet and most creatures will certainly never miss the human race.

    But I thought the comment was too cynical and dark, and so I edited it out. Thanks for showing me that it’s ok to write what you feel. Your ability to better express your feelings is probably why you are a successful writer, and I’m not.

    3
  18. Kathy says:

    @JDM:

    The very big flaw in that scheme, is that ti would also eliminate a large percentage of dogs form the face of the Earth*. Only a heartless monster would do such a thing.

    *Cats ought to be fine on their own, if they even notice we’re gone.

    3
  19. Michael Cain says:

    I expect to see more and more things like this from professional organizations of all sorts. Both to separate themselves from the deniers and to start positioning themselves to get mitigation money.

    4
  20. JDM says:

    @Kathy:
    You are right about dogs and cats. And on target with the “heartless monster” tag. I am willing to sacrifice domesticated dogs and most humans, including myself, to save everything else. We will still be left with feral dogs, pigs, and humans. It kind of sounds like Texas.

    4
  21. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Cripple, gloat, and then kill. Or don’t kill, so you can keep gloating.

    If the hero has no arms and legs, he’s not going to interfere with the plan. And if he does manages to stop it, somehow, I’m going to say he earned it.

    1
  22. Barry says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “…but if I remember to take away his laser watch I think I could deal with him immediately post-monolog.”

    Do it intelligently. Remember the Villain in ‘The Watchmen’? He gave the monolog 30 minutes *after* launching the rocket.

    2
  23. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Gustopher:

    If the hero has no arms and legs…

    We can use him for second base.

    3
  24. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Throw him in the ocean and call him Bob. Throw him in a pile of leaves and call him Russell.

    2
  25. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You’re going to see more and more depression, pessimism, a sense of futility in the youth who are looking 20 years into their future and seeing the pointlessness of career-building, or family, or much of anything.

    Has there ever been a generation who didn’t think their parents fucked up everything beyond repair? It goes hand in hand with the older generations thinking that kids these days are useless.

    “In my day, we destroyed the planet! What have you kids done? Sit, mope, and choke on the chunky air in the sweltering heat. At least you don’t have to walk to school in the snow, uphill both ways!”

    On the plus side, they have dystopian young adult novels, which they can cherish now as dark foreboding vision of the future where they will somehow be fine, and which they can cherish when they’re older as they look back and think of how naive and optimistic they were as kids.

    I expect that we will be using the army to turn back climate refugees, and be willfully blind to the slaughter, except for the Proud Boys who will be cheering it on. I’m just hoping we can kick the can down the road on this long enough for me to die at a respectable age and not see it.

    4
  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: 😀 😛 😀 😛 😀 😛
    (And you’ll never be able to become the show runner for a Marvel Universe show thinking like that.)

  27. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I’d be fine with that.

    But superhero movies are over 90% handwavium. So it turns out the hero can still gather and process information while they’re dead, and that comes in handy when they resurrect at the last second and foils the villains’ plan.

    1
  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JDM: You must be considerably older than I am. The big problem with your approach–as fleshed out by Mr. Reynolds–is that most people are not of a mind to consider what amounts to the ultimate suicide bomb attack. This factor has been what has given the MAD doctrine it’s staying power. Anyone will kill an enemy. Killing both your enemy and yourself in the process is a special quality that (fortunately enough, considering the larger picture) exists only in a few. And they hardly ever do anything large scale. 9/11 is the only attack that comes immediately to mind.

  29. Teve says:

    Peter’s Evil Overlord List

    4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

    1
  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: ” I’m just hoping we can kick the can down the road on this long enough for me to die at a respectable age and not see it.”

    Word.

    1
  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: “So it turns out the hero can still gather and process information while they’re dead, and that comes in handy when they resurrect at the last second and foils the villains’ plan.”

    So you’ve been watching Supergirl this season?

  32. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Not other seasons, either.

  33. Mister Bluster says:

    @Sleeping Dog: @Gustopher:..Sik fuks you are.

