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  • Victorian Nurses and Midwives turn out in droves for Environmental Health Conference

    Victorian Nurses and Midwives turn out in droves for Environmental Health Conference There was a large turnout in Melbourne in March when the Victorian branch of Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF “ Vic) held their second interdisciplinary conference about health and environmental sustainability.

    Nurses, midwives and sustainability - we're all in this together

    It was great to see so many nurses in Victoria being involved and showing their support and understanding of the connection between environmental issues and health. The conference was even bigger than last year's successful event “ there were so many registrations the event had to be moved from the branch's education centre to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. An inspiring program attracted over 500 members or participants. Sustainability efforts were brought alive through positive stories of possibility and practical action, with motivating speakers capturing the attention of nurses and midwives. Congratulations to ANMF for making great progress and expanding their annual Health and Environmental Sustainability Conference, their networks and partnerships. This conference was really an exceptional example of the importance of health professionals getting together and sharing information and having an opportunity to endorse sustainability efforts. Attending a conference of this calibre is clearly appreciated as a useful stepping stone for many health professionals both to start sharing ideas that are already developed without having to ˜reinvent the wheel' and for taking initial steps to evaluate their own workplace practices. Networking opportunities abounded, with the conference providing nurses and midwives with the chance to meet other health professionals within workplaces and across health services sharing the same interest in health and environmental sustainability, as well as the chance to connect with leading experts and researchers who came with their expertise in environmental issues and health impacts.  

    The Climate and Health Alliance was invited to present at this years' conference and screen the CAHA/PHAA film ˜The Human Cost of Power'. Other presentations features practical and achievable ways to improve environmental sustainability and healthy practices at work and make a real contribution and difference to the health of the community and our environment.
          Highlights and speakers
    Key speakers included international Dr Barbara Sattler, from the University of San Francisco, Ged Kearney, ACTU President and Jefferson Hopewell, Sustainable Procurement Officer. Other speakers included Chief Councillor Tim Flannery from the Climate Council; Kate Auty, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Victoria; Bronwyn Aylmer from Barwon Health; Roslyn Morgan from Monash health green team; Aileen Thoms from Koo Wee Rup Regional Health Service, Environmental Sustainability Officer Monika Page from Melbourne Health; as well as Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water.
      Highlights Dr Barbara Sattler is highly respected nurse academic and public health advocate for environmental health and has been integral in initiating environmental health in nursing practice and education. Some key studies shared by Dr Sattler included a benchmark investigation on pollution in newborns “ and biomonitoring studies of chemical exposure in healthcare found in doctors and nurses (such as BPA, phthalates, PBDE, triclosan). The latter found increased risk of developing illnesses such as cancer and asthma among in many health professionals. Dr Sattler's emphasis was on the need to removechemical exposures in hospitals and other health settings as well as waste reduction. Suggested ways are through environmentally friendly and sustainable procurement, renewable energy systems, improving efficiency in energy and water use, recycling, and composting among many other things. In accordance to the hospital environmental health assessment tool developed by Health Care Without Harm, better coordination around hospital policy, advocacy, education, research and practice settings was underlined. Lastly, Dr. Sattler highlighted the importance of nurses and midwives as trusted conveyors of health information to patients, to community and policymakers. Nurses and midwives can bridge the relationship between the community and clinical information, and thus not only have an important voice but ultimately many decisions about healthy/sustainable choices is in their hands.
    Jefferson Hopewell from Health Purchasing Victoria told the conference that 56% of environmental footprint in Victoria comes from consumables. Jefferson reports he is (to the best of his knowledge) the only person directly employed in health sector in Australia working on sustainable procurement. Changing to environmentally preferred purchasing practices can be either buyer led or purchaser led and he urged health professionals to make contact with the office of Health Purchasing to discuss greener purchasing options.Barwon Health'sspeaker Bronwyn Aylmer presented a film showing the great work and non-cost driven initiatives being undertaken at Barwon for environmental benefits in the health and food services. They aim to be one of Australia's greenest health service using a closed loop system, composting food waste and generally reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink all resources and products.
    Environmental Sustainability Commissioner Kate Auty highlighted the science of communication and the importance of using simple infographics when communicating messages, especially important in making broader environmental issues personally relevant. Professor Auty shared the key messages from the recently released State of the Environment Victoria 2013 Report, developed to "inform the Victorian community about the health of the natural environment and influence government to achieve environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability".Hospitals are massive consumers and producers of waste. Monash health green team are a pioneer in green cleaning replace chemicals with cloths and steam “ it's faster, saves money according to Roslyn Morgan's presentation "From Little Things, Big Things Grow". She concentrated on empowering nurses and bringing the concept closer to home and working environment as well as the possibilities of making a cumulative difference and the opportunities of proactive grassroot and leadership roles as clinical nurses. She Added a forth ˜r' for relationships to reduce, reuse, recycle.
     
