After two years, it’s time we took another look at the practices and preachings of British Medical Journal‘s globe-trotting Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Fiona Godlee.
You may know of Dr. Godlee from her work editing one of our favorite journals (their recent Christmas issue is another gem). Or, you may know her from her outspoken activism regarding global warming. Indeed, she has used the pages of BMJ as a bully pulpit, even as she describes herself as a “climate criminal.”
You can hit up the flashbacks at the bottom of this post to review our past interactions with Dr. Godlee (from those exchanges we created a page that updates her Carbon Footprint).
Recently, however, Dr. Godlee and her staff upped the ante, and we feel it’s time to once again inquire into the discrepancies between what this woman and her company advocates, and what they do. In September 2009, BMJ together with Lancet has published an editorial proclaiming that if international leaders meeting for UN talks in Copenhagen do not agree to radical reductions in carbon emissions, the world will face an inevitable “global health catastrophe”. In addition, in June 2009, BMJ has published yet another editorial that calls for suspension of medical conferences to combat the Global Warming (the opinion piece, “Are international medical conferences an outdated luxury the planet can’t afford? Yes,” by Dr. Malcolm Green, professor emeritus of respiratory medicine from Imperial College, is reminiscent of the original editorial by Dr. Fiona Godlee, that has asked all clinicians, back in 2007, to suspend travels to medical conferences to save the planet from carbon dioxide).
We must point this out: If Dr. Godlee and BMJ believe that Anthropomorphic Global Warming constitutes the number one threat to the health of humanity, she and her coworkers are actively engaged into practices that directly contradict their own opinions and, even the Hippocratic Oath itself.
Back in 2007, in response to prior statements on her own blog, in articles, in multiple international conferences, and even on our own website, we wrote an open letter to Dr. Godlee and the rest of BMJ leadership to demonstrate concrete actions to reduce the carbon footprint of the publication. Those calls for the last two years went unanswered:
1. BMJ continues to chop and reprocess trees. BMJ Group still distributes its pulp publication all over the world, via trucks, ships, planes, trains, and other modes of transportation.
2. Dr. Godlee and other BMJ editors continue to travel the world over. In the last two years, she and her colleagues have attended conferences in the following places (all documented attendances): Vancouver, BC, Canada, Castro Brothers’ Havana, Cuba, African country of Mali (if you want to know where Mali is and what she did there, check out her blog post), Singapore, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Georgia, Oxford, UK, Birmingham, UK, Glasgow, Scotland, Paris, France, Vienna, Austria, Gastein, Austria, Verona, Italy, Boston, Massachusetts, Copenhagen, Denmark and more. To view the full extend of documented BMJ leadership’s sightings, check out the interactive map here.
3. While the journal is touting to others to “lead by example,” and to abstain from meetings, BMJ is keeping its medical conferences business strong. A quick online search reveals a large number of upcoming medical conferences, all sponsored or organized by BMJ Group, including the conference in Nice, France and many BMJ Masterclasses slated all over the UK. Furthermore, while its editors preach restraint to the rest of us, BMJ Group continues to proselytize its conferences business in a special webpage.
Now it’s 2010. We don’t want to debate the details of Anthropomorphic Global Warming, but we can accept and appreciate that BMJ‘s own editorial has stated global warming “leaves no room for complacency.” The doctors at BMJ believe that global warming is a threat to health, and CO2, in essence, is a poison. They demand action, from all of us.
Yet they continue to travel extensively, and unnecessarily, generating patient-killing poisons as a byproduct of their business.
We cannot help but recall the Third Tenet of the Hippocratic Oath: “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.”.
BMJ’s leadership, and specifically Dr. Godlee, really must take the following steps to reduce and eliminate the company’s carbon footprint:
1. BMJ has to stop production and distribution of all its print publications in Europe, North America, Australia, and other parts of the world that have broad internet penetration.
2. BMJ has to curtail world wide travels of all of its leaders, at least of those who believe in the Anthropomorphic Global Warming and its effect on health, and vigorously promote teleconferencing.
3. If the company leadership is asking other clinicians to abstain from the medical conference travels, BMJ should close its conference business, and transition its educational arm to an online format.
4. To be responsible, BMJ should provide the medical community with a transparent and detailed plan on how the company will tackle the transition to a minimal carbon footprint.
Before BMJ and its leadership asks the medical community (again) to make sacrifices, a journal with their reputation should “lead by example,” take its own words seriously, and properly protect our patients — the planet’s people.
On the web: Carbon Footprint of Dr. Fiona Godlee, Editor of the British Medical Journal…
Flashbacks: BMJ Urges Others, Fails to “Lead by Example” on Climate Change; Fionagate: An Illustrated, Interactive Website; Feet to the Fire: Responding to Dr. Godlee ; Carbon Footprint, or How to Spot Other People’s Garbage