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Medical group supports School Strike 4 Climate


Matt Woodley


1/03/2019 3:39:53 PM

Doctors for the Environment Australia described the planned demonstrations as ‘completely understandable’.

School students across the country are set to protest perceived inaction against climate change. (Image: Dan Himbrechts)
School students across the country are set to protest perceived inaction against climate change. (Image: Dan Himbrechts)

The protest, due to take place on 15 March, will see students skip school to demand action on climate change in the wake of Australia’s hottest summer on record, which for the first time was more than two degrees higher than long-term averages.
 
With record temperatures set to continue, GP and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin describes climate change as the ‘biggest risk to public health in human history’. He believes it is inspiring to see the next generation of young people take control of their future.
 
He told newsGP the seriousness of the current situation demands that health advocates take action on climate change ‘for the sake of our children’.
 
‘It’s their future that’s at stake. They have very little say on what we do and our climate inaction that has actually brought us to this place,’ he said.
 
‘It’s really time to protect their future, otherwise these people who are the least responsible are going to carry the most impact.’
 
The planned protest will be the second such event to be held in Australia, after the inaugural demonstration attracted thousands of school students in 30 cities and towns in November last year.
 
The original mass school strike drew condemnation from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said children should remain in the classroom rather than protest things that ‘can be dealt with outside of school’.
 
‘We do not support our schools being turned into parliaments,’ he said at the time.
 
‘What we want is more learning in schools and less activism.’
 
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan has also said he would rather students learn about mining and science than protest something based on evidence he believes is ‘uncertain’.
 
‘These are the type of things that excite young children and we should be great at it as a nation,’ he told 2GB radio last November.
 
‘The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.’
 
Meanwhile, criticism has been levelled at unions for offering support and free ‘tutoring’ on protest tactics to students interested in participating, with Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan labelling the walkout as ‘appalling political manipulation’.
 
However, despite the condemnation, students are still asking adults to join them in the upcoming protest, a position supported by Dr Yin.
 
‘If we don’t stand up now I don’t know when we’re going to stand up,’ he said.
 
‘If you look at it in the context of what’s happened this summer in terms of droughts, bushfires and floods, the impacts are profound with just one degree of warming, and currently emissions are more on track for around three degrees by the end of the century, so we urgently need to do something.’
 
Dr Yin also pointed out that as damaging as the recent droughts, bushfires and floods have been, heatwaves are Australia’s deadliest natural hazard and have a ‘profound effect’ on emergency services.
 
Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Environmental Impacts in General Practice network, Dr Janie Maxwell, told newsGP she also supports the students’ right to protest.
 
‘Climate change looms more ominously with every passing heatwave, with every news story of weather records smashed, with every hectare of Tasmanian world heritage [forest] burned, and with every acre of farmers’ land that turns to dust,’ she said.
 
‘It is shameful that we have reached the stage where children need to protest to try to stir governments and society into action.
 
‘As doctors, we have a responsibility to go beyond our clinical consulting room and advocate for strong action on climate change: for our patients, our children and the planet.’



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Graeme McLeay   4/03/2019 2:21:04 PM

Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg summed it up by saying we the schoolchildren are educating ourselves about climate...how many adults who are critical know what the Keeling curve is?


Olivia Williams   11/03/2019 7:56:21 PM

Thank goodness for our educated youth! Hopefully they can educate our politicians.


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