Following the record-setting November heatwave and the tragic fires North of Perth, WA doctors are at the WA Parliament house today, 28th November at 12.15pm, calling on the Cook State Government to protect the community, and the WA health system, by stopping the expansion of gas projects, and by urgently taking action to reduce emissions.
Doctors for the Environment (WA Branch) have pointed to new health statistics released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which show heat-related hospitalisations have exploded.
“Health statistics show Australia has had over 9000 hospitalisations due to extreme weather over the last decade,” said DEA WA Spokesperson Dr Tim Leahy, general practitioner.
“Over this period 700 Australians died directly from heatwaves. The unprecedented WA November heat wave and international medical research has demonstrate this public health challenge, and it is only going to get worse.”
DEA WA is calling upon the Cook State Government to:
- Stop fossil fuels expansion, including Burrup Hub and Fracking in the Canning basin
- Urgently implement the recommendations of the 2020 Climate and Health WA Inquiry Report
- Include the setting of ambitious 2030 and interim targets in the new WA Climate Bill
One of the top international medical journals, The Lancet, recently released their Annual Climate-Health report (November 2023). Most concerning for hotter, drier Western Australia, was:
- Adults older than 65 years and infants younger than 1 year, for whom extreme heat can be particularly life-threatening, are now exposed to twice as many heatwave days as they would have experienced in 1986–2005.
- Over 60% of the days that reached health-threatening high temperatures in 2020 were made more than twice as likely to occur due to man-made climate change.
- Heat-related deaths of people older than 65 years increased by 85% compared with 1990–2000.
DEA WA Spokesperson Dr Tim Leahy also said:
“The Western Australian health system is already under significant pressure - we cannot afford a future where healthcare professionals are constantly forced to respond to climate change induced heatwaves.”
DEA WA Spokesperson Dr George Crisp, General Practitioner, adds:
“These tragic events that are unfolding are a direct consequence of climate enhanced heatwaves and bushfires - this is precisely what we have been warning policy makers about.
“Report after report documents how we are failing to reduce fossil fuel use in line with agreed ‘safe’ targets - yet our government is continuing to support increasing fossil fuel emissions even as the human cost is escalating.
“As doctors, we have trained all our professional lives to make decisions based on science and evidence. It is so heartbreaking to see our elected leaders ignore the science and put health at risk when it is politically convenient to do so.”
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