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Accepted Paper:

Towards atmospheric health: experimental interventions in health care practices  
Emma Garnett (University of Exeter)

Paper short abstract:

There is growing awareness of how the practices of medicine and global health produce atmospheric phenomena that undermine the possibility of good health. I draw on research of interventions to decarbonise the UK’s NHS service to open up the ‘ecologies of support’ that constitute health care.

Paper long abstract:

Atmospheric phenomena like airborne pollutants, allergens and viruses have highlighted the social, political, and ecological conditions that produce vulnerability to exposure and harm. It is increasingly common for the scientific literature to talk of co-exposures because atmospheric phenomena do not act in isolation. Thinking across atmospheric phenomena forces a recognition of the powerful historical and political processes that produce exposures and their uneven distribution.

In this paper I explore the socio-material and political relations of atmospheric phenomena in health care. In recent years there has been a growing awareness of how the practices of medicine and global health undermine the possibility of good health. For instance, a 2018 report by Asthma and Lung UK showed that more than 2000 health centres across the UK exceed WHO’s safe air pollution limits. Considering this evidence, and the recent involvement of health care practitioners in climate policy, I draw on preliminary research of a programme of work to decarbonise the UK’s NHS service. The programme involves developing local, engaged, experimental and situated interventions to reduce emissions and exposures on workers, patients, publics, and the planet. Together these various attempts to achieve more sustainable forms of health speak to the collective project of planetary health. Specifically, they foreground the ‘ecologies of support’ that constitute health in ways that also trouble it. I conclude by offering ways to open-up these interventions as potential sites for fostering an atmospheric care practice.

Panel P015
Towards Atmospheric Care: Undoing Environmental Violence, Experimenting With Ecologies Of Support [Colleex Network]
  Session 2