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.

The Hepburn Community Wind Farm; a Viewpoint from the local General Practitioner

By Gerard Ingham, Hepburn Springs

Editors note.  We receive many messages from our members asking what they can do to alleviate climate change and we frequently make suggestions to you for example GreenClinics shown on the DEA web page. We have a further suggestion for you based upon Hepburn a town of one hour north –west of Melbourne.  In 2005 the Hepburn Renewable Energy Association decided to establish a community owned wind farm that would help match the electricity needs of the Hepburn Shire. Permissions have now been granted for two 2 megawatt wind turbines with a total capacity of 4 megawatt of power, enough electricity for 2,300 homes, in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

News from the Secretary, September - October 2008

The world of human endeavour has changed in the past few weeks and in an article on DEA web site below I have attempted to take stock of what this means for the natural environment. The new and important factors to be thrown into a revised equation of human health and survival are the financial crisis and the resulting control of capitalism, the US election result and the emerging realism of China’s leaders. It is possible to be very positive about all these happenings.

Have you written to the Prime Minister?

We know that the government will make several important decisions on climate change before the end of the year and almost certainly by the beginning of December. The government has indicated that it expects to hold to its election promise to implement an emissions trading scheme in 2010. The Opposition wishes this delayed as does many business lobbies on the grounds of international financial crisis.

Climate Change and the Financial Crisis. An Opinion

The world of human endeavour has changed in the past few weeks and these few words, my own opinion, take stock of what this means for the natural environment. The new factors to be thrown into a revised equation of human health and survival are the financial crisis and the likely control of capitalism, the US election result and the emerging realism of China. It is possible to be very positive about these happenings. During the past fifteen years of unparalleled growth fuelled by consumerism, the ecological crisis has accelerated as evidenced by recent WWF and other reports. The journey towards catastrophe was unlikely to be arrested under an uncontrolled market economy. The excesses of capitalism have now brought unemployment and financial difficulty to the West and will increase poverty and famine in the less fortunate countries. Indeed, evidence for these sequelae is emerging already. Five months ago the international community promised $12 billion for the global food emergency but today less than $1 billion has been delivered. Contrast this figure with the $70 billion that the New York bankers will pay to themselves this year in blithe indifference to their recent deeds!

Hospitals set off on Environmental Path

This article by Graeme Horton was published in Medical Observer on 3 October 2008. We republish it here for the benefit of our membbers who are not in General Practice and therefore do not receive the Medical Observer.

       Green corridors, green homes, green clinics… and now green hospitals!   The next time you look you just might find that your local St Elsewhere’s has begun to take a long hard look at the impact it has on the environment and is making changes for the better.

Health, Environmental Damage and Human Rights

In September, the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE), Physicians for Social Responsibility and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War presented a workshop at the UN Department of Public Information in Paris.

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is a member of ISDE and Graeme Horton, member of DEA Management Committee presented a paper on Climate Change. Below are the summaries of the presentations

Introduction - Cathey E. Falvo, MD
--Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights addresses the rights to health (a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (WHO)) and emphasizes the special care that is necessary for motherhood and childhood. Health and well being of the population and especially children can not occur in the face of environmental degradation.  Environmental health threats come from many sources, some of which will be addressed by the workshop.

The Control of Pesticides in the European Union and Australia

The Collegium Ramazzinihas made a Call for Action to Protect Human Health in relation to pesticides
The Collegium is an international scientific society that examines critical issues in occupational and environmental medicine with a view towards action to prevent disease and promote health. The Collegium is comprised of 180 physicians and scientists from 35 countries, each of whom is elected to membership. The Collegium is independent of commercial interests. It states

Almost half of all fruits, vegetables and cereals grown in the European Union are contaminated with pesticides. Five percent of food items tested contain concentrations that exceed legal limits for individual pesticides. In addition, contaminated drinking  water, dusts and spray drift contribute to human exposures.

Open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia from Climate Change Scientists

Click here to read the letter in PDF format - This letter should be read in conjunction with the article below titled 'Climate change and the Garnaut report; we need more than expediency".

Climate change and the Garnaut report; we need more than expediency

The conclusions of Professor Garnaut’s report are disappointing. He has grasped the science, urgency and risks and indeed the probability of loss of the Barrier Reef and much more. Yet he recommends measures to control emissions at 550ppm which will fail to avoid these dire consequences. This smacks of political expediency with a recognition that government intent burdened by perceived ecomonomic imperatives and  the electoral cycle is unlikely to do more. 

In a letter to Professor Garnaut dated 20.9.2008 in response to the Supplementary Report we said

News from the Secretary, August 2008

Barack Obama and Climate Change

The world cannot move forward without the US getting positively involved in this issue. Obama's acceptance speech contained some good intent. He said:-

"And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president - in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East."

"Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close."

The Problem Is Simple: Too Many People, Too Much Stuff

  By Paul & Anne Ehrlich

Over some 60 million years, Homo sapiens has evolved into the dominant animal on the planet, acquiring binocular vision, upright posture, large brains, and -- most importantly -- language with  syntax and that complex store of non-genetic information we call culture. However, in the last several centuries we've increasingly been using our relatively newly acquired power, especially our culturally evolved technologies, to deplete the natural capital of Earth -- in  particular its deep, rich agricultural soils, its groundwater stored  during ice ages, and its biodiversity -- as if there were no tomorrow.

News from the Secretary for June and July 2008,

Climate Change

As doctors we are aware of the importance of climate change  because of the sufferings and  costs of failing to address it.

Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts show that Australia’s greenhouse emissions in 2007 were around 585 million tonnes or 106 per cent of 1990 levels. This is an increase of 1.6 per cent from 2006. The largest single source of direct emissions is the electricity, gas and water economic sector, accounting for 35.5 per cent of Australia’s emissions, while Australia’s primary industries (agriculture, forestry and fishing and mining) accounting for 32.7 per cent of direct emissions. The report is available at

Climate Change. A Letter from the Treasurer the Hon. Wayne Swan on Personal Action to reduce Emissions.

Early in 2008, Doctors for the Environment Australia wrote to all Federal parliamentarians about climate change. Because of the urgency of reducing greenhouse emissions we asked them to “Write to us yourself and tell us what you are doing personally (i.e. within your household) to address the problem of climate change. Let us know how you are showing leadership within your electorate and please send to us any messages you are using in your newsletters to constituents.

The first responses to our letter were discussed in “News from the Secretary, May 2008”. With a few exceptions amongst Labor members the responses from those in the major parties listed only government or opposition policy. However since the May newsletter there have a few more responses.