The Impact of the Lab
Some words on laboratory life in the anthropocene
Those unfamiliar with warming stripes may have a question or two about the cover of the May/June issue of The Pathologist. This particular gradient of red to blue won’t be like any H&E stain you’ve seen in the lab, but it is an image with growing popularity.
It’s simple: each line of color represents the average temperature of every year since 1850. It doesn’t take a meteorologist to spot the encroaching red waves crashing against the shore of the steady, blue status quo – the predictable climate that we depend on to make our planet habitable. It’s a devilishly simple image that says – no, screams – we cannot go on as we are. Unfortunately, this temperature tapestry is already created; the only lines that we can influence are those that are yet to be weaved. It’s this situation – over a century of inherited climate inaction – that inspired us to produce a feature focused on what we can all do to help make a difference.
Sustainability. It’s a word we hear a lot, but what does it actually mean to be sustainable in the laboratory? Is it recycling pipettes? Switching off the lights? How much of the talk on sustainability is serious and how much is just spiel to make us feel better? How much impact does the lab, and healthcare in general, have on our world?
“Are We Sustainable?” This simple question frames content that aims to arm laboratory professionals with the knowledge to take action on climate breakdown and environmental collapse. Throughout this issue (and our extended online feature), you’ll find interviews, how-tos, and deep dives on a variety of sustainability topics – everything from eco podcasters to a polemic on greenwashing.
For someone whose world has always been exposed to phrases like “global warming,” “climate change,” and “anthropocene,” the future feels like an increasingly dreaded and uncomfortable thing – but the future is all we have. And I don’t know about you, but when (or if) future generations can look back at this period of human history with a sense of hindsight, I’d much rather go down as one of the people who tried to make a difference in my very short stint on this planet.
It’s my hope that, with the knowledge and insight found throughout this feature, we can all at least answer the title question. Are we sustainable? Perhaps not. But we can be.
Interested in how disease interacts with our world. Writing stories covering subjects like politics, society, and climate change.