Pages tagged "children"

  • CAHA and Climate Council Joint Statement on Coal and Health

    Joint Statement on the Health Effects of Coal in Australia

    The Climate and Health Alliance and the Climate Council have released a Joint Statement on the Health Effects of Coal in Australia in response to the Inquiry report from Hazelwood coal mine fire in Victoria, saying: "Australia's heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation and massive coal industry expansion present significant risks to the health of communities, families and individuals."

    The Joint Statement calls for: health risks to be considered in all energy policy and investment decisions; independent air, water and soil quality monitoring at and around every coal mine and power station in Australia; and funding for research into health, social and environmental impacts of coal. The Joint Statement is accompanied by a Briefing Paper on Health Effects of Coal in Australia which outlines the scientific health and medical literature on the impacts on health from the production of coal. The Joint Statement is signed by Professor Fiona Stanley, Professor Tim Flannery from the Climate Council and Dr Liz Hanna, President of Climate and Health Alliance on behalf of CAHA's 27 member organisations.

    The Joint Statement reads: "We, the undersigned, accept the clear evidence that:
    1. coal mining and burning coal for electricity emits toxic and carcinogenic substances into our air, water and land;
    2. coal pollution is linked to the development of potentially fatal diseases and studies show severe health impacts on miners, workers and local communities;
    3. Australia's heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation and massive coal industry expansion present significant risks to the health of communities, families and individuals; and
    4. emissions from coal mine fires, like the recent Hazelwood mine fire in Victoria, and the release of heavy metal and organic compounds, pose health risks for surrounding populations, such as respiratory and heart disease, cancers and other health conditions.

     

    "We believe that Federal and State governments must urgently research and account for these risks to human health starting with consistent air, water and soil quality monitoring at and around every coal mine and power station in Australia.

    "We are calling on governments and industry to acknowledge the significant human health risks associated with the whole lifecycle of coal production “ mining, transportation, combustion and the disposal of waste “ and to urgently fund research and account for these risks in policy, planning and investment decisions in Australia.

    "While we recognise the role coal played in the industrial revolution “ as an important energy source helping advance economies and improve livelihoods “ studies now show that every phase of coal's lifecycle presents major human health risks and contributes to ecological degradation, loss of biodiversity and climate change.

    "In addition to the release of greenhouse gases, which are the primary cause of climate change, coal mining and electricity generation emit known toxic and carcinogenic substances into our air, water and land.

    These emissions include mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nitrogen oxides and inhalable airborne particulates.

    "Authoritative studies in Europe and the United States show severe health impacts from coal emissions on miners, workers and local communities.

    These studies link coal pollution to the development of potentially fatal diseases, resulting in thousands of premature deaths and costing national economies tens to hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

    In the United States, the Physicians for Social Responsibility found that coal contributes to four of the five leading causes of mortality: heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic respiratory diseases.

    Health risks are not limited to mining and combustion.

    Emissions from coal mine fires are linked to lung cancer, bronchitis, heart disease and other health conditions.

    At home, despite Australia's heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation “ it provides 75% of our electricity supply “ research and monitoring of the resulting health effects is limited.

    Most research has been conducted overseas, whereas in Australia - one of the world's leading producers, consumers and exporters of coal - the burden of disease remains under investigated.

    Furthermore, the disease burden will escalate as the massive coal industry expansion underway in Australia presents additional risk to human health in Australia and overseas.

    The significant health costs associated with coal are not currently reflected in the price of coal-fired electricity in Australia.

    In 2009, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) estimated coal's health impacts cost taxpayers $2.6 billion every year.

    "A dire lack of monitoring and research in Australia is letting down coal mining communities." Recommendations:

    1. Coal's human health risks must be properly considered and accounted for in all energy and resources policy and investment decisions.

    2. We also encourage the investment in education and training opportunities to support coal mining communities to transition away from fossil fuel industries towards new industries.

    3. National standards for consistent air, water and soil quality monitoring at and around every coal mine and power station in Australia conducted by an independent body with no relationship to the coal industry.

