Saving our planet depends on our own small actions
"No one can be in any any doubt, any longer, that our precious planet, or rather the rich, complex, self-evolved plant and animal life that lives on it, is under grave and imminent threat. We are told that we have only 12 years left to prevent catastrophic climate change, and not much longer to prevent the annihilation of the insect life and soil health that our food supply depends on. Homo sapiens is being called on, for the first time in our evolutionary history, to act as a single and united species, since no nation alone, no fragmented and isolationist group, can hope to solve these problems. If there is a to be a solution, it has to be a co-operative global one - a complete political, economic and agricultural revolution. Yet at the same time, change also depends our own, small individual actions - the lifestyle changes we are able to make, our buying habits, the political movements we support and speak up for. While every branch of society is called on to act, the responsibility lies more firmly on us, since medicine has always been at the forefront of caring for community and public health. The Lancet medical journal, for example, has inspiringly led the way for several years now, regularly publishing articles on the impact of climate change. Their 2015 joint report with University College London declared that it threatens to undermine the past 50 years of progress in global health, and warned of "very serious and potentially catastrophic effects for human health and human survival." I would argue that those of us who work with Chinese medicine have an even greater reason to speak out and to act. The roots of our medicine spring from observation (and love) of the natural world. The cyclic interplay of yin and yang through the four seasons and the 24 hours of the day, the resonances of the five phases with season, plant and animal life, the extraordinary use of roots, seeds and flowers in our medicine, the microcosmic-macrocosmic mirroring of the natural world to describe the body's internal environment, the inspiration drawn from wild animals in the qigong and martial self-cultivation traditions. And given that Daoism is one of our major influences, it is good to be reminded of its respect for nature, exemplified by the 4th century One Hundred and Eight Precepts of Lord Lao, which included, "You should not wantonly fell trees. You should not wantonly pick herbs and flowers. You should not throw poisonous substances into lakes, rivers, and seas. You should not dry up wet marshes. You should not disturb birds and other animals." Holding firm to our love of the natural world, our profession can help lead the way - making sure that our conferences and meetings and colleges and suppliers embrace sustainability, encouraging our professional organisations to lend support to campaigns for meaningful action, teaching those who will listen how real the threats are to our health and very survival, and taking whatever small actions we can in our personal and working lives. Many of the articles in this issue address the options available to us, both large and small. My own small suggestions would be to buy organically grown food wherever possible (as much for the environment as our own and our family's health), find ways to minimise waste in our clinics, support our children with their determination to save their future and much more. And in acting like this, we will act as models and teachers to those around us to get the wheel of change moving ever faster. "
Peter Deadman - The Journal of Chinese Medicine