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Doctors issue nationwide call for climate change action


Chelsea Heaney


12/06/2024 4:05:39 PM

Hundreds of medical doctors have urged the Federal Government to ban all new coal, oil and gas projects for public health.

Climate change newspaper ad
The full-page advertisement featured in the Australian newspaper on 12 June 2024. (Image: Supplied)

Prominent medical figures such as Professor Nicholas Talley, Professor Karen Flegg, Professor Fran Baum and Professor Tracey Levett-Jones have lent their signature to a petition, alongside 400 other doctors, to call on the Federal Government to ban all new coal, gas and oil projects in Australia.
 
The full-page ad, taken out in The Australian newspaper, was funded by a donation to the Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA).
 
The group represents thousands of medical professionals across the country.
 
DEA Executive Director Dr Kate Wylie told newsGP that climate change ‘isn’t separate from the medical world’.
 
‘The World Health Organization states that global warming is the greatest health problem facing humanity,’ she said.
 
‘Traffic-related air pollution, for just one example, is implicated in 1100 deaths in Australia per year.’
 
Dr Wylie urged more doctors to join their cause, as she says GPs continue to see patients every day with issues relating to climate change.
 
‘Our patients who are living by major roads, living in cities, are having a burden of asthma from the exhaustion fumes,’ she said.
 
‘We know it’s associated with children’s developmental problems in pregnancy, we’re looking after pregnant people all the time, and as our climate gets hotter, we see more and more people presenting with heat-related illness.’
 
As a practising GP, it’s not just the adverse health effects Dr Wylie is concerned about.
 
She says cost increases relating to climate change will also hit general practice hard.
 
‘We need to appreciate that climate change is costly,’ she said.
 
‘The more the Government delays the more this is going to affect the hip pocket of all people in Australia, and that means they’re less likely to be able to afford to go to the doctor.
 
‘It also means that our general costs are higher as well.’
 
The RACGP has previously backed calls to take serious action on climate change, with GPs saying they are increasingly seeing patients presenting with heat stress and pollution-related issues.
 
The advert states:
 
Coal, oil and gas are health hazards.
 
To the Australian Government,
Coal, oil and gas are hazardous to our health and wellbeing.
They are the primary drivers of climate change, which is recognised as the single biggest health threat facing humanity by the World Health Organization.
They cause hazardous air pollution, increasing the rates of asthma, heart disease, cancer, learning delays and poor pregnancy outcomes.
To protect the health of the Australian people, we the undersigned health professionals call on our government to ban all new coal, oil and gas projects.
We must put the health of the people ahead of the interests of the fossil fuel industry.
 
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Dr Richard Johns   14/06/2024 12:12:10 PM

This article has conflated atmospheric pollution (harmful chemicals and particles) with CO2 (the odourless, invisible, gas required for photosynthesis). The current CO2 level is 427 parts per million = 0.0427% of the atmosphere. 95% of the CO2 is produced by nature, mankind 5%, Australia produces 1.3% of mankind’s 5% - i.e. = less than 3/10,000,000 of the atmosphere.
China increases is CO2 output each year by Australia's total.
The historical association between CO2 and a warming planet is true - but the warming leads to CO2 rising (not the converse) as evidenced by ice core and other historical data, Warming oceans release CO2 into the atmosphere.
We are still coming out of the Little Ice Age into the Modern Warming period. Before that there was the Medieval and Roman warming periods during which mankind thrived. Many extreme weather events e.g. tropical cyclones have not increased.
Excess death rates are much higher for cold vs heat.
I have references for all the above.