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As the World Burns: On Rehabilitating the Chiropractic Profession Before It’s Too Late

Rehabilitating Chiropractic

When I was in University, I went on a delirious late-night rant about climate change one night in which I made a number of dramatic and outlandish claims about overpopulation and our disposable culture. This caused my roommate to lend me her copy of a graphic novel called “As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial” by Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan, which presents a dire yet satirical picture of the climate crisis. The problem is this book was published in 2007 and now, 13 years later, the world is literally burning with little policy change to offset the damages. In addition to selecting a well-suited title for their graphic novel, the authors predicted exactly what would happen with climate policy. Nothing (or very little).

Megan McLoughlin

Megan McLoughlin

According to CNN, 14.7 million acres of Australian forests have been burned in the latest fires, which are also responsible for the deaths of at least 480 million animals7. This happened after the July 2019 Amazon rainforest fires burned over 7,200 square miles of Brazilian rainforest, according to National Geographic2. And according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, this isn’t all. Some effects of climate change are closer to home. They state: “In the United States, chronic flooding threatens coastal communities from Texas to Maine. Mega-storms like Harvey, Maria, and Katrina are increasingly commonplace. Wildfires, heat waves, droughts, and inland flooding continue breaking records. Without immediate emissions reductions, these impacts will worsen3.” In other words, the science is in confirming the serious consequences of climate change.

And not only is the science regarding climate change outcomes, but the source of the warming climate is known to be human activity. “Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver1.” This quote was the official conclusion reached by the American Association for the Advancement of Science board of directors as well as the leaders of 18 respected organizations on the nature of climate change, having reviewed multiple lines of scientific evidence. It was published in 2009, and yet for the majority of the 2010s, little change was made. In 2015, the United Nations created the Paris Agreement, which President Trump backed out of in 2017 due to its predicted economic consequences9. Some believe the Paris Agreement is not rigorous enough in the first place – that it lacks strong enough incentives to drive countries beyond their own perceived interests; but at least it serves as a unified global effort to curb climate change4.

If all the science linking rising temperatures to greenhouse gas emissions has been clear all along, then we’re left only to believe that the $200 million spent annually on oil and gas lobbying with the intention of delaying progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to blame for the lack of policy action8. Another concern relative to climate change progress is the politicization of the science. In richer countries like the US, the issue is more politicized through the media, leading to a lack of understanding of the objective science underlying the issue5. How the health of Mother Earth became a partisan issue, I don’t know.

And most of all, what does any of this have to do with the Tic? Much like climate change, a decades-long debate was waged on the scientific validity of chiropractic, even when the evidence was right under everyone’s noses. I won’t cite those research papers supporting chiropractic, but presume we’ve all read them. We are also likely familiar with the Wilks vs. American Medical Association (AMA) legal battle chiropractors won on the grounds that the AMA attempted to “contain and eliminate the chiropractic profession.” In both climate inaction and chiropractic suppression, industry has been responsible for concealing the scientifically-validated truth in order to protect their bottom line. But with chiropractic, we’re not going to wait until the house is on fire to make change.

In order to rehabilitate our gorgeous Mother Earth, visit the National Resource Defense Council and read up on changes you can make that reduces your carbon footprint. Many of the recommendations are as simple as reducing water waste and actually eating all the food that you buy (and making less of it meat). Also consider ways that you’re supporting the fossil fuel industry and divest in whatever ways are sensible given your situation. Maybe this means biking more and maybe this means considering investing in a green portfolio for your stocks.

In the health center, we explain to our patients the importance of wellness-based maintenance care in preventing catastrophic injuries. Well, it seems the profession as a whole is in just such a place. As Moon would argue, by resigning to the notion that chiropractors must be free of the word “subluxation” and subscribing to the erroneous belief that chiropractors are merely back pain doctors, we relegate ourselves to a medical paradigm that is philosophically opposed to the truest original intentions of the profession6. The way forward in rehabilitating the chiropractic profession is by sharing what we know about the science, philosophy, and art and engaging with the community on this level, but only to the extent that those in the community are prepared to do so. Dr. Dieter, an LCCW professor, has committed his life to, as he says, “restoring the chiropractic profession to its rightful position of prominence,” which he does through his engagement with the chamber of commerce and other organizations like CalChiro. We may have let our mother go down in flames before making a change, but we will protect the Tic.

This article first appeared in the February 2020 issue of Lifelines, the Life West student magazine.


  1. AAAS Reaffirms Statements on Climate Change and Integrity [Internet]. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 2009 [cited 2020Jan23]. Available from: https://www.aaas.org/news/aaas-reaffirms-statements-climate-change-and-integrity
  2. Borunda A. See how much of the Amazon is burning, how it compares to other years [Internet]. Map: See how much of the Amazon forest is burning, how it compares to other years. 2019 [cited 2020Jan22s]. Available from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/08/amazon-fires-cause-deforestation-graphic-map/
  3. Climate Science [Internet]. Union of Concerned Scientists. [cited 2020Jan23]. Available from: https://www.ucsusa.org/climate/science
  4. Herz S. Paris Is Not Enough: Why the Paris Agreement Isn’t Driving More Climate Action…and How It Could. SSRN Electronic Journal. 2019;
  5. How media around the world frame climate change news [Internet]. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily; 2019 [cited 2020Jan24]. Available from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190813130431.htm
  6. Keating JC, Charlton KH, Grod JP, Perle SM, Sikorski D, Winterstein JF. Subluxation: dogma or science? [Internet]. Chiropractic & osteopathy. BioMed Central; 2005 [cited 2019Jul22]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1208927/
  7. Maxouris C. Here’s just how bad the devastating Australian fires are — by the numbers [Internet]. CNN. Cable News Network; 2020 [cited 2020Jan22]. Available from: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/06/us/australian-fires-by-the-numbers-trnd/index.html
  8. McCarthy N. Oil And Gas Giants Spend Millions Lobbying To Block Climate Change Policies [Infographic] [Internet]. Forbes. Forbes Magazine; 2019 [cited 2020Jan24]. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2019/03/25/oil-and-gas-giants-spend-millions-lobbying-to-block-climate-change-policies-infographic/#1c24ed587c4f
  9. On the U.S. Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement – United States Department of State [Internet]. U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State; [cited 2020Jan24]. Available from: https://www.state.gov/on-the-u-s-withdrawal-from-the-paris-agreement/
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