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Open Forum: Future proofing our health system one young doctor at a time

In about eighteen months’ time, I’ll finish my medical degree and will begin my first day of work as a doctor. Many of the things that make me nervous about that prospect have been haunting medical students for decades: what if I fall asleep in the tea room on a night shift and miss an urgent page? What if I accidentally read a patient’s x-ray backwards? What if my boss yells at me the first time I have to wake her up at 3am to ask about a patient? But there’s a whole set of anxieties about my future career that I suspect most of my predecessors never even contemplated.  

The Guardian: Deputy PM Michael McCormack accused of disputing evidence of global heating

Australia’s deputy prime minister Michael McCormack told DEA member and GP, Dr Trudi Beck, who is a constituent in Wagga Wagga, NSW, that  he disputed evidence of global warming because historical weather measurements might not be accurate. Dr Beck also reported that Mr McCormack said to her at a scheduled meeting in his electorate office that she should abandon her attendance at weekly picnic protests outside his office and “do something useful like volunteer for Meals on Wheels instead”.

ABC: Wheatstone gas emissions 'excessive', say residents in north-west WA town of Onslow

DEA and environmental groups have called for greater transparency about the potential health impacts on local communities from Australia's largest onshore liquified natural gas (LNG) plant, Chevron's Wheatstone project. Dr George Crisp said he is concerned about the proximity of the plant to the tiny town of Onslow in the Pilbara. Emissions could contain a toxic mixture of hydrocarbons, gases, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and carbon monoxide, which are all harmful to human health, even at very low concentrations. 

Independent Australia: UK and EU carbon neutrality will challenge Australian climate policy

Recently, a ten-year-old block of 131 flats in Sydney, evacuated some weeks ago because of structural cracks, became the subject of an engineer’s report which said it was moving in a ‘downward motion’. The UK is well aware of such failures of regulation and government with the Grenfell Tower fire cladding. They epitomise the increasingly inept governance in both nations. Nevertheless, writes Dr David Shearman, despite the three years of Brexit chaos in the UK, matched by three years of climate policy chaos in Australia which remains the hallmark of the re-elected Government, the similarity ends there. 

NBN News: Environment group mounts court case against EPA

Dr Ben Ewald spoke to NBN News about the harms to large numbers of people in Newcastle and beyond who are exposed to toxic pollution from Vales Point, Eraring and Mt Piper coal-fired power stations. The interview comes after the Nature Conservation Council announced it was mounting a court case against the NSW EPA. The conservation group is arguing the renewal of pollution licences for these three power stations, which are operating with out-of-date technology and below international pollution standards, is putting people's health at risk. 

Modernisation of Victorian Regional Forestry Agreements submission

DEA has made a submission on the Victorian Government’s review of its Regional Forestry Agreements (RFA). RFA’s are agreements between State and Federal governments which enable logging to occur without the oversight of national environmental protections. They were written some 20 years ago and the 5 agreements which cover Victoria are in the process of expiring.

Independent Australia: Obligations to the world’s children in the climate emergency  

For 30 or more years, science has modelled the consequences of steadily rising greenhouse gas emissions and their expected trajectories of warming have been correct — as a result, current predictions have a high degree of confidence.  This article by Dr David Shearman argues practical reforms are needed if we are to fulfil our obligations under the Paris Agreement to address the climate crisis.

Winchester South Project submission

Whitehaven Coal’s proposed open-cut metallurgical coal mine,  the Winchester South Coal Project  in the Bowen Basin, Queensland, has been referred to the Federal Government in three separate applications for the mine site and access road, the water supply pipeline and the electricity transmission line. It is essential that the government now ensures a full Environmental Impact Assessment for every new development project which releases greenhouse gas emissions, using independent consensus science. This is critical, as climate disruption is a clear threat to our health and to the economic system which underpins all our human endeavours, and indeed to our civilisation. Read DEA's submission HERE.

Independent Australia: The cost of the Adani mine on the planet's health and our own

The re-election of the Coalition Government was followed by claims of a mandate for fast tracking approvals of the controversial Adani mine, writes Dr David King.  Only weeks after the Federal Election, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the granting of the two final State Government approvals — groundwater management and the black-throated finch protection plan. The reality of voting intentions is more complex than a single issue and often swayed by playing to genuine concerns or fears. 

