In September 2021, the UN General Assembly brought the world’s countries together to tackle our environmental crisis. Ahead of those meetings, the editors of healthcare journals around the world—including the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s two peer-reviewed journals, American Journal of Clinical Pathology (AJCP) and Laboratory Medicine—joined a call to action to keep average global temperature increases below 1.5°C.
The damage climate change wreaks on the health and welfare of the citizens all over the globe are well documented1 and include heat-related mortality and dermatological malignancies. Widespread destruction of nature and shifting ecosystems will create food and water insecurity, which will have negative health impacts. In addition, these conditions will increase the risk of zoonotic infections, resulting in global pandemics like COVID-19—or worse.2
The environmental crisis we find ourselves in demands a coordinated global response, much like the COVID-19 pandemic. Huge investments and coordination by international, national, and local governments are necessary in order to forestall disaster. We can’t only act to reduce environmental harm, we also must join the global community to prevent further damage. We must do all we can to transition the world to one that’s sustainable and equitable. We must work toward environmentally sustainable health systems before 2040 even as we realize that will require change in clinical practices. Clinical laboratory scientists and pathologists have an obligation to safeguard the health and welfare of the communities we serve—and in this regard that means becoming stewards of the environment. Can we do our part to ensure the year 2021 becomes the year the world changed course?