News from the Secretary April 2008

The 2020 summit is over and what are the gains? Climate change and related issues were one of 10 important topics discussed and those attending indicated that the enthusiasm and collegiality of the group was a great experience. I was not present so had to make judgement from reading the submissions and the report. My comments are on the DEA web site.

The DEA submission to the 2020 summit, number 4317 can be found on

World Health Day April 7th
WHO’s topic for World Health Day was "Protecting Health from Climate Change"

Together with the Climate Institute, we released a national report “Climate Change Health Check 2020” which you can find at the top of the DEA web site. Notification was sent to all members at the time. The aim of the document was firstly to emphasise that climate change is a health issue and secondly to indicate that there would be changes to medical practice as a result of climate change.

The report was endorsed by the RACGP and the AMA joined in the press release. The Presidents of both organisations helped with media. The media ‘take’ was very successful. DEA and the Climate institute did over 40 interviews on radio or resulting articles appeared in the Age, West Australian Sunday Tasmanian, ABC on-line and ABC Rural. In addition there was a large take in rural newspapers. Interviews were also given by AMA and RACGP. Overseas interviews included Radio France and Al Jazeera. WHO offered congratulations to DEA on the report. Thank you to all who helped with this initiative, particularly Graeme Horton who wrote most of the report and Grant Blashki who did a large number of interviews.

The lecture on World Health Day at the McCaughey Centre 'Protecting Health from Climate Change' by Grant Blashki was very successful and we thank the Victorian members of DEA for supporting this.

Membership promotion through the recruitment package

I am afraid that the success above has to be balanced by some not-so-good news! The promotion package has now been rolled out to all members in SA and NSW. This provides a package to be given to a colleague in the hope that a new member can be recruited. This enterprise has been costly to us in time and money but has attracted only a few members.

There have been several very positive responses from several of you saying what a good idea and that you have seen a colleague who will join—but they don’t! If you feel this way please have another go! Your DEA needs you.

However there is a benefit in that the issue has been raised with some of our colleagues, and hopefully some of your words will have educated them. My interaction with colleagues indicates that their understanding is generally poor and we have much work to do. Recently I raised the matter with a high profile busy colleague. Climate change had only touched him vaguely and when I said it was a health issue he was confounded. Indeed he reacted as though I had taken leave of my senses.

Letter to all members of the new parliament

DEA has commenced this year’s letter writing to parliamentarians

The first letter to the new parliament – all 250 members was a personally signed letter sent to the members at their  constituency office which introduced DEA and asked the members about what they were doing re climate change in their offices etc and drawing attention to Green clinics and to our web site. We use the responses to establish contact with members who seek further information and we seek appointments with some.

Annual Appeal

All financial members will soon receive our annual appeal letter. Why do we appeal and how do we use this money?

The annual membership is a modest $42 which is insufficient to cover our administrative needs.  Our policy is to keep the membership fee low so as not to deter members who cannot afford to join. The appeal allows those who can afford to provide their additional help.

DEA has reached a limit in the amount of work it can do without more paid administrative and secretarial assistance. We are overburdened. I hope you will respond to our needs.

News from DEA in Western Australia

 The West Australian Committee is running a meeting “Genetically-modified Foods: Facts Fallacies and Policies” on Thursday 15 May 2008 at 6 pm in the University of Western Australia staff Club, Crawley. The meeting will ask how engaged are doctors in the GM food debate? How might GM affect the future health of the community? Do we understand the arguments for and against GM foods? The speakers are Prof Michael Jones, Agricultural biotechnologist, Dr Judy Carman, Nutritional biochemist and epidemiologist. Ms Sharon Fox environmental scientist and molecular biologist

We encourage all WA members of DEA to attend this meeting and registration forms can be obtained from me

To members in all other states I must remind you that WA is able to organise interesting meetings like this one because it has an active local committee. We are working to try and establish committees in other states to tackle state issues within our policy areas. We seek you help in this endeavour.

DEA web site

Thank you to all those members who have completed the web site survey. There has been a good response. In the month of April the site had 72,778 hits and the use of our material covered 1,804,667 Kbytes. Apparently this puts it into the category of a very successful site for an educational or NGO site. The wide readership should encourage members to submit articles in the knowledge that they will be widely read

Other news
DEA has made a Submission to Senate standing Committee on Economics Enquiry into the Renewable Energy legislation Amendment (renewable power percentage) Bill 2008

Our plans for the WONCA Asia Pacific Conference in conjunction with the RACGP 51st Annual Scientific Conference in Melbourne  October 2-5 are developing. The DEA AGM will be held on Saturday 5th at 5pm. We would like to hear from those members who are planning to go to the conference

Some web sites for greening your hospital are included in a short article on the web site. Many of you are interested in this topic, so please send to me at  any other sites that should be added to the article

Recommended articles
BTW - good article by Peter Tait in a recent MJA  188 (7): 383-384

Read the article by Geoff Russell in the April edition of The Monthly “Confounders. “The CSIRO and the Total Wellbeing Diet”. (which has green house emission consequences)

Al Gore: New thinking on the climate crisis
The complete video of a presentation made by Al Gore is on TED who have a large number of high quality presentations freely available:

Earth in crisis, warns NASA's top climate scientist
Global warming has plunged the planet into a crisis and the fossil fuel industries are trying to hide the extent of the problem from the public James Hansen seen here NASAs top climate scientist says.

Urbanisation and environmental sustainability. in Earth Trends Update, February 2008