The Mercury Talking Point: What those deaths have taught me

Declaring a climate emergency is about reassurance, not panic, writes Dr Kris Barnden. In medicine, we rightly screen for threats to patients' lives, and once these are suspected we initiate a rapid, comprehensive, team-based, evidence-based response. Declaring a climate emergency is about taking effective action to address the mounting threats to the health and wellbeing of billions of people, our way of life and economy. It's also about making a strong statement of political will which nearly 600 jurisdictions around the world have taken. 

Letter to Qld Premier: Apply a health lens when making your decision on Adani

DEA has today written to Queensland  Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urging her to not proceed with Adani's Carmichael mine project. It is inconceivable to us as an organisation of doctors and medical students that this project should ever see the light of day given it will have significant impacts on public health and wellbeing. Read the letter in full HERE.

DEA Fact Sheet: Oil Spills & Health Don't Mix

Drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight remains a real and dangerous possibility, with Norwegian company Equinor planning to commence exploratory drilling in 2020. This fact sheet outlines the known health impacts of oil spills which pose serious risks to the physical and mental health of people exposed to oil, their families and their communities.

Independent Australia: Coalition's fuel policy is poisoning the air we breathe

With mounting evidence of the disastrous health effects of poor air quality, Australians deserve better than the Coalition's failed fuel policy, writes Dr Graeme McLeay.  News of a Spanish study, which has found that boys who are exposed to pollution in the womb and childhood, may have poorer cognitive and memory skills adds to the growing list of harms associated with air pollution, especially for vulnerable people, such as children. 

Federal election wrap

Along with many of you, no doubt, DEA has spent the last several days reflecting on the return of a Coalition Government that has not distinguished itself as being sufficiently aware or concerned about the enormous environmental, health and economic consequences of worsening global warming and environmental degradation. The stakes, though, have perhaps never been higher for swift and effective action nationally and globally to protect climates, environments and populations. 

Armidale Express: Biggest public health threat is climate change

The recent federal election gave all Australians of voting age an opportunity to have a say on issues that are most important to them. Dr Sujata Allan, who wrote this powerful article ahead of the election, said that as a doctor who has seen first hand the detrimental ways in which climate change harms our health, her focus would be action on climate change - the biggest public health threat of our times. 

Oil drilling in Australian Bight a disaster for climate, biodiversity

In a submission to NOPSEMA, Doctors for the Environment Australia have concluded on health grounds that the proposal should not be approved. The risk from drilling, though small, cannot be avoided, and the effect on the sustainability of the Bight from a major spill far outweighs any transitory economic benefits. Furthermore, impacts on climate change from expanded oil production are unacceptable.

We must make this a climate change election for the sake of our children

Climate change is the greatest threat that humanity has ever had to face, and it is children who will pay the biggest price with their health. The effects on our health and wellbeing are unequivocal and key health organisations around the world, including the World Health Organization, have declared global warming a public health emergency.

Rapper shouts out: It’s time to vote and turn the climate crisis around

Award-winning rapper and DEA member Dr Nat Harris has released a new video the Call Out, which you can view here. It's spare and powerful lyrics capture nature’s rapid decline and the need for urgent action to turn the climate crisis around. The video launch comes ahead of Saturday’s federal election, which has attracted a record number of young Australians to enrol. 

Inequality and climate change: the perfect storm threatening the health of Australia's poorest

Health professionals are seeing the impact of a perfect storm threatening the health of some of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities. Climate change is exacerbating the social and economic inequalities that already contribute to profound health inequities.

Open Letter to PM Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten: No time for games on children's health

This federal election is critical to our future, and more so for our children. Today DEA published an Open Letter to the leaders of our major parties  in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age with an urgent call to stop playing games with our children's health and take strong action on climate change. Major medical and health organisations as well as more than 2000 health practitioners are endorsing our campaign. DEA members will today deliver their signatures to Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten. 

