Reports on Climate Change

Climate Change at World Health Assembly 2008: Coming of Age as a Global Health Issue

by Tony McMichael
The Australian National University
Observer at 2008 World Health Assembly, for the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology

The 61st World Health Assembly, held in Geneva during this past week and attended by national delegations from 193 Member States, has underscored the urgency of tackling global climate change and its diverse risks to health around the world. Those risks will press particularly on vulnerable regions and poorly-resourced populations.
 
On Saturday May 24, the Assembly passed unanimously a strongly worded resolution, seeking to engage the health sector, at international and national levels, in responding to climate change. A key component of this task is to alert policy-makers and populations to the fundamental nature of the risks posed by climate change, not just by dint of physical hazards, but also by affecting many biological and ecological processes upon which human health depends.

Dengue fever and its control in the era of climate change

Dengue is reported to be the fastest growing vector-borne disease in the world. In recent years, dengue has spread extensively in North and South America and in Mexico it increased 600 percent between 2001 and 2007. The disease has spread to Hawaii and along the border in Texas. The disease is expected to increase in northern Australia with climate change (see Climate Change Health Check on this page)

Dengue fever is caused by an RNA flavivirus spread by the bites of mosquitoes particularly in the urban areas of the tropics. Symptoms include fever, headache, rash, severe pains in the muscles and joints, and pain behind the eye. The fever form of the disease is rarely fatal, while the related dengue haemorrhagic fever is a severe disease with death in approximately 5 percent of cases. Dengue hemorrhagic fever occurs most often in children younger than 15 years old. It also occurs most often in individuals who were previously infected with simple dengue fever.

Climate Change at the 2020 Summit. Success or Failure?

by David Shearman. A personal view

I was not at the 2020 summit, nor did I apply. Therefore my comments relate entirely to the written report, the submissions and the press comments of others who were there

My attention was attracted by a comment from Tony Windsor, Independent member for the Federal seat of New England     On AM he said “I'm glad I was here, slightly disappointed in the terms of the climate change debate. I think we could have probably done a bit more, particularly in terms of renewable energy, those sorts of issues. I think there was probably a greater expectation out there in terms of the urgency and really pushing the issue”. Then he added something about conflict between persons representing renewable energy and Extrata Mining at the meeting. The latter was excluded from the RN AM transcript and audio.

Greening your Hospital: some useful sites for information

Doctors for the Environment Australia has had many requests for help from members regarding sustainability in their hospitals. Most say that it is difficult to find sources of information.

In relation to greenhouse emissions from public hospitals, this is a state responsibility and i have been unable to find any overall strategy from the Federal government. Some states seem to be taking the matter seriously, others do not. Overall it is not clear what is happening in private hospitals and this needs to be explored further.

In South Australia I was told that  all engineering options in energy saving had been instituted and the next advance would be the building of the large new hospital in Adelaiade which would have energy saving features. Of course this statement worries me for  the greenhouse cost of a huge new building must be includied in the equation and I am not sure that it has.

Our parent organisation International Society of Doctors for the Environment has some expertise in this area through other national groups. Cathy Falvo of the USA Physicians for Social responsibility has supplied a list of sites worth reviewing  for what ideas are available outside Australia.

If members have other sources of information please send them to me and i will add them to this article.

Useful sites

Healthcare Without Harm

The Human Costs of Iraq and Other Wars

by Dr Sue Wareham, President, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)

Editors note
We are very pleased to be able to publish this article. The twin pillars of destruction that threaten our lives are war and ecological collapse and they are intertwined in their causes and effects. Within DEA's sphere of expertise, climate change, Bill Castleden has pointed out in a 2020 submission that "The US Defence Department is that country’s largest single consumer of energy, and is probably the single largest consumer in the world." and  "A global movement to reduce the carbon emissions of the military and to cut arms spending could make the global quest for carbon emission reductions a harbinger of more peaceful co-existence."

Now it's a Climate Emergency!

There is so much bad news on the environmental consequences of climate change that it is difficult to remain positive. Martin Williams sets a good example in positivity in his article below
This mornng I was approached by two young ladies from Jehovah's Kingdom who told me that armageddon was approaching because of global warming. When I said '"I agree" they were stunned and had no more to say. If I had read Martin William's article I would have been more positive. I feel a retrospective guilt!
This article will appear on the blog so please let us have your views
Editor

Can we expect climate change in the US?

by David Shearman

Doctors for the Environment Australia is in the business of educating and attempting to understand the human mind so we can enhance human health and wellbeing. One of our most difficult tasks is to understand the psyche of our closest ally the US. It is not a waste of time to put 'pen to paper', because strange as it may seem some of our articles and material is picked by web sites in the US.

The Bush era has been written off as the Dark Age for American contribution to the advancement of humanity but will it be any better after November 2008? Will the assault on North American biodiversity be curtailed and will the US government’s inaction and indeed obstruction of action on climate change be reversed? Wilderness areas and parks have been opened to oil exploration and logging; environmental protection has been rolled back.

Carbon Offsetting Your Personal Footprint- A Guide

This article has been reposted because discussion items have been added 

Many members of Doctors for the Environment have asked us whether they should offset their travel and how should they do it. They have expressed concern about how they choose a scheme and how they assess whether the planted trees will be kept alive and have the prospect of living for 100 years and indeed whether they will be relaced if they die.

Offsetting can be done through mechanisms other than forestry with renewable technologies and energy efficiency projects. Critics of these mechanisms argue that they would be done anyway without your support. By contrast forestry has additional tangible benefits in rural support, payments to farmers for stewardship etc

Carbon Offsetting Your Personal Footprint- A Guide

 Many members of Doctors for the Environment have asked us whether they should offset their travel and how should they do it. They have expressed concern about how they choose a scheme and how they assess whether the planted trees will be kept alive and have the prospect of living for 100 years and indeed whether they will be relaced if they die.

Offsetting can be done through mechanisms other than forestry with renewable technologies and energy efficiency projects. Critics of these mechanisms argue that they would be done anyway without your support. By contrast forestry has additional tangible benefits in rural support, payments to farmers for stewardship etc

Climate Change - What you can do

We recommend you read this article from the Australian Psychological Society. It provides explanation of common reactions to severe environmental problems particularly climate change, it explores the mindset to stay involved with the issue, it offers advice about changing your own behaviour and encouraging others to do the same!

http://www.psychology.org.au/publications/tip_sheets/climate/

Many of us will be familiar with most of the reactions of our colleagues to our suggestions,they can be indifferent or even hostile, but in furthering our educational role we have to learn to deal with them.

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