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.

Climate Change, Growing Food and Health

Good news from Minister Nicola Roxon

Some really good news! Minister for Health Nicola Roxon has launched the national Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program in government primary schools. Children will work in a productive garden within their school where they will harvest the food and cook it in a purpose-built teaching kitchen, before sitting down together to taste and enjoy what they have made. Details of the scheme are provided
The intent of the scheme is to tackle childhood obesity by getting children involved and developing healthy habits for life. The fight against the obesity epidemic starts with our children – and the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program is an innovative and practical way of getting children involved.

Imagining the Real. Life on Greenhouse Earth

Doctors for the Environment Australia is privileged to publish the text of this symposium with permission from Manning Clark House, Canberra. For future symposia and publications we recommend that you bookmark the Manning Clark House site

The Symposium was held in honour of Barry Jones on 11-12 June 2008. The abstracts are Co-edited by Bryan Furnass, member of DEA. Professor Tony McMichael, member of DEA Scientific Advisory Committee and Dr Bryan Furnass contributed papers which I commend to you.

Owning solar panels in South Australia has become more attractive!

This article describes the Feed-In Scheme for Small-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Installations in South Australia

Despite the expansive debate on reducing the world’s green house emissions, they continue to rise. As detailed by the Worldwatch Institute, in 2007, carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion worldwide reached an estimated 8.2 billion tons, which was 2.8 percent more than in 2006-and 22 percent above the total in 2000. The United States and Europe accounted for roughly 4 and 3 percent, respectively, of the growth during this decade. India contributed 8 percent, and China, a staggering 57 percent. Despite the rapid increase, China's 18.3 share of global fossil fuel emissions remained slightly behind the U.S. share (19.5 percent).

Endosulfan, a toxic organophosphate insecticide, in Australian tomatoes

This report was published in July by the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand

More endosulfan in tomatoes - this time Australian ones are worse!

Independent residue testing commissioned by Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa NZ and the Soil & Health Association has found endosulfan residues in both New Zealand and Australian tomatoes - but this time the residues are much worse in the imported tomatoes.

Endosulfan residues were found in cherry tomatoes, but not loose tomatoes, from both countries, with those from Australia having 4 and a half times more endosulfan than the NZ cherry tomatoes.

Examining links between AIDS and Climate Change

The AIDS epidemic and the climate change phenomenon are two of the most important "long wave" global issues of the recent past, present and future. They share similarities, interactions, and present possibilities for a more united response.

For that reason, several UN agencies, research institutes from Switzerland, India, South Africa and Canada as well as the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies gathered to analyse the existing links between AIDS and climate change in a technical meeting held in Nyon, Switzerland, on 20 May 2008.

Al Gore, a Plan to Repower America to Counter Climate Change

Al Gore's recent speech of July 17, reproduced below, invokes the spirit of landing a man on the moon to indicate that a similar massive effort could change US energy needs from fossil to renewable.  Evoking the the moon landing program which was delivered in 10 years, Gore maintains that the energy program could could also be delivered in 10 years. Gore's costing is between $1.5 and $3 trillion. "It's almost as much as the cost of the Iraq War. And it's almost as much as we would have to pay to go out and build new coal plants and new oil-drilling rigs"

The issue of national leadership to enact such a program is important as the US Presidental election looms. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute in a podcast interview talks about Roosevelt’s leadership in mobilising the American nation the day after Pearl Harbour. He called in the CEOs of Ford, GM and Chrysler and told them to shift direction to war production; when they hesitated, he famously said, “I forgot to tell you, I have just banned the sale of motor cars”. Within a year, fighter aircraft, not even conceived at the beginning of the year, were delivered to the battlefield. Brown concludes that the capacity of humanity to work collectively to overcome a threat should never be underestimated.

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.

World Food Security, a growing health issue

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, today warned Western nations such as Australia to populate or perish.This warning became a headline in the northern hemisphere, where I am at the moment--Editor

The day before, July 13, in the Wall Street Journal there was detail of the mechanisms being used by rich Western countries (and China) to secure their food supplies by buying up productive land in poor countries. Surely a sign that the wheelers and dealers believe there is a significant crisis? Below are two articles, the first a government perspective on the food crisis as seen by the European Community and the other a summary of the situation as seen by Tony McMichael (presented at the AMSA Global Health Conference, July Melbourne).

How Peak Oil will affect Health Care

by Stuart Jeffery
This is a fascinating article and I recommend all DEA members to read it-Editor. This article is reproduced under Creative Commons conditions
We acknowledge the author Stuart Jeffery and Journal the International Journal of Cuban Studies, volume 1 issue 1 2008 under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative 3.0 Licence;

This paper explores the concept of peak oil, its relationship to health care in the UK and suggests that the Cuban model of health care may provide a framework for future UK health care provision. The rate of extraction of oil is reaching a plateau, yet demand for oil continues to rise. Simple economic theory dictates that the price of oil will rise rapidly as demand outstrips supply, and this is demonstrated by the recent price of oil exceeding $100 per barrel. Oil underpins the UK National Health System, as well as the functioning of wider society, and in order to prevent a collapse of the NHS, radical change is suggested. The key to societal survival of peak oil is a drastic reduction in reliance on oil, and Cuba provides a model of how this had to be achieved in health care when the 1990s 'Special Period' saw a dramatic fall in the supply of oil, and yet Cuba managed to maintain health indicators on par with and in some cases exceeding those of the UK. The paper suggests that the UK public, clinicians and media are not ready for the challenge of change required, which would effectively move health care away from cure and from increasing profits through privatisation, to prevention and to state provision, and there are lessons that can be learnt from the Cuban experience.

Exxon Valdez. Environmental Law R.I.P.

By David Shearman

This may seem unlikely subject for members of DEA who work to assist and  maintain human health in an age of climate change, but I assure you that it is relevant.

In 1989 the Exxon Valdez, a super-tanker, struck a reef and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound in Alaska. A few days ago, after nearly 20 years in the Courts, the US Supreme Court reduced by 90% what had once been a $5 billion punitive damages award against Exxon Mobil to $500 million. This was the second legal appeal by Exxon, the first had reduced the damages to $2.5 billion.

Transitional Towns and Climate Change

From material compiled by David Shearman

For some time now, together with colleagues, I have been analysing why liberal democracy does not have the capacity to tackle climate change. There are several possible reasons for this. Some may be found in the democratic electoral need to satisfy the maximum number of voters on most possible occasions, and in the  fusion of liberal democracy with market needs. These issues are explained in recent texts listed below (1,2) Complexity theory explains the impotence of democracy in making major decisions and this applies both to elected representatives who cannot grasp complex problems and to the bureaucracies of governments which fail to deliver. (3)

An Encouraging Visit to a Federal MP to discuss Australia's Green House Emissions

So Ross Garnaut thinks humanity will probably lose the fight against climate change. The architect of Australia's response to climate change says the issue is "too hard" and there is "just a chance" the world will face up to the problem before it's too late. I think this is the likely conclusion for all who spend time on the scientific literature. I believe that our response to this situation must be to redouble our efforts to urge decision makers to take more action. Martin Williams, a DEA member is doing this and relates his experience below. I suspect that we have at least one DEA member in every constituency in Australia and each member of DEA has access to 12 Senators who represent his/her state. We have an opportunity that no other section of the community has for the reasons detailed by Martin. If you require help from us in formulating your informtion, please contact me. Let us get on with it! --- Editor.