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Bioethics and Climate Change

A small groups of experts on climate change, health, political science, bioethics, and medical education met in June 2019 at the Hastings Center (the oldest independent, nonpartisan, interdisciplinary research institute focused on bioethics in the world) to explore how bioethics can help mitigate climate change. Working with Daniel Callahan, cofounder and President Emeritus of The Hastings Center, Cheryl Macpherson, Chair, Bioethics Division SGU and senior research fellow, WINDREF, helped organize the meeting which explored challenges and potential ways to advance related research and policy. An overview of the meeting and its aims was published by Cheryl Macpherson and Ben Wills, an intern at the Hastings Center. Only weeks later, Callahan died just days before his 89th birthday. In an obituary, Millie Solomon, the Hastings Center’s current president, wrote of Dan’s determination to do what he loved “until the very end and at nearly the same pace,” poignantly adding that he had chosen climate change as “the last topic he would focus on”. Dan is remembered by many bioethicists and in numerous obituaries attesting to his mentorship, generosity, prolific publications, and attention what it means to live a good life, and to living one himself.

In additional work on climate change and ethics, Cheryl Macpherson has a chapter in  The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics  titled ‘Energy, Emissions, and Public Health Ethics’. The Handbook, released in August 2019 and edited by a team at Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics is an “indispensable guide to the state of public health ethics today, both in the United States and globally, and a valuable resource for practitioners, policymakers, researchers, scholars and students”. Dr Macpherson has worked extensively on bioethics and the health impacts of climate change and published a related Caribbean study with funding from the Wellcome Trust.


Photo courtesy Siofra Vizzi’