So, we can’t see into to the future – or can we? Well, I can. I can see that if we keep operating in the same manner that we have been we won’t have a future, certainly from an environmental perspective.
The World Health Organization recently declared environmental damage as the world’s leading cause of premature death. Yet a single operation can produce up to 814kg of CO2, the same as driving up to 2,273 miles in an average petrol car. As surgeons, it is our responsibility to reduce our damaging impact on the environment and public health. That’s why the College and other institutions are taking action on sustainability – from advocating for greener patient pathways to minimising single use equipment.
Healthcare generates 5% of global annual emissions – the equivalent of 514 coal power plants. Surgery is the biggest offender within the healthcare system. So, why isn’t more being done immediately to reduce this contribution? Published estimates consistently associate hospitals and pharmaceuticals with the biggest greenhouse gas emissions.
We are constantly told that for ‘infection control reasons’ we must wear and use single use items. But where is the evidence for this? Is there evidence that single use items are always safer than reusable ones? Is there evidence that disposable drapes are better than washable for infection prevention? Or is it because most of the time we have been scared into following the ‘advice’ of the big companies selling these items as they have a vested interest in convincing us to use single use items? They get rich. Simple as that. These big companies have no need to encourage us to seek renewable alternatives. A bit like the big oil companies who green wash with offering to invest in some renewables but actually continue pedalling out the fossil fuels that are responsible for 75% of all greenhouse gases.
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