Seven doctors, including an Italian Neurologist, a Spanish Surgical Professor, and a Trinidadian Public Health Director collaborated in performing a poem, written by a British GP to inspire bold action, in the name of public health, to protect the planet.
Inspired by the Letters to the Earth poems, performed by such icons as Yoko Ono and Mark Rylance, Dr. Chris Newman, a GP and ITU doctor at the Nightingale Coronavirus hospital in London, wrote a poem to highlight the similarities between Coronavirus and Climate change. Together with Mercury Prize-nominated musician Sam Lee, a volunteer creative team from Argentina, Bangladesh and UK, and 6 doctors from around the world they set about creating a video to celebrate Earth Day 2020.
This video, titled “What Future Should We Choose”, captures the energy of the current pandemic moment to highlight that our health is inextricably linked to that of the planet, and that urgent action is needed. It is being distributed by all who were involved in its production, the British Medical Journal as well as by organisations such as Global Optimism – founded by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, authors of the recently published book “The Future We Choose: Surviving The Climate Crisis” and hosts of the podcast Outrage and Optimism.
Dr. Newman originally got involved in Environmental activism during Extinction Rebellion’s takeover of central London in April 2019, and has since co-founded an international Doctors for Extinction Rebellion group, from whose ranks many of the performers came.
Quotes from some of the doctors who participated in the video:
Dr. James Hospedales. Director of the Defeat-NCD Partnership, Former Executive Director of the Caribbean Public health Agency, Public Health Consultant.
“I joined in producing this video because after 30 years of global public health experience in US, UK and Caribbean, I’m convinced that climate change is the biggest public health challenge we face in the world, the other side of the same coin as non-communicable diseases, especially for small island developing states (SIDS). I hope the video will help sensitise everyone, especially doctors and health colleagues, and help the world to become a better place for my grandson.”
Dr. Claudia Del Gamba. Consultant Neurologist from Pisa, Italy.
“The first Earth Day, taking place on the 22nd April 1970, gave voice to an emerging public awareness about the state of our planet. Fifty years later, the concerns around air pollution, environmental breakdown and the inevitable links between them and public health, have dramatically risen. The COVID-19 pandemic is a defining global health crisis and one of the greatest challenges we have faced so far, but I realized that my job as a medical doctor, had to go beyond the clinical setting, and must take a part to raise awareness and mobilize governments to act on climate. It has never been more urgent.”
Professor Eva Sancho. Laparoscopic and General Surgeon from Cadiz, Spain.
“Creo que la situación en la que vivimos en la que el cambio climático provoca la disminución de la biodiversidad, poniendo en peligro no solo a esas especies animales sino haciendo que las barreras naturales que tiene la naturaleza sean abolidas
Solo en un árbol del Amazonas se puede encontrar más seres vivos que en muchos de nuestros ecosistemas . Estamos disminuyendo la variabilidad genética de nuestras especies haciéndolas mucho más vulnerables a infecciones de todo tipo
El planeta es un todo . Nuestra continuidad en él , y nuestra salud dependen en gran medida de su conservación”
Professor Lachlan McIver. Rural Medicine Doctor from New South Wales, Australia.
“As a doctor, I’m committed to improving people’s health. I’ve worked all around the world, in close to one hundred different countries, in war zones and natural disasters and epidemics, and it’s very clear that climate change is one of the greatest threats to human health the world has ever seen. If only everyone else knew what we know, they’d be worried too.”
Dr. Chris Newman. GP and Intensive Care Doctor at the Nightingale Hospital, London
“We have seen in these last few months that amazing things are possible when governments, businesses, and the public come together with common purpose; united behind science. If it is to thrive, humanity must recognise climate change for what it is; a far greater threat to our health than even Coronavirus. Planetary health is the rock upon which human health sits, and right now it is in danger of crumbling beneath us. This Earth Day let’s come together to appreciate what we have, and fight to protect it”
Video in Outrage and Optimism’s channel:
Availability for interviews
Dr. Chris Newman
Wednesday From 10 am
Dr. James Hospedales
Wednesday: From 6:30 Trinidad time (11:30 am UK time or later ideally)
Phone: +1 (868) 303-7521
Dr. Claudia Del Gamba
Wednesday: From 3 pm (4 pm UK time)
Phone: +44 7474 195240
Prof Lachlan McIver
Wednesday (he is working night shifts in Geneva at present. Best to email but available)