Medical students as the critical link to address climate change

Climate Change

(European Commission, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr. Kevin Ardon Casco, a medical student in his sixth year of medicine at National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) . He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Medical students are a large and potentially powerful global community, and through local and international cooperation we can be a critical part of the solution to climate change. Climate change represents one of the greatest threats to humanity, and in particular, to human health.

There is clear evidence that the main cause of global warming is greenhouse gas emissions from human-related activities. In addition, increases in air and ocean temperatures, air pollution, and melting ice resulting in rising sea levels, as well as more frequent and severe extreme weather events, all have serious effects on the environment and on human lives and health.

Climate change will greatly affect access to clean water and air and to food and shelter, with particularly negative effects on children, women and the elderly on a global scale. It will also increase respiratory diseases such as asthma, vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue, contaminated water diseases, and malnutrition. This will lead to significant increases in healthcare costs and human mortality.

As medical students, we should be the link between the scientific evidence of climate change’s impact on human health and our communities. Because of our training and status, we are in a unique position to advocate for changes. In our universities, hospitals, and communities, strategies to address climate change are too often overlooked. This represents an opportunity for medical students to advocate for implementing sustainable solutions that benefit the environment and human health.

On a patient-level, we can suggest the use of sustainable transportation such as walking, cycling or public transit, which would both reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mitigating the long term human health impacts of climate change) and increase physical activity (directly reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease).

On a societal-level, we should advocate for public policies that benefit the health of people. One way to do this is to point out that by linking health and energy policies, we can both improve the economy and address climate change and its associated health impacts.

Creating a carbon tax, for example, would increase the price of high-pollution fuels, forcing companies moving to cleaner energy more rapidly; revenues of this carbon tax could be used to reinvest in public health and education, further developing countries and creating long-term positive economic outcomes. In addition, we should advocate for governments to cut their fossil fuel subsides and to instead use that money to invest in cleaner energy sources and increased healthcare coverage. This would positively impact the environment and healthcare by increasing disease prevention and, consequently, improving the overall health of the population.

Being a medical student is not only about reading and memorizing books and information, it is also about improving our communities, and on a larger scale, the world. From our patients to our governments, we must work together to be the bridge to a greater state of wellbeing for our communities, our environment, and for the world.

About the author

Kevin Ardon Casco is 22 years old and in his sixth year of medicine at National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). As a child, he was captivated by the plight of endangered species, and since then his passion for nature and the environment has only grown. As a high school student he developed a campaign to raise climate change awareness in his school, emphasizing ways to be more eco-friendly in one’s personal life. Mr. Ardon Casco is currently the national exchange officer in for the Standing Committee on Professional Exchange (SCOPE) of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA).

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

New EU rules ensure better protection for 120 million holidaymakers this summer

European Border and Coast Guard: 10 000-strong standing corps by 2027

Google succumbs unconditionally to EU’s “right to be forgotten” ruling

COVID-19 will hit the developing world’s cities hardest. Here’s why

Tributes for ‘role model’ former UN refugee agency chief, Sadako Ogata

The big five EU telecom operators in dire straights

AI can wreak havoc if left unchecked by humans

Clamp down on illegal trade in pets, urge Public Health Committee MEPs

As conflicts become more complex, ‘mediation is no longer an option; it is a necessity’, UN chief tells Security Council

We are ‘burning up our future’, UN’s Bachelet tells Human Rights Council

Hydrogen isn’t the fuel of the future. It’s already here

5 ways COVID-19 has changed workforce management

Terrorism and migrants: the two awful nightmares for Europe and Germany in 2016

EU job-search aid worth €2 million for 500 former shipbuilding workers in Spain

France pushes UK to stay and Germany to pay

Where EU air pollution is deadliest

China rare earth prices soar on their potential role in trade war

Harmonised Unemployment Rates (HURs), OECD – Updated: February 2020

UN spotlights wellbeing of seafarers on International Day

‘Much more’ can be done to raise awareness about the plight of persons with albinism: UN chief

UN-backed intercultural dialogue forum urged to keep working to ‘bridge gap between the like-minded’

EU joint response to disasters: deal reached with Council

Combatting terrorism: Parliament sets out proposals for a new EU strategy

This South Korean city once had the biggest coronavirus outbreak outside of China. Now it’s reported zero new cases

Commission moves to ensure supply of personal protective equipment in the European Union

5 crises that could worsen under COVID-19

Finland has just published everyone’s taxes on ‘National Jealousy Day’

