Local doctors stand with Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson, who is holding the cover of a report on recommendations to address the climate crisis in B.C. Photo: Submitted

Local doctors stand with Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson, who is holding the cover of a report on recommendations to address the climate crisis in B.C. Photo: Submitted

COLUMN: B.C. doctors declare Code Red for the climate crisis

Judith Fearing writes about a new report from Doctors for Planetary Health

by Judith Fearing

Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health – Kootenay Boundary

It’s been nearly a year since the heat dome that within one week killed 619 people in British Columbia, the worst weather disaster in Canadian history.

On World Health Day in April 2022, Doctors for Planetary Health – West Coast ( D4PH) issued a report titled “CODE RED for British Columbia: Time to declare a climate and ecological emergency and make peace with nature.” The intention is to ensure a copy of this document gets into the hands of every MLA in B.C.

Earlier this month at the biweekly meeting of our local group, Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health -Kootenay Boundary, (DNPH-KB), we were delighted to have the opportunity to discuss the importance of the document and pass it on to Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson.

The extreme urgency of the climate crisis we are in cannot be overstated. It is the biggest threat to our health, and at the same time, our greatest opportunity for improving global health.

We know how busy healthcare workers have been since the start of the pandemic. But those of us involved in the local and west coast organizations see that the urgency of the climate crisis has prioritized our efforts to also work towards climate action and a just recovery.

Adapted a similar document published last year by The Lancet medical journal that tracked the relationship between health and climate change, this local Code Red document lays out the extent of the damage human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are causing all beings and the planet. It shows how five climate and ecological actions “will have clear benefits for all people and natural ecosystems, offering a path to a more prosperous, just, and equitable society.”

Code Red urges our government to act now to:

• Declare a climate emergency

• Take action on climate change

• Protect and restore nature

• Create broad transformative change focussed on human wellbeing in balance with nature

• Ensure a just transition

Doctors and Nurses are sounding the cry; we are seeing the impacts in our patients and around the world. Code Red concludes that we have the opportunity to vastly improve our world. B.C. is positioned to be a global leader in climate and ecological policy and action. In fact the city’s Nelson Next climate action plan, adopted by our city council last year, is one of the most ambitious municipal plans in the country. But it will take every person, business, industry and government to play a role in implementing these plans.

The connection between planetary and individual health and climate change is undeniable.

As climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe says, “It’s not our planet itself: it will orbit the sun long after we’re gone. What’s at stake is literally us.”

Code Red can be read at doctorsforplanetaryhealth.com. DNPH-KB is part of the West Kootenay Climate Hub . Check out their website at www.westkootenayclimatehub.ca and find a group that you can work with on the most important issue of our time.