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Climate / Health workers to lead local climate march

Wir hame is on fire: Climate strike rally in Lerwick in September 2019. Photo: Peter Johnson/Shetland News

THE COP26 climate summit in Glasgow will make itself felt in Shetland at the weekend as health workers invite local people to join them in a demonstration on Saturday afternoon urging world leader to take urgent action to tackle climate breakdown.

The local march will be one of many happening across the UK, all led by health workers who are using their voices to call for drastic action based on climate science, to safeguard human health.

One of the local organisers Dr Alex Armitage, consultant paediatrician at the Gilbert Bain Hospital, said it was part of his professional duty to do everything in his power to raise the alarm and push for action.

“If we don’t take action now on climate breakdown, I fear that children that I see in clinic will face unimaginable horrors in their lifetimes,” he said.

Health workers are concerned as research shows that rising temperatures and extreme weather events will put food security at risk for billions of people, raising the possibility of mass starvation across huge swathes of the planet.

Despite being a wealthy country the UK is also vulnerable as it currently imports most of its food, Dr Armitage said.

In the medium term, melting ice caps will cause sea level rises this century, leaving low-lying areas uninhabitable and some farmland unviable, resulting in the need for mass migration.

In Shetland, it is said that could potentially mean the disappearance of St. Ninian’s tombolo, Scatness and Sumburgh becoming new islands and leaving significant amounts of Shetland’s infrastructure, including Lerwick and Scalloway harbour facilities and Sumburgh Airport, underwater.

Around the world, many people living in low-lying areas could be forced to migrate.

Levenwick GP Dr Deepa Shah added: “Action on climate change through decarbonisation of our lifestyles will not only improve the health of our planet but will also lead to significantly better mental and physical health for my patients.

“This will come about through healthier diets, more active travel, better insulated homes and a corresponding reduction in fuel poverty.

“Taking action on climate change means both a sustainable future on this planet for our children and also longer, healthier lives for ourselves”

Participants are asked to gather outside Lerwick Health Centre on Saturday 6 November at 2pm for a march that will take them to the Lerwick Town Hall.