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Doctors Urge Climate Action

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Media release – Australian Medical Association (AMA) Tasmania, 5 February 2021 TIME IS RUNNING OUT……CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION IS NEEDED NOW! Australian Medical Association (AMA) Tasmania is joining the Federal AMA, the British Medical Association (BMA) and the American Medical Association in declaring climate change a medical emergency. Dr Helen McArdle President AMA Tasmania said today, […]

Media release – Australian Medical Association (AMA) Tasmania, 5 February 2021


Australian Medical Association (AMA) Tasmania is joining the Federal AMA, the British Medical Association (BMA) and the American Medical Association in declaring climate change a medical emergency.

Dr Helen McArdle President AMA Tasmania said today, “AMA Tasmania joins with Federal AMA as an association made up of doctors actively supporting the adoption of the Climate Change Bill being considered by the Australian Senate.

“AMA Tasmania calls upon the Tasmanian Government to do everything it can to reduce further Tasmania’s carbon emissions and plan for Tasmanians’ future medical needs as a consequence of climate change impacting on people’s health.

“We know that climate change impacts are leading to more bushfires, more severe weather events and hotter summers, all of which impact people’s health.

“Doctors see the impact on patients’ health, including heat-related conditions, cardiorespiratory illnesses, infectious disease outbreaks and post-traumatic stress disorder for those who have lived through flood and fire events.

“Studies are now being undertaken in Australia into the effects of bushfire smoke on pregnant woman and their babies. Evidence suggests that exposure to bushfire smoke for prolonged periods, as happened in recent years in the Huon Valley and NSW (New South Wales), may lead to more premature babies and decreased birth weight.”

Dr McArdle said that it was widely recognised that those regions exhibiting inadequate health infrastructure are the least able to adapt, prepare and respond to the variety of increased health risks in a changing climate.

“All official data confirms that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions along with the earth’s temperature, continue to rise. The science is clear. Without rapid cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, this will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on earth.

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“The window of opportunity for action is closing fast.

“It is over ten years ago that climate change was recognised as the most significant global health threat of the 21st century. Scientists are now warning we have less than ten years to halt the worldwide rise of greenhouse gas emissions to avoid devastating consequences and potentially catastrophic risk to human health.

“The WHO (World Health Organisation) and other researchers have identified multiple areas where a changing climate may have an adverse impact on health outcomes including aggravation of various chronic medical conditions, challenges to mental health, water and food insecurity, changes to the price and quality of fresh food, and increasing the likelihood of poor nutrition. Injury and mortality from increasingly severe weather events and increases in the transmission effect of airborne diseases.

“Other social issues related to climate change include decreased work capacity, increased climate migration, conflict, and homelessness.”

Dr Clare Smith, a recently retired General Practitioner, said that she was seeing more patients questioning whether to have children due to their concerns about climate change.

“Even more alarming than the evidence linking air pollution and heat exposure with adverse pregnancy outcomes is the climate anxiety many Tasmanian women are experiencing leading them to reconsider or question their future fertility intentions.

“They know that that if we don’t do more to fight climate change now, the effects on the health of their children will only get worse.”

Dr McArdle added that while many of the world’s scientists, supported by governments, rushed to find a vaccine to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, the same unified action across the world on climate change is required to help mitigate impending threats to our environment, health, and very existence.

“While these themes are representative of climate change and health issues worldwide, rather than a public campaign on adaptation, it is time for the Tasmanian Government to implement plans and lobby for a complete and collective change for our state, our nation and our planet now.”

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Small changes such as using solar energy can make the biggest impact, and AMA House has now joined with the millions of Australians, already using solar energy to generate electricity.

“We need to do everything we can to develop an effective ambitious Tasmanian centric strategy for health and climate change. AMA Tasmania stands ready to help drive those changes.”

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Climate Change and Health spokesperson, 5 February 2021

Gutwein Must Listen to Doctors on Climate

The Greens commend the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Medical Association for their strong statement recognising the existential threat of climate change, and echo their call for the Gutwein Government to take urgent climate action.

The AMA are absolutely right – the climate emergency is a health emergency.

Medical professionals are on the frontline, confronting the impact the damage to our planet’s life-support systems is having on patients’ health.

The Tasmanian AMA’s call for climate action follows the lead of the national, US and UK bodies, and the 250 doctors, nurses and medical students who wrote to the Premier and Climate Change Minister demanding an end to native forest logging.

Climate action in Tasmania must include protecting this island’s important planetary carbon stores – native forests.

Despite the urgent need to reduce emissions and preserve biodiversity, the Liberal Government has escalated the logging of native forests. Resources Minister, Guy Barnett, and his colleagues are determinedly destroying critical carbon banks.

No government that’s serious about climate action can log and burn native forests.

The Premier needs to listen to the health experts, as he did during the coronavirus emergency.

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We urge Premier Gutwein to listen to the medical professionals calling for climate action and take two clear steps: protect the state’s biggest climate asset, our carbon rich native forests; and support the Greens’ Safe Climate Bill 2020 when it is debated this year.

Alison Standen MP, Shadow Minister for Climate Change, 5 February 2021

Labor backs AMA’s climate emergency declaration

Labor backs the Australian Medical Association Tasmania’s recognition of climate change as a health emergency.

Shadow Minister for Climate Change Alison Standen said the AMA’s announcement should be a wakeup call for the Liberal Government to act to deliver real climate action.

“There can be no doubt that climate change is a genuine and pressing health emergency and it must be part of all government planning and decision making,” Ms Standen said.

“Our community is deeply concerned about the future, and among younger people climate change is the most important issue for government to address.

“Peter Gutwein must put maximum pressure on his Federal colleagues to take real action on climate change both within Australia and on the international stage.

“For too long this issue has been toyed with at the Federal level with the Coalition at odds with itself and climate deniers continuing to occupy Scott Morrison’s front bench.

“Peter Gutwein also needs to put some money where his mouth is and take real action on Tasmania’s climate change policy.

“Labor calls on the Premier to commit to details on consultation and a timeline for the completion of the review of the Climate Change Act.

“The state meeting its net zero emissions target for the fourth-year running is welcome news, but the Premier can no longer hide behind the spin.

“Climate change is a health emergency and it must be treated with the urgency this calls for.”

Source: Tasmanian Times

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