The IPCC synthesis report finding that we are facing four degrees of warming by 2100 will bring more and more severe effects on the health of individuals and communities, while Australia’s health system and emergency services are likely to find themselves unable to cope with such shock events, warns Doctors for the Environment Australia.
“The government of Australia is culpable of neglect of the health and safety of its citizens,” says DEA spokesperson Dr David Shearman. “Can you imagine what the health and well being of Australians will be like with a four degree rise in temperature this century?
“The human body cannot withstand such high temperatures without the constant need for air conditioning to prevent heat stroke. There will be increasingly serious social and public health emergencies. Intensified extreme weather events – heat waves, fires, floods, storms – will cause injuries, deaths, respiratory ailments, infections and serious mental trauma. “
Dr Shearman says that we need to elevate the level of political commitment and action, if we are to avoid the impacts of climate change. Australia’s dry climate makes the country more vulnerable to impacts of warming, and nowhere in developed countries is so little being done as in Australia.
“The Government fiddles, whilst Australia will burn under the present policy,” says Dr Shearman. “ “A five per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 is peanuts compared to what is necessary. Yet the government is intent on dismembering the Renewable Energy Target – when it should be increased significantly for it is an effective public health measure.
“When your house faces imminent fire, it is ridiculous to say wait till I have fixed the budget. Unfortunately this is the government’s lamentable focus.”
Dr Shearman says Australia’s health system is focused on the diagnosis, treatment and counseling of individuals and families. Climate change demands attention be paid to helping society build for and ensure the long-term health and well-being of the community at large.
The latest IPCC synthesis report confirms conclusive scientific evidence that human activities continue to cause unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate.
Says Dr Shearman: “Mr Abbott, please change your sloganeering to say: “An emissions trading scheme is a good, healthy scheme”, and history may forgive you for “The carbon tax is a bad tax” and “Coal is good for humanity”.