23 March 2016
Doctors have today launched a climate change and health fact sheet describing the catastrophic consequences a continued rise in global temperature will have on the health of our families and communities, unless we act immediately.
Medical advocacy organisation Doctors for the Environment Australia’s fact sheet, Climate Change & Health In Australia, (and a mini version) states sicknesses such as vector-borne diseases, foodborne and waterborne illnesses, heat-related disorders, respiratory and allergic disorders such as asthma, as well as mental health problems will all likely increase due to climate change.
Also climate change induced extreme weather events could potentially impact on significant numbers of Australians. For example bushfires will not only cause burns, injuries and death to those directly affected, they also carry smoke hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from the bushfire zone, affecting the health of communities across vast areas.
DEA’s publication is in response to several international reports that have been released in recent months describing the alarming rate of change in global temperature. The World Meteorological Organisation reported on Tuesday that 2015 “shattered” temperature records and that this record-breaking trend has continued in 2016 with February setting new records, while greenhouse gas concentrations crossed the symbolic and significant 400 parts per million threshold.
DEA spokesperson Professor Peter Brook says, “The unprecedented shift in temperature that we are experiencing is deeply unsettling. As doctors we have a duty of care to raise the alarm when public health is being threatened. This publication is our way of bringing home the very real impacts climate change will have on our health, those of our loved ones and the wider public.
“We can no longer ignore the long-term temperature increases and extreme weather events, all of them are pointing to a new normal which if left unchecked will pose an existential threat the likes of which we have never seen on a global level.
“We are facing a public health emergency and we call on the Australian Government to cut greenhouse gases and implement the Paris Agreement on climate change which can be ratified from 22 April. Keeping warming below 2 degrees is a defence line we must rigorously defend. “
Professor Peter Brooks, 0411 408 581
Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Health Policy- School of Population and Global Health University of Melbourne.
Peter Brooks was until recently the Executive Director Research at Northern Hospital Epping. He has held previous posts as the Executive Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Queensland, as Professor of Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney (University of New South Wales) and was the Foundation Professor of Rheumatology at the Royal North Shore Hospital and the University of Sydney.