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General Practitioners’ responses to global climate change

– lessons from clinical experience and the clinical method

This interesting paper from authors in Australia and Canada deals with the role of general practitioners in climate change advocacy. Climate change action has become much more complex than anyone could have imagined 10 years ago for it is now embroiled in political ideology, personal beliefs, commercial conflicts of interest and intergenerational equity. The issue needs to return to the simple practicality – here is a health problem and what do I do about it, a question the practitioner asks herself or himself every day. The senior author on this study is Grant Blashki* founding member of DEA. The full article can be read here  and below is the Abstract.


Climate change is a global public health problem that will require complex thinking if meaningful and effective solutions are to be achieved. In this conceptual paper we argue that GPs have much to bring to the issue of climate change from their wide-ranging clinical experience and from the principles underpinning their clinical methods. This experience and thinking calls forth particular contributions GPs can and should make to debate and action.


We contend that the privileged experience and GP way of thinking can make valuable contributions when applied to climate change solutions. These include a lifetime of experience, reflection and epistemological application to first doing no harm, managing uncertainty, the ability to make necessary decisions while possessing incomplete information, an appreciation of complex adaptive systems, maintenance of homeostasis, vigilance for unintended consequences, and an appreciation of the importance of transdisciplinarity and interprofessionalism.


General practitioners have a long history of public health advocacy and in the case of climate change may bring a way of approaching complex human problems that could be applied to the dilemmas of climate change.

*A/ Prof Grant Blashki MBBS MD FRACGP GAICD
Nossal Institute for Global Health & Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, The University of Melbourne