What can you do to reduce the environment impact of anaesthesia?
There are two areas where anaesthetists can make a practical contribution towards tackling climate change. Many of you will already be taking steps in your personal life to reduce your impact on the environment. The same principles apply to how you might consider conducting your professional life.
An excellent article in the BMJ provided 10 practical actions for all doctors interested in combating climate change: Adapted from BMJ 2008; 336: 1507:
- Inform yourself about the basic science of climate change, the health benefits of taking action, and the urgency of doing so.
- Advise your patients. Better diet and more walking and cycling will improve their health and reduce their carbon emissions.
- Save energy and money through house insulation, turning off appliances and lights and reductions in use of goods and services.
- Drive and fly less, walk or cycle more, teleconference/webcast.
- Eat local food, less meat, and less processed food - a low carbon diet is a healthy diet. Drink tap water.
- Advocate locally (see below).
- Agitate for personal carbon entitlements and financial incentives to reduce carbon costs.
- Advocate population stabilisation, by promoting literacy and promoting women’s access to birth control, via the International Planned Parenthood Federation (www.ippf.org) or Marie Stopes International (www.mariestopes.org.uk).
- Advocate a climate change agenda at all meetings.
- Ally yourself with other health professionals by joining, for example:
• the Climate and Health Council (www.climateandhealth.org)
• the Health and Sustainability Network (www.healthandsustainability.net)
• Healthcare without Harm (http://www.noharm.org/)
• The Campaign for Greener Healthcare (http://greenerhealthcare.org/)
Dr Tom Pierce, member of the AAGBI Environmental Task Group, has recently written an article in the RCoA Bulletin more specifically about how anaesthetists can get involved in sustainable healthcare. View the article now »