The Mercury: Talking point — Heat on health to cut costs and boost wellbeing

Most Tasmanians are aware extreme weather events of recent years were made more severe by the changing
climate, and are likely to become more common and more intense over the next few decades.

Issues Paper - Tasmanian State Election 2018

A Prescription for Safeguarding the Health of Tasmanians

Media Release: Doctors applaud decision to reject New Acland Coal mine extension

Doctors for the Environment Australia has today welcomed the Queensland Government’s decision to reject the environmental approvals for the expansion of the New Acland Coal mine, describing it as the only sensible decision open to the government given the potential risks posed by the project.

The Conversation: Health check-how can extreme heat lead to death?

Our climate is becoming hotter. This is our reality. Extreme heat is already responsible for hundreds of deaths every year. It’s a big environmental killer, and deaths from heatwaves in Australian cities are expected to double in the next 40 years.

Vicdoc: Protecting Victoria's forests is good for our health

Victoria’s forests are simply extraordinary. They support our health in a variety of ways and there is currently a community call for a new Great Forest National Park in our Central Highlands. Despite this, state government owned Vicforests continues industrial clear fell logging. In addition to the push from environmentalists and scientists there is a strong argument for the protection of our remaining forests on health grounds.

Coal is Worthless; a commentary on William Nordhaus and “The Commons”

When I received the January newsletter from an alma mater, Yale University, there was a tribute to economist William Nordhaus. He was already waxing on the issues of the day when I was doing postgraduate study and working in the Yale University Medical Centre in 1965.
Nordhaus is central to DEA interests and aims and indeed to all our lives and the future, they are the issues of coal and the Commons. Nordhaus’s work is about the economics of the Commons.

Unconventional gas, health, economics and incompetent regulation - an everyperson’s guide to what’s going on.

We know from the work of William Nordhaus that coal has no economic value to communities if all social, health and environment, and climate related impacts are taken into account. Coal remains viable only in the minds of climate deniers, some governments, and fossil fuel barons who continue to profit despite its harms.

Submission to the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory in Response to the Draft Final Report

Doctors for the Environment Australia welcomes the opportunity to provide further feedback following the release of the draft Final Report into Hydraulic Fracturing.

It is our recommendation that the moratorium on fracking in NT should be extended indefinitely. Whilst the Inquiry has identified regulatory options that may minimise some of the risks of fracking, DEA believes that for NT, such a response is premature, overly optimistic, and overlooks climate change which is the greatest threat to human and economic health that we face.

Download the Submission to the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory in Response to the Draft Final Report.

Croakey: Queensland authorities urged to to act on health concerns about coal seam gas emissions

A study in the International Journal of Environmental Studies by DEA’s Dr Geralyn McCarron, showing a possible link between pollutants from the CSG industry and a spike in hospitalisations in the Darling Downs raises questions about safety, but also about how the industry responds to public health concerns. 

In response to the paper, the peak national gas industry body the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) attacked the author and made sweeping and incorrect statements about the study, rather than expressing concern about the findings.

In this Croakey blog, Dr McCarron responds to the attacks and calls on health authorities to take responsibility for further investigation of the health impacts of the CSG industry on local residents.

Doctors say national air quality standards are failing to protect health

National air quality reporting standards are failing to protect people's health argue DEA members, John Van der Kallen and Ben Ewald, after windy weather whipped up dust from local coal mines in the Hunter Valley last weekend resulting in air pollution for residents that breached regulations. Yet there are no significant consequences for the mining companies for violation of standards.

Newcastle Herald Opinion | Climate change the true culprit

It’s common knowledge that the amount of sand on beaches changes over time. In heavy seas, sand is eroded from beaches. In calmer periods, sand is deposited. However, we are entering a new world and can no longer be reassured by the past processes where sand on beaches is replenished.

A win for health and the environment in Pt Augusta

After a successful eight -year community led campaign, the SA government recently announced that the world’s largest stand-alone concentrated solar thermal (CST) power plant will begin construction in Port Augusta. This will transform a city which was powered by ageing coal fired power stations into a city with a bright future as a renewable energy hub in the 21st century. What’s more, doctors and medical students were a major driving force behind this decision, writes Dr Ingo Weber with AMA vice-president Dr Chris Moy.

Doctors alarmed, but not surprised, at data estimating the significant carbon footprint of our health care system

Doctors are alarmed, but not surprised, at data estimating the significant carbon footprint of our health care system - over 7% of Australia’s total carbon footprint.

Medical Observer: How doctors can use money as a force for good health

There are arguably three dimensions of medical ethics. The first is the health of the patient. The second dimension is the health of the community. And the third dimension concerns how our actions both in and out of the clinic affect the global community and natural world around us on which the health of current and future generations depends. 

Coal News and DEA Action in December

  • Rocky Hill coalmine rejection
  • Victory celebrations in the Gloucester Valley
  • Proposed Styx Coal Mine in Central Queensland

Online Opinion: How the Turnbull government stole Christmas

The Turnbull Government may have hoped releasing Australia’s latest greenhouse gas emissions together with the 2017 Climate Report would pass unnoticed, given the sneaky way it announced them just days before Christmas.

Croakey; Land clearing: a health threat requiring action and leadership – in the NT, and elsewhere

The diversity and complexity of the health issues that we face, whether as journalists or public health advocates or policymakers, can be overwhelming. In dealing with a constant avalanche of health-related news, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture.

Bushfires and Health in a Changing Environment: Fact sheet

Bushfires have always been a part of the Australian ecology, but now that ecology is changing.

Park Watch: Nature’s Medicine

The Victorian Government released a strategy for protecting Victoria’s biodiversity in April 2017. This article is the third in a series in Park Watch (see the June and September 2017 editions) that addresses the strategy and why it matters.

Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 is the first formal statewide long-term biodiversity plan in two decades, and it contains a range of priorities and initiatives. Chapter Four, ‘A healthy environment for healthy Victorians’ explores why spending time connecting with nature is good for our health as individuals and as a society.

he Victorian Government’s Victorian Memorandum for Health and Nature is also a significant step in recognising that looking after nature also means looking after the health of people and their communities.

Submission to the Proposed Central Queensland (Styx) Coal Project

The impacts of a development must be seen in the context of national and international health. These important links are explained in “The health factor: Ignored by industry and overlooked by government”, Appendix 1: The need to protect public health.

Media release: Doctors welcome Rocky Hill mine decision

Doctors for the Environment Australia has today applauded the rejection of the Rocky Hill open cut coalmine proposal near Gloucester.

Submission on the proposed amendment to prohibit open cut mining at Drayton South

DEA supports the prohibition of open cut mining in the mapped area of the Upper Hunter near Jerrys Plains. However DEA is of the view that the amendment does not go far enough, and that all coal mining on the site should be prohibited. This is because any form of coal mining on this site would have damaging effects on local population health, the environment and existing industry. Furthermore, coal mining on this site would have negative global effects, from the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and the subsequent effects of climate change, including threats to health. Therefore DEA advocates for the Mining SEPP amendment to be widened, to include a ban on all coal mining on the site.

On Line Opinion: We must avoid the final cut

My guess is most Australians aren’t aware that an area of forest and bushland the size of the MCG is currently bulldozed in Queensland every three minutes, mainly for livestock grazing. Data released this year reveals that over 1 million hectares have been cleared over the last three years, making Eastern Australia a global deforestation hot-spot alongside places like the Amazon, the Congo and Borneo. Inexcusably, we are the only advanced economy still engaged in broad-scale land clearing.

Submission to the State Commission Assessment Panel

Submission to the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) on
– Alinta Energy Reeves Plains Power Station, comprising the construction of a 300 MW capacity gas fired peaking power station
– AGL Energy Grand Trunkway, Torrens Island, comprising the construction of a two stage power station with a total capacity of 420 MW

OpenForum: Australia comes bottom of the class on climate action.

Last week, Germanwatch and Climate Action Network (Europe) announced the results of their annual survey of countries’ climate change action throughout the world.

Croakey: Wrapping the news on climate and health from #COP23 – plus how Australia was judged

Who is the best at being the worst? Who does the most to do the least? And who is working really hard to wreck our climate?

These were some questions on the minds of judges of the “Fossil of the Day” awards at the recent COP23 talks in Bonn.

Dr Alice McGushin, a member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, was there to collect on behalf of Australia. It was a “bittersweet moment”, she writes below in her final report from the climate talks (read her previous article for Croakey here).

Newcastle Herald Opinion | Doctors take stand against mine proposal

The proposed Rocky Hill open-cut coalmine near Gloucester should be rejected outright by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), which is meeting this week. There are plenty of reasons for tearing up the proposal – open-cut mines are bad for health.

Media release: Doctors slam Australia’s poor ranking in climate change performance

In what health experts describe as embarrassing and shameful, Australia has come in as one of the worst performers in an annual assessment of 57 nations’ climate policies, heading only three other countries.

Supplementary submission on the Rocky Hill Mine to the NSW PAC

Since the initial DEA submission  there has been new evidence regarding the impact of open cut coal mines on health as well the rejection of a similar proposal, the New Acland Coal mine extension, by the Land Court in Queensland.

Newcastle Herald: Gloucester’s controversial Rocky Hill coal mine under the microscope

The proposed Rocky Hill open cut mine will have a major impact on the health of the local community with the mine simply too close to the township of Gloucester.

DEA welcomes the divestment announcement of Medibank Private Health Insurance

DEA congratulates Medibank Private Health Insurance on their announcement today that they will commence divestment from fossil fuels, in acknowledgement of the health impacts of climate change. This follows their announcement earlier this year that they will reach carbon neutrality in their own operations by 2018.

Croakey: COP23, Fiji leads global efforts to leap forward on climate action

“And it is that of a Fijian, a Pacific Islander, who comes from a region of the world that is bearing the brunt of climate change. Whether it is the rising seas, extreme weather events or changes to agriculture, that threaten our way of life and in some cases, our very existence.”

Vector: Coal Mining, Climate Change and the Global Impacts on Health, Examining Adani’s Proposed Carmichael Coal Mine

The proposed Adani-owned Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland is currently in the final stages of planning with the support of both the Queensland and Australian governments. It is in the interest of human health, locally and abroad, for the medical profession to advocate on behalf of the community and lobby our legislators to reject this project.

Supplementary Submission to the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory

DEA has already made a comprehensive submission and provided additional information in a further submission to the Inquiry, and these are now in the Submission library (numbers 96 and 477).

Transport Position Statement

Transport is an important part of a developed nation such as Australia, providing goods and services vital to health and the economy. The way in which transport is conducted in Australia is important to the health and well-being of all Australians. 

Media release: Doctors join AAA’s call for real world testing of cars

Doctors for the Environment Australia have welcomed the Australian Automobile Association’s (AAA) call for the introduction of a real world testing of cars, as the initiative would save thousands of lives.

John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations: The Devastating Health Costs of Coal.

Amid all the debate about energy policy – about security, affordability, and carbon emissions – there is one critical issue that has barely rated a mention: human health. Coal is hazardous to our health; renewables are not. In any discussion about energy, the human health costs of coal and the significant health benefits of switching to safe and healthy forms of energy must be considered as seriously as security, affordability and emissions.

Huffington Post: Cars Are The Problem, And The Solution, To Our Highest Emissions Level Ever

Australia’s annual emissions from energy use have increased to their highest-ever level according to the recent report by respected energy expert Hugh Saddler. This finding is disturbing, and points to a failure by government to address climate change across all sectors.

Media release: Medics – We must better prepare health services for heatwaves

Doctors have today called for a comprehensive government plan to better prepare the health system, including emergency hospital departments, to cope with the extra admissions from the projected increases in heatwaves.

The Guardian: A lack of action on climate change is putting people’s lives at risk | Mark Monaghan

A new study warning Australia’s major cities are likely to reach highs of 50C by 2040 – even if the world meets its target of limiting warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels – is yet more evidence that without immediate and urgent action we are facing a looming public health crisis during heatwaves and other extreme weather events.

Open Forum: Coal – the inconvenient truth

The debate on energy has omitted one vital factor that may have provided a rational outcome – health. It requires dedication by the Federal Government to avoid mentioning health in the context of coal. This avoidance is cloaked in the mantra of “coal is clean”, “clean coal”, “coal is good for humanity”, “coal is cheap” – all flying in the face of universally known evidence.

Lithgow Mercury: Doctor says water quality should be protected

“Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right and is essential for human health.  Consequently there needs to be a high priority given to protecting the quality of our drinking water.”

The Doctus Project: Tobacco, coal, and Adani’s Carmichael mine

Imagine there was a giant new tobacco factory being planned for regional Queensland. And that both the state and federal governments were backing its development, and offering public money to support it. There would likely be considerable outcry from medical and health organisations and much public debate about supporting this unethical industry.

Media release: Doctors demand protection for Sydney’s drinking water

Any water discharged from the Springvale mine, near Lithgow, needs to be treated to the legally required standard to ensure Sydney has safe drinking water, urge health experts.

Online Opinion: Death of the CET

Coalition talk of dumping Finkel’s Clean Energy Target leaves Australia’s climate policy in tatters.

Newcastle Herald Opinion | Health omitted from review of EIS: Doctors

There are numerous examples of where communities have been put at risk from the rapid expansion of the coal and unconventional gas industry in NSW. Bulga, Singleton, Camden are some of the sites that come to mind.

Independent Australia: AGL’s Liddell power station and the Turnbull Government’s ‘clean coal’ lies

Even AGL recognises its Liddell power station is neither “clean” nor “cheap”, but the Coalition Government promotes such lies to preserve its own power over community health, writes Dr David Shearman.