    Michael McCambridge and Monika Page Environmental Sustainability Officer from Melbourne Health shared their Think Green Strategy 2011-15 in the presentation "Know before you throw" about the cost of waste. Clinical waste is more costly than other waste and there are many opportunities to reduce disposal of clinical waste.
    It was especially good to hear the strong emphasis on the public health implications of climate policy from the Shadow Minister Mark Butler, who stated: " Good climate policy is also good public health policy." He indicated he was particularly impressed by the CAHA and The Climate Institute 2012 report Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action, and overview of the health co-benefits from reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Mr Butler stressed the need to reduce each of these to tackle climate and health relying on especially two pillars: emissions trading schemes and renewable energy policy.
    Aileen Thoms presented from Koo Wee Rup Regional Health Service - Showing that being a small regional health service is no barrier to making great improvements in environmental health. KRHS are shifting from medical model to socioecological approach to health and reorienting towards being more health promoting and community focused, e.g. by engaging local community kitchen and garden groups. Koo Wee Rup aim to enhance health and wellbeing by intersectoral partnerships and enabling educative and supportive environments for humans and the planet.
  • Nothing direct about Direct Action

    By Fiona Armstrong Published by the ABC on 28 Feb 2014 The Abbott government needs to shed its mindless opposition to carbon pricing and embrace a policy that actually has a chance of addressing climate change, unlike Direct Action. The Abbot Government's policy for addressing climate change, the Direct Action Plan, is currently undergoing public scrutiny via a Senate Inquiry into the policy. More specifically the Inquiry will look into whether the plan is a "failure to systematically address climate change". Sadly there is little that is 'direct' about the Direct Action Plan, as it is largely about using taxation revenue to funnel, through complicated administrative schemes, subsidies to polluting industries for emissions reductions they might make anyway. It reduces any incentives for long-term emissions cuts due to a short program time frame. Despite being touted as the cornerstone of national climate policy, the Direct Action Plan will not even achieve the wildly inadequate emissions reduction target of a five per cent cut on 1990 levels by 2020, let alone the Climate Change Authority's recommended 19 per cent cut. In the words of The Climate Institute: "No independent analysis to date has shown that the policy framework as outlined can achieve Australia's international obligations and emission commitments." (pdf) Bit of a worry, isn't it? A more 'direct' way of achieving emissions reductions might be to impose a financial penalty or disincentive to pollute. That would increase the costs of emission per tonne, raise the relative costs of emissions-intensive practices and create an incentive to find lower emissions alternatives. It would also make cleaner, lower emissions pathways relatively cheaper, compared to now. But, oh wait¦ that's what we already have in the form of a carbon price. It's the advice of leading economists, climate policy experts (pdf), the OECD and the World Bank to put a price on carbon. Yet the Abbott government is seeking to abolish it. Other elements of the (as yet poorly spelled out) Plan include the employment of masses of young people to plant trees. A laudable aim, both for youth employment and for revegetation projects, but as an emissions strategy, it's a bit like saying you're going to stop the warming of the ocean by picking up litter on the beach: nice idea but hopelessly inadequate in tackling the core problem. The core problem, as it stands, is our fossil-fuels intensive energy system, based as it is on coal, gas and oil. Until we begin to transition away from these energy sources and take advantage of our abundant, cost effective (because they carry few or none of the "externalities" of fossil fuels, like environmental harm and damage to people's health) renewable energy resources like wind and solar, we're basically spitting into the wind. Despite the rhetoric, the Direct Action Plan and its Emissions Reduction Fund will not fund lowest cost, effective emissions reductions with minimal administration. It seems more likely it will to do the opposite by supporting high polluters with large subsidies to make little or no emissions reductions, at the same time as creating a massive increase in paperwork with a project-by-project approach that will cost more and disproportionately burden smaller organisations.

