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Prescription for a healthy Australia

Australia is fortunate to have a diverse natural environment and a vibrant healthy community with good access to healthcare. However, air pollution, drought, extreme weather and bushfires threaten our health and livelihood.  At the 2019 Federal election we call for bold measures to protect and promote health. Read more here.

AMA Key Health Issues for the 2019 Federal Election  

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) commends the AMA for listing ‘Climate change and health’ as one of their Key Health Issues for the 2019 Federal Election. 

Letter of support for the Bob Brown Foundation's Stop Adani convoy

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani's  proposed coal mine if it's allowed to proceed will add tonnes of C02 into the atmosphere and accelerate climate change. DEA has written a letter of support to the Stop Adani Convoy of concerned Australians which has been organised by the Bob Brown Foundation. 

An open letter to political parties and candidates

DEA is a signatory to an Open Letter from leading Australian organisations calling for all candidates in the upcoming federal election to address with speed and urgency the detrimental effects of climate change on public health. Climate change poses an unprecedented threat to the health of people in Australia and across the world. The full text of the letter can be read here.

Australia's healthcare system: can it cope with climate change?

In an article in MJA's Insight, Kingsley Faulkner says the really worrying aspect of the climate events over the past summer was that this was just the beginning. “These changes are going to get worse,” he said.  “We need Federal leadership — it’s been appallingly lacking to-date. We need good state leadership to set in place emergency preparedness plans,” he said. “When heatwaves or major floods happen, they can overwhelm local emergency departments, as happened in Queensland recently with the devastating cyclones and floods.”

DEA takayna / Tarkine Trip April 2019 

The conflicted beauty of Tasmania’s Tarkine, takayna in the Tasmanian Aboriginal palawa kani language, is unknown to most Australians.

The Tasmanian government is keeping its disgraceful degradation of world heritage forests out of national attention, losing precious tourism investment in exchange for a few votes, while it devalues this great asset.

Tasmanian DEA members Rohan Church and Darren Briggs have been planning for years to take a group of us to this extraordinary place to learn of the beauty and outrage. The 2019 DEA conference in Hobart brought us together and provided a chance to take a group out. Sixteen people began their Tarkine adventure on 8th April 2019 after the Hobart iDEA19 conference.

MJA InSight: Planetary health or planetary sepsis?

"It is becoming clear that the dangers to health by unrestrained climate change may become insurmountable", writes DEA's co-chair, Kingsley Faulkner in MJA InSight. Doctors from around Australia gathered in Hobart on 3 April 2019 to declare a climate emergency. They called on the Australian federal and state governments to respond to the significant early signs of climate chaos. The medical doctors from numerous specialties stated that anything less on the part of governments will amount to negligence.

SMH: Labor's climate contradictions and 'mixed messages' accusations

Despite federal Labor's announcement to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, WA's state Labor government is promoting the development of massive new LNG projects in the north of the state. DEA has recently released a report and made statements protesting expanding off shore gas developments, calling climate change "the biggest threat to health in human history."  "Continued expansion of this industry without consideration of its emissions cannot continue," said DEA's Dr Richard Yin.

NPI highlights need for crackdown on coal pollution

An independent study of coal power’s health impacts by epidemiologist and researcher Dr Benjamin Ewald,  stated 279 deaths occur in New South Wales alone annually from coal - related air pollution. This year’s National Pollutant Inventory report results further strengthen the case for getting tough on air pollution.

DEA signs open letter calling on all federal candidates to address climate health emergency 

Doctors for the Environment Australia is pleased to be a signatory to an open letter from many of Australia’s leading organisations, which call for all candidates in the upcoming federal election to address with speed and urgency the detrimental effects of climate change on public health. 

Western Australian doctors welcome first steps taken in sustainable health care review

WA doctors have today welcomed the Sustainable Health Review report as a first step in addressing climate change as a major health threat, and creating a health system that focuses more on prevention than cure.  Read more here.

iDEA19: “Keeping the Lights On” post conference wrap

Doctors for the Environment Australia were honoured to welcome our colleagues, other health professionals,  climate experts, and guests at this year's  hugely successful iDEA19 conference in nipaluna/Hobart  on 5 -7 April. We came together to address the biggest challenge and opportunity facing humanity today— the impacts of climate change on our health. A major highlight of the conference was the declaration of a climate emergency which sparked national and international interest.

Doctors declare a climate emergency and call on governments to support the move

Doctors from across the country will today gather in Hobart to declare a Climate Emergency. They will also call on Australia’s federal and state governments and councils to adequately respond to the climate chaos we are experiencing and which will accelerate if no action is taken.  The medical doctors, from various specialisations, will state that anything less on the part of governments amounts to negligence. 

