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Doctors for the Environment Australia - Executive Director position available

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is seeking a dynamic, experienced Executive Director (ED) to drive the next phase of development in pursuit of its Mission, Protecting health through care of the environment”. DEA is a health organisation run by volunteer doctors, whose activities are supported by an administrative officer and communications and media manager. DEA is rapidly expanding its membership and influence, in response to the growing impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on human health.

Media release: Health experts slam decision allowing Origin to frack NT

Doctors are alarmed that the Northern Territory Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Eva Lawler has given approval to gas giant Origin Energy to commence fracking in the NT to mine shale gas. The decision flies in the face of clear evidence that gas mining brings unacceptable health risks. 

Muswellbrook Chronicle: Singleton Dr Bob Vickers, and member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, weighs in on recent Dartbrook coal mine decision 

THE NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) recently decided on the Dartbrook underground coal mine, writes Dr Bob Vickers.  In its decision, they approved the mine to continue operations until 2022, but did not support a five-year extension recommended by the NSW Department of Planning. In the words of the IPC, this project "would not be in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development or inter-generational equity; and, as such, is not in the public interest".

Canberra Times: Faunal extinction is a huge part of the climate emergency

A normal week, another loss of koala habitat for new housing estates, of forest to provide jobs in the logging industry, of land clearance for gas development and agriculture.  As Dr David Shearman writes, the litany of destruction is relentless. Australia is participating in a worldwide biodiversity crisis, in which thousands of species are threatened or have become extinct. The climate emergency is the main cause, but there are many others which emanate from economic growth and its consumption of natural resources. 

The Guardian: Australian power stations among world's worst for toxic air pollution

Dr Ben Ewald told the Guardian that there were places in Australia that had a serious SO2 (sulphur dioxide) problem and limits were set well above what was needed to protect human health. The comments followed a Greenpeace report using satellite data to analyse the world’s worst sources of sulphur dioxide pollution, one of the main pollutants contributing to deaths from air pollution worldwide.

(Unpublished) Letter to the Editor - The Australian

"It is about time that Chris Kenny was pilloried for distorting the truth on renewable energy (The Australian August 12)," Dr John Iser wrote in a Letter to the Editor submitted to the Australian which we understand was not published.

Renew Economy: The other road toll we can no longer ignore

We are confronted daily in the media with the deadly results of crashes on our roads and the tragedy that befalls those involved, writes Dr Graeme McLeay. Seat belts, improved vehicle design, drink driving legislation and other measures have seen the number of road deaths decline from a high in 1970 of almost 3,800 to 1,137 in 2018. This figure is still too high and much effort is made to reduce it. There is, however, another menace on our roads which is largely ignored - exposure to traffic pollution.

Brisbane Times: How will hospitals cope with climate change's impact on our health?

Blue skies, rolling surf, blazing sun- these are some of the images people think of when they think of Australia, writes Dr Marianne Cannon. But it is the latter, the endless days of hot sunshine that are harming us, both young and old, in increasing numbers.  Last summer was the hottest on record, and projections are that heatwaves will be getting more frequent and intense. As heatwaves increase the pressure on accident and emergency units, many emergency physicians are seriously worried about how hospitals are going to cope. But there are solutions open to us, and they are achievable.

ABC Life Matters: How clean is the air you breathe?

We all have a right to breathe clean air. However, if you live, work and play in an area with a lot of traffic or near coal-fired power stations the air can get pretty foul.   Ambient air pollution contributes to over 3000 premature deaths each year in Australia, and thousands more suffer a range of diseases including asthma - children are especially vulnerable. GP, Dr Vicki Kotsirilos, and President of the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group, Martin Wurt, speak on Life Matters about how airborne pollutants are making us sick. They call on the environment ministers who are currently reviewing our outdated air quality laws to adopt international best practice. 

Media Release: Health experts call for stronger national air pollution standards to save lives

Doctors are calling for stronger national air pollution standards to limit dangerous pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone in ambient air. Air pollution currently causes over 3000 premature and preventable deaths per year in Australia, as well as contributing to asthma, heart disease, lung disease and cancer. Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia is urging environment ministers to tighten air pollution standards to protect health, and to bring standards in line with international best practice. 