Media release: Doctors urge closure of Liddell coal-fired power station before 2022 to save lives

Liddell coal-fired power station — one of the most polluting in Australia — must close earlier than 2022 rather than later as suggested by the Turnbull Government on Tuesday, urge concerned doctors.

RenewEconomy: Liddell – Climate change and air pollution medical negligence

Most members of the community will recognise the team-work, devotion and skill of doctors, nurses and technical staff in delivering new life in cardiac, brain or trauma surgery or freedom from the misery of pain conferred by hip and knee surgery

Doctors disappointed by government’s decision to cut back marine sanctuaries

In 2012, Australia made history by creating the world’s largest network of marine sanctuaries. This was the result of decades of scientific research, work by all sides of politics, and overwhelming community support. Science shows that sanctuaries protect marine life, help reefs to recover from coral bleaching, and ensure we have fish for the future.

Croakey: Public forum in Townsville hears of health concerns about Adani mine

Health professionals, farming families, environmental activists and community members attended a forum in Townsville last week where serious health concerns were raised about the Adani Carmichael mine.

Our thanks to James Cook University medical student Kira Muller for providing the following report for Croakey readers.

NSW EIA Improvement Project – 1: Overview of the EIA Improvement Project Submission

The rapid expansion of the coal and unconventional gas industries has not only created widespread community concern over health and environmental issues but it has exposed the inadequate processes whereby the New South Wales (NSW) government is acting as proponent in their perceived interest of economic development whereas they should be acting as arbiter.

Media release: Public Forum-Townsville doctors and nurses speak out on the health effects of Adani’s coalmine

What: Free public forum and discussion on how the Adani Carmichael mine will affect health

Joy and relief in Port Augusta; victory for community

In a world that must transition to renewable energy to ensure our future, the visionary Mayor of Port Augusta (PA), the late Joy Baluch said “God is not going to send us a bill for solar energy, but the gas industry will”.

Current and future impacts of climate change on housing, buildings and infrastructure submission

….It is also increasingly apparent that, even with a 2°C rise, the world will be greatly changed from present, with economic budgets greatly stressed by reparation of infrastructure and all the pillars of life, water, food, air quality and biodiversity-resilience under stress and facing likely deterioration…..

Croakey: Review of Mark Butler’s Climate Wars book: time to broker a true peace

Croakey recently featured a call to arms on climate change policy from Mark Butler, Opposition spokesman for climate change and energy, following the launch of his book Climate Wars.

In her review of the book, Dr Rosalie Schultz, from Doctors for the Environment Australia, welcomes its currency and accuracy. But she notes Butler’s determination to continue to wage the political war on climate change, and lack of acknowledgement of Labor’s failures and restraints. Thus, she says, the book loses an opportunity to “address the climate conflict through a transformative approach”.

Climate Wars is published by Melbourne University Press.

Open Forum: Further evidence that coal-fired power has reached its use-by-date

This week’s report on Australian coal-fired power stations reveals staggering levels of polluting emissions and underlines the problems created by coal combustion for the health of the planet and its inhabitants, and provides further evidence that coal as a fuel is approaching its use-by date.

Media release: Medics end date for Australia’s coal-fired power plants

Doctors are calling for the phase out Australia’s coal-fired power stations within the next 10 years to reduce the numbers of avoidable deaths and illnesses, in response to a damning report released today.

Media release: Doctors give Port Augusta’s solar thermal plant a big tick of approval

Doctors applaud the South Australian Government’s support of a solar thermal plant with storage in Port Augusta – the biggest of its kind in the world.

Governance and operation of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Submission

It is also very important that the NAIF also takes into account our responsibilities to various international agreements such as the Paris Agreement. This would seem consistent with the paragraph in the White Paper – “The north will be an exemplar of sustainable development. The development of major population centres of more than a million people will underwrite substantial exports of planning, design, architecture and construction to the Tropics”.

The Reef – a love story

DEA was pleased to contribute to a book by the Australian Marine Conservation Society outlining the value of the Great Barrier Reef. It is called ‘The Reef- a love story’ and was presented to the Minister for the Environment & Energy, Josh Frydenberg and also shared widely at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Poland. Josh was reportedly deeply appreciative of the book. You can download the book from this link to a drop box folder (to view it as a book you need to open the downloaded file in Adobe Acrobat and view in a 2 page format).

RenewEconomy: Revelations from the New Acland coal mine case

The Land Court recommendation against expansion of New Acland Coal (NAC) open cut mine has exposed the ongoing complaints by neighbours, about dust, noise, vibrations and lighting spills from the existing mine. Could this be the turning point for improvement or even reform of health and environmental assessments in Queensland?

Objections to major hospital ’s links with coal bring a positive result

DEA expressed alarm after learning that a major Australian hospital had publicly backed a proposed coal mine.

COAG: Can democracy weed out climate deniers?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s statement that “Those people who say coal and other fossil fuels have no future are delusional and they fly in the face of all economic forecasts” confirms that four Australian states were right to go it alone, after his government failed to deliver a clean energy target at the COAG meeting.

Online Opinion: Air pollution-a silent killer we must urgently act on

Media reports last week that the government planned to introduce strict new fuel and vehicle efficiency standards starting in 2022, characterised as a “carbon tax on cars”, brought an emphatic denial from Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg.

The Health Toll of Coal Fact Sheet

Each step of the coal to energy generation lifecycle – mining, transportation, washing, combustion, and disposing of waste – impacts upon human health (Epstein, 2011).

Newcastle Herald: Opinion | HELE plants still cause air pollution

With mining interests calling for new high efficiency coal fired power stations to be built in the Hunter region, it is time to examine the health effects of these proposed plants.

InDaily: Why fracking the South-East threatens more than agriculture

Australia’s energy debate needs to consider mounting evidence that unconventional gas extraction poses a serious risk to human health, argues David Shearman.

Media release: Young doctors shout out to @Commonwealthbank: #NoNewCoal

Young doctors across the nation will today start a week-long social media campaign aimed at pressuring the Commonwealth Bank not to fund new coal mines, including Adani, because coal is hazardous to health.

Air Pollution Policy

Globally air pollution is an increasingly important public health problem. Nationally ambient (outdoor) air pollution contributes significantly to morbidity and mortality. Reductions in fossil fuel combustion to mitigate climate change have the potential to also benefit health by reducing concentrations of air pollutants which contribute to respiratory and cardiovascular disease and premature mortality.

Huffington Post: Why The Finkel Review Sells Australia’s Climate Future Short

News that the Finkel report on how to make the energy market secure is facing bitter opposition among the ranks of the Coalition doesn’t bode well.

VicDoc: Counting the true cost of Hazelwood’s shutdown

Hazelwood, in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, was noted for being the most carbon polluting coal-fired power station in Australia. The plant ceased operations in March – five months after majority owner, Engie, announced the decision to close when it became clear that it could not meet the estimated $400 million to maintain health and safety standards ordered by WorkSafe Victoria.

Medial release: Why the Finkel report fails Australians

A three year notice to be given by companies for closure of air polluting coal power stations means three years with more deaths and illness in the community, according to health experts responding to the Finkel report released today.

Coral Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef: An emerging public health crisis?

By Dr Lea Merone and Dr Andrew Daltry

Human health and the environment are inextricably linked in a number of ways. Natural ecosystems support our health by filtering our air, providing fresh water and food, protecting against spread of disease and pests, forming physical defenses from weather, and regulating our climate.

Media release: Doctors and nurses join forces to urge Commonwealth Bank chiefs not to fund the Adani mine- for health’s sake

Just one day after the Adani board gave the go-ahead to the Carmichael coal mine project, nurses, doctors and concerned community members wearing stethoscopes and surgical masks and carrying placards will  deliver letters to the Commonwealth Bank’s Board of Directors at the bank’s headquarters on Sussex Street, Sydney, and to key branches in Brisbane and Perth.

Media release: Open letter to the NAIF Board

Leading medical doctors have today made an urgent call to each of the Board members of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to rule out an investment loan allowing Adani to build a rail line from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point, because of the dangers coal poses to public health.

Submission on the Narrabri Gas Project

DEA notes a number of deficiencies, unsupported assumptions, known and unknown risks in relation to the Santos Narrabri Gasfield project. We recommend rejection of this proposal on the basis that it cannot sufficiently guarantee the safety of human health and ecosystems supporting health.

Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine and Health: Fact Sheet

Coal is hazardous to health. It pollutes our land, water and air, and contributes to further climate change – the biggest threat to health this century.

Shortsighted Budget 2017 ignores health impacts of climate change

The Turnbull Government has once again prioritised growing the economy over human lives, writes Dr Kris Barnden.

Doctors deliver message to Commonwealth Bank chiefs: For health’s sake, don’t fund Adani’s coal mine

Doctors in stethoscopes and surgical masks will today deliver a letter highlighting the risks to health from the proposed Adani coal mine to the Commonwealth Bank’s Board of Directors in Sydney.

Media release: Doctors call for stricter pollution license fee system to protect health

Doctors for the Environment Australia calls for proper implementation of the pollution license fee system for NSW power stations to protect public health.

Discussion Paper on the Review of Australia’s Climate Change Policy

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is concerned about the health effects of climate change on humans and the biosphere on which humans depend. DEA is also cognisant of policies that can address both existing health problems and reduce the impact of climate change. It is in this holistic risk–co-benefit framework that DEA examines the climate change policies of Australian federal and state governments.

Media release: Electricity review raises more questions than answers

Doctors slam yet another review of Australia’s electricity supply, saying it raises questions of probity, and also delays efforts to reduce green-house gas emissions from dirty energy production that is harming our health.

OnlineOpinion: The NT must keep the door firmly closed to fracking

There is growing concern in the NT that the Gunner Government may remove the moratorium on fracking. However, rejecting the moratorium would be a grave mistake, and Territorians know this. That’s why we voted for the moratorium in the landslide ALP victory in August 2016.

Submission to the Climate Change Authority on the Special Review of power system security, electricity prices and emissions reductions

DEA notes that the Climate Change Authority (CCA) will join with the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) to review an Independent Review into the Future Security of the NEM. The report of this Independent Review is not yet available, so why there has to be further review of an unpublished Review is problematic and raises questions of probity.

Action on the land: reducing emissions, conserving natural capital and improving farm profitability

DEA commends The Climate Change Authority for taking a lead in exploring the ways in which Australia’s agricultural sector can move from being a major contributor to climate change and degradation of natural resources to being part of the solution, whilst maintaining or improving productivity.

Media release: NT Government must stick to moratorium on fracking, urge doctors

Medical doctors have called for an extension of the moratorium on fracking in the Northern Territory, fearing that the Government’s focus on developing a regulatory framework for fracking could signal support for this highly controversial procedure.

Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory submission

Australia has seen rapid growth in interest and development of exploration and drilling for unconventional gas reserves from coal seams, shale deposits and tight sands. These reserves require special techniques such as fracking, in-seam and horizontal drilling. Doctors for the Environment Australia is concerned that the rush to exploit this resource has outpaced regulation to protect public health and the environment, and to adequately assess the health impacts, including exposures to industrial chemicals.

Inquiry into the rehabilitation of mining and resources projects as it relates to Commonwealth responsibilities submission

Mining incurs a range of environmental impacts that persist after the production phase of the mine has ended. There are changes in vegetation and landscape, exposure and potential ignition of fossil fuels, the pollution of air, soils and water, the introduction of aquatic sediments into water sources and land subsidence. Any of these can result in loss of productive land, loss or degradation of groundwater, pollution of surface water and air pollution from dust or toxic gases, with subsequent negative impacts on human health.

Time to end the debate and get on with it

We know that air pollution is responsible for 3000 preventable deaths a year. Dr John Van Der Kallen says as the solutions to our air pollution and climate chaos are obvious and available, it is now a matter of getting on with it.

Media release: Are Australia’s Emergency Response systems prepared for the Climate Emergency?

Immediate Past Vice President of the AMA asks Are Australia’s Emergency Response systems prepared for the Climate Emergency?

Media release: Healthy planet, healthy people: Leading doctors call for urgent action

Doctors are calling for action on climate change, linking it to conditions such as respiratory diseases and childhood illnesses and also highlighting the need for emergency preparedness.

Media Release: Doctor training needs to step up on climate change, urge health experts

Universities and professional organisations must better prepare doctors and medical students to deal with the impacts of climate change, urge Australia’s leading medics.

Gizmodo OpEd: Cars Are Killing Us

About 3,000 Australians die prematurely each year from outdoor air pollution, and our cars are a major component of that pollution, particularly in traffic congested areas.

Croakey Blog: A call for doctors to take a stand on the Adani Carmichael coal mine

This BBC report on the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine makes the point that it would be one of the biggest mines on the planet with a reference that points graphically to its global impact – “occupying an area nearly three times larger than Paris, where world leaders hammered out a landmark agreement to combat climate change in late 2015”.

The Examiner: Small steps can lead to some pretty big changes

I had felt deeply uncomfortable about my contribution to climate change for decades. My electricity and car were powered by fossil fuels. My groceries were trucked and flown in from distant places. My bank invested in coal, oil and gas.

Preliminary Report of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market Submission

Energy reliability and security, and affordability which are all essential for the cohesion and health of our society can be achieved by the continued inclusion of renewable energy into the market; small- and large-scale wind and solar, supported by smart switching and controlling technologies; and by energy storage facilities such as batteries, pumped hydro and concentrated solar thermal.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It may be merely symbolic but, for me, our surgery garden is an extension of what we do as doctors. We all know that the major determinants of health sit outside consulting rooms and hospitals so here’s the story of our very own green space.

