Reports on Climate Change

Imagining the Real. Life on Greenhouse Earth

Doctors for the Environment Australia is privileged to publish the text of this symposium with permission from Manning Clark House, Canberra. For future symposia and publications we recommend that you bookmark the Manning Clark House site www.manningclark.org.au

The Symposium was held in honour of Barry Jones on 11-12 June 2008. The abstracts are Co-edited by Bryan Furnass, member of DEA. Professor Tony McMichael, member of DEA Scientific Advisory Committee and Dr Bryan Furnass contributed papers which I commend to you.

Owning solar panels in South Australia has become more attractive!

This article describes the Feed-In Scheme for Small-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Installations in South Australia

Despite the expansive debate on reducing the world’s green house emissions, they continue to rise. As detailed by the Worldwatch Institute, in 2007, carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion worldwide reached an estimated 8.2 billion tons, which was 2.8 percent more than in 2006-and 22 percent above the total in 2000. The United States and Europe accounted for roughly 4 and 3 percent, respectively, of the growth during this decade. India contributed 8 percent, and China, a staggering 57 percent. Despite the rapid increase, China's 18.3 share of global fossil fuel emissions remained slightly behind the U.S. share (19.5 percent).

Examining links between AIDS and Climate Change

The AIDS epidemic and the climate change phenomenon are two of the most important "long wave" global issues of the recent past, present and future. They share similarities, interactions, and present possibilities for a more united response.

For that reason, several UN agencies, research institutes from Switzerland, India, South Africa and Canada as well as the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies gathered to analyse the existing links between AIDS and climate change in a technical meeting held in Nyon, Switzerland, on 20 May 2008.

Al Gore, a Plan to Repower America to Counter Climate Change

Al Gore's recent speech of July 17, reproduced below, invokes the spirit of landing a man on the moon to indicate that a similar massive effort could change US energy needs from fossil to renewable.  Evoking the the moon landing program which was delivered in 10 years, Gore maintains that the energy program could could also be delivered in 10 years. Gore's costing is between $1.5 and $3 trillion. "It's almost as much as the cost of the Iraq War. And it's almost as much as we would have to pay to go out and build new coal plants and new oil-drilling rigs"

The issue of national leadership to enact such a program is important as the US Presidental election looms. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute in a podcast interview talks about Roosevelt’s leadership in mobilising the American nation the day after Pearl Harbour. He called in the CEOs of Ford, GM and Chrysler and told them to shift direction to war production; when they hesitated, he famously said, “I forgot to tell you, I have just banned the sale of motor cars”. Within a year, fighter aircraft, not even conceived at the beginning of the year, were delivered to the battlefield. Brown concludes that the capacity of humanity to work collectively to overcome a threat should never be underestimated.

Supercapitalism and Demise of the Environment

By David Shearman

In medical discipline, we analyse disease to seek the precise cause of the problem. In the emerging world crisis involving climate change, food shortage and escalating costs, peak oil, and  overpopulation, all factors already eating into the health and wellbeing of humanity, we need to hone down onto the common denominator of our predicament. This article, a personal view, will examine the increasing role of capitalism in causing the crisis. It is fair to say that there is increasing disquiet in the minds of many commentators and public thinkers. Perhaps this has been accentuated by the sub-prime scam whereby billions have been lost by so called reputable banks which are now so indispensible to the system that they are baled out  by government funds and thus by the taxpayer. Billions of dollars that could be used to alleviate many social and environmental problems were lost because of unacceptable practices.

World Food Security, a growing health issue

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, today warned Western nations such as Australia to populate or perish.This warning became a headline in the northern hemisphere, where I am at the moment--Editor

The day before, July 13, in the Wall Street Journal there was detail of the mechanisms being used by rich Western countries (and China) to secure their food supplies by buying up productive land in poor countries. Surely a sign that the wheelers and dealers believe there is a significant crisis? Below are two articles, the first a government perspective on the food crisis as seen by the European Community and the other a summary of the situation as seen by Tony McMichael (presented at the AMSA Global Health Conference, July Melbourne).

Exxon Valdez. Environmental Law R.I.P.

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By David Shearman

This may seem unlikely subject for members of DEA who work to assist and  maintain human health in an age of climate change, but I assure you that it is relevant.

In 1989 the Exxon Valdez, a super-tanker, struck a reef and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound in Alaska. A few days ago, after nearly 20 years in the Courts, the US Supreme Court reduced by 90% what had once been a $5 billion punitive damages award against Exxon Mobil to $500 million. This was the second legal appeal by Exxon, the first had reduced the damages to $2.5 billion.

Transitional Towns and Climate Change

From material compiled by David Shearman


For some time now, together with colleagues, I have been analysing why liberal democracy does not have the capacity to tackle climate change. There are several possible reasons for this. Some may be found in the democratic electoral need to satisfy the maximum number of voters on most possible occasions, and in the  fusion of liberal democracy with market needs. These issues are explained in recent texts listed below (1,2) Complexity theory explains the impotence of democracy in making major decisions and this applies both to elected representatives who cannot grasp complex problems and to the bureaucracies of governments which fail to deliver. (3)

An Encouraging Visit to a Federal MP to discuss Australia's Green House Emissions

So Ross Garnaut thinks humanity will probably lose the fight against climate change. The architect of Australia's response to climate change says the issue is "too hard" and there is "just a chance" the world will face up to the problem before it's too late. I think this is the likely conclusion for all who spend time on the scientific literature. I believe that our response to this situation must be to redouble our efforts to urge decision makers to take more action. Martin Williams, a DEA member is doing this and relates his experience below. I suspect that we have at least one DEA member in every constituency in Australia and each member of DEA has access to 12 Senators who represent his/her state. We have an opportunity that no other section of the community has for the reasons detailed by Martin. If you require help from us in formulating your informtion, please contact me. Let us get on with it! --- Editor.

Mosquito invasion brings disease risk to UK

We thank the Independent.co.uk and the author,  Steve Connor, Science Editor, for permission to publish this article which appeared in the Independent newspaper on Monday, 26 May 2008. We publish this article because it illustrates the potential fast moving spread of infectious diseases in reponse to climate change and the consequental movement of vectors. (Editor)

Mosquito invasion brings disease risk to UK
by Steve Connor

An Asian mosquito species is poised to arrive in Britain, bringing with it the risk of a potentially lethal disease that the insect can pass from one person to another.

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