Expert Position Statement on health-based standards for Australian regulated thresholds of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone in ambient air 

Ambient air pollution contributes to over 3000 premature deaths each year in Australia. Even at low concentrations, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ozone (O3) are impacting public health. The joint statement from Australia's key health groups addresses the pending long-awaited revision of national standards for these harmful air pollutants whose standards are currently set well-above international best practice levels. Read the full statement HERE.

Letter to the Hon Sussan Ley MP

Dr Dimity Williams, DEA's Biodiversity Convenor, recently wrote to the Minister for Environment the Hon Sussan Ley MP to applaud the addition of more plants and animals to Australia’s national list of threatened species and ecological communities. However, the letter also expressed concern that Australia was among the world’s worst performers in biodiversity protection and urged strong action to protect the health of nature. Read the letter in full HERE.

The Project: The Big Stink...Why Australia Is Lagging Behind The Rest Of The World In Reducing Car Emissions

Prime time current affairs program, The Project, on Network Ten today featured a segment on air pollution. The program highlighted the harms from the emissions of traffic vehicles ahead of a revision of Australia's air quality standards which are well over due. Dr Ben Ewald emphasised dirty air is especially harmful to children and that many of our young people would not have asthma if one of the worst air pollutants, nitrogen dioxide, was capped at 9 parts per billion. 

Independent Australia: Adani arrest draws attention to Australia's global harm 

The arrest of French journalist  Hugo Clément has served the international community interest to recognise the harm being caused to them by Australian policy, says Dr David Shearman. This harm is well recognised by our island neighbours but they are inconsequential to the Australian Government. More important are the views of countries which accept their share of the climate change burden and the tourists from Europe and other major countries who may well view Mr Hugo’s documentaries when considering holidays in Queensland. 

Climate emergency in Wagga Wagga and the glimmer of hope at the grassroots  

At a recent Climate Change Institute event ANU academic Professor Neil Gunningham commented that no government in the world has been genuinely honest with its population about the full challenge of climate change and its likely consequences, writes Dr Arnagretta Hunter. In Australia this is true to an almost extreme level, with politicians actively campaigning to support the coal industry, and an extraordinary deliberate defunding of climate change research for both adaptation and mitigation. 

Ozy: Are you climate homesick? He's got a word for that

"You’re at home with your family on the sofa. Despite being surrounded by loved ones, melancholy is rising within you. Why? Outside the weather is no longer how it used to be. The seasons hardly resemble themselves. You turn on the television and it’s the usual: The Great Barrier Reef is in a state of crisis; polar ice caps are melting. Home in both the immediate sense and the whole planet is changing. How do you feel? Isolated? Depressed? Longing for a different time?” There’s a word for this: solastalgia.  GP, George Crisp, says he's seeing it in his practice.

Doctors for the Environment Australia declares climate change a health emergency   

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) declared climate change a health emergency on 3 May 2019. 

MJA Insight+: Doctors need to meet challenge of climate change

It is easy to imagine that climate change isn’t a problem in health care. Individual doctors hold personal opinions on the proposed Adani mine in Queensland or on the importance of health care sustainability practice, but whether climate change affects health and the practice of medicine can seem murkier. It is easy for busy doctors to be distracted by the sea of patients waiting to be seen in emergency departments, in clinic waiting rooms, the referrals for consultations, procedures and follow-up all mounting up in the office. Good medicine involves attention to the patient and their concerns. So, asks Dr Arnagretta Hunter: Is there time for climate change in this?

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. 

Proposed variation to the ambient air quality measure standards for ozone, NO2 and SO2 submission

Australia’s air pollution standards, known as National Environment Protection Measures (NEPM), were set in 1998 and are long overdue for revision. These standards are intended to protect public health, but they have not kept up with new research on the health impacts of air pollution. Health effects occur at lower concentrations than previously thought. Many foreign jurisdictions review their air standards every five or ten years and have progressively lowered permissible levels over time. The particle standards were updated in 2015, and the current review is for sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone. These three pollutants are quick acting respiratory irritants, but NO2 and possibly ozone also have long term effects. 

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.

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