The Lancet demands we change but will not do so itself

The Lancet medical journal argues that "cutting emissions to mitigate climate change will also make people healthier."

What's the best thing we can do to promote human health?

It's not the health care bill. It's the climate bill. (Picture from Bath Science News.)

The Lancet, a British medical journal that dates from 1823, is out with a whole series of articles making just that claim.

The series, published in advance of the Copenhagen climate conference, argues that "cutting emissions to mitigate climate change will also make people healthier."

We're not just talking about polar bears and ice caps. We're talking about reducing the pollutants going into your lungs, the amount of mercury going into our groundwater, and producing water where we need energy.

We're not talking about extending the life of your grandchildren, but your life.

Most of the articles are focused, not on proving the problem, but on the health benefits of pursuing solutions in:

There are also commentaries from Lancet editor Richard Horton, WHO director general Margaret Chan, medical researchers and environmental activists.

The series, and the manner of its online publication, also speaks volumes on an unrelated controversy, namely Rupert Murdoch's efforts to get paid for linking to his articles.

By forcing all these articles behind a mandatory registration firewall, The Lancet greatly reduces their reach and impact. Many medical and scientific journals do this, or worse, offer the full text of articles only to paid subscribers.

Some, like the Journal of the American Medical Association, drop these firewalls and requirements when they have something to say they think is important. Refusing to do this, on such an important subject, makes me wonder just what the priorities of The Lancet really are.

Are the short-term finances of The Lancet more important than the fate of the Earth? When I face a registration demand like this, one that frustrates any incoming hyperlink, the answer "yes" comes first to mind.

Something Mr. Murdoch should consider as well.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com