Image by Geralt, pixabay.com
Each year the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists updates its Doomsday Clock. It is of course symbolic - a way to highlight the scale of worldwide threats to human safety and existence. This year on January 24th the clock was moved closer to midnight than ever before. The reasons are obvious - the potential threat from nuclear weapons highlighted by war in Ukraine; inadequate response to the climate and biodiversity crisis; and pandemic risk.
In addressing the issues and explaining the Clock the scientists were joined by Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders, the group of retired senior statesmen. They emphasised the urgent need for continuing genuine international co-operation in dealing with these threats. I am a retired doctor and member of Medact, the UK affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. The international medical community has something of a track record here. IPPNW was instrumental in highlighting the devastating effects of any nuclear exchange and received the Nobel Prize for its work in 1985. Health workers are often at the frontline of the climate emergency. International public health co-operation is central to any pandemic response.
The message of the Doomsday Clock for health leaders and organisations is to emphasise the importance of international links, especially across difficult political or cultural barriers; and to continue to be involved in attempts to reduce the threats of nuclear or climate disaster. That message is equally appropriate for other groups and professions with international links.