    4. Adequate funding allocated for research to evaluate the health, social and environmental impacts of coal in coal mining communities.

    This joint statement is signed by Professor Tim Flannery, Professor Fiona Stanley, the Climate Council of Australia and the Climate and Health Alliance representing its 27 health organisations as members.

    Professor Tim Flannery, Chief Councillor, The Climate Council of Australia
     
    Professor Fiona Stanley, Distinguished Research Professor, School of Paediatrics and Child Health (SPACH), The University of Western Australia, a Vice-Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Melbourne and the Patron of the Telethon Kids Institute.    
       Dr. Liz Hanna, President of the Climate and Health Alliance  
  • Webinar on Health and Climate Change in Mongolia - The Policy Response

    Webinar with Tsetsegsaikhan Batmunkh from the Ministry of Health in Mongolia who will discuss the steps her country is taking to adapt and mitigate the health impacts of climate change. Monday 21st July 2014 at 12pm-1.00pm - Please note you will need a microphone and speakers to join using your computer, and need to download the Webex software in order to join. Join the webinar (please try and join about 5-10 minutes prior) Event number: 641 660 046 Event password: climate If you are unable to join using your computer, you can follow this link for information about using your phone to join the Webinar via audio Webinar program details: How is Mongolia responding to the health impacts of climate change?

    Mongolia's geographical position and climate situation, along with the traditional nomadic way of life make it very sensitive to climate change. The climate change impacts are obvious and affecting Mongolia in different ways. The annual mean temperature has increased by 2.14C during the last 70 years, while the precipitation has decreased.

    Recent research shows negative impacts on health, particularly for most vulnerable population, such as children, herders and aging population.

    About the presenter:

    Tsetsegsaikhan Batmunkh graduated from People's Friendship University in Russia as a medical doctor in 2001. She obtained a PhD degree in microbiology from People's Friendship University in 2005, and has just completed Master in Public Health/Health Management at UNSW, Australia.

    Her work experience includes:2004-2005 Embassy of Mongolia in Russian Federation; 2005 - Central Joint Laboratory of the State Inspection Agency; 2007-2013 Ministry of Health, Officer in charge of Environmental Health, local focal point for the WHO Environmental Health Programme. She is a Member of International Solid Waste Association and member of Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network. Tsegi has published approximately 30 books and articles on environmental health in Mongolia.

  • Health sector urged to engage with social media to promote climate action

    What does the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report mean for health in Australia? This post first appeared on the blog Croakey on 31 March 2014 A new report from the IPCC issues the world one of its most stark warnings on climate change to date. Leaked drafts suggest this report will be one of the IPCC's most stark warnings yet issued on climate change, especially as it relates to human health. Authors of the health chapter say the report chronicles serious impacts to human health and wellbeing already from climate change, and warn of our limited ability to adapt to rapidly increasing global temperatures. What is the IPCC and what does it report on? The IPCC is a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) - 195 countries are members of the IPCC. Every four years, the IPCC releases a series of assessment reports on the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. Four Assessment Reports (AR1, AR2, AR3 and AR4) and part 1 of the Fifth Report (WGI or AR5) have been released to date. The AR5 WGI report covered the physical science and was released in September 2013. The second part (WGII) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) will be released this week. This IPCC Second Working Group report (WGII) covers the evidence on the impacts of climate change on humans and other species, the vulnerability of human society and other species and ecosystems to climate change, and on the adaptation measures underway or needed to minimise adverse impacts. The third working group report on mitigation (WGIII) will be released in Berlin in April 2014. This second report from Working Group II is an important one for health. What does the IPCC WGII report say about health? The findings of note from WGII include that climate change is affecting everyone in every nation on every continent, right now. Australia is particularly vulnerable to impacts on food production. The report highlights that people everywhere are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially extreme weather events which are now more frequent and more severe. Despite long standing warning on the need for mitigation (curbing emissions) and adaptation (responding to minimise the impacts of climate change), levels of adaptation to global warming around the world remain low. Some efforts by defence organisations, the tourism industry and insurance companies lead the way, but much more must be done. Failing to do so will put health further at risk, as it means we are not acting to avoid some potentially preventable impacts, like coastal flooding, heat stress from heatwaves, and the spread of disease. The report shows that failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions will lead to levels of warming that will make some parts of the world uninhabitable. However reducing emissions can cut the economic damage from climate change considerably. Further, the report shows that reducing emissions will bring many immediate and localised benefits to human health “ the savings from which would substantially offset the costs of reducing emissions. Health professionals are urged to act to raise awareness about the health risks from climate change and the health benefits of cutting emissions. Unless these issues are more widely understood, we risk failing to take actions that may ultimately determine whether or not we survive as a species, this profound, manmade, global threat to health. What can you do? You can help promote the issues raised in the IPCC report this week by joining a social media Thunderclap on climate and health. Follow the Climate and Health Alliance (Australia) on Twitter @healthy_climate) and our international group the Global Climate and Health Alliance on @GCHAlliance. Like our respective Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/climateandhealthalliance and https://www.facebook.com/climateandhealth Have a look Climasphere for lots of resources about climate change and the IPCC report. Later this week, you can check out a short film, share some infographics and join a webinar on climate and health “ look for details here: http://www.climateandhealthalliance.org/ipcc Importantly however, please do as CAHA President Dr Liz Hanna urges in this press release: "Act at a global level, a national level, at state and community level and as individuals. We must do all we can to cut emissions and urge others to do so if we are to avoid putting health at greater risk," Dr Hanna said. "The reality is, cutting emissions will bring many immediate benefits for public health, as well as help limit climate change in the longer term. We can afford to do it, but we cannot afford to wait."

