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.

The Treasury modelling of the impacts of the scheme has been released this week and the governments decision  the ‘White paper” will be released in  December. Realistically therefore we have three weeks more to bolster the governments resolve to act.

Why is 2020 important? The DEA position is that reduction of emissions is urgent and delay of a year is important. The benefit that will accrue from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) are discussed in our energy policy, so please read this on our web site.

DEA has now written a personal letter to the Prime Minister, to each member of cabinet and to the leader of the Opposition, Mr Turnbull. These letters detail the importance of the ETS, its relationship to health and our support for the 2010 commencement.

In response to our plea many of you have written to the prime Minister, but I would like to encourage more of you to do so. I can assure you that your action will be worth while. To make this easier for you I have drafted a short letter. This places emphasis on the need to offer leadershipby reducing emissions by 25% by 2020. I suggest you change a few words to make it individualistic and send it by post (not email) to the PM. Email me and I will send the letter to you as an attachment.

Greening hospitals
In response to requests from members asking how they can tackle problem of recycling, energy wastage etc in their hospitals, we now have a list of members interested in forming a small group that would exchange information and ideas.
Please would any members interested in this topic who have not already contacted me please do so. A short article on greening hospitals was published in medical observer on October 3 and this article is now reproduced at

Appointment of DEA ‘Officer'
As indicated in the Minutes from the Annual General Meeting, DEA has received a grant which together with funds donated by members will allow us to appoint an assistant, possibly full time, to assist our rapidly expanding endeavours. We believe that this will be an exciting and rewarding position. The Management Committee would appreciate expressions of interest from Doctors who are members or who are known to members. The position might suit a medical graduate with management, computer and secretarial skills who has decided not to pursue clinical work as a result of family circumstances etc. Clearly we cannot provide a ‘medical type’ salary but there are many non-financial satisfactions in the work we do. Alternatively an environmental science graduate could be considered.
Professor Michael Kidd becomes DEA Chairperson

New members of DEA will have not seen the statement from Michael Kidd on his election to the Chair of DEA. It stated

“This organisation is doing great work in advocacy and education about the need to conserve and restore the natural environment with a strong focus on the human health aspects of climate change.

The Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr Margaret Chan, recently wrote that, ‘Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Climate change will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, some of the most fundamental determinants of health: food, air, water. In the face of this challenge, we need champions throughout the world who will work to put protecting human health at the centre of the climate change agenda.’

Doctors for the Environment (Australia) is one of these champions and over the coming year the members of the Management Committee will continue to alert doctors and the public on the health effects of environmental degradation and provide advice and support on ways that we can all make a difference in the way we live our own lives, operate our clinics and hospitals, and in the way we provide care and advice to our patients.  This work is urgent and essential.

Over the coming year we will also be seeking to further grow and consolidate our membership base and expand and strengthen our working relationships with governments, with other medical and environmental organisations and with the media.  We will be establishing a small secretariat to support the growing work of the organisation and we aim to expand our educational and advocacy activities.  We will also strengthen our international links with similar organisations in other countries and share our efforts in advocacy and education.

I thank you for your continuing support as a member of Doctors for the Environment (Australia).  Together we can make a difference towards preventing the serious health threats of climate change. The members of the Management Committee welcome your recommendations and advice and ideas.”

Annual Report
The annual report for 2006-8 is now on the web site. The Annual report is frequently referred to by governments and other organisations to determine the range of our activities. It depicts our accomplishments. We encourage you to read the report.

An Inspirational Story from Denmark
The Guardian newspaper from the UK reports
that the 4100 inhabitants of the Danish island of Samso have gone from being emitters of about 11 tonnes of CO2 per person to become exporters of renewable energy to the rest of Denmark and now emitting negative 5 tonnes per head. This cost of about $20000 per person, much of it as a result of incentives, coming from the pockets of individual islanders.