    I was sitting at the bar of my favorite swillhole about 40 years ago and an ambulance driver that I knew walked in the door and immediately ripped off several leper jokes. One guy choked on his beer and ran out the door. Someone else ran to the bathroom.
    I was ROFL!

    “Why did they stop the leper hockey game?”
    “Because there was a face off in the corner!”

    “What did the leper say to the prostitute?”
    “Keep the tip!”

    Those are the only two that I can remember.

    2
  34. steve says:

    I trust we all know the joke about God playing doctor so it is not surprising that docs would want to go beyond their normal area of expertise. So I think the first third of the article is pretty good. There are health consequences. The rest is just pretty conventional stuff. Whether or not you like it probably depends upon whether you think climate change is a problem.

    Steve

  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    I went through the whole list to see if I’d used any of those tropes. I don’t think I have. I can’t bear to have readers recognize something from the original Batman or even Quantum Leap. I like action grounded and practical – aside from the initial premise, of course. My approach is the Premise Pill. Swallow the premise and you won’t have to swallow anything else.

  36. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    An eight year old’s humor exists between disgusting and cruel.

  37. Andy says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    All equity means is the possibility of balancing development and emissions.

    That’s not the way I read the oped.

    The US emits a ton of carbon and its per capita emissions are way higher than China and India. Whichever way you want to cut it, the US is the country of the big emitters that has to make its sacrifices. The foreign policy problem was and is a domestic US problem.

    Yes, the US should reduce its emissions. That doesn’t change the math that it won’t make a bit of difference if populous countries do not slow their emissions growth.

    @drj:

    Nothing screams “unserious” more than seeing a word like “equity” and pretending that a) this is what the letter is mainly about; and b) willfully ignoring the letter writers’ explanation why this global problem won’t get solved if the wealthiest nations don’t contribute more than the poorer ones.

    This is really one big, sad exercise in finding superficial fault with the messenger (how rude and unserious they are!) – while younger generations continue to get fucked.

    Really guys, great work.

    The problem I have with this letter, and many like it, is that it calls climate change a crisis and then proceeds to proscribe a very narrow, prescriptive course of action and focuses on things like “equity” without explaining why and how that focus will achieve the desired results better than alternatives.

    It’s like many on the environmental left to claim that climate change is an existential threat for humanity, yet oppose any use of nuclear power and also demand a narrow response that just happens to align with all the goals they’ve wanted for decades.

    If it’s really a crisis, then people should start acting like it’s a crisis, which should mean that everything is on the table. We just had a crisis in Afghanistan and we immediately dispensed with all the prescriptive bullshit. We got as many people out as we could and didn’t let much of anything get in the way of that goal. You heard no talk of “equity” or “fairness” or anything similar noble-sounding goals – because those are luxuries in a real crisis.

    6
  38. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: i love how dryly it’s written.

    76. If the hero runs up to my roof, I will not run up after him and struggle with him in an attempt to push him over the edge. I will also not engage him at the edge of a cliff. (In the middle of a rope-bridge over a river of molten lava is not even worth considering.)

  39. Andy says:

    @inhumans99:

    It is interesting that you say this is primarily a “foreign policy” issue rather than a domestic one. I would argue that we in the U.S. have contributed greatly to the emissions spewed out by countries like India and China.

    As climate envoy John Kerry noted earlier this year, 90% of global emissions come from outside the United States:

    https://youtu.be/J6hyxpKdveo

    So it’s simple math.

    And to your other points, I agree with a lot of them. The US, through various policies, has effectively exported a lot of our carbon and dirty industries to other countries, so we would probably be higher than 10% if that was accounted for.

    As I’ve repeatedly said, the US needs to do its part, but what happens in the rest of the world is more important. Just look at the trendlines:

    https://images.theconversation.com/files/374353/original/file-20201211-20-12v315y.png

    1
  40. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Most of the yutes never heard of nuclear winter.