Letter to the Editor (TheAge) The environment: Fracking ban a small step in right direction

Congratulations to the Victorian Parliament for finally passing the legislation to ban fracking in the state. Fracking is bad for our health, and an increasing number of reports from the United States show that there are adverse impacts on the health of nearby residents. Importantly, the burning of fossil fuels causes climate change. The increasing frequency of heatwaves, bushfires, floods and severe storms are costing Australians dearly in terms of health and social disruption.

Media release: Traffic hot spots are making our children sick, warn doctors

Children living or attending schools close to major roads are exposed to more hazardous air pollution, warn health experts who are calling for sweeping laws to control vehicular emissions and so improve air quality.

Submission to the Better Fuel for Cleaner Air Discussion Paper

DEA welcomes the opportunity to respond to the discussion paper ‘Better Fuel for Cleaner Air’ and notes that the scope of the paper is limited to consideration of fuel quality standards while vehicle emission standards and fuel efficiency (greenhouse gas emissions per kilometre) are to be considered separately by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Media release: Senate Inquiry – You’re more likely to die from air pollution than road accidents, NSW health experts warn

Air pollution endangers more lives than road deaths, doctors will tell a Senate Inquiry into the closure of coal-fired power stations on Wednesday.

Coal & Health Poster

Australia has abundant reserves of coal, which is mined to power the majority of our electricity generation and exported overseas for coking and power generation. Due to the apparent low cost of this abundant resource Australians are enthusiastically exploiting it as rapidly as possible.

Election Health Alert: DEA Climate Change Posters

DEA is keen for the electorate to take climate change seriously. It is imperative that the voters consider climate change as a priority when voting. As a result we have created two posters that can be distributed widely.

Where are the doctors when you need them?

The Australian medical fraternity spoke up about tobacco. So why the silence on another emerging killer?

Study: Walking can save lives and money

Research that Population Health Professor Marj Moodie and I have conducted has found that incidental physical activity from active transport, such as walking to catch the train to work or cycling to the shops, can save lives and money.

Independent Australia: Renewable Energy: It’s not a jump to the left.

With the first of RenewWA’s climate forums starting today at Edith Cowan University in W.A., Amy Marshall from Doctors for the Environment goes in to bat for renewable energy.

The True Cost of Coal Ash Flying in the Face of Port Augustans

Air pollution from blowing ash in Port Augusta in SA has become a major issue. This article and others on the topic of coal from the DEA team in SA has failed to be published in the Advertiser (NewsCorp). The dedication of the Australian newspaper and related papers to coal development, clean coal etc is in our view based on incorrect scientific interpretation and carries considerable concerns for individual and world health.

InDaily: Health the missing dimension in energy debate

The health impacts of burning fossil fuels should be front and centre in the national debate on the future of the electricity network, writes Adelaide doctor David Shearman.

Video: Climate change is a major health issue

DEA’s Michael Williams on why doctors are concerned about rising temperatures and what we can do about them in this terrific GetUp video.

Media release: Doctors concerned about ongoing and future health threats from Loy Yang B upgrade

2017 is not the year for the Victorian EPA to be approving an upgrade of a brown coal power plant, Loy Yang B, allowing the most polluting source of electricity production to continue for a further 30 years.

Oped: VIC Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Review

The Victorian Government has recently completed its comprehensive review of the VIC Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and has committed $45.5 million over the next 18 months to extend its scope and powers, a sizable injection considering the EPAs current annual operating budget of approximately $70 million a year, suggesting a sincere desire by the Government for true reform.

Discussion paper: Federal Government planning to prevent and manage the health consequences of climate change

To address the health impacts of climate change – the greatest global health threat of the 21st century – national leadership and governance are needed.

DEA Adaptation Policy

Australia is poorly prepared for adequate adaptation to the health impacts of climate change and thus the community’s health and our health services are vulnerable.

The Guardian: Carbon countdown clock: how much of the world’s carbon budget have we spent?

One way of looking at emissions targets is as a fixed budget amount, or quota. This countdown shows one estimate of how long it will take to reach an amount of greenhouse gas emissions beyond which 2C of warming will be likely.

Online Opinion: Australian climate change policy isn’t working

With summer here, the brown, crunchy, lifeless patches on my lawn in Perth remind me that much of Australia is getting hotter and drier. Working in public health, it also reminds me of a call to action – not just for me, but for all of us. Not for more wetting agent and regular watering (although, yes, that will be needed).

Media release: Time to clean up our air

The community is paying the cost of polluted air through health problems such as heart disease, lung disease and asthma – largely caused by coal mining and coal-fired power generation. Doctors have made a submission on the NSW Clean Air Plan to urge action to improve health.

Tasmanian Energy Security Taskforce Submission

On reviewing the Interim report one is encouraged by the availability of natural energy resources in Tasmania. Unlike most other states Tasmania has three quarters of stationary energy available through hydro and it has unlimited wind, solar and other modalities which with storage would make the state self-sufficient in clean energy and attain zero emissions from its energy sector…….

Clean Air for NSW Consultation Paper Submission

We agree with the proposition that although NSW has relatively clean air by global standards, there is still a burden of disease attributable to air pollution and considerable health benefits available by improving air quality.

The West Australian: Climate change looms as fiery threat to State

It is bushfire season in WA again, and we know the wildfires are getting worse each year. The State Government is trying to ramp up awareness of the bushfire risk and more money is being put into firefighting services. This investment is desperately needed, but it is not nearly enough.

Online Opinion: Preserving our forests should be a top priority

The magnificent old growth forests of East Gippsland are a national treasure. Yet state-endorsed logging continues in this region, undermining the rich tapestry of plants and animals that support human health.

Australia’s increasing greenhouse emissions is freeloading on countries taking action to reduce them

Australia’s increase in greenhouse emissions is freeloading on other countries which are taking action to reduce them.

Media release: Medical experts call for a price rise on coal-fired power to protect health

New South Wales’ big five coal-fired power stations should pay 49 times more than they are paying for the pollution they emit, if we are to substantially improve public health.

Review of the Load-based Licensing Scheme (NSW) submission

Coal-fired power stations (CFPS) are substantial sources of air pollutants.

Open Forum: How to make your New Year sustainable

As the Australian Government’s climate change policy is struggling for credibility, it is more important than ever that we try to make a difference collectively and as individuals to help minimise global warming. Dr Kim Loo explains how.

Media release: Turnbull must consider his position if he cannot chair COAG Leaders meeting with an open mind

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should consider his position if he is not prepared to listen with an open mind to the policy advice from the experts at the COAG Leaders meeting on Friday 9 December.

Media release: Former Australian of the Year warns Adani coalmine poses a significant public health risk

The announcement of a $1 billion loan from the Federal Government and the arrival in Australia this week of the head of Adani suggests Queensland’s giant Carmichael coal mine will go ahead, says former Australian of the Year and leading public health advocate Professor Fiona Stanley who is speaking on behalf of the medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia.

Renew Economy Oped: No social licence, no gas fracking in South Australia

In a state with a history of enlightened decisions, The final report of the South Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into unconventional gas (fracking) in the South East of South Australia the Committee has produced another one.

Heatwave Fact Sheet

Temperatures are expected to continue to increase in the 21st century due to climate change. The CSIRO & BOM predict that by 2070, temperatures in Australia will rise by up to 5°C with longer, hotter, more frequent heatwaves expected.

Media release: Government must phase out coal-fired power stations within the next decade

Doctors have welcomed the interim report of the Senate inquiry into the retirement of coal-fired power stations which was tabled on Monday, however they say it doesn’t go far enough.

SMH oped: We need to do more to understand the impact of climate change on our health

After the tragic deaths of eight people related to the recent outbreak of thunderstorm asthma in Melbourne, we need to consider the “perfect storm” of climate change.

The Conversation: Why coal-fired power stations need to shut on health grounds

The Senate inquiry’s report into the planned closure of coal-fired power stations will no doubt shed light on the compelling health reasons to close them.

Huffington Post: In The Mountains Of Timor-Leste, A Small Success On Climate Change from WithOneSeed

DEA member Ralph Lewis has drawn our attention to the program With One Seed, http://withoneseed.org.au/ involving reforestation, carbon capture as well as providing income for local landholders in Timor.

Open Forum: Nature as medicine

Anyone who studies medicine or has a career in medicine knows that if you allow it, it can consume your life.

Effects of plastics in the environment

An overview of concerns by DEA member A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos

The impact of chemicals such as heavy metals and pesticides in the environment on human health is well recognised.1 What is not well recognised is the impact of plastics in the environment on human health.

Media release: Doctors slam Australia’s “shameful” ranking in climate change performance index

In what health experts describe as an “embarrassing and shameful” result, Australia has come in as one of the worst performers in an annual assessment of 61 nations’ climate policies, with only Korea, Kazakhstan, Japan and Saudi Arabia ranking worse.

Croakey: The new NT government is right to announce an inquiry into fracking

One of the outcomes of the Labor Party’s landslide election win in the Northern Territory earlier this year was a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing of onshore unconventional gas reservoirs (fracking), pending the outcome of an independent inquiry into the practice.

A call for submissions to the inquiry’s terms of reference closed recently, having garnered 364 submissions. One of them was from Doctors for the Environment Australia.

In the post below, Dr Rosalie Schultz and Dr David Shearman, both members of Doctors for the Environment Australia ask the important question of who benefits if fracking is allowed to go ahead in the NT, and give their recommendations for making sure health considerations are front and centre as the inquiry proceeds.

Retirement of coal-fired power stations submission

An urgent need to address carbon emissions and a move towards renewable energy are creating structural changes in energy supplies that are having, and will have, profound impacts on workers and communities in the energy sector. With knowledge and planning, those impacts can be attenuated, but without such planning, community and social effects can be long lasting…….

Media release: DEA welcomes landmark Lancet Countdown

Doctors for the Environment Australia has today welcomed the launch of the Lancet Countdown at the climate talks in Morocco, saying the landmark initiative would put pressure on Australia and other countries to keep the promises they made in the Paris agreement.

Media release: US election: Where to for health and the environment?

The results of the US election are in.

If Donald Trump does to the environment what he said he would do as President, the hard-fought progress to protect our ailing planet looks set to take a giant leap backwards- just at the crucial time when we need to take giant leap forwards to ensure our survival. The Lancet has described climate change as the biggest health threat of the 21st century.

Media release: SA Government urged to pull its weight in response to the climate meeting in Morocco

Doctors fear the SA State Government’s doubling of the air pollution cap signifies a possible “sell-out” to the gas industry, further undermining Australia’s already poor reputation at the first meeting of world leaders under the Paris agreement in Morocco starting this week.

SBS Comment: From Hazelwood to Marrakech – Australia needs to move away from coal

The climate change talks in Marrakech which start this week will put a spotlight on Australia’s poor contribution to the Paris agreement to keep world global average temperatures below 2 degrees.

Online opinion: The upside to Hazelwood’s closure

The ongoing speculation that the Hazelwood coal plant will shut down has resulted in the Latrobe Valley community unfairly suffering the threat of unemployment and disruption for too long.

Croakey: How a prescription for solar thermal treatment changed the health fortunes of a whole town

Many salutory lessons arise from this fascinating account of the role of health and medical expertise in the successful closure of polluting power stations in South Australia.

AMSJ: Climate change, the challenge to medicine in the 21st century

Medicine in the early decades of the 21st century offers great promise, powered by ready access to knowledge, innovative imaging and interventional technologies, sophisticated research, and personalised pharmaceuticals. Despite this, doctors of the next decades will be faced with unique national and global challenges that they are currently ill equipped to deal with.

Rocky Hill OpEd

Whether you are a Gloucester resident or a visitor to the area, we all appreciate Gloucester as an area of natural beauty. This of course makes it inconceivable to develop an open cut coalmine so close to town.

Finding the Northwest Passage – global warming upsets these ‘folk ‘as well

Peter Brooks recounts a very personal account of his recent trip – sailing in the footsteps of Franklin – with the stark impact of climate change on the Arctic and its populations.

Loy Yang B Works Approval Submission

Victoria’s coal fired power stations are responsible for almost 50% of the state’s climate pollution. It is impossible to make a difference to Victoria’s carbon pollution without addressing the operation of these power stations. Any energy derived from brown coal is ‘part of the problem’, as its GEI is above that achievable from other sources of electricity generation……….

Rocky Hill Coal Project Submission

To avoid a rise of greater than 2°C, 80% of known coal reserves must stay in the ground .

SMH oped: Mike Baird is wrong to support coal mines

Mike Baird has said his decision to overturn the ban on greyhound dog racing shows he is prepared to admit when his government has got it wrong. If this is true, it’s time he admitted he is wrong about his support of coal mining and take back his “no doubt coal is good” statement.

The Advertiser oped: Port Augusta power station must remain closed for the health of local community

THE Federal Government and state Liberals are demanding that Jay Weatherill’s Government should reopen the Port Augusta coal-fired power station.

NT Fracking Inquiry 2016

We acknowledge the Northern Territory Government for its implementation of a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and the establishment of this inquiry and public consultation.

Paris Agreement submission to the Treaties Committee

DEA is concerned with the projected devastating effects of climate change on human health (and by extension, all forms of life in the biosphere). We note that the Paris Agreement does not deal with health adequately. The Treaty does acknowledge, rather inconspicuously…….