    Multidisciplinary

    But the core issue in regard to the Direct Action Plan for health and medical professionals is that this and other proposed climate and energy policies fundamentally overlook the full truth about climate change: that it is not an environmental problem, and cannot be solved by a single portfolio approach. It is a profoundly complex issue that impacts on every corner of society, every industry, every person, every species. But while it is complex, and no other challenge like it has been faced by human society before, we know what to do. It's not like we've just found out about it. A recent note from the Australian Parliamentary Library chronicles the sad and chequered history of climate policy in Australia, starting back in 1972, smeared as it is by the fingerprints of rent seekers, big coal, oil giants, gutless politicians, climate deniers and those who are willing to willfully gamble the lives and futures of our children, our grandchildren and a future for the extraordinary miracle of human existence on this tiny blue planet. Climate change is, as the international medical journal The Lancet wrote in 2009, the biggest threat the global public health this century. Climate change threatens the future of human civilisation. As leading climate scientist Hans Schellnhuber from the Potsdam Institute in German says, if we hit a temperature rise of four degrees, projected for mid century on current rates of emissions, the difference between that and our (also too high) target of two degrees, may be "human civilisation". That's a big gamble to take. And it's not one we need to take. As the European Commission 2050 Roadmap outlines, the pathway to a low carbon economy offers lower energy costs, cleaner air, a healthier community, and the preservation of vital natural capital. In its flagship report (pdf) on a global low carbon transition, the German Advisory Council on Global Change is emphatic that the key ingredients for this necessary transition are available. It states: "the technological potential for comprehensive decarbonisation is available", the business and financial models are available, and "the political instruments needed for a climate friendly transformation are widely known". Here in Australia, two sets of comprehensive modelling, from Beyond Zero Emissions and the University of NSW (pdf), show affordable technologies for a 100 per cent renewable energy supply for Australia are available now, at a lower cost than polluting ones. The Abbott government would do well to look beyond its rhetoric and determined opposition to policies that have global and expert support. To do otherwise risks failing in its duty of care to act in the interests of Australian citizens, by leading us on a global warming pathway which looks to carry the kinds of profound consequences only those well versed in the Bible may yet have contemplated. Fiona Armstrong is a health professional and founder and Convenor of the Climate and Health Alliance, a coalition of healthcare stakeholders working together for an evidence based response to climate change.

  • Sustainability in healthcare: 2013 Think Tank coming up

    Greening the healthcare sector: Policy Think Tank

    The annual CAHA - AHHA think tank on sustainability on the health care sector is coming up - this time it's in Melbourne on 30th August 2013. Join us to hear about what's happening in this dynamic space, share your experiences, and to be part of driving change towards healthier greener healthcare in Australia. This exciting event will feature international speaker Dr Blair Sadler from the University of California and the successful Healthier Hospitals Initiative as well as local and interstate sustainable healthcare professionals sharing their experiences. Don't miss the opportunity to hear about the innovative new communications platform that's connecting people working on greening the health sector initiatives worldwide! Check out the Program here and Register to attend here.

  • Have you signed the DOHA Declaration on Climate, Health and Well-being?

    Health Must Be Central to Climate Action

    The international health and medical community have developed a joint statement on climate health and wellbeing calling for health to be central to national and global climate action. Signatories include the World Medical Association, the International Council of Nurses, International Federation of Medical Students, Health Care Without Harm, Climate and Health Alliance, European Public Health Association, Public Health Association of Australia, Royal College of General Practitioners (UK), Climate and Health Council, OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council, NHS Sustainable Development Unit, Umeå Center for Global Health Research, Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA) and many others. The Doha Declaration outlines why health experts are extremely worried about slow progress on climate action, and highlights how the health co-benefits of emissions can build support for ambitious climate strategies. If you want to support this statement, sign up here: www.dohadeclaration.weebly.com

  • Book your tickets to Melbourne!

    The Climate and Health Alliance is involved in THREE events at the 2013 Melbourne Sustainable Living Festival:

    Climate and Health Clinic - all weekend Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th February

    Roving ˜health promoters' will help people develop their own individualised ˜prescriptions for a healthy life and a health planet'. The clinic and ˜prescriptions' provide opportunities for people to learn about sustainable lifestyles are healthy lifestyles and how cutting emissions can improve health. Some strategies people can choose for their own prescription include: walking, cycling or using public transport; switching to clean renewable energy e.g. installing solar panels; adopting a plant based diet; or spending time with nature e.g. bushwalking, or getting involved in community gardening or tree planting projects. To volunteer, contact Volunteer Coordinator Bronwyn Wauchope [email protected] or Fiona Armstrong [email protected].  

