Pages tagged "survival"

  • UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres calls for transformation of world economy

    Peter-Sainsbury-GCHA-Summit_COP21

     

    CAHA Vice President Dr Peter Sainsbury is in Paris attending many of the side events accompanying the UNFCCC COP21 global climate change talks. He shares some reflections here on the process, stimulated by a presentation by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figures to one of these side events. "At the beginning of the second week of the COP21 negotiations in Paris, Executive Secretary of the UNFCC, Christiana Figueres, addressed a group of philanthropic funders. I was fortunate enough to be there and she was inspiring, but the message was also concerning. The whole speech, only 10 minutes, is available at http://youtu.be/vJOKGFZctPw I strongly encourage people to watch it.

    My summary, to whet your appetite, is: Ms Figueres began with some upbeat observations about progress in several domains over the last 12 months and then expressed her views that:

    · An agreement to tackle climate change would be nutted out over the next week, although it would be tough;

    · An agreement would probably be made about the direction of change but not the speed;

    · ˜a completely different economic development model' is required to effect the changes necessary;

    · Markets alone could achieve the change required but not quickly enough;

    · The science is clear that carbon emissions must peak by 2020 “ especially if we are to fulfil our moral duty to protect the most vulnerable communities;

    · We must focus our attention and help on developing countries “ they have increasing carbon emissions, increasing populations and increasing needs for infrastructure;

    · The energy needs of those without current access to electricity must be met with renewables “ but different finance models will be needed in different situations, for example for on-grid and off-grid communities;

    · We must find ways of working across not within silos, and for the long not the short term “ not easy for humans; The mantra is BAU: Business As Urgent.

    Why did I find all that concerning? Because while I am sure that we (the global we) understand the problem adequately and have sufficient technological solutions already available to us to keep global warming under 2C, I'm not sure that we have the social wherewithal (for instance common purpose and national and international institutions) to achieve the policy and technical changes necessary in the very short time we have left to prevent disaster. As others have observed: the laws of physics don't negotiate."

  • 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."

  • Lives increasingly at risk from ˜angry climate'

    Australian's lives are increasingly at risk from extreme weather being driven by climate change, the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has warned. CAHA has responded to a new report from the Climate Commission, The Angry Summer, which shows the recent summer was the hottest ever, during which Australia recorded its first ever average maximum of 40.30°C, on 7 January 2013. Heatwaves pose the most serious threat to health, but lives were also lost in recent bushfires and flooding following extreme rainfall. The report shows the world is moving into a ˜new climate', the consequences for which could be devastating for all people everywhere and for the natural systems on which we rely. Read more here.

