Economic Growth and Health Poster

Economic Growth and Health Poster

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The words ‘economic growth’ appear in most news bulletins and political articles in the press. This poster raises the issue that growth in many ways is a health hazard for it is incompatible with a sustainable future for humanity.


In Western society progress is equated with economic growth. It is argued that wealth creation has allowed us to spend more on environmental and health objectives and certainly human health in many societies has improved immeasurably during the twentieth century.

DEA and Medical Observer - Prescription for a Healthier Planet

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DEA and Medical Observer have prepared the "Prescription for a Healthier Planet" brochure. The effects of climate change pose the most serious of threats to the health of the world’s population. The potential consequences of global warming include increased storms, droughts and floods. In regions with already marginal water supply, billions could face further water stress. Disturbingly, it’s predicted some of these effects could be seen by 2020. Of the developed nations, Australia is most vulnerable to the dangerous outcome of climate change. Continued warming will lead to a massive loss of farmable land and food production; amongst the health risks are increased deaths and distress from heat-related illnesses and the exposure of millions to mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever; ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu will be irreversibly damaged.

Transport and Health Poster

Transport and Health Poster

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Doctors regularly see the adverse effects of private motor vehicles via patients injured in road traffic accidents. Despite the number of fatalities halving over the last 30 years due to random breath testing and improved road and vehicle design, Australia still recorded 1611 road crash deaths in 2007. (1) It has been predicted that by 2020 traffic accidents will be the third largest cause of global disability adjusted life years lost. (2)

Climate Change Health Check 2020

Climate Change Health Check 2020

Dr Graeme Horton
Professor Tony McMichael
Doctors for the Environment, Australia
April 2008
A report prepared for the Climate Institute of Australia in relation to World Health Day on April 7, 2008 for which the World Health Organisation’s theme is ‘Protecting Health from Climate Change’.
Click here to read the full report.

Climate Change and Health Poster

Climate Change and Health Poster

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Why is climate change so serious?

Climate change happens when the earth heats up because of too much carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ in the atmosphere.

Climate change is already happening. Temperatures and sea levels are rising and rainfall is changing. The CSIRO predicts that by 2030, annual average temperatures in Australia may be up to 2.0°C higher than in 1990.

Biodiversity Poster

Biodiversity Poster

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The importance of biodiversity to your life and health

The single most important factor in the health of each person is not the availability of good health services, or effective cancer drugs, or short waiting lists or state of the art accident services, it is the integrity of the Earth’s ecological services. Perhaps this is an understatement for it is the only factor of consequence. Without ecological services, the Earth would be ‘dead’ like many other planets including our neighbouring planets in the solar system. It follows that the protection of ecological services is integral to maintaining all advances we have made in medical science and in providing a future for further advances.

Hypocritical Canada and the asbestos trade, a brief review of a world problem

The ravages of asbestos induced lung disease are well known to the Australian community, but the problem continues throughout the world particularly in developing countries. This  is a brief review of asbestos as a world problem. together with three key references.

Many influential medical organisations have called for a global ban on asbestos. In 2007 the International Society of Doctors for the Environment called for a ban  

Future Justice edited by Helen Sykes; climate change and justice

In making representations to our colleagues on the need to mitigate climate change we should not delude ourselves that all will bow to the reasoning of science, nor to the tenets of natural justice. Both are often sullied by self interest and ideology. When asking a colleague to contribute to climate change education I was greeted with silence- so I resorted to “You have young children what about their future?” The response was “that’s their problem” It was my turn to be silent!

Chapter 1 in Future Justice edited by Helen Sykes is written by Janna Thompson, a philosopher, it deals with justice issues in climate change.

Biodiversity, a fundamental for Human Health - an update

Three years ago DEA produced a poster on Biodiversity - the Web of Life. It asked “Will the next generation inhabit a healthy earth?” The poster was very popular especially with schools.

In the intervening years DEA has commented occasionally on biodiversity and ecological services-  and we have devoted ourselves to one of the causes of loss of biodiversity, climate change. On every measurement, biodiversity continues to decline. Usually our attention is drawn to some attractive species of animal nearing extinction but I commend the recent report “Plants under pressure a global assessment” from the International Union of the Conservation of Nature”. Click here  The report says that more than 20% of plants are threatened with extinction, the most threatened habitat being rainforest and the greatest threat is from human activities such as the conversion of natural habitat for agriculture and livestock. Human impact is the main threat in the case of  87% of threats to extinction. A further 10% of plants are ‘near threatened’ which means they may become threatened unless conservation action is undertaken.

