Feeds

Health sector spews out much more carbon than airlines or IT

When will Greens act against the real eco-villains?

SANS - Survey on application security programs

American researchers have estimated that the US health care sector is responsible for "nearly a tenth" of the nation's carbon emissions. This is almost triple the amount emitted by aviation and around four times that emitted by the IT industry, suggesting that green groups should shift the focus of their advocacy.

"The health care sector, in general, may be a bit slower than other sectors to put this on their radar screen,” says Jeanette Chung PhD, a medical scientist at Chicago Uni, who carried out the research together with colleague Dr David Meltzer.

Chung and Meltzer say that American healthcare, including activities such as hospitals, scientific research and the production and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs, was found to produce eight per cent of the country’s total carbon emissions. By contrast the US aviation sector is responsible for around three per cent and IT is usually assessed at around two per cent.

Despite the fact that hospitals and health care are directly damaging the environment far more than airliners or gadgets, campaigning organisations such as Greenpeace tend to focus their efforts mostly on the latter.

The health sector, by contrast, tends to get a free ride. Indeed, in Blighty there has lately been an occasional tendency for doctors to start chiding their patients for destroying the planet, hypocritical of them as this now turns out to be.

"Given the focus on health care policy and environmental policy, it might be interesting - if not wise - to start accounting for environmental externalities in health care,” speculates Chung.

The airline industry is already doing so - some aviation executives believe that carbon penalties could edge out maintenance to become the second-biggest cost in running a jet, and serious research is going into more fuel-efficient aircraft at the moment.

But the medics, responsible for far more carbon and eco-destruction, are already hugely expensive. (The US healthcare system accounts for fully 16 per cent of GDP; the somewhat more efficient - in terms of results for money - British NHS still costs a crippling £100bn+ annually.) As Chung hints, any move to make the health sector act as responsibly as airlines or IT would probably render it unsupportably pricey.

So it might be, despite today's revelations, that green activism will continue to focus on comparatively insignificant emitters and leave the healthcare sector alone.

Chung and Meltzer's research is published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Melting permafrost switches to nasty, high-gear methane release
Result? 'Way more carbon being released into the atmosphere as methane'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.