by The Nelson Daily Staff on Tuesday November 02 2021
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers from Nelson will join counterparts from Victoria Thursday in a provincial rally calling on the government to act in the face of the growing ecological threat to health.
Organized by Doctors for Planetary Health - West Coast and (KB) Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health in Nelson, the marchers will demand that the provincial government declare a climate and ecological emergency and act on a range of issues that contribute to these dual crises.
Organizers of this event, schedule for 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Nelson City Hall, said it will be the first doctor and nurse climate rally of its kind in Canada.
“So many elderly and young people with respiratory and heat-related illness due to the heat dome and wildfires, it was the first time I wrote climate change in the chart,” said Dr Kyle Merritt while working in the ER at Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson.
Organizers said in an unprecedented editorial published this September in more than 200 leading medical journals reported “that ‘the greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the amount of global temperature rise below 1.5°C and to restore nature”.
The World Health Organization, Canadian Medical Association and Canadian Public Health Association have previously stated that “Climate Change is the Greatest Threat to Human Health of the 21st Century”.
Organizers said the editorial emphasized that the health impacts of these ecological crises will affect people who are vulnerable, and low-income communities and countries the most.
Many physicians have noted that this reflects what they have seen here in BC this summer.
“Therefore, it is important, the organizers emphasized, that any action on these ecological crises be undertaken in conjunction with BC’s First Nations and Indigenous people, with a particular focus on addressing social and ecological injustice in BC and around the world, and with due consideration for the rights of future generations to a healthy and sustainable environment,” the media release said from Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health in Nelson.
The doctors take their cue in part from UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who in August described the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a “Code Red for humanity”.
But, said the march organizers, we have a BC government that is carrying out contradictory policies while making grand statements about the crisis. In a background document, they note that BC is still pushing for new fossil fuel extraction and export and is still providing tax breaks and other forms of support to the fossil fuel industry but has yet to declare a climate emergency.
“The group calls on the BC government to address these deficiencies, set legally binding emissions targets based on evolving climate science, invest in a regenerative zero emissions economy and ensure a Just Transition for affected workers and communities,” the media release said from Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health in Nelson.
Thus Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health call on the BC government to return to its commitment to bring in a Species at Risk Act, recognize the rights of nature, bring in an alternative to the strictly monetary Gross Domestic Product ( i.e. a Genuine Progress Index) which truly reflects social and ecological wellbeing and thus political accountability; as well create a Commissioner for Future Generations, and bring in a Wellbeing budget and a Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, all measures that have been enacted in similar-sized jurisdictions such as Wales and Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Doctors for Planetary Health - West Coast and West Kootenays are grassroots collectives of physicians and nurses from across BC who are working to address the climate and other ecological crises which are fundamental to human health and wellbeing.