    Like I suggested in the last comment, if people really believe this is a crisis, then everything ought to be on the table. Maybe not on the table for very long – I’d rather deal with climate change than the aftermath of a nuclear war.

    2
  41. drj says:

    @Andy:

    The problem I have with this letter, and many like it, is that it calls climate change a crisis and then proceeds to proscribe a very narrow, prescriptive course of action

    You’re pulling this straight out of your ass. There is really no other way to put this.

    The letter is here.

    Everything this letter says about proposed mitigating measures and courses of actions is quoted below. Please do point out the “very narrow, prescriptive courses of action” contained in the paragraphs below.

    I dare you.

    To achieve these targets, governments must make fundamental changes to how our societies and economies are organized and how we live. The current strategy of encouraging markets to swap dirty for cleaner technologies is not enough. Governments must intervene to support the redesign of transport systems, cities, production and distribution of food, markets for financial investments, health systems, and much more. Global coordination is needed to ensure that the rush for cleaner technologies does not come at the cost of more environmental destruction and human exploitation.

    Many governments met the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic with unprecedented funding. The environmental crisis demands a similar emergency response. Huge investment will be needed, beyond what is being considered or delivered anywhere in the world. But such investments will produce huge positive health and economic outcomes. These include high-quality jobs, reduced air pollution, increased physical activity, and improved housing and diet. Better air quality alone would realize health benefits that easily offset the global costs of emissions reductions.

    These measures will also improve the social and economic determinants of health, the poor state of which may have made populations more vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic. But the changes cannot be achieved through a return to damaging austerity policies or the continuation of the large inequalities of wealth and power within and between countries.

    In particular, countries that have disproportionately created the environmental crisis must do more to support low- and middle-income countries to build cleaner, healthier, and more resilient societies. High-income countries must meet and go beyond their outstanding commitment to provide $100 billion a year, making up for any shortfall in 2020 and increasing contributions to and beyond 2025. Funding must be equally split between mitigation and adaptation, including improving the resilience of health systems.

    Financing should be through grants rather than loans, building local capabilities and truly empowering communities, and should come alongside forgiving large debts, which constrain the agency of so many low-income countries. Additional funding must be marshalled to compensate for inevitable loss and damage caused by the consequences of the environmental crisis

    In the meantime, here’s another whopper of yours:

    and focuses on things like “equity” without explaining why and how that focus will achieve the desired results better than alternatives.

    From the letter:

    Equity must be at the center of the global response. Contributing a fair share to the global effort means that reduction commitments must account for the cumulative, historical contribution each country has made to emissions, as well as its current emissions and capacity to respond.

    Seems like a pretty strong explanation to me.

    But let’s face it, you happened to see the word “equity,” started foaming at the mouth, and any attempt at critical thought went right out of the window.

    And in that fevered state of mind, somehow a bunch of physicians suddenly all joined “the environmental left.”

    OK then, I guess.

    6
  42. Teve says:

    @drj: the original move was to deny that global warming was happening, once that becomes untenable you have to shift to “well we can’t do anything about it because (blah blah…)”

    climate deniers shift tactics to inactivism

    1
  43. Andy says:

    @drj:

    I dare you.

    I guess I’m lucky you didn’t double dog dare me!

    And really, look at the first three sentences you quoted! And there is this:

    Equity must be at the center of the global response. Contributing a fair share to the global effort means that reduction commitments must account for the cumulative, historical contribution each country has made to emissions, as well as its current emissions and capacity to respond. Wealthier countries will have to cut emissions more quickly, making reductions by 2030 beyond those currently proposed20,21 and reaching net-zero emissions before 2050. Similar targets and emergency action are needed for biodiversity loss and the wider destruction of the natural world.

    A bunch of medical doctors telling us the one grand plan to fight climate change. Telling us that “equity” must be at the center of the response. They are entitled to their opinion, of course, but it’s just that – their opinion.