Media release: Palaszczuk support For Carmichael mine will fail Australians, warn health experts

10 October 2016

The Queensland government’s push to speed up the approval process for Adani’s mega Carmichael mine project by declaring it a “prescribed project status” will increase illness and deaths from climate change, warn Australia’s leading doctors.

Jemena Northern Gas Pipeline Environmental Impact Statement NT Submission

The Terms of Reference of this Inquiry do not address the issues raised by DEA in our submission around the link between the pipeline project and the onshore gas development required to make the project viable.

Newcastle Herald: Climate change & health concerns drive opposition to Rocky Hill mine at Gloucester

GLOUCESTER is a rural area in the foothills of the World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park which has a pristine environment of high ecological significance. It is inconceivable that an open cut mine that aims to extract 21 million tonnes of coal is planned for these parts, and will be within two kilometres of residential areas – places where people live and bring up families.

Open Forum: Using my money as a force for good

by Rebecca Tuma

Divestment is the opposite of investment and means getting rid of stocks, bonds or funds that are deemed unethical or morally ambiguous. Leading up to Divestment Day, Rebecca Tuma urges you to use your consumer power and put your money where your convictions are.

SBS Comment: Gutting ARENA is just sick – renewable energy saves lives and health costs

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will be gutted by a funding cut of $500 million. But it’s at odds with the government’s claims to be innovative and support jobs and growth.

VIC Government Coal Policy submission

As part of the Victorian Government’s plans to move away from coal-fired power stations, the government established an independent review of coal policy. This review, together with the review of the Climate Change Act, the Renewable Energy Roadmap, and the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry, will feed into a new coal policy which will take into account environmental, social and economic factors. Since about one-third of all Victoria’s emissions are from coal, and since the Victorian government had already committed to net zero emissions by 2050, DEA believes ambitious reduction in coal use is required.

Doctus Project: We must act on climate change, before it’s too late

Editorial by Patrick Walker, the Doctus Project

It is a bright, sunny afternoon in May, and Victoria’s hottest Autumn on record is drawing to a close. My colleague Jesse Schnall and I are waiting to meet with Dr John Iser, the Victorian Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA). DEA is a voluntary organisation made up of medical doctors from around Australia to address the threat climate change and environmental degradation pose to health. They work ‘to address…the diseases caused by damage to the Earth’s environment.’

Having both read the now famous 2009 Lancet report which concluded that climate change is the biggest threat to global health in the 21st century, we are intrigued to see what Dr Iser has to say on the issue. Does climate change really pose such a threat to our health? And if so, what should we – and our government – be doing about it?

Renew Economy Oped: Myth of gas; has South Australia capitulated to fossil fuels?

Gas is a seemingly difficult issue for governments. Looking at the health disasters of asbestos, tobacco and air pollution from coal, government ministers might wonder if they would have acted earlier had they been in power and reassured themselves they would. That is the problem, they are making decisions now based on political expediency which will leave their successors to face the potential health consequences.

Submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Economics

Doctors for the Environment Australia recommends that the present budget for ARENA be maintained as a preventative health measure.

Submission on Advancing Climate Action in Queensland: Making the transition to a low carbon future

Doctors for the Environment Australia has made many formal submissions from our medical and scientific experts and have had the opportunity to observe the processes and performance of successive Queensland governments. On this occasion we will make some general observations and comments in relation to the report “Advancing Climate Action in Queensland. Making the transition to a low carbon future”.

The Guardian: Cigarettes, asbestos, now fossil fuels. How big business impacts public health

The decisions reached at the recent Coag energy council meeting are reminiscent of a long series of failures to understand the impacts of powerful business on the health of the community.

Media release: Vic government gas ban a big win for health, say doctors

Doctors have applauded the Andrews government for prioritising the health of Victorians by placing a permanent ban on the development of onshore unconventional gas in Victoria.

Media release: Doctors slam Adani mine decision

Health experts have slammed today’s ruling in the Federal Court which approved Adani’s Carmichael mine, Australia’s biggest coal mine project, saying it would harm the health of millions of people in Australia and around the world.

Earth Resources Regulation Victoria submission

Building on experiences between farmers and gas drilling operators in other states, in the absence of baseline studies, contamination and pollution by exploration and mining activities cannot be proved and so cannot be attributed to such activities.  For example the Condamine River in Queensland…….

Rye Park Wind Farm Project Submission

DEA strongly advocates, for the health of the community, the phasing out of coal fired power stations.

Media release: Doctors warn against gas as a “transitional fuel” due to concerns about its safety

Australia must shelve plans to make gas a “transitional fuel” because it will worsen the climate change emergency, warn health experts in response to last Fridays COAG meeting of energy ministers.

Media release: Energy Ministers Urged to put Health at the Top of the COAG Agenda.

Energy ministers are being urged to put clean energy at the top of the COAG agenda to protect health.

Leading health experts are calling on the country’s energy ministers to make a firm commitment for a rapid replacement of coal and gas with renewable energy at Friday’s COAG meeting.

Submission on Protecting the Yarra River (Birrarung)

As medical doctors we welcome this opportunity to contribute to the community discussion about opportunities to improve the oversight and management of the Yarra River. We rely on natural ecosystems for clean air and water; healthy fertile soils in which to grow our food; a stable climate in which to thrive and a rich tapestry of living organisms- biodiversity- from which we have taken food and developed over half of the medicines in use today.

SBS: Gasfields – gambling with our health

As the Victorian government prepares to release its much anticipated gas policy, expected before parliament resumes on August 16, pro fossil fuel heavy weights have already jumped the starting line with misleading spin.

Independent Australia: Doctors call for fossils fuels to be labelled an unacceptable health hazard

Dr. Graeme McLeay from Doctors for the Environment urges us to contact our energy ministers before this month’s COAG meeting and tell them fossil fuels undermine our national security, economy and health.

Croakey: A timely examination of fracking concerns in the NT

Territorians love the natural environment. We enjoy the environment both for the exhilaration it gives us, and for its tourism value. We should also remember that our health depends on having clean air and water and safe food.

Media release: SA Power Crisis – Add the true costs of coal and gas to the energy bill, urge doctors.

Doctors have today described comments that renewable energy from solar and wind are causing the SA power “crisis” as disingenuous because they ignore the hefty costs of coal and gas to public health and to the health budget.

The Medical Republic: Encouraging healthy eating helps more than just our patients

There is much discussion in the medical and general media about the healthiness of food. Hardly surprising, as we face an unfolding epidemic of obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases which, along with inactivity, are in large part related to our dietary excess.

Media release: Doctors deliver PM Turnbull Climate Change Survival Health Kit and open letter

Doctors will on Monday morning deliver Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull his very own Climate Change Survival Health Kit along with an open letter signed by over 350 health professionals to highlight that climate change is hazardous to health and must be tackled with urgency.

Natural gas development (UGD) and its implications for health

Natural Gas, composed mainly of methane with some other hydrocarbons, is categorised as conventional or unconventional depending on its source.

Unconventional gas and health – Fact Sheet

Unconventional gas is ‘natural gas’ that is trapped in rock from which it is difficult to extract, requiring specialised mining procedures and often access to large areas of land.

Unconventional Gas Development – DEA Position Statement

Unconventional gas development (UGD) is the extraction of natural gas which is difficult to access conventionally, from coal seams, shale or other rock formations, using techniques such as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Hydraulic fracturing involves the pressurised injection of fluids, sand and chemical additives into rock to open up fractures, allowing gas to flow out.

Croakey: Where does your bank stand on fossil fuels? A call for health professionals to divest.

Doctors calling on other health professionals to join the divestment movement

Article; Newcastle Herald: We need a regional air quality plan for the Hunter

The recent studies of air pollution in the Hunter finally show us the constituents of pollution and points to the likely sources. We agree with the editorial comment (Newcastle Herald, April 30) that it is extraordinary that the EPA seems to have leapt to the defence of the coal industry, because a close look at the results shows that coal mining, transport and burning is a major contributor to pollution.

Submission to Victoria State Government on Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2036

Our health is absolutely dependent on our natural environment. We rely on natural ecosystems for clean air and water, healthy, fertile soils in which to grow our food, a stable climate in which to thrive and a rich tapestry of living organisms- biodiversity- from which we have taken food and over half of the medicines in use today. Currently we are facing urgent threats to our wellbeing from climate change and biodiversity loss. As medical doctors we welcome this opportunity to provide input to the Victorian government’s review of biodiversity protection – a plan that is desperately needed to address the appalling rate of species extinction in our state.

Open Forum: Fossil fuel divestment: Why Australia’s uni students are turning the other cheek

Students across Australia are staging bold actions at their universities to demand divestment from fossil fuels. Why do the issues of climate change and fossil fuel investment resonate so strongly with university students? It’s about equality and justice, explains Damian Gill.

Submission to the Ministerial Forum on the Vehicle Emissions Discussion Paper

Vehicle emissions are a major public health issue with approximately 3,000 deaths per annum in Australia resulting from air pollution; a figure greater than total road accident deaths. A significant proportion of these deaths and the chronic illness of thousands more is caused by vehicular pollution.

Croakey: Health groups lead call to end investment in coal, oil and gas

A new paper Investing in Health, released this week by the Climate and Health Alliance and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), highlights the opportunity and the rationale for health and medical professionals to shift their investments away from coal, oil and gas industries.

In the piece below, Fiona Armstrong, Executive Director of CAHA and Dr Helen Redmond from DEA highlight the lead taken by international medical organisations in divesting in fossil fuels and argue that health professionals have both a moral and practical impetus to join the growing disinvestment movement.

Labor’s climate change policy is a step forward but more needs to be done, say doctors

Doctors welcome Labor’s policy to tackle climate change, but urge more robust action to reduce the numbers of Australians who are likely to get sick and to die as a result of rising temperatures.

Croakey article: Health groups lead call to end investment in coal, oil and gas

A new paper Investing in Health, released this week by the Climate and Health Alliance and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), highlights the opportunity and the rationale for health and medical professionals to shift their investments away from coal, oil and gas industries.

In the piece below, Fiona Armstrong, Executive Director of CAHA and Dr Helen Redmond from DEA highlight the lead taken by international medical organisations in divesting in fossil fuels and argue that health professionals have both a moral and practical impetus to join the growing disinvestment movement.

Media release: Doctors alarmed at new air pollution data call for immediate action

Doctors are alarmed at the latest air pollution data which shows emissions of key pollutants linked to respiratory and heart diseases is continuing to grow, and warn that more Australians will die or suffer illness as a result.

Media release: Launch of joint report urging the health sector to divest

Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, health organisations and health super funds urged to quit coal, oil and gas

Investing in Health report: how health professionals can help shape the future

Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, health organisations and health super funds urged to quit coal, oil and gas.

Doctors urge action from federal government to protect health from unconventional gas mining

Doctors from the health organisation Doctors for the Environment Australia, presenting before the Senate Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining in Darwin on Tuesday 12 April, said after a previous Senate Inquiry and numerous state inquiries, Australian governments have still not done enough to protect public health.

Unconventional Gas Mining. DEA evidence to the Select Committee

Unconventional Gas Mining – Adequacy of Australia’s legislative, regulatory and policy framework.

Submission on Petroleum (Environment) Regulations – Northern Territory

….oil and gas developments must be undertaken in a manner that will both protect the health of its citizens, preserve and enhance the Territory’s unique surroundings, our way of life and ensure the viability of other crucial sectors of our economy such as agriculture and tourism……

Media Release: New Fact Sheet – Climate change impacts on health

Doctors have today launched a climate change and health fact sheet describing the catastrophic consequences a continued rise in global temperature will have on the health of our families and communities, unless we act immediately.

Climate Change & Health in Australia Fact Sheets

Doctors for the Environment Australia has developed this fact sheet to outline the effects of climate change on human health particularly in Australia, and how health can benefit from efforts to lessen and prevent climate change. The recent Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has once more highlighted the urgent need for action to limit global warming.

Climate Change and Health in Australia Fact Sheets

Doctors for the Environment Australia has developed this fact sheet to outline the effects of climate change on human health particularly in Australia, and how health can benefit from efforts to lessen and prevent climate change. The recent Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has once more highlighted the urgent need for action to limit global warming.

SMH oped: Coal marketing should come with a health warning

The NSW Minerals Council’s new campaign extolling the virtues of coal mining was launched on Tuesday, and according to their media release it is due to appear on NSW television screens this month.

Renew Economy oped: Government somnolence on climate change health costs

Climate change is described by leaders of the medical profession as the greatest health risk of this century. Its health impacts are already significant both internationally and in Australia and are predicted to increase with rising temperatures. The severity of natural disasters from extreme weather events is increased by climate change and is an important cause of harms to our health.

Advertiser: Nuclear waste dump just another bad option — what about renewable energy?

South Australia’s recent Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission has recommended avoiding some bad options: no nuclear power generation and no reprocessing or fuel leasing in the foreseeable future.

Submission to Tasmania’s draft climate change action plan 2016-2021

Tasmania and Australia more broadly, is already experiencing the human health impacts of longer, hotter and more frequent heatwaves , with recent heatwaves around Australia producing increased hospital admissions and deaths, and putting extra strain on healthcare and emergency services. Recent years have also seen increasingly frequent and severe bushfires in Tasmania. Bushfires pose numerous risks to health including direct injuries, burns and deaths from the fires themselves, as well as through cardiorespiratory effects of smoke on people living hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away….

Submission to the Select Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining

DEA is of the view that a national approach is essential to reduce the extensive risks associated with unconventional gas mining.

