National medical group, Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), will this week wade into the population debate with the release of a poster to convey the health risks associated with unfettered population growth.
Twenty-four thousand GPs will receive copies of the poster entitled ‘Advancing Australia Fairly’ this week to display in waiting rooms around the country.
DEA asserts Australia’s population size should be based on a scientific understanding of the carrying capacity of our “fragile continent” and not on the views of those with vested interests.
DEA Spokesperson and GP, Dr George Crisp, said Australia’s population growth rate was higher than India, the Philippines and Cambodia,* and described this as “ill-considered” and “harming our quest for liveable communities”.
“Doctors have a commitment to protect human health,” Dr Crisp said, “which is why we feel compelled to take a position on this issue. Any further pressure on our continent’s ecology, in addition to that of climate change, will take a heavy toll on human health and wellbeing. We have an important obligation to the world to reduce our greenhouse emissions – a task that is difficult enough, but near impossible with an expanding population.”
Population advocate and Australian businessman, Dick Smith, has commended the DEA initiative, saying: “I agree Australia’s population size must be based upon scientific, demographic and health concerns – and not on the opinions of community sectors with deep conflicts of interest.”
“It is overwhelmingly clear that we’re currently living beyond our means in terms of our natural assets,” Mr Smith said. “It is urgent that we question this approach. We need to adjust our growth and consumption driven economic model which stand at odds with our fragile environment and finite resources.”
DEA’s Position Paper on Population calls for an assessment of the wide ranging impacts and consequences of population growth on our environment, human health and wellbeing, the economy, energy security and infrastructure. All major projects should have a population impact statement in order to move away from the ‘given’ that a new resource project must be developed immediately if economically advantageous.
Dr Crisp said Australia’s rapid population growth had placed considerable strain on existing health infrastructure, services, waiting lists and personnel, as well as negative impacts on the community – with citizens of bigger cities suffering from more pollution, longer commuting times, and more obesity from lack of exercise.
“Future population planning must take into account the capacity and maintenance of health services, and the implications of population growth on human health and wellbeing,” Dr Crisp said.
DEA Population Position Paper is available as a pdf file (384KB) here.
Media contacts: George Crisp Mob 0422 057 351; Dick Smith 02 9450 0600; David King (QLD) Mob 0424 068 797; Garry Egger (NSW) 02 9977 7753 Mob 0408 643914; Forbes McGain (VIC) Mob 0400224318; Back up Eugenie Kayak 0419685574.
* Source: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.GROW