Climate change could have significant impact on health of Australians
Australian Medical Association / Australian Conservation Foundation press release
September 22, 2005
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) are calling for a national response to one of the world’s most significant environmental threats climate change and its effect on human health.
Speaking today at the launch of their joint report, Climate Change Health Impacts in Australia: Effects of Dramatic CO2 Emission Reductions, ACF President, Professor Ian Lowe, and AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said global warming is already contributing to more frequent and extreme weather conditions.
The report, written by leading world experts on climate change from Australia and New Zealand, exposes the damage already done and paints a picture of what we might expect in the future if no action is taken.
The report says if we continue to allow emissions to increase, by 2100 up to 15,000 Australians could die every year from heat related illnesses and the dengue transmission zone could reach as far south as Brisbane and Sydney.
Maps showing the projected spread of dengue fever in Australia should the climate warm. The top map reflects the current distribution of dengue in Australia while the lower two maps show the projected range of dengue in a warmer climate.
In contrast, early and significant action to reduce greenhouse pollution would have major health benefits.
“Projected premature heat-related deaths to 2100 could be halved with strong policy action and, while the zone for potential dengue transmission is likely to move south to Rockhampton or Gympie, it would stay north of more heavily populated south-east Queensland, coastal NSW and metropolitan Sydney,” Dr Haikerwal said.
“Failure to dramatically cut CO2 emissions will leave the world with serious environmental and health problems. But urgent action to curb climate change could save thousands of lives in Australia and reduce the suffering of millions in the Asia-Pacific region,” Professor Lowe said.
“Our health ultimately depends on having a healthy environment to sustain us. Climate change is one of the biggest environmental and health equity challenges of our time. Coordinated action from governments, business and the community to reduce greenhouse gas and air pollution is essential if we are to protect the health of all Australians and the wider global community,” Dr Haikerwal said.