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Media release: Doctors call on regulator to reject banned toxic chemical in the Great Australian Bight

Doctors for the Environment  Australia  calls on the national offshore oil and gas regulator to reject Equinor's plan to use a banned toxic chemical dispersant for an oil spill  in the Great Australian Bight, as it would place response workers and local communities at risk of serious illness.  

Medical Forum bumper issue on doctors as climate change champions

From letters to the editor to feature articles about doctors stepping out to join the School Strike for Climate,  this month's edition of Medical Forum shows DEA's WA members are a force to be reckoned with in the fight against climate change. 

Independent Australia: Australia’s energy policies are doctors’ business

It is extraordinary that Energy Minister Angus Taylor continues to cling to a fossil fuel past at a time when Australia’s emissions are still rising and the urgency required for global action on climate change mounts, writes Dr Graeme McLeay. What we really need is the Energy Minister and his government to see the tremendous opportunities in sun, wind and wave and to steer our country towards a clean energy future that doesn’t cost our health, our planet or our pockets. 

Media release: Doctors alarmed by the destruction of takayna/ Tarkine call for a stop to logging 

Tasmanian doctors have today called for an urgent halt to destructive logging of the Sumac forests of the takayna/Tarkine, as conservationists step up protests against proposed logging in the area.  Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia says that damage to the takayna/Tarkine is not only an environmental issue but one which affects the health and wellbeing of all Tasmanians. 

Croakey: Formulating a medical response to a deadly disease of disordered thinking

We have systems to weigh up the risks and benefits of extracting, transporting, exporting and using coal, gas and oil but  who should be at the table when those risks are discussed? Dr David Shearman argues that Australia’s formal decision making in this area is impaired by a sickness afflicting our systems of governance. 

Letter to the Editor: Media must let the truth prevail

Is there no end to the contention by climate change sceptics, who report in The Australian, that action is useless and that adaptation will see us through? asks Dr John Iser in his Letter to the Editor which as far as we know has not been published. As he states, the media’s role is to shed light on truth, not to obfuscate it; to challenge power, not be beholden to it.

The Armidale Express: Armidale GP Dr Sujata Allan explains why climate change is the century's greatest health challenge

Dr Sujata Allan says that in her practice, she has already seen the toll a warming planet has taken on her patients.  She states there is widespread concern about global heating among the medical profession, medical colleges, the AMA and other groups, and urges a co-ordinated national strategy to prepare our towns, communities, and health practices for climate change impacts.

DEA marks World Food Day

Public Health Nutritionist, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, says there should be enough food for everyone on World Food Day.  Yet hunger is a real problem throughout many parts of the world, with over 820 million people going hungry every day, impairing the growth and development of millions of children. We need to pause and consider how we use the earth's finite resources to produce food for all. 

Origin Energy AGM: Doctors warn that fracking is a public health hazard   

Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia will attend Origin Energy’s AGM on Wednesday to raise the alarm about the risks of NT fracking on public health. Spokesperson for DEA, Dr Helen Redmond, says the evidence against fracking is clear and there should be no further development of onshore gas in Australia.   

The Canberra Times: Populate and perish; the fleeting hope of a population policy

The Launch of the new Centre for Population raised a flicker of hope of a remit to develop a population policy for Australia - but the hope was fleeting, writes Dr David Shearman. The proposal makes no mention of the constraints of climate change, water scarcity or the concept of sustainability, which are crucial to the long term maintenance of our present population and indeed the projected increase of between 37 and 49 million people by 2066. 

Newcastle Herald: Emotional toll of mining brought to surface

The effects of coal mining are not only physical, they're also emotional, writes Dr Bob Vickers. In the Hunter Valley, thermal coal mining is creating an adversarial culture in coal communities as both those against and for continued mining advocate for a future that they believe will best look after themselves and their families. 

VicDoc: Health experts call for stronger national air pollution standards

Health experts unite to call on our environment ministers to limit dangerous pollutants that include nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone to improve air quality, writes Associate Professor Vicki Kotsirilos AM. Air pollution is currently causing more than 3000 premature and preventable deaths per year in Australia, as well as contributing to asthma, heart disease, lung disease and cancer. The call to clean up our air and bring it in line with international best practice comes as state and federal environment ministers prepare to review the National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM).

