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.


Media  Release:  Sunday,  July  5,  2009

Medical organizations concerned with the health impacts of both climate change and military activity today called for a carbon audit of the large-scale joint US-Australian military exercises that will begin in Australia on Monday.   The Talisman Sabre exercises will take place from July 6 to 25 at several locations, the major one being Shoalwater Bay, near Rockhampton, in Queensland.  

The Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) said that climate change caused by carbon emissions poses an overwhelming threat to the health and security of all Australians, and all contributions to the problem – including our military activities - must be assessed.

Supercapitalism and Demise of the Environment

By David Shearman

In medical discipline, we analyse disease to seek the precise cause of the problem. In the emerging world crisis involving climate change, food shortage and escalating costs, peak oil, and  overpopulation, all factors already eating into the health and wellbeing of humanity, we need to hone down onto the common denominator of our predicament. This article, a personal view, will examine the increasing role of capitalism in causing the crisis. It is fair to say that there is increasing disquiet in the minds of many commentators and public thinkers. Perhaps this has been accentuated by the sub-prime scam whereby billions have been lost by so called reputable banks which are now so indispensible to the system that they are baled out  by government funds and thus by the taxpayer. Billions of dollars that could be used to alleviate many social and environmental problems were lost because of unacceptable practices.

Now it's a Climate Emergency!

There is so much bad news on the environmental consequences of climate change that it is difficult to remain positive. Martin Williams sets a good example in positivity in his article below
This mornng I was approached by two young ladies from Jehovah's Kingdom who told me that armageddon was approaching because of global warming. When I said '"I agree" they were stunned and had no more to say. If I had read Martin William's article I would have been more positive. I feel a retrospective guilt!

Now it's a Climate Emergency!
by Martin Williams

Claim and Counter-claim on GM foods

In recent days the Premier of SA has announced that the moratorium on genetically modified crops will continue. Moratoriums have been lifted in other states and in Victoria Sir Gustav Nossal a member of DEA’s Scientific Advisory Committee has supported their production. Clearly there are differing scientific opinions about the environmental health and safety of Gm food crops. One of the difficulties in making assessments is the lack of independent evidence because much of the scientific data comes from the companies producing Gm species. Recently there have been examples of possible suppression and misrepresentation of scientific information. One such example is listed by ISIS at  This was an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, UK, 28 November 2007 introduced by a UK ex-environment minister, the Rt. Hon. Michael Meacher.

“That this House regrets the continuing attempts to silence or misrepresent scientists whose research indicates possible human health problems from GM crops, as in the case of Dr Irina Ermakova who was misled by the editor of Nature Biotechnology into submitting an article to the journal to be published under her name, with the article in fact published under the editor's name with criticisms by four well-known GM supporters not seen by Dr Ermakova prior to publication; deplores the continuing efforts by an employee of the Canadian Government, Shane Morris, to close down websites in the UK and Republic of Ireland which have, along with Dr Richard Jennings of Cambridge University, said that research which claimed that consumers prefer GM sweetcorn published by this employee and others and given an Award for Excellence, is a flagrant fraud; and calls on the Government Chief Scientist to protect the integrity and objectivity of science by reasserting the right of scientists to have their views published by journals without underhand interference by journal editors, and for the Chief Scientist to encourage journal editors to withdraw papers they have published which subsequently turn out to be grossly misleading or even fraudulent”.

Carbon Offsetting Your Personal Footprint- A Guide

 Many members of Doctors for the Environment have asked us whether they should offset their travel and how should they do it. They have expressed concern about how they choose a scheme and how they assess whether the planted trees will be kept alive and have the prospect of living for 100 years and indeed whether they will be relaced if they die.

Offsetting can be done through mechanisms other than forestry with renewable technologies and energy efficiency projects. Critics of these mechanisms argue that they would be done anyway without your support. By contrast forestry has additional tangible benefits in rural support, payments to farmers for stewardship etc

Climate change. What you can do

We recommend you read this article from the Australian Psychological Society. It provides explanation of common reactions to severe environmental problems particularly climate change, it explores the mindset to stay involved with the issue, it offers advice about changing your own behaviour and encouraging others to do the same!

Many of us will be familiar with most of the reactions of our colleagues to our suggestions,they can be indifferent or even hostile, but in furthering our educational role we have to learn to deal with them.

Please pay the climate change tax on your children

Population control remains the single most important measure in the long term control of green house emissions, yet the right to have as many children as one wishes remains enshrined in liberal democracy. The issue was brought home to me when I heard a short interview on the ABC RN Science Show. Robin Williams having had a series of climate change  ‘heavies’ on the Show decided to have a younger generation view point. This was a young conservationist with an award for her work. She made many good points about improving communication between scientists, public and government when she spoke at the Ecological Society of Australia. Several speakers had indicated that at least one solution to climate change may be to have fewer children. Robyn Williams embellished this point, stating that having two children instead of three cuts a family's carbon emissions by the equivalent of 620 return flights from London to New York. In response the young conservationist said.

News from the Secretary for November, 2007

Joint scientific meeting of DEA and Rural Health West
I can report to you that I believe that this was an outstanding success. To some extent it was the coming of age for a young and developing DEA. There were about 200 registrants of whom 28 were DEA members. The opening two lectures by Bill Castleden and Colin Butler were given to all delegates; the hall was full and attentive. In the remainder of the program there were 4 streams. The venue for the DEA stream had about 70 seats, all were full and registrants were standing at the back so we had attracted many members from the sessions designed for GP practice. This epitomised the success. Our DEA speakers were excellent (see names and topics at the foot of this newsletter) and there was considerable interest at the DEA stand which had posters, brochures and T-shirts.

News from the Secretary for October, 2007

The Good News

Dr Peter Tait
We congratulate DEA member Dr Peter Tait, who has been awarded The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ (RACGP) General Practitioner of the Year Award for 2007. The General Practitioner of the Year Award recognises an individual general practitioner’s understanding of, and commitment to general practice; their service to their community; and their involvement in ongoing training and continuing professional development. The full citation is at the College website  “Peter has an active engagement with peace and climate change issues including as a member and office bearer with the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and as a key member of the Alice Springs Climate Change Action Group. He is a true leader in Australian general practice. Dr Tait works actively to improve the health of indigenous Australians and plays a critical role in working for health equity in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities. His integrity and dedication is reflected in his efforts to speak three key local languages – Warlpiri, Arrnete and Pitjantjatjara – as well as in teaching others.”

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