DEA welcomes the ALP announcement on Climate Change and Health Strategy   

Doctors for the Environment Australia applauds the announcement by the ALP to develop Australia’s first National Strategy on Climate Change and Health. This strategy recognises that any further delay in addressing climate change by any new Federal Government is not tenable. 

Qld CFPS continuous emissions monitoring challenges Hunter estimates

Emissions measured from Queensland government owned coal-fired power station doubled in the year after continuous emission monitoring was installed. Previously, emissions were estimated as required under the national pollutant reporting scheme. In one year, measurements jumped from 18 to 36 million kg in oxides of nitrogen emissions. DEA and EJA are calling for an urgent overhaul of pollution monitoring and controls. 

Government considering upgrade of Vales Point power station

Epidemiologist and Doctors for the Environment spokesman Ben Ewald said the health burden from the turbine upgrade was unclear. "If they generate more power from the same coal we will have the same pollution burden... but if they are increasing the plant's power capacity by 40MW why would they not increase power output?," he said. Increased power output means more emissions. 

Media release: DEA welcomes the AMA’s call for environmental sustainability in health care

DEA commends the Australian Medical Association’s call for the Australian Government to establish an Australian Sustainable Development Unit (SDU), based on the successful model used in England’s National Health Service (NHS). The AMA’s recent release of a nine-page document on healthcare environmental sustainability aims to make hospitals and health services more environmentally sustainable. 

It's not a future health threat. It's already here.

In an article by Medical Republic, DEA's Dr David King talks about the increasing problems of treating patients in our changing climate. But addressing climate change has many public health benefits - from cleaning up air pollution to improving our diets. The AMA, AMSA, DEA, GPs and and other medical organisations are calling for action on climate change to safeguard and improve out health. 

2019 NSW State Election: DEA’s Prescription for a Healthy New South Wales

NSW is fortunate to have a diverse natural environment and a vibrant healthy community with good access to healthcare. However, air pollution, drought, extreme weather and bushfires threaten our health and livelihood. At the 2019 NSW election, we need to consider measures which protect and promote health and wellbeing. Read DEA's prescription for a Healthy New South Wales.

The world may be nursing a giant gas bomb

Writing in an op-ed for Renew Economy, David Shearman and Melissa Haswell warn that gas is anything but a 'clean and safe' bridging fuel, and that there is wide evidence of the gas industry's damaging effects on health.  Read their latest comprehensive review of the literature,
and the full article with hyperlinks in Renew Economy, here. 

Expanding gas mining threatens our climate, water and health

In an op-ed published in The Conversation, David Shearman and Melissa Haswell write that Australia aspires to become the world’s largest exporter of gas. But the methane that escapes is a much more potent short-term greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  And there are significant local and regional risks to health and well-being associated with unconventional gas mining. Their comprehensive review examines the current state of the evidence.

Media release: Major new report busts the myth of gas as a safe “transition” fuel

A new comprehensive review has shown that gas as a safe transition fuel is a dangerous myth, and that in reality this fossil fuel – methane gas - is imperilling the health of Australians. Doctors for the Environment Australia is calling on governments to stop new gas expansions and to increase monitoring, regulation and management of existing wells. 

Image: Rosalie Schultz

Climate change and health in rural Australia

Dr Rosalie Shultz writes, "How has climate change affected you, your community and your workplace? Bushfires have devastated much of the Larapinta Trail near my home in Alice Springs.  Favourite sites and sections are incinerated. I feel grief and sorrow at loss of beauty, but also fear for destruction of ecosystems and the contribution of these fires to ongoing invasion of the region by weeds." 

Media release: Doctors join School Strike 4 Climate

Doctors will today take to the streets in support of the anticipated thousands of Australian school students  who will miss classes to call for urgent action on climate change.  Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia says climate change is the biggest risk to public health in human history and children, who are especially vulnerable, have good reason to speak out

The Mercury Talking Point: Tasmania burns while leaders fiddle

Many people with unhealthy lifestyle habits make changes only after a wake-up call, a significant health event that brings home to them how precious life is, writes Dr Kris Barnden. The environmental catastrophes that have visited Tasmania and the rest of Australia this summer are our wake-up call. 

Doctors need to get behind the great food transformation

How do we reduce diet related disease, improve health and feed a global population of 10 billion by 2050 without damaging our planet? The Lancet-EAT commission’s recent launch of “Food in the Anthropocene” sets scientific targets to address this challenging question. It concludes that food could be “the single strongest lever to optimise human health and environmental sustainability on Earth”. However, to achieve this, “a radical transformation of the global food system is urgently required”. 