Why would I want to run a marathon?

Medical student Ross Robertson will be running his first ever marathon at the Melbourne Marathon Festival on 13 October! He is putting himself through the hard yards (a gruelling  42.195 km) to raise awareness and funds to support DEA's vital work.  Please support his extraordinary endeavour with a tax deductible donation.

Food For Healthy People, Healthy Planet: Fact Sheet

Our new fact sheet highlights that the foundation of good health is a healthy diet, and  that climate change, biodiversity loss, water pollution and soil loss are major and imminent threats to human and planetary health. Changing the type of foods that we eat, and the way that foods are produced, distributed, and marketed, is one of the most effective actions we can take to improve the health of individuals, and stave off environmental disaster. 

DEA welcomes guest speaker Lizzie O'Shea to this year's AGM social function on 11 October in Melbourne

DEA welcomes members to its Annual General Meeting at 6pm on 11 October in Melbourne. The AGM will be followed by a social function featuring a special presentation by human rights lawyer, media commentator and author Lizzie O’Shea. This special social event is open to all.

Media release: Proposed Midlands coal mine is a health risk, warn Tasmania’s doctors    

Doctors for the Environment Australia has slammed a proposed coal mine in Tasmania's Midlands on health grounds, warning it could contaminate the clean soil, air and water of surrounding areas and lead to more climate change whose harmful impacts the island state is already seeing. 

Independent Australia: Morrison's condescending response to kids and climate

Climate change is difficult to ignore when medical authorities declare a climate health emergency, defence experts are concerned, insurance and business are sounding the alarm bells and children and their supporters are taking to the streets in historic numbers to call for urgent action, writes Dr Graeme McLeay. Yet, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the UN last week, he said everyone had it wrong about Australia. The question is: when will our PM "get" the science and the need to act?

Croakey: On an historic day for the #SchoolStrike, climate justice must be central

Dr Ingo Weber, the lead organiser of DEA's campaign No Time For Games, explains why doctors joined the global climate strike on 20 September which saw more than 300,000 Australians and millions of people around the world take to the streets in support of young people and their call for action on climate. 

Global Climate Strike: Doctors stand 4 future

Doctors will today take to the streets in cities and towns across Australia in support of the anticipated thousands of Australian school students who will miss classes to call for urgent policies to contain climate change, which threatens their future existence if left unchecked. Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia says climate change is the biggest risk to public health in human history and young people, who are especially vulnerable given their developing bodies and longer life years, have good reason to speak out. 

No Time For Games concludes in Canberra- with a motion in Parliament!

DEA's No Time For Games campaign, which has placed children's health in a changing climate on the national agenda, concluded today at Parliament House in Canberra.  A DEA contingency delivered thousands of pledges as well as endorsements from major medical colleges to the Health Minister Greg Hunt, even though he was unavailable to meet us. The campaign culminated in a parliamentary motion in the House by  Zali Steggall OAM MP and was seconded by Helen Haines MP. The motion recognised that human-induced climate change is one of the biggest and most urgent health threats to children, and calls on the government to decarbonise by 2050 to reduce the intensity and occurrence of extreme weather events. Read the full motion in the Hansard. 

Health professionals call for Greg Hunt to protect children’s health in a changing climate, as Zali Steggall moves a motion in the House

Doctors will today gather at Parliament House, Canberra, to deliver Greg Hunt thousands of pledges from major medical colleges and health professionals demanding urgent action on climate change for the sake of our children. Inside Parliament, Zali Steggall OAM MP will move a motion that supports No Time For Games, a national children's campaign by DEA. The motion, seconded by Helen Haines MP, recognises that human-induced climate change is one of the biggest and most urgent health threats to children, and urges the government to decarbonise by 2050 to reduce the intensity and occurrence of extreme weather events. 