Media release: Failure to include health risks grossly distorts true costs of climate change, warn doctors

It’s very likely that Australians will suffer more ill health requiring attention from GPs and hospitals because of climate change- however scant attention is being given to health, medical experts will argue today in a submission to the Climate Change Authority.

Media release: Doctors call on the Andrews Government to act urgently on climate law recommendations

Doctors for the Environment Australia is urging the Victorian State Government to implement quickly and comprehensively the findings of the Independent Review Committee, which this week handed down its report on the Climate Change Act.

Submission on the Draft Report on Australia’s climate policy option (Climate Change Authority)

It is a great disappointment that numerous Climate Change Authority discussions and documents on the issue of climate change have failed to emphasise its impact on health. To avoid widespread, severe and irreversible impacts associated with present trajectory of 4 degrees of global warming, urgent action must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The response of Government thus far has been grossly inadequate – and that Australia needs to commit to a reduction target on 2020 levels of at least 40% by 2025 and a reduction of at least 95% by 2050. This is the only way that we might be able to confine global temperature rise to 2°C and thus avoid severe consequences to human health.  The time to act is now.

Submission on the SA Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016

The Global Burden of Disease report from WHO estimates that ambient air pollution is responsible for 3.7 million deaths worldwide (2012 estimate).

Croakey comment: Victorian moratorium on unconventional gas

Medical professionals and organisations, together with community members, raised serious concerns about the health impacts of unconventional gas extraction in submissions to a recent Victorian Parliamentary inquiry.

Media release: Doctors call on environment ministers to adopt strict air pollution laws

Doctors urge state and federal environment ministers not to cave in to pressure from the mining industry and support the adoption of strong national air pollution standards at Tuesday’s 15 December meeting.

Media release: Doctors urge ban on fracking to continue

A ban on coal seam and other forms of onshore gas in Victoria should continue until it can be shown that developing this resource will not compromise public health, doctors urge ahead of an inquiry that is due to report on 8 December.

MJA: Climate change is harmful to our health: taking action will have many benefits

With the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) now underway, Associate Professor Linda Selvey’s Perspectives article on the health impacts of global warming in the Medical Journal of Australia is both timely and compelling.

Media release: Doctors extend their sympathies to those affected by the South Australian bushfires

Doctors extend their sympathies to those affected by the South Australian bushfires, and call for strong action on climate

Croakey Blog: Calling for a health impact assessment on Perth’s Roe 8 road project

Local media reported today that drilling had begun in the Beeliar wetlands in Perth’s south for the construction of the controversial Roe 8 highway extension, planned as the first stage of the Western Australian Government’s $1.6 billion Perth Freight Link.

Open letter calling Health Minister Sussan Ley to attend climate talks

Parents, Grandparents and Concerned Adults: SIGN THE OPEN LETTER

Support Our Call For The Health Minister To Attend The Paris Meeting On Climate Change This December- And Put The Health Of Our Children Front And Centre

The Canberra Times comment: Coal: The (real) moral case

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is the latest in a line of senior politicians and coal industry figures to endorse future coal exports, stating this week that “… energy poverty is one of the big limits on global development in terms of achieving all of the development goals, alleviating hunger and promoting prosperity right around the world – energy is an absolute critical ingredient. So coal will play a big part in that.”

The Saturday Paper: How the Minerals Council of Australia has govt’s ear on coal

Coal interests are over-represented on the board of the Minerals Council of Australia, and they continue to promote the so-called benefits of coal to a largely compliant government even when the evidence points the other way, argues journalist Mike Seccombe in this Saturday Paper feature article.

Article; SMH: Volkswagen may have helped expose silent, invisible killer: outdoor air pollution

Along with denting its share price and reputation, Volkswagen may have inadvertently helped address one of the most neglected and insidious public health problems of our time.

Submission to the SA Government on Developing a New Climate Change Strategy for South Australia

Climate change is a priority issue for DEA. As the 1st Lancet Commission on Climate Change and Health stated in 2009, “climate change is the greatest threat to human health of the 21st century”. The consultation papers for “Developing a New Climate Change Strategy for SA” make very little reference to health. DEA believes health is central to any strategy around climate change as affirmed by the Lancet publications cited above. Our foremost recommendation is to prepare this consultative document urgently.

Border Watch: Fracking facts shared at inquiry

Associate Professor of public health Dr Melissa Haswell presents the health harms linked to hydraulic fracturing at the parliamentary inquiry into coal seam gas in South Australia.?

Newcastle Herald: OPINION: Air pollution needs action

AIR quality has been a community concern in Newcastle for many years. When the results of  the first 12 months of air quality monitoring  became available from new monitors in Carrington and Stockton, it became clear that this region has some of the worst air quality in NSW.

Huffington Post: Old King Coal Is A Desperate Old Soul

The coal industry’s latest PR escapade paints coal as an amazing, versatile commodity with almost limitless possibilities, providing seemingly endless energy and employment.

Article; Newcastle Herald: Air pollution needs action

AIR quality has been a community concern in Newcastle for many years. When the results of  the first 12 months of air quality monitoring  became available from new monitors in Carrington and Stockton, it became clear that this region has some of the worst air quality in NSW.

Geelong Advertiser: Cheap energy not worth fracking risks

On the surface, the unconventional gas industry promises many things, including cheap energy and jobs. However in this comment piece in the Geelong Advertiser, Dr Liz Bashford says that the risks from unconventional gas are potentially serious for both human health and the environment.

AFR: First State Super slaps companies with more than 20pc coal, oil and gas revenue

One of Australia’s biggest industry funds, First State Super, recently announced it was is divesting its socially responsible funds from all companies that source more than 20 per cent of their operating revenue from coal, oil and gas.

The Australian Financial Review’s Amanda Saunders wrote a story which in part credited DEA for its involvement in the initiative. She wrote: “doctors who pushed for the move say they have a  “moral imperative” to support the transition to a renewable economy” and that divestment is “a public health measure”.

SMH: Air pollution is like smoking a cigarette each day, doctors warn

Air pollution in Newcastle, NSW, is so bad that it is equivalent to smoking a cigarette a day, according to a group of doctors who have called on the state government to take immediate action to protect local residents, especially children, reports Natalie O’Brien in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Victoria’s Renewable Energy Roadmap Submission

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change from global warming is one of the greatest threats to public health and it will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, some of the most fundamental pre-requisites for good health: clean air and water, sufficient food, adequate shelter and freedom from disease……..

Article; SMH: Air pollution is like smoking a cigarette each day, doctors warn

Air pollution in parts of NSW is so bad that it is equivalent to smoking a cigarette a day, according to a group of doctors who have called on the state government to take immediate action.

Review of the Climate Change Act (2010) – Victoria

Global warming is the driver of climate change, although we note that there is no mention of “global warming” in the Act of 2010. It is warming of the land, seas and atmosphere close to earth’s surface and subsequent changes to our climate that is predicted to cause increasingly profound harmful effects to human health and well being unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced substantially within the next decade……

Medical Observer comment: Why doctors must lead fossil fuel fight

IN 2013, the federal government’s Future Fund and many superannuation funds dumped investments in tobacco companies following a long campaign by health groups.

Hazelwood Coal Mine Fire Inquiry Submission

DEA has an extensive history of advocating for the protection of health in relation to the coal industry nationally and in Victoria. Specifically relevant to the residents of Morwell and surrounding areas was DEA’s opposition at the VCAT in 2010 to the EPA approved development of a new coal fuelled power plant to be built by Dual Gas Pty Ltd. This power plant would have been situated 1 km from the Morwell township boundary, and DEA was greatly concerned for the health of local residents from an additional local air pollution source and the health implications globally from commissioning a new coal fuelled power plant when renewable alternatives are available…..

Fact Sheet the human health tolls of coal

– The burning of coal emits hazardous air pollutants, including particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, mercury and arsenic.

Croakey blog: A shout out to health professionals: act now for a cool planet

JENNIFER DOGGETT: The medical profession has taken a lead role in many respects on climate change and environmental issues but there is still scope for more to be done. In the following piece, Dr Sujata Allan, argues that doctors have both a responsibility and a unique role in play in advocating for greater action to combat climate change. She also offers a number of practical suggestions for how members of the medical profession can become more involved at a personal and professional level in preventing the harms associated with climate change.

Brisbane Times oped: Tackle climate change, our health depends on it

Climate change has become a highly polarised issue in Australia, with the focus on the economic and political costs and risks.

Inquiry into Unconventional Gas in Victoria – July 2015

In recent years, Australia has seen exponential growth in interest and development of exploration and drilling for unconventional gas reserves from coal seams, shale deposits and tight sands. These reserves require special techniques such as fracking, in-seam and horizontal drilling. DEA is concerned that the rush to exploit this resource has outpaced regulation to protect public health and to adequately assess the health impacts, including exposures to industrial chemicals.

Canberra Times Opinion: Invisible killer – need for better air quality standards is urgent

In Australia there are 3000 deaths each year from air pollution, which is more than from traffic accidents. Imagine the nightly TV news – instead of the twisted car metal and bodies, they show a child fighting for breath from asthma being loaded into an ambulance in Bulga, or a patient with a heart attack in the Latrobe Valley.

Newcastle Herald Opinion: Planning for better air quality

THE evidence for harmful health effects from particulate air pollution has become stronger over the years, so periodic review of air quality regulations in keeping with current science is vital for the protection of human health.

Article; SMH: Invisible killer – need for better air quality standards is urgent

In Australia there are 3000 deaths each year from air pollution, which is more than from traffic accidents. Imagine the nightly TV news – instead of the twisted car metal and bodies, they show a child fighting for breath from asthma being loaded into an ambulance in Bulga, or a patient with a heart attack in the Latrobe Valley.

Submissions on the Warkworth Continuation Project and the Mt Thorley Continuation Project

Of the many pending approvals of new mines in NSW, DEA made submissions on these interrelated mines for two reasons:

Leading doctors say we’re failing our kids

A group of leading doctors, many of them grandparents, has called for action on a threat they say needs priority attention. The doctors say failure to act on this threat means we are failing in the most “fundamental call of humanity” – that is, to nurture its young.

Oped in the Guardian: Don’t care about climate change? What about the health of children?

Climate change is not just an urgent environmental issue; it is having a devastating effect on the health of our children, says this comment piece in Guardian Australia which was co-written by leading paediatrician and former Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley, who is also a member of DEA’s Scientific Committee, and DEA’s Advocacy and Policy Officer as well as GP, Dr Sallie Forrest.

Media Release: DEA welcomes RACP’s announcement to divest from fossil fuels

Doctors for the Environment Australia welcomes the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) announcement this week that it will divest investments in companies involved in fossil fuel activities from its  $90 million investment portfolio.

Report: No Time for Games: Children’s Health and Climate Change

DEA’s report No Time for Games: Children’s Health and Climate Change shines the national spotlight on the potential health harms that children especially face from global warming, and calls for swift and decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

DEA Report; No Time for Games: Children’s Health and Climate Change

DEA’s report No Time for Games: Children’s Health and Climate Change shines the national spotlight on the potential health harms that children especially face from global warming, and calls for swift and decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Grim future for children: global warming report

GPs and specialists need to train and prepare for the “inevitable increase” in childhood sickness and pressure on health services linked to climate change, leading epidemiologist Professor Fiona Stanley says.

Media release: No Time for Games: Children’s health and Climate Change report

Australian children are the ones who will be most likely to suffer from increased cases of disease and infection as a result of climate change, former Australian of the Year and leading paediatrician Professor Fiona Stanley has warned.

Croakey Blog: Will we add more years to our lives? The flawed longevity assumption

Introduction by Croakey journalist, Marie McInerney

Treasurer Joe Hockey copped quite a lampooning when he raised the prospect of  people living until they are 150 to explain why Australians should accept cuts to government benefits and pay a greater share of their health costs.

But Dr George Crisp says we all are too happy to accept the idea that longevity still will steadily increase, as it has over the past century.

Fin-Fish aquaculture industry in Tasmania submission

We recognise the importance of the fin-fish aquaculture industry to the state of Tasmania however if the industry is to continue to grow it must ensure that the health of Tasmania’s waterways and human health are not compromised.

Inquiry into the regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines

Stationary energy, as a sector, is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally and in Australia.

Former president of RACS and DEA chair calls on surgeons to act on climate change

Climate change has now become a major health issue and delaying action is “grossly irresponsible”, argues the chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia and former president of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Professor Kingsley Faulkner, in this feature story in the March 2015 edition of Surgical News.

Medical Observer: Poor health link to poor air quality

WE FREQUENTLY see patients suffering from exacerbations of chronic cardiorespiratory conditions. Most of these exacerbations can be attributed to infectious agents or non-compliance with medical advice or medications.

Submission on the National Clean Air Agreement Discussion Paper 2015

Contamination of the air we breathe is a special case of environmental exposure. Although the individual risk from air pollution is very low, exposure is ubiquitous and across the entire population so the low individual risk multiplies to a large public health problem. The scientific understanding of these risks has developed greatly in the last ten years. Exposures that were previously thought to be insignificant are now recognised as damaging to health and the range of disease outcomes attributed to air pollution is expanding.

Media release: Direct Action auction: medics reject scheme that puts health up for sale

Australians, especially children, the elderly and those with chronic illness will have shortened lives and more illness as a result of the federal government’s Direct Action, warns Doctors for the Environment Australia, a health advocacy group representing medical professionals across the country.