  • How to make your conference carbon neutral (or even carbon negative)

    Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) take some real climate action Henry West Embedded image permalink For many years the World Health Organisations (WHO) have made it clear that the health care sector should lead by example in terms of reducing climate change pollutants and by demonstrating how climate change mitigation can yield tangible, immediate health benefits. At the recent Australian Medical Student Association (AMSA) Global Health Conference (GHC) in Hobart the challenge this viewpoint presents to us was taken up with vigor. For the first time ever an AMSA event was completely carbon neutral and actually carbon negative. This was no minor undertaking, as the conference was very well attended with over 500 people present; nearly 200 tonnes of CO2 were offset. This was achieved via two internationally recognised projects coordinated by Climate Friendly, a large Australian carbon-offsetting firm. One of the projects in particular had immediate health benefits and was of particular satisfaction to the GHC organising committee. This project was a Cambodian one that actively replaces highly polluting indoor wood/charcoal fired cooking stoves with new far more efficient and clean ones, the New Lao Stove (NLS). The NLS was developed by GERES, an NGO ?that has been operating in the region for many years. More efficient than traditional stove models, the NLS uses 20-30% less fuel-wood and charcoal, thereby reducing CO2 emissions from cooking. This has immediate and dramatic health impacts for whole families, mostly regarding respiratory health, in conjunction with the large CO2 mitigation. For AMSA to be taking positive action in this way, by providing budgetary means for events to be offset and also personnel to ensure that reductions in impacts are made in the first place is a testament to their commitment to both global health and also playing their part in addressing the climate emergency we are facing. I encourage all to consider the impact of their own events in the health care sector, whether it is in management or simple attendance. Cleaning up our own backyard allows us to encourage and assist others to do the same. When we are in the business of health care contributing to what will likely be the greatest health threat of the 21st century is not acceptable. Embedded image permalink Henry West was the Environmental Officer for the AMSA 2013 GHC and is the 2013 Student Representative for Doctors for the Environment Australia in Tasmania. He is a student at UTAS.
  • Sydney screening: The Human Cost of Power

    The new short film, The Human Cost of Power, a project of the Climate and Health Alliance and Public Health Association of Australia, will be screened in Sydney on 20th November 2013. An event at the University of Notre Dame will be the first NSW screening of the film that explores the health and climate impacts of coal and gas. When: 6.00pm-7.30pm Wednesday 20th November 2013 Where: Lecture Theatre NDS14/201, University of Notre Dame, 160 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW. Download a campus map here.

