Environmental ethics beyond conferences: A response to the WCB bioethics in Qatar

Bioethics 37 (7):728-730 (2023)
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Abstract

Rieke van der Graaf, Karin Jongsma, Martine de Vries, Suzanne van de Vathorst, and Ineke Bolt have done well to voice ethical concerns over the decision of the IAB to host the next WCB in Qatar. Conferences should be more sustainable. Yet, attention to the carbon impact of conferences—and, perhaps, any country that a person might travel to for business or pleasure—are only one small part of environmentally responsible citizenship, especially for those trained in ethics and committed to health. Both bioethics as a discipline and bioethicists as individuals need to interrogate their environmental choices. To this end, some ecological choices are more obvious targets of ethical scrutiny—diet and travel—while others appear sacrosanct, like reproduction and even healthcare use. This underscores the importance of making sustainable and ethical organizational choices, such as where to hold a conference, without absolving environmental accountability in other ethical calculations. Many organizations in academic and clinical medicine need to make drastic alterations in their practices and policies to effectively mitigate carbon. While the burden is not only on bioethics alone, the expectation that it should be remains.

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