What Can Physiotherapists Do To Help With The Climate Emergency?

In the light of climate change, physios are no different to any other member of the human race; we all benefit from the bounties of the earth, and those of us in the developed world have, alas, been contributing to the alarming climate problems which threaten our very future.

Charitable Giving Seems Like a Good Place to Make a Change

I suspect that I’m typical of our profession in my priorities for my personal charity donations, or at least I was for most of my life, up to this point.

Medical research and support charities were foremost in my charity commitments; my areas of clinical interest were directly reflected, so I used to make regular contributions to charities related to Stroke research, supporting people with Stroke, organisations promoting research into other neurological conditions, etc.

You can guess that I’m a neurological physio. But I also supported the big players in the world of medical charities (big in the UK, that is): British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and The Wellcome Trust.

Why did I change?

The more I read around Climate Change, the more I realised that this is more important than pretty well anything else: if we don’t sort out our planet, our habitat, then future generations won’t have a suitable place to live.

Discover How Your Practice Impacts the Environment

So even if people are no longer dying of cancer and heart disease, no longer disabled by stroke and MS, they still won’t be able to have a decent life. Suddenly it occurred to me that my priorities were wrong – if we don’t address climate change, pouring our resources into medical research is fruitless.

I admit, I belong the the generation who have benefited from our shoddy treatment of the planet: I’m sixty years old, have been driving a car (I’m a community physio) all my working life, fly around the world on lovely holidays (pre-Covid) so maybe some of this is fuelled by guilt on my part.

Indeed, I am frequently impressed by young people and their determination to improve our habitat, and I do feel as if I owe them an apology. “I’m so sorry we didn’t use the earth’s resources well; I apologise for plundering its rich reserves without thought for replenishing them.” So, now I want to do my little bit to make amends.

And we know that planting trees is the fastest and cheapest way to sequester carbon…

My Contribution

I’ve completely changed the focus of my charitable giving, and I want to tell you about one wonderful new organisation which I’m pleased and proud to support.

Flash Forest is a Canadian company which is on course to plant a billion trees by 2028. Founded in 2019, they describe themselves as “a reforestation company that aims to plant at 10 times the normal rate and a fraction of the cost of traditional tree planting techniques.” They have botanists and forestry experts, as well as engineering and multispectral mapping technologists.

Drones are used to do the site evaluation and mapping, and then they are deployed to fire “seed pods” into the ground. The seed pods contain a selection of carefully chosen tree species along with a cocktail of supporting nutrients which mean that the seeds will be nourished and will thrive.

Currently they are reforesting in British Columbia, Northern Alberta and Ontario, and have plans to send teams to Borneo, Hawaii, Australia, Malaysia and the EU. Their drones provide a continuing care service, monitoring the planted areas, and spraying extra nutrients as required.

It’s a brilliant use of technology, and within the next five years they’re on tack for planting tens of millions of trees on six continents. Now that will really have an impact on climate change.