    Their words would have much more weight (with me at least) if they had just focused on the medical aspects instead of spending a good portion of the essay telling us how addressing climate change ought to be achieved and what it must be centered on.

    And in that fevered state of mind, somehow a bunch of physicians suddenly all joined “the environmental left.”

    I never said that a bunch of physicians joined the environmental left. I said the arguments are similar to the environmental left. And to clear things up for you, since you seem to be confused, the same comparison could be made to those on the right who reject any non-market approach to climate change. Fevered state of mind, indeed! Speaking of which:

    But let’s face it, you happened to see the word “equity,” started foaming at the mouth, and any attempt at critical thought went right out of the window.

    Ah yes, the internet mind-reading ad hominem. You were able to reach through the interwebs to discover what I was actually thinking! What talent! I didn’t even notice the foam on my mouth until you pointed it out! Thanks, what a champ.

    Somewhat more seriously, the fact that you have to resort to such lame and predictable argumentative tactics in your response really says it all, so I think we’ll just end this here. Feel free to have the last word while I wipe the last bit of foam off my mouth.

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  44. drj says:

    @Teve:

    you have to shift to “well we can’t do anything about it because (blah blah…)”

    And in the case of @Andy over here, the reason to do nothing is that the argument to cut emissons faster and to do it fairly is too “narrow” and “prescriptive.”

    How dare these people suggest that the main tactic to counter climate change is to cut CO2 emissions. So overly prescriptive!

    “Blah, blah,” indeed.

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  45. Lounsbury says:

    @Andy: Ah my dear fellow, nothing like a good ‘crisis’ argument to advance one’s pre-existing hobby horses. In my world of financing actual renewable energy power plants (in developing markets, not Europe) – which is to say moving hundreds of millions of euros to install new RE generation – we had to waste nine months of a “gender” plan study insisted by the Left NGOs. We finance bloody turbines. So capital spent on a useless study, time wasted as well, for some foolish rambling on about gender platitudes and recommendations potentially legitimate and perhaps be relevant to us were we financing consumer level…. but not bloody project finance for RE generation plants. (Nuclear of course not allowed to do, which for my geographies is somewhat more understandable than the idiot corner the German Greens have painted themselves into).

    Regrettably it is for the Left a “Crisis” and not a fundamental crisis as you note.

  46. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Bob is a damn fine second baseman. Not much range, but brilliant at tagged out baserunners.

  47. Lounsbury says:

    @drj: Well as someone who investments hundreds of millions of real actual hard-cash euros in RE and climate adaption…. real action not lips flapping, the medical doctors’ assertions outside of their areas of expertise are below:

    To achieve these targets, governments must make fundamental changes to how our societies and economies are organized and how we live.

    It is beyond the expertise of medical doctors to opine on ‘fundamental changes’ in economies. True or not (or more importantly, actionable rather than pie-in-the-sky thinking), it is rather like my opining the fundamental changes need be made in medical procedures.

    The current strategy of encouraging markets to swap dirty for cleaner technologies is not enough. Governments must intervene to support the redesign of transport systems, cities, production and distribution of food, markets for financial investments, health systems, and much more

    As above – sweeping assertions with no particular grounding in financial, economic or simple engineering science. Statements of a certain Lefty sensibility having little to do with their expertise or the current state of economically feasible technology that is scaleable. Worthy of Greta in ungrounded assertion. Prescriptive in asserting broad government intervention well beyond core climate change priorities in a technical sense – again clearly from a Lefty sensibility of Must Solve our Lefty Issues with Society via Climate Change Crisis.

    Global coordination is needed to ensure that the rush for cleaner technologies does not come at the cost of more environmental destruction and human exploitation.

    And again. Solve climate change crisis, but must meet Left sensibilities.

