General Practitioners' responses to global climate change - lessons from clinical experience and the clinical method
Blashki, G and Abelsohn, A and Woollard, R and Arya, N and Parkes, MW and Kendal, P and Bell, E and Bell, RW, General Practitioners' responses to global climate change - lessons from clinical experience and the clinical method, Asia Pacific Family Medicine, 11, (1) Article 6. ISSN 1447-056X (2012) [Refereed Article]
This paper develops a new way of conceptualising the challenges of climate change and appropriate responses using epistemology from the discipline of family medicine:
Background: Climate change is a global public health problem that will require complex thinking if meaningful
and effective solutions are to be achieved. In this conceptual paper we argue that GPs have much to bring to the
issue of climate change from their wide-ranging clinical experience and from the principles underpinning their
clinical methods. This experience and thinking calls forth particular contributions GPs can and should make to
debate and action.
Discussion: We contend that the privileged experience and GP way of thinking can make valuable contributions
when applied to climate change solutions. These include a lifetime of experience, reflection and epistemological
application to first doing no harm, managing uncertainty, the ability to make necessary decisions while possessing
incomplete information, an appreciation of complex adaptive systems, maintenance of homeostasis, vigilance for
unintended consequences, and an appreciation of the importance of transdisciplinarity and interprofessionalism.
Summary: General practitioners have a long history of public health advocacy and in the case of climate change
may bring a way of approaching complex human problems that could be applied to the dilemmas of climate