Climate change a serious risk to Australians’ Health, report finds
Contact: Amanda McKenzie 0409 535 437; 0408 117 040
Read the full report The Critical Decade: Climate change and health.
The Climate Commission will release its second major report, The Critical Decade: Climate change and health on Wednesday 30 November 2011 in Sydney.
The report is a comprehensive and up to date synthesis of the expected impacts of climate change on the health of Australians.
Climate Commissioner and co-author of the report Professor Lesley Hughes states that the key finding of the report is that, “climate change is one of the most serious threats to Australians’ health, especially those in our community who are already most vulnerable.”
“We often think about climate change as something that just affects the environment. But of course we depend on the environment, for clean air, safe water, tolerable temperatures and good food. Climate change is putting pressure on the systems that support us and our health.”
The health sector has been quick to back the report. Prominent Australians including Professor Fiona Stanley and Professor Peter Doherty have released statements and a range of major health organisations will release a joint statement in support of the report. Signatories include, the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Nursing Federation, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, the National Rural Health Alliance, the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Climate and Health Alliance, Doctors for the Environment Australia, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (see below).
“It is important that Australians are aware of the risks of climate change to their health and the health of their family and community. That is why we have produced this report”.
The report is the work of Professor Lesley Hughes, internationally-renowned scientist, and Professor Tony McMichael, world-leading expert in climate change and health. The report has also been reviewed by members of the Climate Commission Science Advisory Panel, which includes experts from the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology.
The independent Commission was established earlier this year to provide an authoritative and trusted source of information on climate change science and solutions. The Commission brings together internationally-renowned climate scientists with policy and business leaders.
Professor Fiona Stanley, former Australian of the Year and vocal advocate for the needs of children and their families.
Professor Stanley states, “This important new report shows clearly that climate change poses serious risks for the health of Australians, especially for those in our community who are already most vulnerable. As an advocate for children and their families it concerns me that children are one of the most vulnerable groups. It is critical that Australians are made aware of the risks to their health and to their family and community.”
Professor Peter Doherty, Nobel prize winner in Medicine and former Australian of the Year
Professor Doherty states, “Human beings, along with every other warm-blooded (homeothermic) species live happily and healthily within a defined climate “envelope”. The extremes of heat and increased incidence of catastrophic weather events associated with anthropogenic climate change tears that envelope apart to leave all of us exposed.”
Professor Ian Hickie
Professor Hickie states, “When considering the health challenges resulting from climate change, it is important to recognise that the mental health impacts are likely to be prominent. Severe weather events have devastating psychological impacts on individuals, families and the wider communities affected.”
Dr Steve Hambleton, AMA Federal President: “The AMA shares the view of the Climate Commission that climate change poses a real and imminent threat to the health of Australians. The Federal Government must develop a National Strategy for Health and Climate Change to ensure that Australia can respond effectively to the health impacts of climate change, extreme events, and to people’s medium to long-term recover needs.”
Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
Executive Director, Prue Power, said, “This important report shows clearly that climate change is an serious threat to the health of Australians and is likely to put increasing pressure on our hospitals and healthcare facilities in years to come.”
National Rural Health Alliance
“Given the extent to which it will affect communities in rural and remote areas, unmitigated climate change has the capacity to increase the gap between rural and metropolitan health status,” said Gordon Gregory, Executive Director of the National Rural Health Alliance. “On the other hand, with active planning and as relative prices change, it’s also true that the majority of new economic opportunities will be in rural areas.”
Climate and Health Alliance
“This report is a welcome contribution to help build community understanding about the human impacts of climate change,” said Fiona Armstrong, Climate and Health Alliance Convenor.
“There are many positive and significant health gains to be made from strategies to reduce emissions that will have immediate and direct benefits for people’s health. The Climate and Health Alliance urges the Australian community, business and policymakers to support strong emissions reduction targets for Australia so we can realise the benefits this will bring for health.”
Public Health Association of Australia
Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia added “the impact of climate change on health has not been understood by the general community. At a time when health budgets are exploding across the country and chronic disease is escalating, the last thing we need is our health systems trying to cope with the ramifications of climate change”.
NSW: Dr. Ben Ticehurst said,“Most Australians are now aware of the threats that climate change presents for our forests, our reefs and our wildlife. But what about us? As a practising GP, I welcome the Climate Commission’s health report. It reminds us that our physical and mental health is ultimately underpinned by a stable and hospitable natural environment. In acting boldly to limit greenhouse emissions and buffer their effects, we can avoid much human suffering. But more than that, we can forge the kind of healthy communities that we should have been aiming for anyway. It seems clear that we in the health professions must join together and take a leading role in this process.”
Queensland: ?Dr Deborah Mills, “My patients travel overseas, where they risk tropical diseases like Dengue and Gastro. This report is a concern because it means in future, Australians may not be safe when they get home.”
Victoria: Dr Dimity Williams states, “the good news for GP’s is that what’s good for our climate is good for our health. That is, in acting to address lifestyle issues like inactivity and obesity we can act to prevent further climate change. This report helps outline the reasons why urgent action on climate change is good for our health”
West Australia: Dr George Crisp states, “”With our already hot and drying climate, extreme weather events pose a particular risk to West Australians. It is especially concerning that many of these effects will disproportionally affect children and the most vulnerable in society. “”
Projected number of days over 35°C in Australian capital cities
- Projected number of days over 35°C in Sydney.
- Projected number of days over 35°C in Melbourne.
- Projected number of days above 35°C in Perth.
- Projected number of days above 35°C in Brisbane.
- Projected number of days above 35°C in Darwin.
- Projected number of days above 35°C in Adelaide.
- Projected number of days above 35°C in Hobart.
- Projected number of days over 35°C in Canberra.
- 5 December 2012 - Adelaide community forum