The kids are right – we must act on climate change

Australian school children will skip school this Friday as part of a global movement of young people taking to the streets to demand action on climate change. Dr Richard Yin says, "As a doctor and a father, I’ll be there supporting them." The kids are right – 25 years of climate inaction has brought us to the brink of a climate abyss. 

SE Qld. autumn heatwave could be new normal

More heat records are tumbling in SE Queensland this week, with prolonged heat waves becoming the new normal for the area. DEA's Dr David King said that “The predictions from the CSIRO are that over the next 50 years we’re going to have two to three times as many extreme heatwaves around Australia” As well as being dangerous, heatwaves impact our productivity.  

Serious questions arise about Glencore's cap on coal output

"Project Caesar", Glencore’s multi-million-dollar coal campaign, sought to disseminate information that would build community, industrial and political pressure to continue to support coal while denigrating expansion of renewables. It is imperative that major polluters such as Glencore get serious about their responsibilities towards reducing their contributions to human-caused climate change. 

Two new coal fired power stations proposed for the Hunter Valley

Chinese investors have proposed a plan for the stations on Hunter Economic Zone land. DEA's Dr John Van Der Kallen comments that "It's ludicrous to think anyone's contemplating it while the world faces a climate change emergency. Are they on another planet? It's the wrong proposal at the wrong place and the wrong time," he said. Read the full article here.

DEA and AMA President Dr Tony Bartone discuss climate change as a health issue

A much welcome meeting took place this week between AMA President Dr Tony Bartone, DEA's Co-Chairs Prof Kingsley Faulkner and Dr Eugenie Kayak and Dr Laura Beaton. The  lengthy and productive meeting focused on the impact of climate change on health, sustainability in health care, and the forthcoming federal election. They also discussed the urgent need to act on emissions reduction.

Media release: The WA Government and gas industry is peddling myths 

Doctors have today dismissed claims by the WA Government and peak industry that gas is a transition fuel, following the welcome announcements by the WA EPA for tighter regulations on pollution from the State’s large greenhouse gas emitters. 

DEA appears at enquiry into Mineral Resources (Galilee Basin)  Amendment Bill 2018 in Brisbane

DEA has provided a submission in support of stopping all coal mining in the Galilee Basin. Drs Lucy-Jane Watt, Karin Kochmann and Andrew Jerimijenko were asked to appear before the committee and gave evidence about health impacts of climate change and coal mining. The evidence was well-received and the committee has asked for further details about the dollar-health costs of climate change.  However, DEA's delegation said it was disheartening to see some members keep returning to 'rusted-on ideology', suggesting 'Adani coal is cleaner and somehow better for climate change, and preoccupied with our coal saving the developing world'.

NewsGP: Medical group supports School Strike 4 Climate 

DEA applauds the children's event, due to take place on 15 March, which will see students skip school  to demand strong action on climate change. GP and DEA's Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin describes climate change as the ‘biggest risk to public health in human history’.  He told NewsGP that it is inspiring to see the next generation of young people take control of their future, as the seriousness of the current situation demands that health advocates take action on climate change ‘for the sake of our children’.  

Media release: Medical group backs next school-children’s rally on climate action 

Doctors have today pledged strong support for children planning to walk out of school on 15 March to demand action on climate change, and are urging Australia’s thousands of doctors to do the same. 

The Murray-Darling needs life support with expert team management

The Murray issue is just one of several complex issues that governments can no longer manage for the future, simply because human nature being as it is, electoral needs and demands will always hold sway. Management of the Great Barrier Reef and climate change policy fit into the same category — they must be taken out of the political sphere. 

NSW election: our chance to vote 1 for climate and health

The Lancet has described tackling climate change as the ‘greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.’ The upcoming NSW election is one of those opportunities to improve our health, but we need to vote for politicians who will take climate change seriously. Tackling climate change will involve moving rapidly to renewable energy. 

A little brown rodent is the first mammalian extinction attributable to climate change. 

In the wake the demise of  the Bramble Cay melomy, DEA's biodiversity committee convenor, Dimity Williams, says Australia needs to act quickly, as both extensive habitat loss and climate change are major factors in further extinctions. For example, there is near complete loss of old growth forests in Victoria. "Areas they have left are very small and they are vulnerable to severe weather events." 
She said that while many people would question why the extinction of the Bramble Cay melomy should matter to any one individual, the answer lies in humankind's reliance on all natural systems for health. From ecosystems that clean water, air and provide food, to the medicines and anti-venom that come from plants and animals, human rely on all sorts of ecosystems to continue functioning.