  • Spreading the word

    CAHA has been out and about talking to students, health professional and the community about climate change. Check out some of these presentations here: The Art and Science of Policy Advocacy - Latrobe University May 2013 The Implications of Climate Change for Women - Australian Women's Health Conference 2013    
  • Extreme heat: Australias record breaking heatwave

    Australians have been sweltering this summer as extreme heat conditions are felt across many parts of the country. Health groups are urging people to take care in the heat, observe heat and fire warnings and to seek medical advice if they feel unwell. There is heat health advice available from each of the state and territory healthy departments (Victoria; NSW; Qld; SA; WA; NT; Tas; and ACT) as well as local healthcare providers to help reduce exposure and risks to health. The Climate Commission has developed a new resource on extreme heat Off the Charts: Extreme Australian Summer Heat highlighting the links between climate change and extreme heat events, urging appropriate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to put measures in place to prepare for, and respond to, extreme weather. Download the report here.

  • Protecting children from climate change

    The Climate and Health Alliance is particularly concerned about the health and well-being of children in relation to climate change. Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and suffer around 90% of the disease burden from climate change. As part of its advocacy efforts, along with child health researchers and child advocates the Climate and Health Alliance has written a letter to child advocates and research institutions, asking that they include climate change as an urgent priority area for child advocacy, research, policy and practice. The letter, co-signed by leading children and health researchers and advocates, sent to all Children's Commissioners, child health research centres and advocacy groups in October 2012, states: "We are only beginning to understand the impacts that climate change will have on children's development, health and mental health. In addition to a greater emphasis on mitigation, more research at the regional and local levels is desperately needed so that we can adequately understand, prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Because climate change poses such a significant threat to our children and future generations we believe that child advocate and research institutions have a responsibility to have it as a priority area for advocacy, research, policy and practice. We have attached a list of ideas for inclusion in a research, policy and practice agenda. We also believe that, in order to reduce harm to children and future generations, child advocate and research institutions should have a policy to reduce their organisation's carbon footprint (e.g., by switching to Green power, purchasing carbon offsets for air travel, and monitoring the carbon footprint of suppliers). As concerned scientists and child advocates we should also publicly call for effective climate change mitigation strategies at the local, national and international levels to help limit the threat to the development, health and mental health of our children and future generations. Strategies to reduce emissions would have the added public health benefit of decreasing the incidence and severity of many chronic and avoidable diseases associated with our high-carbon lifestyle." The full text of the letter can be found here. Responses received by January 2013:  
  • DOHA Declaration on Climate, Health and Wellbeing

    The international health and medical community have developed a joint statement on climate health and wellbeing calling for health to be central to climate action during the COP18 international climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar. Signatories to the Doha Declaration for Climate, Health and Wellbeing include the World Medical Association, the International Council of Nurses, International Federation of Medical Students, Health Care Without Harm, European Public Health Association, Royal College of General Practitioners (UK), Climate and Health Council, OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council, NHS Sustainable Development Unit, UmeÃ¥ Center for Global Health Research, Climate and Health Alliance, Public Health Association of Australia, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, Doctors Reform Society, Australian Association of Social Workers, and the Australian Medical Students Association and many others. The Doha Declaration calls for health to be central to climate action, and highlights the opportunities to improve health through emissions reductions - pointing out that reducing fossil fuel consumption and moving to low carbon energy systems can deliver many benefits to health worldwide. "The impact of climate change on health is one of the most significant measures of harm associated with our warming planet," the Declaration says. "Protecting health is therefore one of the most important motivations for climate action." This effort builds on the collaboration at the 2011 global climate and health summit among the health and medical community in advocate for climate action. The Doha Declaration outlines why health experts are extremely worried about the slow progress at the international climate negotiations, and highlights how the health co-benefits of emissions can build support for ambitious climate action. This joint statement from the global health community reiterates policy demands from the 2011 Durban Declaration and Global Call to Action urging countries to consider the health implications of climate change as well as the health benefits of climate action “ which can provide savings that either largely or completely offset the costs of mitigation and adaptation. This statement will be used in discussion with policy makers in Doha, but also serves as roadmap of future action. See the CAHA media release here. If you want to support this statement, sign up here: www.dohadeclaration.weebly.com