Opinion: national guidelines needed on coal seam gas and coal mining

Australia needs mandatory federal guidelines on fracking and coal mining that are based on scientific and medical opinion, says Doctors for the Environment Australia’s Honorary Secretary Dr David Shearman in an oped in the Sydney Morning Herald today.

Setting Australia’s post 2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions submission

It is important for the government to recognise that its statements on climate change are eagerly scrutinised by a world readership which is greatly concerned by the threats to humanity imposed by climate change. DEA wishes to point out the need for a radical reduction in emissions to address the serious consequences that will otherwise arise. These consequences are barely mentioned in the Issues Paper and of particular concern to us is the failure to deal with health consequences anywhere in the document.

The Guardian puts climate change front and centre

The two momentous decisions of the week came from the Guardian newspaper.

The UK Guardian launched a campaign of science and conscience to reverse humanity’s self-destructive pursuit of burning all of the world’s fossil fuels:  and in Australia Climate change: why the Guardian is putting threat to Earth front and centre was published.

Why NSW voters need to put coal last on March 28

It’s becoming increasingly clear from recent decisions …that the actions of the  NSW government show little concern for air pollution which harms local communities and the ALP opposition isn’t doing much opposing of this.

Opinion: Health sacrificed for mining

The approval of the Warkworth open-cut coal mine extension by the Planning Assessment Commission moves the mine boundary from the existing five kilometres to 2.6 kilometres from the town of Bulga, a stable township with a 200-year history.

Submission to the Climate Change Authority on future remission targets

Submission to the Climate Change Authority on the future remission targets Australia should commit to as part of an effective and equitable global effort to achieve the objective of the UNFCCC (Article 2) or subsequent agreement to which Australia is a party. Doctors for the Environment Australia recommends that Australia commit to a reduction target on 2020 levels of at least 40% by 2025 and 95% by 2050. These targets are based on the severe consequences for human health and well being if global warming is not confined to two degrees. Since the constraint of emissions will have many health co-benefits and therefore cost savings, there will be some reduction in the costs of mitigation and adaptation.

Children’s Environmental Health (currently under review)

Most Australian children today benefit from better food, cleaner water, more preventive health measures (such as vaccination) and a higher standard of living than ever before. Childhood mortality is very low and many would think that Australian children have never had it so good.

Australia Needs Climate Policy

This article by DEA Member Sallie Forrest was published in Medical Forum, December 2014 and appears under a Creative Commons licence.

Launch of DEA’s Divestment FAQs

With Global Divestment Day just around the corner on 13 to 14 February, we are pleased to launch our DEA Divestment FAQs! Please view this timely publication Divestment FAQs.

Divestment FAQ’s

The Divestment FAQs was developed by Doctors for the Environment Australia ahead of the first ever Global Divestment Day on 13 to 14 February 2015.

Medical Observer: Docs need to take a stand on climate

I AM lucky enough to live and work in a beautiful area of bushland on Melbourne’s urban fringe.

Renewable Energy Fact Sheet – a prescription for a healthier, cleaner and cheaper future

Renewable energy comes from natural sources which are constantly replenished.

Inquiry into Unconventional Gas (Fracking) – South Australia

Members of DEA are deeply concerned by the serious threats posed to health by fracture stimulation (fracking) for unconventional (whether coal seam, shale, or tight) gas in the South East of South Australia.

News Item: Join DEA for Global Divestment Day, 13 to 14 February

The very first Global Divestment Day is just four weeks away on 13 and 14 February, and thousands of people in cities and on campuses all over the world will take action against fossil fuels.

Waiting for Godot: Bushfires, heat and climate change – a doctor’s compelling view from the #SAfires

By Marie McInerney

The fearsome spectre of Ash Wednesday hung over the Adelaide Hills for five days this week as firefighters battled to control the worst bushfires so far in Australia this summer. Now South Australia, and elsewhere, prepares for flooding rains.

Biodiversity Policy

Natural ecosystems support our health by filtering our air, providing fresh water and food, regulating our climate, directly improving human health and protecting against the spread of disease and pests. They also foster our mental wellbeing and serve as places of recreation and sources of nature-based jobs in tourism and other vocations.

Review of Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) in Tasmania submission – December 2014

Doctors for the Environment Australia reminds governments and proponents that health impact assessment is an integral part of the EIA process.  In Australia, the states operate the EIA process under Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Guidelines September 2001…….

“Tread carefully or we risk fracturing our environment”, comment in “The Mercury” by Dr Rohan Church

Health experts around the world are warning against the exploration and mining of unconventional gas reserves- for example, the UK’s chief scientific adviser Mark Walport, advised in his recent annual report that fracking could carry unforeseen risks in the same way that thalidomide, asbestos and tobacco did.

What are the health concerns with Unconventional Gas?

Unconventional gas (UG) refers to gas which is found in coal seams, shale or other rock formations and cannot be extracted using conventional methods.

Fracking in the NT: What’s the rush? Let’s wait and see

I recently spoke on behalf of Doctors for the Environment Australia to the Commissioner on the Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in NT, Mr Allan Hawke. This Inquiry was established in April 2014 to provide information to the NT government on a range of issues related to hydraulic fracturing “fracking”. It will report by the end of 2014.

Submission on the proposed variation to the Ambient Air Quality NEPM 2014

DEA notes that the AAQ NEPM is not enforceable by the federal government, so even if it includes standards and goals that correctly reflect current scientific thinking on the health effects of air pollution it is not a strong mechanism for ensuring that the Australian population is protected from health impacts.

News Item: Doctors and medical students make a stand on Divestment Day

Members from Doctors for the Environment Australia and Australian Medical Students Association will close their accounts with the Big Four banks, or notify these financial institutions of their intention to do so, on Divestment Day this coming Saturday (October 18, 2014).

SA Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) Fact Sheet

A unique opportunity for South Australia: Good for Health, Energy Security and Manufacturing.

Ditch the screen for the green

Many of these problems are the consequence of a sedentary lifestyle with kids today spending much of their time in a box, looking at another box.

Biodiversity Position Statement

Doctors for the Environment Australia is focussed on the complex interaction between human health and our natural environment and is therefore interested in environmental degradation, particularly the loss of biodiversity and the effect this is having, and will continue to have, on human health and social stability.

Letter to Mr Richard Warburton, Chair, Renewable Energy Target Review

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) Chair, Professor Kingsley Faulkner wrote to Mr Richard Warburton, Chair of the Renewable Endergy Target Review to express DEA’s concern about the process and expected outcomes of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) Review.

Global climate changes need action

This article by DEA Member Helen Redmond was published in Medical Observer 15th July 2014 and appears under a Creative Commons licence.

Australian doctors support the British Medical Association, 26 June 2014

“Australian doctors support the British Medical Association’s announcement to dump investments in fossil fuels”

Coal is a major health issue like smoking

This issue has now had important exposure as a result of President Obama’s initiative on reducing coal pollution.

Submission on the High Conservation Values Assessment and Management Plan

As a body of medical professionals, DEA is an interested stakeholder due to our interest and expertise on the intersection of health, environmental threats and damage to natural ecosystems such as High Conservation Value (HCV) Forests.

Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry Northern Territory Submission – May 2014

DEA notes the limited terms of reference for this inquiry into hydraulic fracturing. This inquiry could be used as a basis for a more general inquiry into NT energy policy, including the range of options for our own energy supply, and for export to other countries. Hydraulic fracturing enables extraction of hydrocarbon deposits which are one source of energy and economic development. NT has vast reserves of renewable energy sources, in particular solar and wind, which can be used for energy and economic development. The limitation of this inquiry to details about hydraulic fracturing obstructs our capacity to consider all options both now and into the future.

DEA Hydraulic fracturing in NT inquiry submission 04-14

Report; Clearing the air, Why Australia urgently needs effective national air pollution laws

Effective regulation of air pollution is critical to ensuring Australians are safe from air pollution. Individuals cannot readily control the extent to which they are exposed to harmful air-borne pollutants. They need the law to protect them.

Divestment and public health flyer

The following flyer was developed by DEA, AMSA and 350.org connecting divestment and public health

Submissions to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Bill

Almost a quarter of the disease burden and deaths in the world can be attributed to environmental factors. We cannot begin to alleviate this burden of ill-health unless we address the environmental pathways and antecedent causes.

Media Release: Doctors join ‘National Day of Divestment Action’ Saturday 3 May 2014

Doctors and medical students are calling climate change a ‘public health emergency’ and urging divestment from fossil fuels nationally

Act on climate change for the sake of the future – Doctors’ orders

The following article published by Independent Australia (7/4/14) appears here under Creative Commons licence.

Time to act – MJA InSight

The following article written by Doctors for the Environment Australia members Mark Braidwood and Catherine Pendrey appeared in MJA InSight (7/4/14) and appears here under Creative Commons licence.

Making our health system more sustainable

Making our health system more sustainable: An ideas paper for the Commissioner of Environmental Sustainability, Victoria

Submission on the New Acland Coal Mine Stage 3 EIS

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) response to the Terms of Reference (TOR) is inadequate and requires revision.

Submission to the Senate Inquiry into Public Transport

It is important to be mindful of the fact that our health, physical and mental, is dependent on our environment. There are many and various pathways by which environmental change can and does impact human health in both the short and long term. This includes how we design our built environment, generate energy, organise health services and transport infrastructure; there is also a strong interrelationship between all of these systems.  In particular, urban transport infrastructure and consequently the modes of transport we use, have a range of both direct and indirect health impacts.

South Australia Unconventional Gas Fact Sheet

Why are there serious concerns over the development of unconventional gas (coal seam, shale, and tight gas) in South Australia?

Submission to the Great Barrier Reef Coastal Component Strategic Assessment

The Great Barrier Reef is of “natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and is of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity” (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO).

Submissions to the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project EIS and Supplementary EIS

The Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project is one of the largest proposed coal mines in Queensland, with a predicted yield of 60 million tonnes per annum from a mine site 160km northwest of Clermont plus a 189-kilometre railway line.

Submission on the draft DPEMP for the Indicoal Mining Pty Ltd, Langloh Coal Mine (Tasmania)

Although mining is not a new industry to Tasmania, this proposal, which is expected to produce over 8 million tonnes of coal to be burnt at a later stage, would mark Tasmania as yet another contributor to climate change through increasing utilization of fossil fuels. DEA has a number of concerns that this proposal, if allowed to proceed, would be to the detriment of human health in Tasmania and of global public health.

Submission on the Port Waratah Coal Services Terminal 4

Impacts of the current proposal do not stop at the perimeter fence. The loading of an extra 70 million tonnes per annum of coal is covered by this planning assessment process, but that 70 Mtpa has to be brought to port in 9,855 trains per year making 19,710 trips through each suburb along the coal corridor. This extra transport task has significant health and environmental effects.

Targets and Progress Review Draft Report (Climate Change Authority)

DEA will again outline the health imperative to reduce Australia`s emissions as quickly as possible. We present the strong case for increasing Australia`s emission reduction target from 5% to 25%, in line with other progressive nations and based on current climate science.  In this submission we will again argue that increasing Australia`s CO2 reduction target will have significant health co-benefits for the Australian public and conversely the failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will have major health impacts on our citizens in both the short, and particularly the longer, term.

Promoting change to contain our health costs

This article by DEA Member Eugenie Kayak was published in Medical Observer 8th October 2013 and appears under a Creative Commons licence.

Inquiry into the Implications for Western Australia of Hydraulic Fracturing for Unconventional Gas – September 2013

It is important to firstly emphasise that hydraulic fracturing is just one process of a group of recent innovations and new technologies that have enabled the development of previously inaccessible petrochemical reserves. The other integral innovations and technologies include “slickwater”, high volumes of fluid, horizontally or directional drilling and multi-well pads and cluster drilling.

DEA Action on Divestment: vote with your money!

The following letter was sent to all DEA members calling for Action – August 2013

DEA member Dr Marion Carey in the Crikey Health Blog

The following excerpt by Marion Carey appeared in a Crikey article and appears here under a Creative Commons licence.

DEA celebrates Sydney water catchment protection

Big Win to Protect the Special Protected Areas of the Sydney Water Catchment – Extension of Licence to Drill 16 Exploratory Wells in the Illawarra Refused

Draft significant impact guidelines: Coal seam gas submission

DEA applauds the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities for producing guidelines to clarify the implementation of the ‘water trigger’ in association with those industries that have an enormous potential impact on Australia’s water supply and quality.

Clearing the air: the hidden wonders of indoor plants

The importance of indoor plants for improving air quality and contributing positively to our psychological wellbeing has implications for the health system both within hospitals and in the private system. The following article was first published at the Conversation and appears here under a Creative Commons licence.It is useful information for both our own occupational health and that of our staff and patients.

Submission on Warratah Coal’s China First Project (Northern Export Facility) SEIS

The submission by Doctors for the Environment Australia to the EIS in December 2011 noted that “This EIS fails to assess the human health impacts adequately”. The SEIS also fails.

Revised Climate Change and Health Policy & Position Statement

DEA is focussed on human-induced climate change, widely regarded as now the most serious, and growing, worldwide threat to human health and survival and to social stability.

The Health Factor report – Damning evidence on health impacts of coal & CSG

A new doctors’ report reveals worrying evidence of likely health impacts from Australian coal and coal seam gas projects.

Climate Change Authority Caps and Targets Review submission

In this submission DEA outline the health imperatives to reduce Australia’s emissions as quickly as possible, and therefore put a strong case for increasing Australia’s 2020 emissions reduction target from 5% to 25%.