Brisbane Times: After the deluge, north Queenslanders face a deadly new threat 

DEA's Queensland Chair Dr Beau Frigault writes about the deadly disease meliodosos that has emerged after the record-breaking monsoon in north Queensland. One person has died from melioidosis since the flood, and a further nine people remain in hospital, some of whom are in intensive care. In a city that would normally see a handful of cases a year, this is a significant increase. There may be many more cases of melioidosis to come, as symptoms can show up two to four weeks after exposure. While Queensland has a record of severe weather, yet another "once-in-a-century" event shows how climate change is wreaking havoc on our communities.

Black Saturday: What have we learnt?

Dr John Iser writes in Independent Australia about the Black Saturday bushfires.
In the ten years since the bushfires of 2009, many improvements have happened in fire prevention and management. However the fundamental major contributing factors to bushfires - heatwaves combined with drought as a consequence of climate change - have been given only lip-service by many in government. 

There’s no healthy debate on mine impacts - by Dr John Van Der Kallen

In a stunning landmark decision, this week the NSW Land and Environment Court recognised the scientific evidence for climate change and the urgent need to reduce emissions. For this reason, and for the negative impacts on the local community, the court dismissed the appeal and ruled against the opening of a new coal mine at Rocky Hill. 

DEA in the news - Dr Ben Ewald's NSW air quality study

DEA has released new air pollution report this week, widely reported in the media. The study has shown that air pollution is actually worsening in parts of Sydney and NSW, despite government assurances that they take emissions regulations seriously. Following the release of the report which he authored Dr Ben Ewald writes – ‘Air quality is worse than ever in NSW and is "a steady drag" on the health of much of the population.’  Fine particles carry the greatest health burden, proven to cause death, heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, type two diabetes and low birth weight for babies, and they are suspected of causing dementia. Read more...

Media release: Major new report sounds alarm over worsening air pollution in NSW

A comprehensive new report released today by Doctors for the Environment Australia shows NSW’s air quality deteriorated markedly in 2018, overshooting the national standards several times and putting the health of people at risk, especially in parts of Sydney and in the Hunter.

Media release: Doctors call for no more coalmines after Court rejects Rocky Hill on climate change grounds

Doctors call for an end to further extensions of existing coalmines or new mines, such as the Galilee Basin, after a landmark ruling in the NSW Land and Environment Court firmly rejected the Rocky Hill open cut coalmine proposal. 

ABC radio - The World Today on heatwaves

Australia has had it's hottest month on record - the mean average temperature was greater 30 degrees, and records are tumbling.  DEA's Dr John van der Kallen interviewed by the ABC about the health impacts of climate change and talks about the increase in frequency of these events going into the future. 

New DEA data shows an increase in air pollution in parts of Sydney

An independent study of coal power’s health impacts by epidemiologist and researcher Dr Benjamin Ewald published last year stated 279 deaths occur in New South Wales alone annually from related air pollution. In an article from SolarQuotes, this year's NPI report strengthens the case for getting tough on air pollution.

NSW power stations emissions standards to be reviewed under Labor

A Labor government in NSW has promised to review the emissions standards of all NSW's coal-fired power stations, after their current licences have been renewed by the NSW EPA without significant change. DEA's Dr Ben Ewald said "The decision makers in the EPA are ignoring compelling health reasons to clean up power station air pollution. Modern pollution controls are required on vehicles, so why not power stations?"

Mandatory gas connections are out of step with tackling climate change

New building estates forced to install gas pipelines

DEA's Dr David Shearman and Prof. Melissa Haswell write that while state governments are embracing our urgent need for renewable energy transitions, regulations for large housing developments are lagging behind, facing mandated connections to gas infrastructure within their contracts. Mandatory gas connections are anti-choice, anti-competitive and contrary to combatting climate change. 

Media release: Major new report sounds alarm over worsening air pollution in NSW

A comprehensive new report released today by Doctors for the Environment Australia shows NSW’s air quality deteriorated markedly in 2018, overshooting the national standards several times and putting the health of people at risk, especially in parts of Sydney and in the Hunter.

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of bushfires

Health and the Tasmanian bushfires

 "Tasmania’s usually pristine air is clouded with bushfire smoke", write DEA doctors Anna Johnston and Zoe Ling. Doctors around the state are treating significant health problems exacerbated by toxic bushfire fumes – asthma, heart attacks, strokes, premature births and poor diabetes control. Current government policies are woefully inadequate in limiting warming. The situation will only get worse without effective action.

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