Reports on Climate Change

Copenhagen COP-OUT

David Shearman
This review in the December 15 newsletter to all members was an immediate response to Copenhagen. Now that more information is available it will be modified in future articles. Appended are some views from members.

Copenhagen was bitterly disappointing. The outcome was inconsequential compared to the task in hand. A non-binding statement mentions limiting climate rise to 2 degrees but even if achieved this offers only a 50/50 chance of avoiding ‘dangerous’ climate change and the existing commitments to emission reduction will allow for a temperature rise of 4 degrees.

Leaders of the Rich World are Enacting a Giant Fraud

This article written by Johann Hari at the start of the 2 week Copenhagen conference was a predictor of one important reason while the conference would fail

Leaders of the rich world are enacting a giant fraud; Corporate lobbyists can pressure or bribe governments to rig the system in their favour

By Johann Hari, The Independent 11 December 2009
We thank  the author and The Independent, (UK) for permission to publish

Every delegate to the Copenhagen summit is being greeted by the sight of a vast fake planet dominating the city's central square. This swirling globe is covered with corporate logos – the Coke brand is stamped over Africa, while Carlsberg appears to own Asia, and McDonald's announces "I'm loving it!" in great red letters above. "Welcome to Hopenhagen!" it cries. It is kept in the sky by endless blasts of hot air.

Please Work to Green your Hospital

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This is a resource article for those who wish to help green their hospitals

In England, the NHS has produced an extensive report “Saving carbon improving health” on reducing carbon emissions  in hospitals. I wonder how many hospital Boards in Australia follow such recommendations. These are

Energy and carbon management
Every organisation should review its energy and carbon management at Board level; develop more use of renewable energy where appropriate; measure and monitor on a whole life cycle cost basis; and ensure appropriate behaviours are encouraged in individuals as well as across the organisation.

Dr Linda Selvey - New CEO Greenpeace Australia Pacific

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This appointment  is great news for health and the environment. The message is important, here is an eminent medical doctor and environmental expert appointed to a major organisation. It signifies the strong inter-relationship between health and the environment.
My membership in Greenpeace had lapsed-- I have now rejoined!  David Shearman, Editor
The following is the press release from Greenpeace

Dr Linda Selvey is taking on the top job at Greenpeace Australia Pacific after a solid career as a senior public servant in Queensland. For more than 12 years Dr Selvey has held senior management positions in Queensland Health including being Executive Director, Population Health Queensland  for almost 4 years.  She is highly respected professionally and personally within the field of public health in Queensland and nationally.

The Lancet Series on Health and Climate Change

The major aim of Doctors for the Environment Australia for the past few years has been to educate our colleagues, their patients and governments on the health aspects of climate change. The wealth of knowledge in this issue of the Lancet indicates the distance travelled by colleagues in many countries. To those of you actively involved in the area there will be little new in content but there is perspective and resolve. I see the series as an educative review for the profession and health workers. Professor Andy Haines, Chairman of the taskforce says

Climate Change; understanding 350

350 ppm is an atmospheric CO2 target supported by an increasing number of experts

In its 2007 report the IPCC indicated a target of 450 ppm would be equivalent to a temperature rise of 2-3 degrees centigrade which would be dangerous to exceed This has become an unofficial goal for the Copenhagen negotiations.

Since we already have an atmospheric concentration of approximately 380 ppm 350 would seem to be an impossible task

The 350 target is gaining credence because of the recognition that a 0.74C rise in a hundred years has lead to much more extensive physical and biological change than was predicted by the 2007 models. Further, there is increased concern about tipping points. The changes in polar ice and other effects have lead Jim Hansen from NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies,  to carry out further modelling which suggests that the temperature rise is twice as fast for a given CO2 rise. He indicates that 350 is the bottom line. You can read the scientific arguments at

Climate Change Faster Than Expected, by Paul Roth

What if the IPCC projections for the rise in the Earth’s temperature were wrong?  Well, if the temperature does not rise much further, everyone will be relieved, but what if the temperature rise is much greater than predicted? In the article below, Paul Roth, DEA Member, reviews for us the evidence that warming is occurring faster than expected.

In a paper published in NatureGeoscience Aug 9 2009, Global warming in the Cenozoic era 55 million years ago was studied. In the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum period, there was a massive injection of carbon into the ocean–atmosphere system, but the resulting climatic warming was much greater than expected from the modelled rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide alone. Temperatures rose by 5–9 °C whereas modelling shows that only 2-3 degree rise was predicted. The author concluded that feedback mechanisms released additional carbon dioxide and methane. Since there was no ice on the planet at that time possible operative feedback mechanisms included methane emissions from swamplands and permafrost and increases in atmospheric moisture, biogenic aerosols and cloudiness.

Climate Change and the Millennium Assessment of Human Behaviour - Paul Ehrlich

Many recent articles by scientists involved in climate change research display increasing anxiety. Climate change and its impacts are happening faster than the models predicted and government action remains lost in interminable debate. As Paul Ehrlich explains in the article below there is more than enough scientific evidence for us to act; the inherent problem relates to human behaviour. Many of us have embraced these thoughts and indeed put them on paper but Paul Ehrlich has decided to do something about it with the MAHB initiative. An optimistic view would be that behaviour could be influenced  successfully by the same methods as used detrimentally by the smart  advertisers of food and goods. By contrast many scientists are now pessimistic that we must wait for increasing calamity before political machines will act.

Climate Change Strategy and the Environmental Movement

An interesting review article  'Hijacked by Climate Change" by Richard Black on BBC News has asked “Has climate change hijacked the wider environmental agenda? If so, why? And does it matter?”
 
These questions are highly relevant to how we present our case to the community and to government.

It is unarguable that we were heading toward a world ecological crisis even without adding in the damage of climate change. Biodiversity is declining rapidly, as the habitats and ecosystems of forests, wetlands, coral reefs and rivers are plundered for resources or urbanisation. Pollutions, draining of aquifers, overfishing, desertification due to land over use and a burgeoning population, collectively had humanity on the road to crisis before climate change added some fuel to the fire-literally

Red Meat, Human Health and Climate Change

The control of climate change will ultimately depend on many small actions by each one of us. As doctors we are in an influential position to educate our patients into healthy lifestyles and to implement preventative medicine in our clinics. To our advice on smoking, alcohol, exercise and drugs, we must surely add advice on meat. This is an issue that will have a significant impact on the health of the individual and at the same time the on health of the planet by reducing greenhouse emissions. Let us look at the evidence.

A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine “A prospective study of meat intake and mortality in over  half a million people” determined the impact of the consumption of red, white and processed meat on total and cause-specific mortality.  Many possible confounding factors were studied. Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality. These results complement the recommendations by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund to reduce red and processed meat intake to decrease cancer incidence.

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