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.

From monoculture to biodiversity

by David Muirhead 2 September 2002
Dear David, I was interested to read your thoughts on GM foods. I confess almost total ignorance on this very emotive subject. But I also nurture scepticism as to the actual importance/relevance in environmental terms of GM foods. Unlike you I am relatively unconcerned re risks to human health as a direct consequence of ingestion of GM foods-after all, we have been able to over-populate Earth largely because of remarkably similar developments in monoculture food production. This is where I see the real problem: GM crops only serve to widen the gulf between current food production practices and sustainability, by perpetuating the myth that monoculture of any kind on a broad scale can ever be truly sustainable.

GE food is different

GE food is differentby Kate Clinch-Jones 24 August 2002

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. After 5 years of following the debate on GE foods, I find that they "worry the life out of me" - so does embryonic stem cell research, but that's another story!

GE foods were originally approved as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration, as a result of a political directive, which overrode the warnings of FDA experts that they posed special risks and needed further testing. This approval was made on the basis of an unproved theory of substantial equivalence, that is, a GE food is fundamentally the same as a conventional food, so thorough assessment need not be made. It also relied on solely data provided by proponent companies. Interestingly enough, in some of ANZFA's assessments, where they are arguing that a given GE food is substantially equivalent, they are simultaneously quoting compositional analyses which show the GE food has statistically significant differences in the levels of some amino acids and/or fatty acids. This makes the substantial equivalence idea patently shaky. it also begs the (unexplored) questions: what are the different proteins accounting for the discrepancies? Are they allergenic? Or toxic? What about the fatty acids? If protein levels are different, what about vitamins and other micronutrients?

Fundamental issues

by John Coulter 15 August 2002

Dear David,

I think there are several far more fundamental issues that surround both matters than the strictly medical concerns over allergies. Perhaps you could send this out to your list. I would be very interested in the responses?

These issues are to do with the 'ownership' of genes and genetic information, who owns these things and for what purpose. And lurking behind these is the unfortunate observation that very few pollies understand anything about genes. They are still back in pre-Darwinian times when it was believed that humans were a separate creation. Thus they will legislate to protect human genes and genetic information but allow all other genes to be the subject of commercial ownership and exploitation. This is the basis of the problem.

GM Foods and the Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson

By David Shearman 9 August 2002

John Anderson has joined the public debate over stem cell research. In The Australian, August 2, he was reported to repudiate Professor Trounson who had called ethicists and Catholics hypocrites for opposing the use of excess IVF embryos as a source of stem cells. John Anderson insisted that legislators not scientists were the right people to set boundaries on research. He said that the embryonic research legislation agreed by Mr.Howard and the State Premiers "worries the life out of me". He indicated that it was absurd that Australians were becoming more concerned about genetically modified foods "that go into our stomachs and toilet rather than into our own genes" This statement merits further discussion

Paper on Political Briefing

Prepared for DEA National Meeting November 2003 by John Coulter
It is a matter of both personal experience and observation that there is an increasing disillusionment with the parliamentary political process. A large number of people have also become very cynical about the role of the media in selecting what it chooses to cover and how it is covered. While many surveys of public opinion show a relatively high level of public concern about the environment, examination of either the Hansards of the parliaments or the daily newspapers does not reflect that level of concern. Sport and the ‘economy’ attract far more coverage than environment. Is it too cynical to suggest that the complex of social, institutional and economic factors that have distilled certain people and groups to positions of power in politics or industry are being strongly defended and buttressed by those people and groups. It is well known that many leading industries, companies and wealthy individuals make very large donations to the two major political parties. The political parties themselves hold expensive functions such as breakfasts and dinners which only the very well off can afford to attend.


11/4/03 In South East Australia the jack jumper ant, Myrmecia pilosula, is responsible for about 90% of anaphylaxis due to ant venom. In Tasmania the rate of clinical systemic allergy to the venom is 2.7%, twice the rate for bee stings, and deaths have been reported.

Bob Heddle, immunologist at Flinders Medical Centre and a DEA member, together with colleagues at the Royal Hobart Hospital is working on a hyposensitisation treatment for sufferers from the bite of this ant. Treatment was shown to be effective in a double blind crossover trial and the results of the study have been published in The Lancet, 22 March 2003