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Climate Change and the IPPNW Students’ Congress

March 10, 2008

by Tova Fuller

First of all, Namaskar from India!

One theme that has permeated this IPPNW Students’ Congress, held from March 7th to the 8th of 2008, has been climate change and its effect on public health. In a previous posting I have discussed the Medical Alliance to Stop Global Warming (MASGW), a joint effort of the US’s Student PSR and AMSA. On March 7th, the MASGW presented alongside students from Pune and Abhinav Singh about climate change and environmental health during the first Session of the students’ congress. While the title of this session, Effects of War, may prima facie seem to imply plenaries will focus only on direct effects violence, one might make the argument that the Iraq war contributes to usage and ongoing reliance on fossil fuels, and hence on climate change.

During this shared plenary, all students highlighted the large responsibility of the developed world on climate change, and the disproportionate effect of climate change on the developing world. Members of the MASGW Steering Committee (Student PSR NSRs Tova Fuller and Lauren Zajac) led an introduction to the issue and then shared their current work on environmental health, speaking about Focus the Nation, the AMSA pre-conference which will be held shortly in Houston, TX, their Call To Action (see previous blog posting), and other efforts the US is making to draw attention to this grave threat to human health. Abhinav Singh and students from Pune presented hard evidence that global warming is affected by human activity, and shared the specific effects this would have on human health – both directly and indirectly through such phenomena as greater infectious diseases, etc.

Here’s the powerpoint presention.

A later workshop led MASGW and the students from Pune first reviewed material presented during the plenary, and then moved on to a brainstorming session, in which Tova Fuller led small groups of students in a “time travel” activity; students “traveled” to an ideal world in which global warming was no longer a problem. Participants imagined steps taken in their future’s past that guided them to this entirely green world in an attempt to think both positively and creatively about steps that need to be taken – from legislation to personal actions. Finally, Lauren Zajac collected commitments from students either in their personal lives and/or in student organizing. The MASGW will calculate the impact of these actions and plan to email the IPPNW listserv upon returning home with the net impact of the members of this workshop in order to inspire others.

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