Biomonitoring Study Detects Toxic Chemicals in Health Care Professionals

From Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2009 Click here
In a first ever investigation of toxic chemicals found in the bodies of doctors and nurses, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) in partnership with American Nurses Association (ANA) and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) released the Hazardous Chemicals In Health Care report on October 8th. The inquiry found that all of the 20 participants had toxic chemicals associated with health care in their bodies. Each participant had at least 24 individual chemicals present, four of which are on the recently released US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) list of priority chemicals for regulation. These chemicals are all associated with chronic illness and physical disorders.

Argentina's Roundup Human Tragedy

We thank the Institute of Science in Society Sustainability  for permission to publish

Ten years of GM soy and glyphosate poisoning have escalated the rates of cancer and birth defects. Claire Robins

GM soy a death sentence for humans and the environment

Argentina has become a giant experiment in farming genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready (RR) soy, engineered to be tolerant to Roundup, Monsanto’s formulation of the herbicide glyphosate. The Argentine government, eager to pull the country out of a deep economic recession in the 1990s, restructured its economy around GM soy grown for export, most of which goes to feed livestock in Europe. In 2009, GM soy was planted on 19 million hectares - over half of Argentina’s cultivated land - and sprayed with 200 million litres of glyphosate herbicide [1]. Spraying is often carried out from the air, causing problems of drift.

Fracking for coal gas is a health hazard

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) involves pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to shatter rock strata and force coal seam gas to the surface. It is then refined into natural gas for fuel
The emerging problems of water contamination from fracking are being reported from many sources. They raise the entire question of government responsibilities to the community in the sphere of public health.

In Queensland, ground water and bores used for stock were contaminated recently with benzene and toluene near to the Cougar Energy project at Kingaroy.  Queensland's Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) ordered Cougar to stop its underground coal gasification trial.

Election Manifesto on the Health Impacts of Coal Pollution and Renewable Energy

Governments are rightly concerned about the delivery of health services through hospitals and clinics. Equally important is the prevention of ill health (preventative medicine) through such measures as vaccination, cessation of smoking, healthy life style and removal of carcinogens and pollutants from our environment.

Doctors use the term co-benefit when we can have a health win, commensurate with a government decision on another need. For example development of good public transport has been shown to improve health because people get out of their cars and walk to the bus. There is less pollution of cities and greenhouse emissions. There are cost savings to health which can be offset against the cost of public transport infrastructure.

Greening our prescriptions by Dr Rosemary Stanton

This article is authored by Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, member of DEA Scientific Advisory Committee, nutritionist and Visiting Fellow in the School of Medical Sciences at the University of New South Wales.   It highlights environmental factors which can help motivate our patients to eat healthily.

The article appeared in Medical Observer in the DEA column The link is here.

It can be difficult to convince many people need to change their eating and exercise habits.. Could a new perspective on food provide a more effective motive?

Pharmaceuticals; Permanent Pollutants in the Environment

This article prepared for the ISDE web site raises the issue of pharmaceuticals in the environment and their possible appearance in recycled water, a highly relevant topic as we move to a world with water scarcity. This is a comprehensive review of how pharmaceuticals reach the environment and their possible harmful effects. Click here to read the full article.

The Gulf of Mexico oil calamity—a blessing in disguise?


Many have thought that action on climate change may have to await a calamity. The question is whether the Gulf oil spill will change the course of history by encouraging the USA to serious development of alternative energy.

Furthermore will this spill draw attention to the appalling environmental and health impact of Big Oil around the world and make it more difficult to exploit poor legislation in developing countries and the political process in the rich countries.

History suggests business will be as usual.   In 1989 the Exxon Valdez spill of 11 million gallons was the worst in American history. It damaged 1,300 miles of shoreline, disrupting the lives and livelihoods of people in the region and killing hundreds of thousands of birds and marine animals. Despite the clean-up, oil remains on beaches and the ecology has not recovered. The herring fishing was lost completely. After 20 years in court $500m damages was awarded, a pittance.

Requiem for a Species by Clive Hamilton. Book review

Frank Fenner is quoted in a recent article in the Australian said "We're going to become extinct, whatever we do now is too late."

“The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years. But the world can't. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we've seen disappear. Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years, a lot of other animals will, too. It's an irreversible situation. I think it's too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off. Mitigation would slow things down a bit, but there are too many people here already."

Toward a Mercury Treaty that protects public health: A health sector platform

This proposed Treaty is promoted by four organisations of Which the Internatioanl Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) is one.
 ISDE is DEA's parent body.
I remind you that by being a member of DEA you are part of in international organisation which works on a whole range of health issues. Furthermore this particular initiative is highly relevant to two DEA initiatives. In greening hospitals and clinics we must note proposals which we can all pursue in our own work places. In our "Coal is a Health Hazard" initiative we can recognise and educate on the role of coal combustion in mercury pollution. In educating about this issue we will soon have the backing of international agreement for action