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Adolescents warrant special attention. From a road safety perspective, they carry the largest crash and morbidity/mortality risk of any age group. This has led to considerable research and safety programs, but these efforts have plateaued in many countries and remain fixed within a road safety perspective. From a broader perspective, little has been done about the many non-traffic health risks related to teen driving (increased drug and alcohol use, anti-social behaviour, sexually transmitted infections, inactivity and obesity). From a sustainable transport perspective, a contemporary imperative, teens are where the transition from non-driver to driver takes place; an opportune time for interventions to minimize environmental harms.
Professor Weiss introduces a new paradigm termed ‘mobility health’ to bridge the siloed domains of safety, adolescent health and sustainable mobility. In this passionate speech to an international audience, he advocates changing the current narrow paradigm of adolescent road safety to a cross-level/cross-disciplinary, more potent, timely and healthy vision of less driving through mobility modal shift from cars to active and public transport.
What is sustainable healthcare?
The Alliance for Natural Health has defined sustainable healthcare in the following way.
A complex system of interacting approaches to the restoration, management and optimization of human health that have an ecological base, that are environmentally, economically and socially viable indefinitely, that work harmoniously both with the human body and the non‐human environment, and which do not result in unfair or disproportionate impacts on any significant contributory element of the healthcare system.
Alliance for Natural Health (http://www.anh-europe.org)
Based on this definition, there is very little about our existing healthcare system that is sustainable. To achieve sustainability, it is necessary to look beyond what we have now to what we really want.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Recently I spoke to a gathering of medical and public health students at Columbia University about the contribution the health sciences can make to Mayor Bloomberg’s PLANYC, a vision for a sustainable New Your City in 2030.
Although I had prepared opening remarks on how I was speaking from a paradigm premised upon the end of the physical expansion of the economy, this discussion quickly became an example of Thomas Kuhn’s incommensurability thesis. This means that proponents of competing paradigms are prone to misunderstanding and misinterpretation and, overall, “talking past” one another as they find one another’s conceptual positions and policy recommendations incomprehensible or absurd. The confusion and conflict stem from the incompatibility of the core metaphors around which the intellectual contents of paradigms are organized. In this instance it is the taken-for-granted physical growth of the economy –the core metaphor the students were operating from- versus one where economic activity is constrained by a finite planet with finite resources. Read the rest of this entry »
Dan Bednarz, Ph.D.
Don Spady, M.D.
This issue brief calls for changes in medical school culture, primarily curriculum, research and clinical practice, as a conscious response to the simultaneously ongoing fiscal/economic crisis and what E.O. Wilson has termed the Bottleneck[i] of ecological dilemmas, shown most prominently but not exclusively as the worldwide peak in crude oil production. Together these forces will reconfigure modern society, particularly health care. We concur with Dennis Meadows, co-author of Limits to Growth,[ii] who claims that this is not a recession; rather “The real problem is physical growth in material and energy flows pressing against the limits of a finite planet.”[iii] Therefore, this is a sustainability crisis calling for ecologically informed, non-incremental public policies to transform social institutions.
Here we focus on awakening medical schools to their future in a world beset by fiscal disorder, economic contraction, unprecedented natural resource scarcity, and ecosystems disturbances[iv]. Read the rest of this entry »
Forecasts of Pittsburgh’s future cite education and medicine, complemented by entrepreneurial “green energy” and high-tech ventures, as engines of 21st century growth.
However, the country is entering its third year of economic contraction and fiscal crisis. In a recent column pundit David Brooks assures a return to prosperity is inevitable. Recall that three years ago he and many of his colleagues claimed that the economy was “humming along” and the financial sector was “innovative” with a “contained” problem in subprime mortgages. Read the rest of this entry »
Editors Note: This reprint is from Michael Tobis’ excellent Climate Change blog, “Only in it for the Gold.” It deals with the rampant and almost epic problem of the failure of science communication to prevent corruption of climate science. Eventually (many would argue it already has), the same techniques may very well be directed towards energy decline and its likely impact on modern health care and public health. It is one of the tenants of this site that many health professionals have not only the skills but the duty to lead efforts to redress this problem.
While reading Gerald Zaltman and Lindsay Zaltman’s Marketing Metaphoria: What deep metaphors reveal about the minds of consumers, (MM), I recalled a healthcare consultant who told me, “You really should market peak oil, but you’ve got to give folks some good news to win them over.” I laughed and replied, “Are you kidding? I’m not selling whiter teeth.” Turning serious, I went on, “Most people react by saying, ‘This just can’t be true.’ They think scientists will invent a cheap and endless supply of energy and we’ll live happily ever after. And if you try to tell them about thermodynamics and ecological limits, they tune out or say, ‘but Tom Friedman says….’ So I see no way into most heads except through crisis.”
“The greatest good is the knowledge of the union
which the mind has with the whole of nature.”
Ian Mitroff and Abraham Silvers’ book, Dirty Rotten Strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely, addresses the inability, prevalent among political, economic and cultural elites and the highly educated who serve them, to think critically and properly formulate problems. This incapacity results in Type 3 Errors, which
“is the unintentional error of solving the wrong problems precisely. In sharp contrast, the Type 4 Error is the intentional error of solving the wrong problems.” (Pg. 5)
From Bill O’Reilly to Bill Moyers there is consensus that a return to growth is the remedy for what they see as an economic recession. Their political divisions arise over how to rekindle demand and consumption, with the right favoring a market led recovery and the left typically advocating massive government stimulus spending.
Were I to meet O’Reilly or Moyers I would ask, “Since we live on a finite planet, with finite resources, why is economic growth the solution and not the source of our dilemmas?” The failure of media, political, educational, scientific, and cultural leaders to consider this question illustrates what Joseph Campbell calls the power of myth. Questioning growth is at odds with our faith in the American Dream, whose main promise is that future generations are entitled to a higher material standard of living than their parents enjoyed.