Climate Change & Health Policy

Human pressure on the natural environment is widening and escalating. Environmental threats to human wellbeing, health and survival has become evident over the past two to three decades.

Climate Change & Health Position Statement

Human pressure on the natural environment is widening and escalating. Environmental threats to human wellbeing, health and survival has become evident over the past two to three decades.

Submission to Adani – Abbot Point Coal Terminal 0 Environmental Impact Statement

Whilst Doctors for the Environment Australia addresses public health issues pertaining particularly to environmental causes of ill health, it is clear that good health exists within the wider context of sustainability and preservation of ecological support systems. On this basis we must make comment.

How coal burns Australia; The true cost of burning coal

Contrary to dominant views about the industry, coal-fired power is not the cheapest fuel and its value to the community is dubious. Yet this polluting industry continues to enjoy unjustifiable support.

We need to do our homework on the health risks of coal seam gas

This article by DEA Committee Member Marion Carey was published in The Conversation 2nd April and appears under a Creative Commons licence.

Submission to the Senate Committee on the impacts on health of air quality in Australia 2013

Doctors for the Environment Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the impacts on health of air quality in Australia, as this is an important public health issue to which inadequate attention has been paid to date.

A day to lift our spirits

News from DEA’s Unconventional Gas Working Group:

South Australian Public Health Plan: South Australia: A Better Place to Live

In the Draft State Public Health Plan, the focus of the climate change priority must move from its current focus on adaptation to emphasize the urgency and priority of mitigation, with clear strategies outlined for various government and business groups.

Submission from DEA and Economists at Large on the New Acland Coal Mine Stage 3

This paper looks at the draft terms of reference for an environmental impact statement regarding the expansion of the existing New Acland open-cut coal mine, from 4.8 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to up to 7.5 Mtpa.

Shell breaks its 10 year promise not to develop World Heritage Sites

The evidence of damage to the Great Barrier Reef continues to mount. This article by Andrew Jeremijenko provides further documentation. DEA has worked behind the scenes on this issue, corresponding with UNESCO on the impacts of coal mining on the catchments and the reef and by writing to Minister Burke.

We must protect biodiversity if we are to protect ourselves

It is encouraging to see that the European Commission has many policies and actions on biodiversity and this editorial from “Science for Environment Policy” is republished with thanks.

Moylan’s anti-coal message is an international one

Anti-coal protester Jonathan Moylan has said the main reason for his ANZ sharemarket hoax was his concern about the health impacts of coal mining at Maules Creek. He stressed the impact of the mine on children’s health and on the climate. He also believed that ANZ was investing unethically.

Coal seam gas: just another land use in a big country

The following article first appeared at The Conversation and appears here under a Creative Commons licence.

Submission on the China Stone Coal Project

The China Stone Coal Project produces 60 million tonnes of coal per annum and will be one of the biggest mines in the world.  All such mines have significant health impacts.

Solar thermal power generation at Port Augusta – SA Parliamentary Inquiry

Port Augusta has experienced pollution from its power stations for many years.

Submission to the West Australian Draft Forest Management Plan 2014-2023

The draft management plan should be acknowledged for recognising and including some of the important factors that will determine the health and sustainability of our SW forest ecosystems over coming decades.

UCG: Underground coal gasification

Underground coal gasification (UCG) is the process by which coal is converted to gas underground via enforced combustion.

Humble pushie beats the car

YEPPOON GP Juerg Draeyer has been practising what he preaches and riding his bicycle to work for the past five years.

Health impact justifies renewable energy

We thank Medical Observer for permission to republish; a shortened version of this article appeared in the 16th October edition.

Future under threat: climate change and children’s health

The following article appeared originally at the Conversation and appears here under a Creative Commons licence.

Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action

This recent report, co-authored by the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) and the Climate Insitute, draws together the many ways in which we can improve health (whilst saving money) by acting to limit climate instability.  DEA is part of CAHA, which is an alliance of health organisations.  As such, all DEA members can feel pleased they have contributed to the publication of documents such as this.

Review of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme

DEA is concerned about the slow progress NICNAS has made in assessing existing and unassessed chemicals on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS).  One of the main functions of the regulatory system is to protect human health and well-being…..

South Australian wind farm developments inquiry and health

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that increasing green house emissions are responsible for the climate change which is having health impacts throughout the world.

One Planet, How Many People? A Review of Earth’s Carrying Capacity. In-Depth Report

It is estimated that global population reached seven billion in late 2011 or early 2012. As global population has doubled since the 1960s, per capita GDP has grown to more than ten times what it was then. The human impact has grown to such a scale that it has become a major geophysical force. It is not surprising that concerns about the number of people the Earth can support have re-emerged recently. Attempts to define an upper limit of the number of people that the Earth could support are inevitably subject to considerable uncertainty, however, the greatest concentration estimates falls between 8 and 16 billion people — a range we are fast approaching. While there are many ways we might reduce our per capita impact on the planet, the collective impact will always be multiplied by global population, making population an issue which cannot be ignored. Read the Full report 

Coal curse: the black side of the subsidised resources boom

This article by Sturt Rosewarne and Linda Connor summarises the economic and occupational aspects of the industry. Our position is detailed in a briefing paper and in a policy paper  We thank the authors and the Conversation for permission to publish under creative commons”e

Inquiry into Environment Design and Public Health in Victoria 2012

Doctors for the Environment Australia made a submission  to this Inquiry which was prepared by Dr Marion Carey. The Report is now available and its findings are discussed by Dr Eugenie Kayak

The Rinehart dig at climate journalism

Doctors for the Environment Australia is publishing this article by Daniel Palmer because it raises some of the issues that we are increasingly likely to encounter in our advocacy for action on climate change. We thank the author and Climate Spectator for permission to publish

Diesel exhaust causes lung cancer and we subsidise its use

The World Health Organisation has concluded that “Diesel exhaust is a cause of lung cancer (sufficient evidence) and also noted a positive association (limited evidence) with an increased risk of bladder cancer” This is yet another compelling reason why subsidies for the use of diesel fuel should be stopped particularly in the resource industries. The article “Creating a stink about traffic pollution” reviews the dangers from traffic pollution and we thank the authors, Adrian Barnett, Joacim Rockov and Nicholas Graves and the Conversation for permission to republish the article Creating a stink about traffic pollution under creative commons…

From Anthropocene to ‘Sustainocene’ – Bryan Furnass

This presentation was delivered to the ANU Emeritus Faculty on 21 March 2012.   Please click on the links to both the powerpoint file and the accompanying text (as pdf).

Rio 2012 set for failure. Where do we go from here?

There has been little mainstream medical interest in Rio 2012 despite the fact that improvements in world health outcomes are intimately related to the out comes.

Coal seam gas is coming to Victoria, and we’re nowhere near ready

Having had a Senate Inquiry into CSG which attracted many expert submissions and produced a bipartisan report the states produce their own take on the science; it is a wasteful, confused system with little consideration of human health. It is now the turn of Victoria

How contact with nature can benefit our health.

Instinctively, we want contact with nature – we’d all like the office with a view of the park instead of a view of the carpark. Yet few doctors are aware of the health benefits associated with regular contact with nature and this is despite an ever expanding evidence base. I hope this article will inspire you to bring nature into your practice and the prescription of a ‘green hour’ into your management plan for the wellbeing of not only your patients and your staff but for you too.

Wind Turbine Syndrome: mass hysteria in the 21st Century?

The patients suffered from nervous excitability, with buzzing noises in the ear, giddiness, and neuralgic pains … in some cases …objective lesions, such as a subinflammatory condition of the membrane tympani … All the trouble speedily vanishes if the ear is allowed a sufficient measure of physiological rest; this it can only obtain by the cause of the evil being withdrawn. The victims … seem all to be of markedly nervous organization, and the moral may be drawn that such persons should not use the telephone. British Medical Journal, September 21, 1889

The Great Barrier Reef at a crossroads- UNESCO Report

His article is a rational appraisal of the UNESCO report based on legal opinion and not on political blame which has obscured the realities of recent events. The final paragraph of the article summarises the abject folly of the developments which threaten survival of the reef.

Mining is digging the heart out of conservation covenants

This is an issue of great concern to DEA; it is perhaps the reflection of the immaturity of a society when the right to mine overrides some of the fundamentals for human health. Human dependence on biodiversity is built into our submissions to governments. In the article on Covenants the Bimblebox Nature Refuge is mentioned. In its submission on the EIS for Mr Palmer’s Waratah Coal’s proposed Galilee Coal Project, we said “this loss (of the refuge) would be of remnant native vegetation used for minimal impact sustainable grazing and the biodiversity that has adapted to this system, a unique experiment that has brought sustainable co-existence between grazing and conservation recognised in surveys of the biodiversity and government support under the Federal National Reserve System program”. Mr Palmer has said “Under that grading you’re allowed to mine it, build on it, build houses on it, do anything on it”.

Germany, solar technology, human health and Australian government failure.

Solar energy has no health hazards and low green house emissions. Germany forges ahead with its use. Some Australian states are reducing their commitment to solar and indeed Queensland has recently cancelled a project at Cloncurry approved by the previous government. It prefers coal seam gas although this threatens farming land and water resources.

Climate change is the biggest health threat of the 21st century. A primer of the literature

In 2009 the Lancet stated “Climate change is the biggest health threat of the 21st century” This article is intended for the student members of Doctors for the Environment Australia but all doctors are life-long students, so we hope it will be used by all. It is the second of two Primers on climate change science and health impacts. The first article is here

Abolition of fossil fuel and diesel subsidies are health measures

Doctors for the Environment Australia maintains its commitment to advocacy on climate change because this is one of the biggest threats to human health this century. Our quest to reduce fossil fuel usage is integral to action on climate change.

Brown coal, carbon capture and storage and the Victorian government

The most recent setback to efforts to reduce greenhouse emission is the push from the Victorian government to develop brown coal resources. The basis for this is to export it – and leave the importing nations to account for the emissions. The proposal is tacitly supported by the notion that clean coal technology (CCS) is ‘coming’ and will improve the efficiency of burning brown coal. There have been several spectacular failures to develop the technology and we are left with the realisation that continued government funding for its development  may be just a front to continue mining and polluting. The following article. Coal’s burning question – how much difference can technology make to emissions? discusses the use of brown coal in Victoria and we thank the author Damon Honnery and the Conversation for permission to publish under creative commons. To read the technological side of the issue go to the article Carbon capture and storage – a vital part of our climate change response. Additional recommended reading is at the end of this article

Assessment and acceptance of risk is essential in acting on climate change

The acceptance of risk is essential to facilitating action on climate change. The worldwide insurance industry measures risk to property and its premiums are soaring due to extreme weather events which they attribute partially to climate change. Climate risk is also developing a legal basis  In Australia local governments in many coastal areas have accepted the report Climate change risks to Australia’s coasts and are taking action on planning and mitigation. Federal and state parliaments are involved in ideological warfare on climate change have clearly not accepted the degree of risk to the nation or they suffer from cognitive dissonance as detailed in the excellent article by Marion Carey.
The article Highway to Dystopia; time to wise up to the looming risks by John Crawford and co-authors was originally published the Conversation and we thank the authors and the Conversation for permission to republish under Creative Commons.This article further develops the concept of risk using a recent report from the World Economic Forum and should be read in conjunction with a DEA report to the Senate on complex systems. Now read on;-

Reframing climate change could deliver health benefits

Climate change is a complex problem but appears to many people as lacking immediate impact on their lives. Reconceptualising it as a health issue may allow for both better understanding of the issue and greater scope for changing behaviour.

Clear the air in coal versus health debate

DEA Editorial Comment; This article talks about DEA’s submission opposing this huge project. There seems to be inevitability about the approval of this project which is expected to impose more pollution on an already polluted city. An editorial in the Newcastle Herald on the same day indicates the economic and job opportunities provided. The conflict between these and health is discussed in the DEA article below.

An ABC of Climate Science; core references

This initiative was stimulated by the department of Climate Change issuing a response to Ian Plimer’s 101 climate questions. In late 2011, Professor Ian Plimer, a geology professor and expert mineralogist with no background in climate science, released his latest book How to get expelled from school: a guide to climate change for pupils, parents and punters.

Black carbon, methane and action on climate change, an update.

This is an important topic because simple action on these short term pollutants reduces global temperature immediately. Their health impacts are therefore important. A year ago we provided an ABC on this topic and pointed out Australia’s role in this pollution. Black carbon is produced with the burning of forest floor waste, prescribed burns, the burning of agricultural waste and the use of diesel combustion engines. Methane pollution is a major mainly unaddressed problem in Australia from the fugitive emissions from coal seam gas wells and from the emissions by livestock. Methane emissions are increasing internationally.

Club of Rome Report issues a warning about humanity’s ability to survive without directional change

The Club of Rome, is an international think-tank that focuses on stimulating debate on achieving a sustainable future. The Club is continuing its tradition of supporting work that raises fundamental questions and promotes far-sighted solutions. Its reports are important because they utilise both scientific and economic thinking. . Its mission is to undertake forward-looking analysis and assessment on ways forward to a happier, more resilient and sustainable planet. www.clubofrome.org.

How exposure to lead impacts human health

Editorial Comment
Lead poisoning has to be added to the many health hazards arising from the more extreme floods occurring with climate change. The ABC Radio National program Lead Poisoning; a silent epidemic, describes how the wave of home renovation after the floods in Queensland resulted in lead paint stripped from houses increased exposure to lead in childhood. This is an excellent program with a list of references.