ITU Telecom World 2017: exploring smart digital transformation

European Parliament calls on Russia to end occupation of Georgian territories

5 neuroscience hacks that will make you happier

RescEU: MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

All for equality – 2020 is a pivotal year for Gender Equality

Deeper reforms in Korea will ensure more inclusive and sustainable growth

UN Climate Action Summit concludes with insufficient EU and global pledges

Milk, fruits and vegetables distributed to schoolchildren thanks to EU programme

China’s cities are rapidly becoming more competitive. Here’s why

Security Council must ‘come together’ to address the plight of children trapped in armed conflict, says UN envoy

EU Migrant Crisis: Italian Coast Guard Headquarters and Italian Navy to give host national opening addresses at Border Security 2016 in Rome

New EU-UK agreement is welcome but thorough scrutiny remains, insist lead MEPs

Coal addiction ‘must be overcome’ to ease climate change, UN chief says in Bangkok

EU27 leaders unite on Brexit Guidelines ahead of “tough negotiations” with Theresa May

How to get young people in Europe to swipe right on voting

This is Amsterdam’s ambitious plan to turn its transport electric

Reforms in Latvia must result in stronger enforcement to tackle foreign bribery and subsequent money laundering risks

Parliament boosts consumer rights online and offline

What is systemic racism, and how can we combat it?

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

Powering a climate-neutral economy: Commission sets out plans for the energy system of the future and clean hydrogen

Marginalized groups hit hardest by inequality and stigma in cities

OECD joins with Japan to fight financial crime by establishing new academy

The business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming

EU Parliament and Council: Close to agreement on the bank resolution mechanism

Poor quality is healthcare’s silent killer. Here’s what we can do about it

ECB asks for more subsidies to banks

Global trade is broken. Here are five ways to rebuild it

Intervene, don’t overthink – the new mantra of systems design

We need natural solutions to fight ocean and climate risk

EU Parliament: No EU-US trade agreement without safe data

The MWC14 Sting Special Edition

Italy and Greece zeroed their fiscal deficits, expect Germany’s response

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. I would have hoped that medical students, having had some training in science and the scientific method, would look beyond the headlines and the computer models to discover for themselves that there really is nothing untoward happening with the various climates around the globe. To think that a minor trace gas like CO2 can act as a thermostat for the earth is naive in the extreme and it cannot be backed up by science. It is a well mixed gas, just 0.04% of the atmosphere and does not sit as a blanket stopping the escape of heat from the earth’s surface.

    https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/EnergyBalance/page4.php

    “Temperature doesn’t infinitely rise, however, because atoms and molecules on Earth are not just absorbing sunlight, they are also radiating thermal infrared energy (heat).

    The amount of heat a surface radiates is proportional to the fourth power of its temperature. If temperature doubles, radiated energy increases by a factor of 16 (2 to the 4th power). If the temperature of the Earth rises, the planet rapidly emits an increasing amount of heat to space. This large increase in heat loss in response to a relatively smaller increase in temperature—referred to as radiative cooling—is the primary mechanism that prevents runaway heating on Earth.”

    • Kevin Ardon says:

      Thanks for commenting Dennisa and apologies for the delayed response.

      The article you use in your argument is based on an observational study, which does not use the scientific method. Physics are well explained in that article but it never discussest the heat-trapping effect of greenhouse gases over outgoing energy. What they do mention is:

      “Most heat escaped from areas just north and south of the equator, where the surface was warm, but there were few clouds. Along the equator, persistent clouds prevented heat from escaping.” So if clouds prevent heat from escaping, can you imagine what a persistent huge layer of greenhouse gases can do?

      Earth’s climate is changing rapidly compared to the pace of the natural variation in climate that has occurred throughout history. To support this statement, there is plenty of evidence from different research groups around the world. For example, 15 of the last 16 years have been the warmest years on record in centuries. Also, instrumental measures from both land and oceans show that temperature have increased 1.0 °C in the last 100 years. Long-term climate records indicate that this rise has happened faster than it did in the previous 1,700 years.

      The hundreds of studies that have documented and proved changes in temperature, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, heat waves and extreme weather precipitation lead the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to conclude that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. Over the last century, there are no alternative explanations supported by evidence that are either credible or that can contribute more than marginally to the observed patterns. These are just some major facts, but I’m sure you can find even more scientific evidence to help you understand more about climate change. Thank you for engaging in the discussion and for your comment.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s