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Medical conferences ruin environment, says doctor

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International medical conferences should be abolished because of their impact on the environment, according to a leading doctor.

Malcolm Green, professor emeritus in respiratory medicine at Imperial College, has claimed that teleconferencing could replace traditional conferences, which cause huge amounts of carbon dioxide emissions.

He calculates that medical conferences cause around 600,000 tonnes of carbon to be released into the atmosphere every year.

This is the equivalent to the CO2 absorbed by 120m mature trees covering 120,000 hectares of rainforest, he said.

He wrote: ‘Our grandchildren will view with amazement our profligacy and inefficiency in flying across continents in great clusters to exchange information.

‘Huge international conferences will be as outdated and unsuitable for a modern world as the dodo, the fax machine and the horse drawn carriage.’

And Mike Gill, visiting professor of public health at the Faculty of Health and Medical Science at the University of Surrey, called for all doctors to instruct patients to reduce their carbon footprint to stave off the health problems caused by climate change.

BMJ (2008) 336:1466

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