Medical students around Australia this week are saying “Yes” to a price on carbon pollution as part of a national campaign to highlight the urgency of action on climate change. Doctors for the Environment Australia will be joining with the Australian Conservation Foundation, GetUp, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and and the Australian Council of Trade Unions amongst others in a national week of action supporting a move towards pricing carbon.
The health profession largely recognises climate change as the greatest threat to global health of the coming century, with the World Health Organisation estimating that over 150 000 people already die each year due to the health impacts of climate change, including food and water shortages, extreme weather events and the resurgence of some infectious diseases.
Australia will not be spared the health impacts of climate change, in particular with the resurgence of dengue fever and malaria as well as predicted increases in heat-related illnesses. For instance, during the 2009 heatwave responsible for the tragic Victorian bushfires, there were almost 300 more deaths than usual in the Melbourne area from heat-related illness than would usually occur in that period.
Tasmanian DEA Students Representative Alice McGushin said:
“Climate change is a major public health issue that threatens to undo many of the gains made through sanitation, vaccinations and antibiotics made over the last century. As future doctors working on the front line of healthcare, Australian medical students are calling for urgent reductions to carbon emissions.”
National DEA Students Representative Rohan Church said:
“A well-designed price on carbon pollution will not only help to reduce our emissions, but will encourage healthy behaviours such as choosing active transport methods and eating fresh locally-grown foods. Reducing our carbon emissions now will reduce health expenditure in the future as well as save millions of lives that will be affected by global warming.”
The Australian Medical Students’ Association also has a strong policy on climate change and health, calling on the government to act to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions by at least 25% by 2020.
This Sunday, DEA students in every capital city and some regional centres will be joining forces with a range of community organisations to say “Yes” to a price on carbon pollution. In Hobart, medical students will be participating in the National Day of Climate Action rally, a rally which shall be replicated nation-wide.