Friday, December 12, 2008

Healthcare article & comments

I have just posted the following comment on an npr story "With Daschle, Obama Signals Health Will Be Priority."

Several years ago I had a meeting with an aide to Tom Daschle, in which we discussed the coming impact of Peak Oil and oil decline. The links between energy and healthcare may not be obvious, so I have written an article, entitled 'A Healthcare Renaissance: Could Peak Oil Inspire America To Create A National Health Service?' ( offering some possible reasons why we should give some careful thought to peak oil and healthcare.

On my O'Reilly blog site, I posted a reply to someone who commented negatively on my blog mentioned above:

I wanted to take a moment to thank Mike Perry for his comments, even though he takes issue with what I have written.
For the record, just under half of all US electricity is produced with coal. Almost no oil is now used to produce electricity, except in emergencies. However, during emergencies it is not the price of diesel which matters, it is the availability. Indeed I made no mention of the price, though in ordinary times, price certainly matters a lot.
Regarding my brief stay in a London hospital a couple of years ago, I valued it very highly indeed. For one thing, I had no idea what was wrong - it turned out not be life threatening, but it was very frightening at the time. Furthermore my mother gave the whole of her adult life to nursing, much of it in the UK National Health Service. I grew up on nursing stories, starting in the Second World War, through which my mother trained as a nurse, even during the blitz. Words can hardly express how highly I value those who practice health care.
I have not experienced private health care, but I have experienced national health care in France, England & Canada, and it has been kind, timely and good in every place. And free at the time I needed it. I accept that others may have had different experiences.
There are certainly problems with national health care systems, and poorer areas of a nation may well get a poorer service, but that is not always so.
CAT & MRI scans are an important issue, and it is certainly easier to get a scan done quickly if you are rich. However, having worked on the first CAT scanners (invented in Britain) and made films about MRI scanners in the national health service, my research suggested that scans were available in a reasonably timely manner in most places.
One of the reasons why I wrote this piece is that politics, healthcare and technology are going to be intertwined, in part because of the unfolding changes to the energy system. These changes will require a shortening of the supply chain system (which means more domestic manufacturing) and much greater energy and scientific literacy. It will be so much easier for people to consider the long training required to change career and reskill if they don't have to worry about exorbitant health insurance payments or worse still, being denied coverage on a whim from an insurance company. The whole of society becomes a safer and calmer place when people know that healthcare is available without fear.
Regarding my voting in the United States, sadly as a non-citizen, I am not allowed for vote for anything. I can say that I hope very much that Barack Obama can inspire the American people to deliver change for the better - he certainly cannot do it on his own, even with all the kryptonite in the universe.
PS. For better or for worse, I have a Y chromosome or two lurking in my system, which puts me in the male camp of homo sapiens.

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