    The Heat is On “ Climate change, extreme heat and human health “ a panel discussion: 3PM-4PM Sat 16th Feb in The Greenhouse @ Birrarung Marr

    Featuring CAHA President Dr Liz Hanna; CAHA scientific advisor Professor David Karoly; and Victorian AMA Vice President Dr Tony Bartone on the impact of climate change on extreme weather including heatwaves; how heatwaves affect people's health; and what we can do about it.  

    Our Uncashed Dividend - 11am-12pm Sunday 17th Feb in Under the Gum talk tent

    Come and hear the good news about climate action “ how strategies to reduce emissions can improve your own and the community's health, not to mention save money. Our transition to low-carbon living provides the opportunity to create healthier, happier communities and could save billions of dollars for health budgets by avoiding much ill health and lost productivity. The report Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action, produced by the Climate and Health Alliance and The Climate Institute, spells out the evidence. Come and hear from report author Fiona Armstrong and contributor Corey Watts about our nation's ˜Uncashed Dividend'.    

  • The toll from coal - Newcastle seeks to stop T4

    The proposal for a fourth coal terminal at Newcastle has united local residents in a joint effort to protect community and workers' health. Community members are deeply concerned about the impact of coal dust from the proposed terminal. Health experts visited the city earlier this year to talk about the danger of coal dust. Between 1984 and 2012 coal exports from Newcastle increased ten-fold from 21 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 210 Mtpa. The proposed fourth terminal (T4) would see this increase to 330 Mtpa, making Newcastle the world's largest coal port. A survey of 580 households found that fewer than 10% of residents support T4 and most are concerned about health impacts. Newcastle residents routinely wipe coal dust from every horizontal surface inside and outside their homes. T4 could also mean 100 more uncovered coal trains every day, resulting in even higher levels of particle pollution. There are currently 25,000 children attending schools within 500 metres of the coal corridor. The health and social harms of coal mining and transport are well documented. People living in coal-effected communities are more likely to suffer heart, lung and kidney cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular disease and birth defects. There is a direct link between long-term exposure to particle pollution and hospital admissions, emergency department attendance, asthma, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and premature death. The fine particles associated with coal mining, coal transport and the diesel emissions from coal trains are monitored at locations throughout the Hunter Valley. During the last year, monitoring stations recorded 98 exceedances of the national standard for PM10 (particles of up to ten microns in diameter). Residents who subscribe to the EPA's air pollution alerts often receive more than one each day, especially on dry, windy days when coal dust is blown from the valley's vast open cut mines. NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard has established Planning Assessment Commission to weigh up T4's merits and impacts. They must weight up the concerns raised in 500 submissions, 90% of which opposed the terminal. Commissioners will advise the Minister in early 2013. In their submission on T4, NSW Health noted that there are already exceedances of the national PM10 standard in Newcastle and that uncovered coal wagons and diesel emissions will increase particle pollution in residential areas between the mines and the port. There are also concerns about workers' health. A cancer cluster has been identified at one of Newcastle's three existing coal terminals. Between 1983 and 2006, 63 cancers including melanoma, prostate and bowel cancer were diagnosed among 859 company employees. Terminal workers are 1.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the average population and 2.8 times more likely than those only employed at a neighbouring terminal. The proposed terminal would also have a huge environmental impact. Increased coal exports would mean at least 15 new or expanded open-cut coalmines in the Hunter Valley and Gunnedah Basin, resulting in destruction of forests and agricultural land, and polluted water. Burning the coal would produce more than 300 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution each year, more than every power station and every vehicle in Australia. The proposed terminal and its uncovered coal piles would displace hundreds of hectares of wetland on Kooragang Island where 117 bird species have been recorded, including at least four migratory shorebirds. Much of Kooragang Island is internationally recognised under the Ramsar Convention. The community are concerned however that these facts alone will not prevent the NSW Government approving Port Waratah Coal Services proposal, and that T4 will only be rejected through community and political pressure. The local alliance of 14 community groups is actively communicating these concerns to elected representatives but seek wider community support. Health professionals and groups can help protect the Newscastle community from the run-away impacts of the coal boom by: 1. Writing to Premier Barry O'Farrell and Planning Minister Brad Hazzard to express your concern. Click here https://stopt4.org.au to send an instant letter to them. 2. Donate to the Coal Terminal Action Group https://tinyurl.com/stopt4donate who are currently raising funds for air quality monitoring along the coal corridor and to place a full page ad in the Newcastle Herald. 3. Like CTAG on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CoalTerminalActionGroup to receive regular updates about campaign events and developments. James Whelan, Coal Terminal Action Group

