Doctors in Rebellion

There is something wrong with the way we
are treating the planet. Politicians have been saying they’re doing something about it, and they’re demonstrably not. We need to recognise that we are in trouble. I’m a medical doctor. I’m a GP working in Hackney in London. I’m a kidney consultant from the North East of England. I’m a doctor involved with Extinction Rebellion. It’s been difficult to ignore the warning
signs that we’re were being issued with. Impact that we’re seeing in climates have really wide and far-reaching health consequences. It’s almost hard to
break down the links between climate change and health are across the board. You walk around on a sunny day in England, and it all looks fine and you think it’s
all fine. But we have 40,000 people dying already every year as a result of our
poor air pollution. Air pollution and climate change go hand in hand. Air
pollution from fossil fuel-burning. I see patients coming in with exacerbations of
asthma and respiratory illnesses. Air pollution is as damaging in terms of
risk of early miscarriage as smoking is, which is really frightening. And that starts right in the womb those tiny particles get into our bloodstream,
they cross into the placenta, they cross into our brains. A lot of well-studied
links between climate change particularly extreme heat events and
heart disease, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, heart failure. We know that heat waves can be deadly the the 2003 heat wave in Europe killed 70,000 people.
Coupled with you know those winter related deaths were also going to be
seeing a spike in summer deaths as well. So it’s gonna it’s gonna have an impact
on there on the whole NHS. What’s needed is an embedding, a complete sea change in the way that we approach our relationship with planetary resources. So we use electric cars, we’ve got solar panels. I’ve decided to fly less, I’ve
decided to eat less meat and dairy. I can you know switch my diet, I can reduce my
driving you know, I can fly a lot less than I used to but that’s not easy for
everybody. I got involved with Extinction Rebellion when I realised that individual actions weren’t enough. Doing things like getting
a bamboo toothbrush or cycling or recycling and feeling relatively good
about myself. But then I realised that these things are complete nonsense when
we live in a system which is systematically killing us through use of
fossil fuels. The UK is one of the biggest subsidisers of the fossil fuel
industry. Ten point five billion pounds worth of taxpayers money. I must act if there’s any risk to the safety of my patients. In the last year, I’ve been
arrested twice because I can’t look my children in the eye if I step back.
There’s still no question in my head that I would do it again. Because I
will do it again and I’ll do it again until we start to take this seriously. I’ve seriously considered arrest myself, if that’s what it takes I would
do it in a minute. The current strategy of the government is pushing us in
completely the wrong direction. Unbelievably this year there
green-lighted a new coal mine, we’re still talking about expanding Heathrow
Airport, many people don’t know this but actually built into the infrastructure
act in 2015 is a legal obligation to maximize extraction of UK Petroleum. Inaction that we’ve seen by our government on this issue have been really criminal. I have a six year old son and it really makes me scared. You know you meet a
parent who doesn’t say that they would do anything in the world for
their child. I’m terrified of what the future holds for her. As a doctor, my one
message to the government would be, you have a duty to protect the people who
elected you. Currently what you’re giving us is words, we need action. If we can
pull that out of the bag to fight an evil regime, surely we can pull it out of
the bag to protect the whole of the planet. I will keep protesting until I
see that kind of response coming from you. We’re not talking about the end of the
century, we’re talking now. Those heat waves are going to get worse.
Those heat waves are potentially going to cause crop failures. I guess, I also
have a lot of hope. We can act and we can change things and we can create a much
more positive future. But the problem is not going to go away. So we have two
choices we do nothing or we act now it’s as simple as that.

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