  • Future under threat: climate change and children's health

    By Brad Farrant, University of Western Australia, Fiona Armstrong, Climate and Health Alliance, and Glenn Albrecht, Murdoch University Climate change has been widely recognised by leading public health organisations and prestigious peer reviewed journals as the the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. A recently released report, commissioned by 20 of the most vulnerable countries, highlights the size of the threat: climate change is already responsible for 400,000 deaths annually, mostly from hunger and communicable disease. And our carbon-intensive energy system causes another 4.5 million deaths annually, largely due to air pollution. Along with the old and disadvantaged, children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change. Children suffer around 90% of the disease burden from climate change. What can our children expect if we continue the way we're going? Even if current international carbon reduction commitments are honoured, the global temperature rise is predicted to be more than double the internationally agreed target of 2°C. Humanity continues to pour record amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. It has been argued that, if this continues, reasonable hope of avoiding dangerous climate change will have passed us by in a mere 16 years. The impact climate change has on children born today may well be decided before they can vote on it. Climate change will affect global agricultural productivity and food security, with 25 million additional children predicted to be malnourished by 2050. The estimate of an additional 200 million "environmental refugees" by 2050 has become the widely accepted figure. This means, if we do not intervene, millions of children will suffer the adverse mental, physical and social health impacts associated with forced migration. The impact climate change has on children born today may well be decided before they can vote on it. Steve Slater Wildlife Encounters The intensity and frequency of weather extremes will increase. This will result in increased child illness and death from heat waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts. The increased incidence and severity of floods, for instance, will increase child illness and death from diarrhoea and other water born diseases. We're likely to see more asthma, allergies, disease and other adverse health outcomes that disproportionately affect children. A recent report observed that climate change may make serious epidemics more likely in previously less-affected communities. This report also found that changing climate conditions have the potential to stimulate the emergence of new diseases and influence children's vulnerability to disease. Australians will not be immune to these changes. It has been estimated that climate change will mean that Australian children will face a 30% to 100% increase across selected health risks by 2050. Indeed, if we fail to act, future generations of Australians may face a three- to 15-fold increase in these health risks by 2100. Because their brains are still developing, children are particularly vulnerable to toxic levels of stress. Increased exposure to trauma and stress because of climate change is likely to affect children's brain development and mental health. Children surveyed six months after the 2003 bushfires in Canberra, for example, showed much higher rates of emotional problems. Nearly half had elevated symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Research has also found that prolonged exposure to adverse weather conditions is associated with increased child and adolescent psychological distress over time. As global warming drives local and regional change to home environments, children, like many non-human animals will experience place-based distress (known as solastalgia) at the unwelcome changes. An additional 25 million children around the world are predicted to be malnourished by 2050. United Nations Photo We are only beginning to understand the impacts that climate change will have on children's physical and mental health. More research at the regional and local levels is desperately needed so we can adequately understand, prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. James Hansen from NASA recently argued that:

    Children cannot avoid hearing that the window of opportunity to act in time to avoid dramatic climate impacts is closing, and that their future and that of other species is at stake. While the psychological health of our children needs to be protected, denial of the truth exposes them to even greater risk.

    We must listen to the fears and concerns of children and young people and include their voices in discussions about climate change. The existence of cost effective ways to reduce climate change means there is no excuse for inaction. Climate change and the carbon-intensive energy system are currently costing 1.7% of global GDP and are expected to reach 3.5% by 2030. This is much higher than the cost of shifting to a low carbon economy. Right now the science is telling us that we are not doing enough. As children are innocent and non-consenting victims of climate change, adults have an ethical obligation to do everything possible to prevent further damage to their ability to thrive in the future. To do otherwise is to ignore the very thing many of us see as the most important reason for living. Brad Farrant is supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council. He has no commercial interests of any kind. Fiona Armstrong is Convenor of the Climate and Health Alliance. Glenn Albrecht has previously received funding from an ARC DP project and an NCCARF grant. This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

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