  • Workshop report: Transforming economics and governance for better health

    Climate change, chronic disease, deforestation, obesity, corporate power, food insecurity, and government policy stalemates - all reflect the failure of our current systems to deal with core challenges in modern societies. What are the remedies for healthy, sustainable societies? Attended by public health and climate researchers, practitioners and advocates, this workshop held in Adelaide on 9th September explored a systems approach to public health, looking at the systemic drivers behind ill-health and ecological decline and climate change. Reforming systems of economics and governance for better health was explored and pathways to healthy sustainable societies discussed. A Summary Report on workshop outcomes is available here. The Workshop Flyer is available here (pdf) and Program here.  

  • Australian Government puts forward submission on health to UNFCCC

    Getting policy traction: The 2012 Climate and Health Alliance report Our Uncashed Dividend produced in partnership with The Climate Institute has hit a chord with media, community, and policymakers. It was released in 2012 to widespread media coverage, has been the subject of many invited presentations, and has stimulated and informed the first ever submission from the Australian Government on health to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process occurring in October 2012, written following a meeting with CAHA in August 2012. The submission by the Australian Government on health to the UNFCCC took the form of a submission to the Nairobi Working Party of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). (The SBSTA is one of two permanent subsidiary bodies to the Convention established by the COP/CMP. It supports the work of the COP and the CMP through the provision of timely information and advice on scientific and technological matters as they relate to the Convention or its Kyoto Protocol. The Nairobi Work Program is set up to to assist all Parties to improve their understanding and assessment of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change; and make informed decisions on actions and measures to respond to climate change on a sound scientific, technical and socio-economic basis). The Australian Government submission proposes that further work be undertaken to "understand the physical and psychological impacts of climate change on individual and community health" and suggesting that this work could "draw on the experience of health sector workers, as a useful resource in understanding and addressing the climate change impacts on health". The Australian Government submission is available here.

  • Climate and health community pays tribute to Professor Tony McMichael

    Leading epidemiologist and public health researcher Professor Tony McMichael has been honoured with a two day festschrift in Canberra to celebrate his work on the occasion of his retirement from the National Centre for Population Health and Epidemiology at Australian National University (NCEPH-ANU). Current and former colleagues, students, and members of the national and international public health community gathered to reflect on, and pay tribute to, the work of the man described as "the world's leading scholar and commentator on the relationship between global climate change and human health." However while Professor McMichael might be best known for his climate and health research - as Dr Maria Neira from World Health Organisation said: "for W.H.O., Tony is the guru on climate and health" - presentations from fellow researchers and students over the two days demonstrate an extraordinarily broad ranging research career. Professor McMichael has made seminal contributions to scientific and human understanding of the health implications of tobacco, the health risks from lead production, uranium mining, rubber production, and ozone depletion as well as climate change. Many of those present recounted how their careers had been influenced by Professor McMichael's' work, particularly his seminal text: "Planetary Overload", published in 1993, which outlined the threats to health from climate change, ozone depletion, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and the explosion of cities. Professor McMichael's work as a public health researcher and epidemiologist has been instrumental in the phasing out of lead in more than 100 countries; key to legal decisions to determine what constituted scientific proof in relation to harm to human health from tobacco; and profoundly influential in highlighting how the health of the natural environment and the health of the biosphere is fundamental to human health. Reflecting Professor McMichael's diverse interests and love of the arts, the festschrift was not only a stimulating intellectual event, but featured an art exhibition: the Contested Landcapes of Western Sydney, curated by Tony's colleague and friend from ANU, artist John Reid. The festschrift celebration dinner in the Great Hall at University House featured the remarkable talents of Tony's daughter Anna McMichael on violin and Daniel de Borah on piano. Other family members also at the festschrift included Tony's other daughter, anthropologist Celia McMichael, brother and sociologist Philip McMichael and wife Judith Healy. Colleague and joint festschrift organiser (with Jane Dixon and Tony Capon) Colin Butler closed the conference by saying that it would take "months to fully explore the breadth and depth of Tony's career" and "even then we might not fully understand it". We did however, as Colin said, catch a glimpse, and what an inspiring glimpse it was.

  • 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.