To the long list of infective conditions secondary to flooding it is apparent that we must add mobilisation of chemicals and heavy metals from the environment. The floods caused a washout of herbicide into coastal waters and the discharge of heavy metals from flooded coal mines into river catchments.

Illness and Pollution at Port Augusta; Doctors Prescribe Solar Thermal Treatment

There is an important public health message for power producers and governments. It is no longer appropriate to harm people by burning air polluting fossil fuels when there are healthy alternatives.

Sustainable Anaesthesia is important to medical research and to climate change

In the May 2012 edition of the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia there are a number of “highly sustainable” articles to be read. I commend you to peruse this edition of the aforementioned journal neither because it’s interesting nor because Forbes McGain et al wrote 3 of the articles! Instead such publications in the mainstream, peer reviewed medical literature indicates that sustainability, resource use and climate change are attracting attention in the world of medical research and because such interest adds to advocacy efforts.

Stumbling in the ‘green tape’ spin

With only inverted commas signalling the spin, the news media have happily recycled the term ‘green tape’, the latest rhetorical gambit by those decrying environmental protections as unnecessarily delaying development. It’s a term that undercuts the rationale for hard won legislation, with a cynical ‘sleight of tongue’.

Heat stroke, climate change and the elderly

The increased attention to this topic in Australia and North America reflects the increasing incidence of heat deaths and the need for public health and community measures to address the issue.

The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change

This article is based upon an important new report on The Psychological effects of global warming in the United States. The report will be put in the context of previous work in Australia including that by Doctors for the Environment Australia.

A Message from David Suzuki; the power of Corporations

I suggest that the name David Suzuki will be known to all those truly interested in the future of the World. In a letter to friends and organisations he says

Minister Burke- don’t mine the Tarkine!

Last month DEA’s Dr Dimity Williams- a Melbourne GP and passionate tree lover- went deep into the Tarkine with the crew from GetUp to help raise awareness on the threat to the Tarkine posed by mining see link : http://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/save-our-forests/tony-burke/dont-mine-the-tarkine

Tarkine Wilderness another victim of the Mining Boom

For eight years conservationists have fought to have the Tarkine rainforest in Tasmania included on the National Heritage List. Yet despite its eligibility it is under threat from large mining projects and a federal government reluctant to give responsibility for its listing to an independent arbiter.

Forests and Health Position Statement

Over 50 per cent of the earth’s forests have been cleared, mainly for grazing land expansion, agriculture and road construction.

Sustainability. The most Corrupted Word in the English Language

If you have any commitment to the future of humanity you will groan when you see the word sustainability. It must be the most corrupted word in the English language, a corruption of Orwellian proportions. When used to name a government department it immediately rings warning bells. In Victoria there is a Department of Sustainability and Environment which “leads the Victorian Government’s efforts to sustainably manage….. climate change.” This week it lead a demolish program.

It’s time to Getup! and save the Tarkine

A few weeks ago I was thrilled to be part of an expedition into the Tarkine rainforest of Tasmania organised by Getup! as part of their campaign to protect this great wilderness area. Getup! had selected a diverse group of participants from their large membership based on responses to a passionate call to action for the Tarkine.

Coal seam gas health effects need more scrutiny

This article by DEA Committee Member Marion Carey was published in Medical Observer 20 March 2012.  We thank medical Observer for permission to publish.

The Tarkine Forest under threat – Again

This article on the Tarkine Forest and related issues formed the basis of a March newsletter to all members of Doctors for the Environment Australia.

Behind the Seams: who’s asking questions about coal seam gas and health?

by David Shearman and Marion Carey, of Doctors for the Environment Australia
from Crikey March 8, 2012 http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/03/08/behind-the-seams-whos-asking-questions-about-coal-seam-gas-and-health/
We thank the Editor of crikey for permission.

The Greening of Medicine

By Ray Moynihan

Coal Seam gas: future bonanza or toxic legacy?

Article for ACL Viewpoint magazine 23 January 2012
By Dr Marion Carey, VicHealth Senior Research Fellow, Monash Sustainability Institute

DEA requests action from Minister Burke over Queensland’s Acland coal mine

The Acland open cast coal mine, stages 1 and 2 are in operation in Queensland producing 4.0Mtpa.

Submission on the Regulated Trees Amendment

In SA an amendment on Regulated Trees to help development has lead to a spate of removals of mature trees by residents in Adelaide and suburbs who worry about leaves in their gutters.

Clean Energy Finance Corporation Expert Review

We note “The CEFC will act as a catalyst to private investment which is currently not available and thereby contribute to reducing carbon emissions and cleaner energy”.

Climate Change & Health Report Launch

The Climate Commission launched an important Climate Change & Health report on November 2011. DEA endorsed the report which was co-authored by DEA Scientific Committee member Professor Tony McMichael. Also at the launch was DEA management committee member and GP Dr Ben Ticehurst

“Coal a Health Hazard” Say Doctors

Health advocate against tobacco, Dr Kingsley Faulkner has turned his sights on coal as a major direct and indirect health hazard.
“Australia is addicted to coal and we need to embrace alternatives to our reliance on it, as it is making many of us sick.” said Dr Faulkner.

Biodiversity and Health

Doctors for the Environment Australia has recognised the importance of this topic for an number of years and in 2007 our poster was entitled – The importance of biodiversity to your life and health

The air you breathe can harm your health

The following article, by Dr George Crisp, first appeared in Medical Observer on 5th Sep 2011.  It appears below with the kind permission of Medical Observer.

Coal’s Control of Government

Many thanks to PhD candidate Sonya Duss, from the Fenner School of Environment & Society at ANU, for this article. A referenced version of this article is downloadable via the adjacent link.

Health, mining reform needed for coal seam gas industry

Enough evidence has emerged at the Senate Inquiry into coal seam gas to merit significant reform orchestrated by the Federal Government.

DEA at Gas Forum in Sydney – Dr Helen Redmond

DEA was represented at this Coal Seam Gas Community forum by Dr Helen Redmond who speaks around 0:42s.  The meeting addressed concerns over gas extraction in the Sydney Basin.

Health, coal and climate change

Mr Abbott visits coal mines to say “No to carbon tax”; the Prime Minister supports new coal mines; the Australian Coal Association director Ralph Hillman says the government’s proposed carbon tax would add to the costs of Australian coalminers, “while our competitors will bear no such burden”.

Wildlife, biodiversity, climate change, population and economic growth

We need more politicians who will talk at public meetings about the damage to ecology–our life support systems. This is exactly what Kelvin Thomson MP is doing in his talk “The impact of population growth on wildlife” which is published below. In publishing this, with his permission, I make the point that we will publish articles from members of other parties if they fit within our policy framework.

Coal seam gas: a sleight of hand?

Gas giant Woodside has made a presence in the popular media this week, claiming that gas represents a pathway to a cleaner, better world.

Submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms

Fossil fuels are responsible for a significant disease burden in our community contributing to climate change. Wind power and other renewable energies have the potential to reduce threats to health through reduction in air pollution and mitigation of climate change.

Fears over gas drilling more than hot air

Last night’s ABC Four Corners program on coal seam gas can be a first important step in reform to protect the public’s health.

Healthy hospitals, healthy planet, healthy people

This 2009 draft discussion paper published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is based on the WHO’s mandate from member states to develop “programmes for health systems that will contribute to reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions”.

Hospitals & Sustainability

Co-authored by Brenton Burger and Peter Newman, the latter being Dean of the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute and a member of DEA’s Scientific Committee.

DEA Population & Health Poster

This is the Doctors for the Environment (DEA) population and health poster.  It has been prepared for display in doctor’s waiting rooms right across the country.

DEA Guide to Greening Your Hospital

Download this pdf article using the link on your right.

Sustainable Hospitals – Response to Victorian Climate Change Green Paper

Doctors for the Environment Australia has a “green hospitals group” and is taking an increasing interest in promoting action to reduce the carbon footprint of hospitals.

WHO – Children’s Environmental Health Training Modules

A collection of over 30 modules with internationally harmonised information and peer-reviewed materials to enable health care workers to be trained, and also to become trainers of their peers and colleagues.

Green Doctors – Anaesthetic Life

The following article was authored by DEA Victorian chair Dr Eugenie Kayak.  An earlier version first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2010 editions of Anaesthetic Life & Surgical Life – publications of Medical Life Publishing.  We thank them for permission to present the article here.

DEA Report; Children’s Environmental Health

Most Australian children today benefit from better food, cleaner water, more preventive health measures (such as vaccination) and a higher standard of living than ever before. Childhood mortality is very low and many would think that Australian children have never had it so good.

Slideshow – The Science & Health Impacts of Climate Change

As many of our medical colleagues are unaware of the health impacts of climate change DEA has developed a set of slides which you can use to present to your peers. This PowerPoint presentation covers basic climate science and the health impacts of climate change and uses a medical analogy to put the case for urgent action. (The download link is on the right of screen).

Hypocritical Canada and the asbestos trade, a brief review of a world problem

The ravages of asbestos induced lung disease are well known to the Australian community, but the problem continues throughout the world particularly in developing countries. This is a brief review of asbestos as a world problem. together with three key references.

Future Justice edited by Helen Sykes; climate change and justice

In making representations to our colleagues on the need to mitigate climate change we should not delude ourselves that all will bow to the reasoning of science, nor to the tenets of natural justice. Both are often sullied by self interest and ideology. When asking a colleague to contribute to climate change education I was greeted with silence- so I resorted to “You have young children what about their future?” The response was “that’s their problem” It was my turn to be silent!

Biodiversity, a fundamental for Human Health – an update

Three years ago DEA produced a poster on Biodiversity – the Web of Life. It asked “Will the next generation inhabit a healthy earth?” The poster was very popular especially with schools.

Economic Health Growth

The words ‘economic growth’ appear in most news bulletins and political articles in the press. This poster raises the issue that growth in many ways is a health hazard for it is incompatible with a sustainable future for humanity.

Energy Policy

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) has a deep interest in energy policy because it is the major determinant of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which via climate change present a significant threat to human health.

Climate Change HEALTH blog – Paul Roth

Climate Change HEALTH is a new blog by Dubbo GP Dr Paul Roth covering news and views on climate, health and the environment. Launched early July 2009, there are already 31 posts covering topics like basic climate science, effects of global warming, and the health effects of climate change.

Clean coal (CCS) and Climate Change

The announcement of the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute at the G8 meeting by Mr. Rudd and President Obama and the support from 23 governments, 100 companies and with James Wolfensohn and Nicholas Stern on its advisory board was reported as the one positive feature of the meeting. Let us analyse whether this is positive or negative for the containment of green house emissions

Transport and Health Poster

Doctors regularly see the adverse effects of private motor vehicles via patients injured in road traffic accidents. Despite the number of fatalities halving over the last 30 years due to random breath testing and improved road and vehicle design, Australia still recorded 1611 road crash deaths in 2007. (1) It has been predicted that by 2020 traffic accidents will be the third largest cause of global disability adjusted life years lost. (2)

Owning solar panels in South Australia has become more attractive!

This article describes the Feed-In Scheme for Small-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Installations in South Australia

Climate Change. A Letter to DEA from the Treasurer the Hon. Wayne Swan

Early in 2008, Doctors for the Environment Australia wrote to all Federal parliamentarians about climate change. Because of the urgency of reducing greenhouse emissions we asked them to “Write to us yourself and tell us what you are doing personally (i.e. within your household) to address the problem of climate change. Let us know how you are showing leadership within your electorate and please send to us any messages you are using in your newsletters to constituents.

Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics on the Renewable Energy Legislation Amendment (Renewable Power Percentage) Bill 2008.

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) has major concerns about the expected effects of climate change on human health and well being. We have recently released nationally and internationally a report on this topic. It is therefore appropriate that we submit to this Senate Committee to emphasise that a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is urgent and the only way that this can be quickly accomplished is by encouraging energy saving and expanding renewable energy provision. The situation is urgent because recent scientific reports are showing that the harmful effects of climate change are arising much faster than anticipated from IPCC data. There is increasing danger that climate change may become irreversible.

Climate Change at the 2020 Summit. Success or Failure?

I was not at the 2020 summit, nor did I apply. Therefore my comments relate entirely to the written report, the submissions and the press comments of others who were there.

Greening your Hospital: some useful sites for information

Doctors for the Environment Australia has had many requests for help from members regarding sustainability in their hospitals. Most say that it is difficult to find sources of information.

Submission to the Garnaut Review

The World Health Day, celebrated on April 7 each year, creates awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organisation. For 2008  the World Health Organisation has selected the topic “protecting health from climate change” This submission to the Garnaut Committee will indicate why this topic is so important and will document from the medical and scientific literature the implications for health in Australia.

Seeds of Concern- -the Genetic Manipulation of Plants

Seeds of Concern: The Genetic Manipulation of Plants – Part One – 11/04/2004 by Dr David Murray

Futureworld Eco-Technology Centre

I would like to alert DEA members and invite them to give their support to the Futureworld Eco-Technology Centre in Coniston, Wollongong. Futureworld is a not for profit community based organization almost entirely dependent on volunteers. The Centre also has strong connections to the University of Wollongong.
The Eco-Technology Centre will be opening shortly and will exhibit cutting edge, developing and current commercially available environmentally friendly technologies including energy saving technologies. Three Illawarra environmental technology world firsts, the Solar Sailor, Energetec’s Wave Power and Brightstar Environmental Solid Waste to Energy (SWERF) will be demonstrated.



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