Media Alert:  DEA to deliver pledges to protect children from climate change to Health Minister Greg Hunt, Canberra 

On Monday 16 September, DEA will deliver thousands of pledges calling for immediate bipartisan action on climate change which impacts on children most to the Minister for Health Greg Hunt MP, despite his unavailability to meet them . Speakers at the event outside Parliament House will include Senior Australian of the Year 2019 and Paediatrician Dr Sue Packer OA, Mark Butler MP, Zali Steggall MP and Andrew Wilkie MP. The pledges have been endorsed by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), the Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP) the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), and more than 2000 health professionals, including Professor Fiona Stanley AC. 

Kidneys and extreme heat: a climate consequence

The medical community is now realising that the health effects of climate change are more far reaching than we ever thought- climate change is not just an unprecedented public health threat, but also a threat to multiple organs in our bodies, writes DEA's Vic Chair Katherine Barraclough who is also a nephrologist.

DEA welcomes AMA’s emergency health declaration on climate change as a major step forward  

Doctors for the Environment Australia has today applauded the AMA’s declaration that climate change is a health emergency, describing it as a major milestone that firmly acknowledges the toll that rising global temperatures is having on health as well as the urgency in addressing the climate crisis. In its statement, the AMA says it has joined other health organisations around the world – including the American Medical Association, the British Medical Association, and Doctors for the Environment Australia-in making the declaration.

Opinion: The right side of history? Labor's noble climate talk lost in coal smoke

Labor is all over the shop on climate change. This week its national president, Wayne Swan, is preaching that the party must stay on "the right side of history" and stick to ambitious carbon targets. He speaks out even as Labor's Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, expresses pride in coal exports. 

Sydney Morning Herald: The right side of history? Labor's noble climate talk lost in coal smoke

Labor is all over the shop on climate change, writes Dr David Shearman. Labor's national president, Wayne Swan, is preaching that the party must stay on "the right side of history" and stick to ambitious carbon targets. This is even as Senator Penny Wong stated in response to pleas from Pacific Island nations that an ALP federal government would not ban new coal mines, and as Labor's Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressed pride in coal exports.  Talking down the impact of Australia's coal in effect puts Labor in support of a government policy that invites climate catastrophe. 

Media release: Health experts slam decision allowing Origin to frack NT

Doctors are alarmed that the Northern Territory Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Eva Lawler has given approval to gas giant Origin Energy to commence fracking in the NT to mine shale gas. The decision flies in the face of clear evidence that gas mining brings unacceptable health risks. 

Muswellbrook Chronicle: Singleton Dr Bob Vickers, and member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, weighs in on recent Dartbrook coal mine decision 

THE NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) recently decided on the Dartbrook underground coal mine, writes Dr Bob Vickers.  In its decision, they approved the mine to continue operations until 2022, but did not support a five-year extension recommended by the NSW Department of Planning. In the words of the IPC, this project "would not be in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development or inter-generational equity; and, as such, is not in the public interest".

Canberra Times: Faunal extinction is a huge part of the climate emergency

A normal week, another loss of koala habitat for new housing estates, of forest to provide jobs in the logging industry, of land clearance for gas development and agriculture.  As Dr David Shearman writes, the litany of destruction is relentless. Australia is participating in a worldwide biodiversity crisis, in which thousands of species are threatened or have become extinct. The climate emergency is the main cause, but there are many others which emanate from economic growth and its consumption of natural resources. 

The Guardian: Australian power stations among world's worst for toxic air pollution

Dr Ben Ewald told the Guardian that there were places in Australia that had a serious SO2 (sulphur dioxide) problem and limits were set well above what was needed to protect human health. The comments followed a Greenpeace report using satellite data to analyse the world’s worst sources of sulphur dioxide pollution, one of the main pollutants contributing to deaths from air pollution worldwide.

(Unpublished) Letter to the Editor - The Australian

"It is about time that Chris Kenny was pilloried for distorting the truth on renewable energy (The Australian August 12)," Dr John Iser wrote in a Letter to the Editor submitted to the Australian which we understand was not published.

