12 August 2015
Medical experts say the health impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly evident, and have condemned the Abbott Government’s carbon emissions targets of 26 to 28 percent by 2030, based on 2005 levels.
Doctors for the Environment Australia says health professionals are already seeing the evidence of global warming in surgeries and in emergency rooms.
“Higher temperatures increase emergency department attendances for heart attacks, fever, gastroenteritis, asthma and metabolic diseases,” says DEA spokesperson Dr Sallie Forrest.
Health infrastructure, such as buildings and equipment, are also being effected and may potentially need costly upgrades to ensure doctors can provide adequate care. In the heatwave prior to the Black Saturday bushfires, 25 percent of all hospitals had problems with their air-conditioning and cooling systems.
“It’s extraordinary that our leaders not only disregard the evidence that coal is hazardous to health and is one of the major causes of climate change, but they do everything in their power to strangle renewables such as solar and wind that would help us make the transition we need,” Dr Forrest says.
“And it’s not that the Government can’t do anything about the challenges we face. As a recent Lancet report on health and climate said, whether we respond to climate change is no longer a technical, technological, or economic question – it is now entirely a political one.”
According to DEA, Australian emissions reductions targets should at the very minimum be based on those recommended by the government’s own expert advisory organisation, the Climate Change Authority. Earlier this year it called for a 2025 target of 30 per cent below 2000 levels and 2030 target of 40 and 60 percent below 2000 levels.
“As the first generation of doctors to see the impacts of climate change and maybe the last with the opportunity to protect our communities from the worst manifestation of it, we have a moral obligation to stand up for the health of the community, much as we did with tobacco and asbestos, “ says Dr Forrest.
Dr Sallie Forrest, 0434 049 715
Dr George Crisp, 0422 057 351
DEA is an independent health advocacy organisation of medical doctors addressing the health impacts of environmental damage http://dea.org.au
DEA is supported by a scientific advisory committee consisting of:
Professor Stephen Boyden AM; Professor Peter Doherty AC, FRS, FAA; Professor Bob Douglas AO; Professor Dave Griggs; Professor Michael Kidd AM; Professor David de Kretser AC; Professor Steve Leeder AO; Professor Ian Lowe AO; Professor Robyn McDermott; Professor Peter Newman; Sir Gustav Nossal, AC, CBE, FAA, FRS; Professor Hugh Possingham; Professor Lawrie Powell AC; Professor Fiona Stanley AC; Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM; Norman Swan; Professor David Yencken AO