  • Energy policy like profiting from slavery

    This article was first published on ABC Environment Online on 19th February 2013. Anyone holding onto the quaint notion that our elected representative govern in the interests of the community will see how false that is when they look at energy policy in Australia, writes Fiona Armstrong. Australia is currently in the middle of a coal rush. Coupled with the exploration of coal seam gas expanding at a rapid rate across Queensland and New South Wales, this looks (on paper) to be one of the country's biggest and most rapid industry expansions in our short history. Australia is currently the world's largest exporter of metallurgical coal and ranks sixth in exports of thermal coal. In 2012, we sold around $60 billion worth of coal, mostly to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Looking to the future, Australia's national energy policy, theEnergy White Paper, anticipates strong demand from these nations for Australian coal and prioritises coal production as a core element of energy for the coming decades. Around 30 new coal mines and coal mine expansions are planned for New South Wales and Queensland, and if they proceed would more than double Australia's current coal exports of more than 300 million tonnes per annum. Much of the current expansion of coal is predicated on rising demand from China, and India; a stable global economic environment; and industry denial about climate science. These assumptions have shaky foundations and investors should heed the clear warning from risk experts of the imminent destruction of value of high-carbon investments and that climate change will continue to deliver systemic shocks to regional and global economies. China is reportedly looking to cap energy production from coal and indicated that coal consumption will peak during the next five year plan. These announcements suggest the Australian coal industry's expectation of an ongoing boom is inflated by wishful thinking. Closer to home, research from the Australia Institute suggests the expansion of coal exports is adversely affecting the national economy - its growth occurs at the expense of other industries. It suggests cutting coal production would lead to a net economic benefit, with growth made possible in other sectors such as manufacturing, tourism and education. And regardless of where it's burnt, Australia's coal represents a huge contribution to global emissions. Proposed coal exports would lead to an additional 700 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, and would place Australia (just the Galilee Basin in Qld alone) at a ranking of seventh largest contributor in the world to global CO2 emissions arising from the burning of fossil fuels. For a nation that likes to pretend we contribute only 1.5 per cent to global emissions, that's quite a jump in our contribution. What does it mean for our climate commitments? The International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2012 (pdf) was quite clear about the prospects for limiting damages and reversing climate change associated with global warming from burning fossil fuels. Quite simply, if the world wishes to limit warming to less than two degrees (a level that is considered the absolute maximum in order to prevent escalating and irreversible warming trends), we cannot even exploit existing fossil fuel reserves, much less liberate even more. The expansion of coal and coal seam gas (given the high emissions signature of CSG from emissions during extraction) would completely negate many times over any gains that are made from emissions reductions achieved through Australia's carbon price. There is also serious harm to human health associated with the coal rush. The burning of coal for electricity is associated with the compromised health of thousands of people living in proximity to these plants. The mining and transportation of coal also carries serious health risks from coal dust and toxic pollutants released during extraction and rail transport to ports. But who is looking out for the community in terms of protecting health and wellbeing? For those who still hold the quaint notion that elected parliamentary representatives might be interested in achieving the best outcomes for the community, it's disappointing news. State governments appear willing to approve projects despite serious community opposition because of the revenue they provide in mining royalties. Climate risk is severely underestimated in the Australian Government's Energy White Paper, and Premiers Newman and O'Farrell also appear oblivious to the climate implications of their respective coal booms. Even the health professionals have been missing in action, with communities such as those in Maules Creek in NSW and adjacent to a fourth coal export terminal in Newcastle forced to undertake or organise their own health impact assessments from proposed coal projects. Supported by volunteer groups such as Doctors for the Environment, community groups are researching health impacts, setting up air quality monitoring, and collecting baseline health data. Last week however signaled a shift in the involvement of the health and medical community in Australia. Health leaders met at a national Roundtable in Canberra last week and resolved to engage more directly with energy policy in this country, to see that the local and global implications of the coal rush are highlighted in terms of the impact on health. Speaking to the Roundtable of around 40 health care leaders, Professor Colin Butler from the School of Public Health at Canberra University said: "Australia's reliance on the export of coal is no more justifiable than profiting from slavery or the supply of cocaine. Of course, energy is vital, including in Asia, but a clever country would develop energy technologies that can wean civilisation from its highly dangerous reliance on 19th century technology." A statement (pdf) from the Roundtable participants said: "The risks to human health from energy and resources policy are not being well accounted for in current policy decisions. Significant policy reform is needed to ensure health and wellbeing is not compromised by policy decisions in other sectors. Recognising the importance of the social and environmental determinants of health is an important part of that." Clearly, relying on the weight of evidence in relation to climate and human health is insufficient to lead to effective, safe, equitable policy. Many of us who participated in the meeting in Canberra last week believe civil society leaders such as health professionals and health sector executives have a responsibility to help develop policy in every sector that protects and promotes health. This involves getting a better understanding of health risks associated with energy and climate policy - and making sure the community is aware of these risks as they prepare to vote for a new national government. Because right now, energy policy is possibly our greatest threat to health on the planet. Fiona Armstrong is the Convenor of the Climate and Health Alliance, which together with Public Health Association of Australia,Climate Change Adaptation Research Network - Human Health, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, and National Rural Health Alliance co-hosted the Health Implications of Energy Policy Roundtable and Workshop.
  • 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.

  • A "dismal" response to "big, unprecedented, threats" to human survival: McMichael on McKeon

    This post was first published on Croakey as http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2012/10/06/more-mckeon-malarkey/ on 7th October 2012. In an email to CAHA he agreed to make public, Professor Tony McMichael provides another critique of the McKeon review's narrow approach to health and medical research. This McKeon Review ˜consultation paper' contains, for the wider social enterprise of public health research, a dismal but predictable set of recommendations. The name 'NHMRC' incorporates the words ˜Health and Medical', but the McKeon Review panel membership comprised ˜medical' rather than ˜health' persons ” eminent researchers in laboratory and clinical science ” along with a strong representation of the private for-profit business (including biotech) sector. Of course, it's easy to rail against this McKeon Review output and the restricted, orthodox, and somewhat closed-shop NHMRC mentality. However, the document also provides a sobering reminder of the fundamental problem that societies face today in their need to expand their concern, research effort, resources and policy to abating the big, and unprecedented, systemic threats to population health and survival from human-caused climate change and other extraordinary global environmental changes. These threats to health are of a kind not previously faced, and a broad and distinctive genre of research in relation to them is required. The committee members are very able people who, variously, have great intellectual, reputational and financial investments in the status quo; they are at the top of their professional pyramids; and they probably cannot imagine a different world in the near future with a radically different spectrum of health-risk issues. History has seen it all before. As prolonged droughts closed in on the Maya civilisation in the ninth century, contributing greatly to the weakening of the agricultural base (already stretched by a population that had expanded substantially), the rulers and opinion-leaders opted for ever larger edifices and grander ceremonies. They had, presumably, little understanding or interest in the increasingly precarious longer-term prospects of their society. Hay was to be made while the sun shined. It was business as usual, but always with a growing appetite for ever-more resources. Dubai today is following suit, in a region of the world where they have had to give up trying to grow their own grains, now that their once-only aquifer supplies have been depleted. Meanwhile, the sheikhs and financiers opt for world-tallest buildings and creating (and selling) artificial island ˜nations' in the Gulf that have been built to a mere couple of metres above the (rising) sea level. The McKeon Review perspective is of a kind with these assumptions of business-as-usual (in a stable world). It is not surprising that the Chief Executive of Medicines Australia, Brendan Shaw, has been quoted as saying this week: "We are encouraged by the McKeon Review's recognition of the importance of clinical research both as generator of economic benefit, but more importantly as a generator of health benefits for Australian patients, and the recognition of the important role the medicines industry plays in this.
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