Renew Economy: The other road toll we can no longer ignore

We are confronted daily in the media with the deadly results of crashes on our roads and the tragedy that befalls those involved, writes Dr Graeme McLeay. Seat belts, improved vehicle design, drink driving legislation and other measures have seen the number of road deaths decline from a high in 1970 of almost 3,800 to 1,137 in 2018. This figure is still too high and much effort is made to reduce it. There is, however, another menace on our roads which is largely ignored - exposure to traffic pollution.

Doctors for the Environment Australia - Executive Director position available

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is seeking a dynamic, experienced Executive Director (ED) to drive the next phase of development in pursuit of its Mission, Protecting health through care of the environment”. DEA is a health organisation run by volunteer doctors, whose activities are supported by an administrative officer and communications and media manager. DEA is rapidly expanding its membership and influence, in response to the growing impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on human health.

Brisbane Times: How will hospitals cope with climate change's impact on our health?

Blue skies, rolling surf, blazing sun- these are some of the images people think of when they think of Australia, writes Dr Marianne Cannon. But it is the latter, the endless days of hot sunshine that are harming us, both young and old, in increasing numbers.  Last summer was the hottest on record, and projections are that heatwaves will be getting more frequent and intense. As heatwaves increase the pressure on accident and emergency units, many emergency physicians are seriously worried about how hospitals are going to cope. But there are solutions open to us, and they are achievable.

ABC Life Matters: How clean is the air you breathe?

We all have a right to breathe clean air. However, if you live, work and play in an area with a lot of traffic or near coal-fired power stations the air can get pretty foul.   Ambient air pollution contributes to over 3000 premature deaths each year in Australia, and thousands more suffer a range of diseases including asthma - children are especially vulnerable. Associate Professor Vicki Kotsirilos AM and President of the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group Martin Wurt speak on Life Matters about how airborne pollutants are making us sick. They call on the environment ministers who are currently reviewing our outdated air quality laws to adopt international best practice. 

Media Release: Health experts call for stronger national air pollution standards to save lives

Doctors are calling for stronger national air pollution standards to limit dangerous pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone in ambient air. Air pollution currently causes over 3000 premature and preventable deaths per year in Australia, as well as contributing to asthma, heart disease, lung disease and cancer. Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia is urging environment ministers to tighten air pollution standards to protect health, and to bring standards in line with international best practice. 

Expert Position Statement on health-based standards for Australian regulated thresholds of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone in ambient air 

Ambient air pollution contributes to over 3000 premature deaths each year in Australia. Even at low concentrations, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ozone (O3) are impacting public health. The joint statement from Australia's key health groups addresses the pending long-awaited revision of national standards for these harmful air pollutants whose standards are currently set well-above international best practice levels. Read the full statement HERE.

Letter to the Hon Sussan Ley MP

Dr Dimity Williams, DEA's Biodiversity Convenor, recently wrote to the Minister for Environment the Hon Sussan Ley MP to applaud the addition of more plants and animals to Australia’s national list of threatened species and ecological communities. However, the letter also expressed concern that Australia was among the world’s worst performers in biodiversity protection and urged strong action to protect the health of nature. Read the letter in full HERE.

The Project: The Big Stink...Why Australia Is Lagging Behind The Rest Of The World In Reducing Car Emissions

Prime time current affairs program, The Project, on Network Ten today featured a segment on air pollution. The program highlighted the harms from the emissions of traffic vehicles ahead of a revision of Australia's air quality standards which are well over due. Dr Ben Ewald emphasised dirty air is especially harmful to children and that many of our young people would not have asthma if one of the worst air pollutants, nitrogen dioxide, was capped at 9 parts per billion. 

Independent Australia: Adani arrest draws attention to Australia's global harm 

The arrest of French journalist  Hugo Clément has served the international community interest to recognise the harm being caused to them by Australian policy, says Dr David Shearman. This harm is well recognised by our island neighbours but they are inconsequential to the Australian Government. More important are the views of countries which accept their share of the climate change burden and the tourists from Europe and other major countries who may well view Mr Hugo’s documentaries when considering holidays in Queensland. 

