Those who preach that ‘the power of one’ will save our planet and allow us to coexist in a sustainable manner are right: If every individual made a significant effort to turn off lights, to conserve fuel and to reduce waste, each minute action would have a cumulative effect and we could prosper sustainably. However, I feel there is an over-emphasis being placed on small actions and that large siphons of the country’s resources, such as the health sector, are, to a certain extent, being disregarded, sidelined or taken for granted.
Last summer, I was diagnosed with a systemic autoimmune disease and, during my stay in the hospital; I underwent two X-rays, one MRI, one CT scan, an ECG and numerous blood tests. Finally, the conclusion was reached that I had sarcoidosis. My mother also has sarcoid. Before any test took place, identification of identical symptoms could have indicated I have the same, genetically linked, disease. In hindsight, I cannot help wonder if all the tests were truly necessary? Helium, supplies of which are critically low, is essential for MRI machines. Did I really need the MRI scan to confirm something we already suspected? It’s a frightening reality that, in the near future, an MRI may not be an option for those that genuinely need such an invaluable diagnostic tool. X-ray, MRI and CT scans also require a substantial amount of energy to power. These key diagnostic tools are clearly invaluable to hospitals, however, strides could be taken to supply alternative, more energy efficient options.
Some interesting Research Sources:
- Buchwalter & Hessler. (2009) ‘Unprecedented levels of antibiotics pollute India’s water.’ Environmental Health News. Retrieved from: http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/unprecedented-levels-of-antibiotics-in-indias-surface-and-well-water.
- Chung J & Meltser D. (2009) ‘Estimate of the Carbon Footprint of the US Health Care Sector.’ JAMA. 302(18): 1970-1972
- EPA, Green Healthcare Programme. (2013) ‘Best Practice.’ Retrieved from: http://greenhealthcareprogramme.ie/guides/.
- Fick J, Soderstrom H et al. (2009) ‘Contamination of surface, ground and drinking water from pharmaceutical production.’ Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 28(12): 2522-2527.
- Lifton J (2010) ‘The Battle Over Rare Earth Metals.’ Journal of Energy Security. Retrieved from: http://www.ensec.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=228:the-battle-over-rare-earth-metals&catid=102:issuecontent&Itemid=355.
- Naumov A. (2008) ‘Review of the World Market of Rare-Earth Metals.’ Russian Journal of Non-Ferrous Metals. 49(1): 14-22.
- Schwartz A. (2012) ‘Visualizing the importance of rare earth metals to our digital lifestyle.’ Co. Exist. Retrieved from: http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680658/visualizing-the-importance-of-rare-earth-elements-to-our-digital-lifestyle.