Food Security in a Changing Climate

Food Security in a Changing Climate: This video is a reminder of the threat posed to our climate, our water, our oceans and our agriculture by oil and gas exploration and production. In the video Anne Daw, agricultural advocate and member of the Round Table on Oil and Gas SA, Anne Poelina, Nyikina Traditional Custodian and Master of Tropical Medicine Notre Dame University, DEA's Graeme McLeay, and Peter Owen, Wilderness Society SA Director point to the impacts of fossil fuels on food security in our region.

Doctors call for action on climate change ahead of election

In an article in NewsGP, Dr Tim Senior, a GP with a special interest in environmental issues believes the election provides a key opportunity for practitioners to advocate on climate change. DEA's No Time for Games pledge asks for strong action on climate change from both sides of politics. ‘The damage done today is the environment our children have no choice but to grow up in.' 

Doctors, let's make this the 'Climate Change Election'

"Everywhere I go, I see headlines saying that the 2019 federal election is the 'Climate Change Election'.  Ordinary citizens, from school children to retirees, who see the stark reality of a climate-altered future, are taking to the streets crying out for action and leadership",  says Dr Lucy Watt, in a new article in AusDoc.

"As a doctor who works in emergency medicine, I support this rallying cry."

New Acland coal mine expansion

DEA has provided a submission to the Queensland government opposing a water licence for the Acland mine extension. This continues the saga of pollution and harm to local inhabitants over the past decade. Over that time, DEA has made two submissions and attended the Land Court case as expert witness . Yet the company and the Queensland government are still intent on approval. This story provides every reason why New Environmental Laws are needed in Australia. Read the submission here.

The methane gas bomb — a climate emergency

In a new article from Independent Australia, Dr David Shearman discusses the dangers that methane gas is having on our environment and ways we can prevent further damage.

Doctors call for action on climate change

With the election just 2 weeks away, show that as a doctor, you support strong climate action, by downloading this poster and having it in your waiting room or office.

Leigh Creek Energy Underground Coal Gasification submission

The state of SA has decided that it will try and perform better than Queensland in establishing an underground coal gasification (UCG) enterprise. They need to be reminded that the process has ended in disaster for the environment and workers in about half of all UCG developments nationally and internationally. There has never been a health impact assessment for any UCG development. 

Our submission to stop drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight

DEA has joined the Wilderness Society campaign to stop drilling for oil in the pristine waters of our Great Australian Bight. We have made a submission on the Stromlo-1 Exploration Drilling Programme to NOPSEMA with the recommendation that the proposal should not be approved. The risk from drilling, though small, cannot be avoided, and the outcome on the sustainability of the Bight from a major spill far outweigh any transitory economic benefits. Furthermore, impacts on climate change from expanded oil production are unacceptable.

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.

Download the 2-page  version here "DEA Prescription 2-page flyer.pdf"

Download the 3-page version here "DEA Prescription 3-pages including references.pdf"


Planetary health and the philanthrocapitalist paradox

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust are to be applauded for being the leading sources of funding for global health research. But there are two sticking points, writes DEA's Prof. Colin Butler. The first is the Wellcome Trust's continuing investment in fossil fuels and the second is the failure to address planetary health - climate change remains the biggest threat to global health.

Doctors worried about Chevron's venting of toxic chemicals at Gorgon

As a result of the failure of its carbon capture and storage project, the Gorgon plant has been venting toxic chemicals including BTEX chemicals and mercury directly into the atmosphere. Dr George Crisp of Doctors for the Environment expressed serious concerns by the lack of environmental monitoring and regulation at Chevron’s Gorgon LNG facility saying, “It is not acceptable to leave it to Chevron to decide whether people were at risk. It’s the government’s responsibility to protect the health of West Australians, not Chevron."  DEA's oil and gas policy can be found here.

Australian doctors among global coalition calling for urgent action on environmental change

Doctors for the Environment Australia is among a wide-ranging international coalition of medical and healthcare organisations  that have signed A Call for Clinicians to Act on Planetary Health, which is published today in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. The call warns of the severe impacts of accelerating global environmental change on our health and the dire need to address the causes. It also seeks to galvanise doctors, nurses and other clinicians to work with their patients on lifestyle modifications that would benefit both planetary health and individual health. 

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.

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