    But such investments will produce huge positive health and economic outcomes. These include high-quality jobs, reduced air pollution, increased physical activity, and improved housing and diet. Better air quality alone would realize health benefits that easily offset the global costs of emissions reductions

    And again direct climate change investment is mixed in with Lefty social objectives – not in and of themselves objectionable but they are prescribing loading the climate response for climate change moving gases – a specific issue – with rather broader, fuzzier, harder to untangle social objectives that are at best tangentially tied to the core fossil fuel burning driven greenhouse gas emissions challenge.

    Which itself is fundamentally a complicated economic issue to resolve as no single current energy technology fully meets the economic energy density and availability of fossil fuels (nor in many cases the cost-basis) making transition without economic collapse and global depression a complex challenge – particularly given outside of Green Lefty imagination and pie-in-sky dreaming, wider humanity does not like wearing hair-shirts.

    But the changes cannot be achieved through a return to damaging austerity policies or the continuation of the large inequalities of wealth and power within and between countries

    Prescriptive financial and economic opinions entirely outside of medical doctors’competency. Entitled to their opinions as ordinary human beings but no particular advantageous value can be ascribed to medical doctors opining on “damaging austerity policies” or international economic wealth bases.

    Not anymore than financial investors opining on medical technology usage.

    In particular, countries that have disproportionately created the environmental crisis must do more to support low- and middle-income countries to build cleaner, healthier, and more resilient societies. High-income countries must meet and go beyond their outstanding commitment to provide $100 billion a year, making up for any shortfall in 2020 and increasing contributions to and beyond 2025. Funding must be equally split between mitigation and adaptation, including improving the resilience of health systems.

    Fine opinons, but there is no particular reason for medical doctors assertions on these policy issues and the assertions on what some countries must do be weighted over any other persons.

    Financing should be through grants rather than loans, building local capabilities and truly empowering communities,

    Prescriptive assertions utterly lacking any standing at all, and really without any good reasoning other than the Lefty political sensibilities of the drafters. This is itself highly prescriptive and unreasoned.

    and should come alongside forgiving large debts, which constrain the agency of so many low-income countries

    .

    and another radical prescriptive assertion that has f-all to do with climate change and really just part of the generic Lefty agenda with an economically innumerate understanding of both debt and issues in developing countries finance.

    So prescriptive, Lefty agenda driven without good foundation in economics nor finance, and not itself a climate change issue (“constrain agency” is the fine signal).

    So Andy is quite right – this is prescriptive, veering widely from the core greenhouse gases issue and from core response challenging, pulling in any number of Green and wider Left agenda issues into “climate crisis” as a pretext to advance them.

    It is already rather difficult enough on the technical – engineering to financial – front to mobilize enough to achieve energy generation substitution from fossil fuels without loading on to that all the Left’s pet agendas and projects – which of course being Lefties you see as all One Very Important Transformational Package.

  48. wr says:

    @Lounsbury: Well said. The first eight times you used the word “Lefty” to prove how stupid these ideas are barely registered, but once you hit number nine it all became clear.

    I don’t know — maybe in that world where you are personally spinning billions of dollars in the air just shouting “lefty” works to persuade people…

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  49. wr says:

    @Andy: “Ah yes, the internet mind-reading ad hominem. You were able to reach through the interwebs to discover what I was actually thinking! What talent!”

    This may come as a novel concept to you, but the entire goal of writing is to communicate what the writer is thinking. Therefore, it’s hardly necessary to reach through the interwebs to read your mind in order to discover what you were thinking. We must only read what you post.

    If you find that what people are reading in your posts does not correspond with what you intended them to understand, instead of flying into a sarcastic hissy fit you might consider constructing your sentences with greater care.

    5
  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: Andy seems to be really big on that “what you heard (or read, in this case) is not what I meant” thing in the joke about talking to people. I’ve noticed it too.

    3
  51. Lounsbury says:

    @wr: Persuading the ideological in some blog comments is an excercise in fruitless time wasting, particularly the piously precious like yourself.

    The fact set remains, the prescriptive assertions are there.