Weathering the storm: how climate change is impacting health and security
It’s been an emotional day.
I went along to BMJ’s Health and Security Perspectives of Climate Change conference without any particular preconceptions. On the surface, it was just another sustainability conference with interesting speakers telling the same stories we hear and pass on about climate change every day. But today they seemed to be told differently – with more meaning, passion and urgency. The other key difference was that it wasn’t just the usual suspects preaching to the converted. It was a much broader set of personalities painting a very vivid and bleak picture – speakers from Business, Politics, Science, Health and even the Military, with Channel 4’s Jon Snow skilfully holding the panellists to account. The message was loud, clear and, most pertinently, consistent – “we need to act now”.
Speech after speech presented a rather gloomy collection of research – one of the most striking points coming from Alejandro Litovsky, founder of the Earth Security Initiative, who forecasted up to 50% food losses by 2080 due to climate change. Professor of climate science at UCL, Chris Rapley, also warned of a possible CO2 rise from 380 parts per million (ppm) to around 1,000 ppm by the end of the century, with drastic consequences for countries worldwide. These sorts of facts and stats made me feel a bit like I’d just watched a Hollywood disaster movie without Bruce Willis to save the day. Depressingly fatalistic, and very real – lunch was a sombre, thoughtful affair.
Yet, in amongst the doom, there was at least some glimmer of hope. With very little in the way of disagreement amongst the panellists (which would usually make for quite a sterile event), there was a compelling case for people finally starting to work together to resolve the biggest challenge humanity has ever encountered. This precise point was raised by one of the panellists, who suggested that we should stop trying to win the arguments, find common ground, and start putting our energy into solving the problems instead.
Maybe this event will trigger the collaboration, solidarity and communication that’s needed, or maybe Bruce Willis will fly in and rescue us with an anti-CO2 particle launcher. But, if the experts and their graphs are to be taken seriously, he’ll need to act fast – it seems that Armageddon is almost upon us.
A joint statement was issued at the event calling on governments to take action now. You can sign the statement here.
Image: © Earth Lab