In our previous blog, we discussed the historical origins of and ethical judgements behind the 2C warming goal in international climate policy, and what 2C of warming would mean for global health. These theoretical issues aside, the 2C bottom line occupies a powerful position in climate organising, because it issues an unambiguous call to action. Limiting surface temperature increase to 2C above pre-industrial averages, as the majority of national governments worldwide are committed to, demands prompt and drastic action – and now is the Time to Act.
These were some of the concerns that brought a contingent of HP, Medsin, and other sympathetic types to the Time to Act! march last Saturday afternoon. We joined over 20,000 others from across the country, supporting a host of different causes – warm homes, green jobs, environmental justice or just the space to ride a bike – united by the acknowledgement that all of these would play a small part in transforming our society to protect it from the worst excesses of climate change. Medics can be unwilling to get too involved with grassroots campaigning, preferring to retain a professional distance, and with it the veneer of smart-suited respectability. But to participate in a widespread shift of social norms, merely speaking from behind that veneer is not enough. People did not stop smoking or break from the cultural dominance of the tobacco industry merely when doctors warned of the health threats – they did so when health workers themselves stopped smoking, and distanced themselves from the industry through divestment. Given the scale of intersecting fossil-fuel-driven public health emergencies – air pollution and climate change being just the most obvious – it is now unambiguously time for health workers to act.