Is climate crisis a medical emergency?

Framing the issue: when climate change is a medical emergency with Hugh Montgomery

The climate crisis is a healthcare crisis.

Humans aren’t wired for connecting immediate pleasure (unprotected sex, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes) with some ethereal medium-term risk. As a result, ‘public health campaigns’ rarely work.

Meanwhile, we make decisions far less based on ‘fact’ than on ’emotion’. When did you ever see a chocolate ad telling you about the ingredients?

This may be why we have failed to convince public or politicians alike to take action on climate change.

Hugh discusses such issues from his personal work in the climate change field over 20 years, giving examples of what he has tried – and why most of what he has done has failed.

The Podcast
The Slides
The Coda Community

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Oliver Flower, staff specialist in Intensive Care Medicine at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney | NeuroResus |


  1. it is great to see is post and to feature the work of Hugh Montgomery. I wonder if might be possible for LITFL to do a post/piece on what we as medical professional can do to combat climate change to and develop sustainable healthcare. Happy to point in direction of organisation and people in field of sustainability and healthcare to help with this.

    • Thanks Iona. There’s going to be lots more about this over the next few weeks and months as we build towards Coda. It’ll be here on LITFL as well as other blogs and in conjunction with the NEJM.

      A quarter of the Coda program and the main focus of the Coda actions we will be promoting, will be on planetary health – specifically the climate emergency and the key role of health professionals in addressing this.

      While there are lots of resources out there already, we’re hoping to focus the healthcare community on the most impactful whilst attainable actions that can really make a difference and then making it happen.

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