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.
Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia says the children's actions are understandable given the exceptional circumstances that they face. Climate change disproportionately affects young people's health and poses an existential risk, if left unchecked.
DEA, a national medical group that protects health through care of the environment, is supported by a Nobel laureate, recipients of the Australia of the Year award and other leading health experts.
DEA Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin says, “It’s inspiring to see today’s generation of young people taking control of their future in the face of persistent government inaction.
“Right now, we are facing the biggest risk to public health in human history, and children are especially vulnerable.
“Science is clear on the impacts of climate change on our health, and key health organisations around the world, including the WHO, have declared it a public health emergency.
“As doctors, we have a duty of care to speak out when health is threatened.”
The burning of fossil fuels is a major driver of climate change and increases the likelihood of the record-breaking “natural” disasters that we are experiencing. Apart from the potentially harmful physical impacts on children from extreme weather, including more severe and frequent heatwaves, floods, drought and bushfires, children can also suffer mental stress. A recent UNICEF report stated children living in rural Australia experienced emotional distress from having to deal with the drought burden.
Says Dr Ingo Weber, who is coordinating a separate campaign focusing on the health impacts of climate change on children on behalf of DEA, “Burning coal, gas and oil also exposes our young people to a range of preventable health problems, including asthma and preterm birth.
“With a federal election coming up in May, it’s time for all parties to acknowledge the climate chaos we are experiencing and put in place policies that are consistent with the findings of climate scientists and renewable energy experts.
“Children have a right to grow up in a clean and stable environment — the kind of world that previous generations including their parents and grandparents enjoyed.
“What better advocates for humanity’s future on a healthy planet than today’s young people. DEA is proud to support their brave stand for real action on climate change.”
The School Strike 4 Climate on 15 March is part of a global movement to address global warming and was originally inspired by 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg.
To contact any of the people below, please phone DEA's Communications and Media Coordinator Carmela Ferraro, 041 070 3074
DEA Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin
DEA’s No Time for Games campaign coordinator Dr Ingo Weber
Melbourne, Dr John Iser
Sydney, Dr Kim Loo
Brisbane, Dr Pieter Jansen
Perth, Dr Richard Yin and Dr George Crisp
Hobart, Dr Tom Clemens,
Adelaide Dr Ingo Weber
School Strike 4 Climate website
DEA No Time for Games campaign website
DEA report: No Time For Games: Children’s Health And Climate Change
Climate change & Health in Australia Fact Sheet
DEA is an independent organisation of medical doctors protecting health through care of the environment http://dea.org.au
We are supported by a Scientific Committee of distinguished health experts: Prof Stephen Boyden AM, Prof Emeritus Chris Burrell AO, Prof Peter Doherty AC, Prof Michael Kidd AM, Prof David de Kretser AC, Prof Stephen Leeder AO, Prof Ian Lowe AO, Prof Robyn McDermott, Prof Lidia Morawska, Prof Peter Newman AO, Prof Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC, Prof Hugh Possingham, Prof Lawrie Powell AC, Prof Fiona Stanley AC, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, Dr Norman Swan