Close this search box.

Restrict anesthesia to save climate & Harvard Med to ‘Integrate Climate’ Into M.D. Curriculum & American Cancer Society Frets ‘carbon footprint of cancer care’

The latest from the Wacky World of Climate: 

1) Doc presents new study suggesting ‘lowering the flow of anesthetic gas’ in patients to save the planet – 1 hour of surgical anesthesia equivalent to driving as many as 470 miles – Anesthesia the next target in climate battle: Docs suggest reducing anesthesia: Would you suffer to combat climate change?

NY Post: Dr. Mohamed Fayed, a senior anesthetist at Detroit’s Henry Ford Health, made the suggestion during the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ annual conference last Friday in Orlando, Florida. “Global warming is affecting our daily life more and more, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has become crucial,” he said. Dr. Fayed added, “No matter how small each effect is, it will add up. As anesthesiologists, we can contribute significantly to this cause by making little changes in our daily practice — such as lowering the flow of anesthetic gas — without affecting patient care.”

Study press release: “Anesthesiologists can play a role in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming by decreasing the amount of anesthetic gas provided during procedures without compromising patient care, suggests new research being presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ ADVANCE 2023, the Anesthesiology Business Event.” [Climate Depot Note: The American Society of Anesthesiologists’ website appears to have pulled the article. But it is available here. & here]

Research notes that inhaled anesthesia accounts for up to 0.1% of the world’s carbon emissions, which are regarded as the primary driver of global climate change. An hour of surgery using an inhaled anesthetic is equivalent to driving as many as 470 miles, according to a 2010 study.

Reuters: Cannabis users may need ‘more than TWICE usual dose’ of anesthesia for surgery“People who regularly use cannabis may need more than twice the usual dose of anesthesia for surgery, a U.S. study suggests.”


2) Harvard Medical School Will ‘Integrate Climate Change’ Into M.D. Curriculum

The Harvard Crimson: A Harvard Medical School committee voted last month to embed climate change into the school’s curriculum. … The new climate change curriculum will examine the impact of climate change on health and health inequality, applications of these impacts to clinical care, and the role of physicians and health institutions in arriving at climate solutions. … HMS student Madeleine C. Kline said: “Every student who comes through the Medical School will leave with an understanding of what climate change is and what it means for their patients,” she said. “I think it is going to mean a lot for their patients.”

Flashback: Harvard School of Public Health links Climate & COVID: ‘The root causes of climate change also increase the risk of pandemics’ – ‘We also need to take climate action to prevent the next pandemic’


3) Flashback 2020 Study in American Cancer Society Journal in 2020 Fretted over ‘carbon footprint of cancer care’ 

American Cancer Society Journal: “Climate change and cancer” – Excerpt: “To date, no studies have estimated the carbon footprint of cancer care…The energy expenditure associated with operating cancer treatment facilities and medical devices, as well as the manufacturing, packaging, and shipment of devices and pharmaceuticals, contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions in cancer care…Some cancer treatment facilities have begun to consider their own carbon footprint and started a process to achieve carbon neutrality.”

Climate Depot’s Morano: “Here is a question for the American Cancer Society: If you need cancer treatment, would you go to a cancer treatment center that was worried about its carbon footprint? Or one that was worried about delivering the best possible modern care?”

Flashback: Canadian doctor clinically diagnoses patient as suffering from ‘climate change’ – ‘Picked up his patient’s chart & penned in the words ‘climate change’

Flashback: Calls to add ‘climate change’ to death certificates – New study demands ‘climate change’ be added as ‘pre-existing condition’

Great Reset By Marc Morano – Chapter 12 Excerpt: ‘COVID Lockdowns Morph to Climate Lockdowns’

Flashback 2019: Canadian Medical Association Journal: How health care contributes to climate changeClimate change is a growing health threat around the world — contributing to heat stroke, food insecurity, cardiorespiratory ailments and many other issues — and the health care industry is part of the problem. “It’s almost like the process of healing causes harm,” said Kent Waddington, cofounder of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care. Health care in Canada was responsible for 4.6% of national greenhouse gas emissions in 2009–2015, according to a recent study in PLOS Medicine. … The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care has led projects to reduce the environmental impact of providing health care, such as promoting sustainable food in hospitals and reducing toxic chemicals used for cleaning.

2022: Operating rooms are the climate change contributor no one’s talking aboutTwo surgeons-in-training suggest some sustainable solutions for their energy-intensive discipline. ... Cancer care is an obvious target for greener efforts within surgery, Berlin notes, because it often involves intense levels of care over a short period of time. Plus, minimally invasive surgeries that require a lot of energy, including robotic-assisted operations, have become common treatments for cancers ranging from colorectal and uterine cancer to head and neck cancer. A robotic-assisted hysterectomy, for example, produces as much carbon as driving more than 2,200 miles in a car — the equivalent of a road trip from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Los Angeles. … Cancer care is an obvious target for greener efforts within surgery, Berlin notes, because it often involves intense levels of care over a short period of time. But perhaps the broadest way the oncology space could cut down on its greenhouse gas emissions is to change how surgical care is delivered, starting with permanently offering telemedicine

2022: Association of American Medical Colleges: Hospitals take creative steps to reduce carbon footprintAs medical organizations increase their commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, hospitals report progress through quiet methods like changing anesthesia, fixing valves, and re-sterilizing devices.

2021 Royal College of Physicians: Study: Does telemedicine reduce the carbon footprint of healthcare? A systematic review – In the rapidly progressing field of telemedicine, there is a multitude of evidence assessing the effectiveness and financial costs of telemedicine projects; however, there is very little assessing the environmental impact despite the increasing threat of the climate emergency. … In the rapidly progressing field of telemedicine, there is a multitude of evidence assessing the effectiveness and financial costs of telemedicine projects; however, there is very little assessing the environmental impact despite the increasing threat of the climate emergency. This report provides a systematic review of the evidence on the carbon footprint of telemedicine. The identified papers unanimously report that telemedicine does reduce the carbon footprint of healthcare, primarily by reduction in transport-associated emissions. 

WaPo in 2022: Climate change is increasingly viewed as a public health crisisby June 14, 2022 – Excerpt: For the first time, the American Medical Association adopted a policy declaring climate change a public health crisis. The nation’s largest physician trade group voted yesterday to put its lobbying heft behind policies aimed at limiting global warming and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The AMA will also create a strategy detailing what physician practices and the health-care sector can do to combat climate change.  … This comes amid a growing sense that global warming is a threat to the health of people across the globe. And there’s a burgeoning sentiment that the health industry needs to be part of the response. … Here’s why advocates say climate change is a public health threat: Increasing temperatures have led to heat-related illness. Climate change has become a persistent danger to food security. El Niño weather patterns cause about 6 million children to go hungry — and could increase as the planet warms. … 

  • The National Academy of Medicine launched a public-private partnership to address the health industry’s environmental impact. As of April, more than 110 organizations have joined the effort.
  • Last year’s U.N. climate change conference framed the issue as a critical public health problem, our Climate 202 pal Maxine Joselow reported.
  • The World Health Organization referred to climate change as “the single biggest health threat facing humanity” in an October special report.
  • Health groups — including the AMA, America’s Physician Groups and the American Academy of Nursing — signed onto a 2019 climate change agenda calling the issue “a true public health emergency.”