Climate emergency in Wagga Wagga and the glimmer of hope at the grassroots  

At a recent Climate Change Institute event ANU academic Professor Neil Gunningham commented that no government in the world has been genuinely honest with its population about the full challenge of climate change and its likely consequences, writes Dr Arnagretta Hunter. In Australia this is true to an almost extreme level, with politicians actively campaigning to support the coal industry, and an extraordinary deliberate defunding of climate change research for both adaptation and mitigation. 

Ozy: Are you climate homesick? He's got a word for that

"You’re at home with your family on the sofa. Despite being surrounded by loved ones, melancholy is rising within you. Why? Outside the weather is no longer how it used to be. The seasons hardly resemble themselves. You turn on the television and it’s the usual: The Great Barrier Reef is in a state of crisis; polar ice caps are melting. Home in both the immediate sense and the whole planet is changing. How do you feel? Isolated? Depressed? Longing for a different time?” There’s a word for this: solastalgia.  GP, George Crisp, says he's seeing it in his practice.

Doctors for the Environment Australia declares climate change a health emergency   

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) declared climate change a health emergency on 3 May 2019. 

MJA Insight+: Doctors need to meet challenge of climate change

It is easy to imagine that climate change isn’t a problem in health care. Individual doctors hold personal opinions on the proposed Adani mine in Queensland or on the importance of health care sustainability practice, but whether climate change affects health and the practice of medicine can seem murkier. It is easy for busy doctors to be distracted by the sea of patients waiting to be seen in emergency departments, in clinic waiting rooms, the referrals for consultations, procedures and follow-up all mounting up in the office. Good medicine involves attention to the patient and their concerns. So, asks Dr Arnagretta Hunter: Is there time for climate change in this?

Open Forum: Future proofing our health system one young doctor at a time

In about eighteen months’ time, I’ll finish my medical degree and will begin my first day of work as a doctor. Many of the things that make me nervous about that prospect have been haunting medical students for decades: what if I fall asleep in the tea room on a night shift and miss an urgent page? What if I accidentally read a patient’s x-ray backwards? What if my boss yells at me the first time I have to wake her up at 3am to ask about a patient? But there’s a whole set of anxieties about my future career that I suspect most of my predecessors never even contemplated.  

The Guardian: Deputy PM Michael McCormack accused of disputing evidence of global heating

Australia’s deputy prime minister Michael McCormack told DEA member and GP, Dr Trudi Beck, who is a constituent in Wagga Wagga, NSW, that  he disputed evidence of global warming because historical weather measurements might not be accurate. Dr Beck also reported that Mr McCormack said to her at a scheduled meeting in his electorate office that she should abandon her attendance at weekly picnic protests outside his office and “do something useful like volunteer for Meals on Wheels instead”.

ABC: Wheatstone gas emissions 'excessive', say residents in north-west WA town of Onslow

DEA and environmental groups have called for greater transparency about the potential health impacts on local communities from Australia's largest onshore liquified natural gas (LNG) plant, Chevron's Wheatstone project. Dr George Crisp said he is concerned about the proximity of the plant to the tiny town of Onslow in the Pilbara. Emissions could contain a toxic mixture of hydrocarbons, gases, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and carbon monoxide, which are all harmful to human health, even at very low concentrations. 

Independent Australia: UK and EU carbon neutrality will challenge Australian climate policy

Recently, a ten-year-old block of 131 flats in Sydney, evacuated some weeks ago because of structural cracks, became the subject of an engineer’s report which said it was moving in a ‘downward motion’. The UK is well aware of such failures of regulation and government with the Grenfell Tower fire cladding. They epitomise the increasingly inept governance in both nations. Nevertheless, writes Dr David Shearman, despite the three years of Brexit chaos in the UK, matched by three years of climate policy chaos in Australia which remains the hallmark of the re-elected Government, the similarity ends there. 

NBN News: Environment group mounts court case against EPA

Dr Ben Ewald spoke to NBN News about the harms to large numbers of people in Newcastle and beyond who are exposed to toxic pollution from Vales Point, Eraring and Mt Piper coal-fired power stations. The interview comes after the Nature Conservation Council announced it was mounting a court case against the NSW EPA. The conservation group is arguing the renewal of pollution licences for these three power stations, which are operating with out-of-date technology and below international pollution standards, is putting people's health at risk. 

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