Australian news, and some related international items

Zali Steggall, Independent candidate for Warringah, aims to tackle the health impacts of climate change

Zali Steggall promises action to stem health impact of climate change 6 May 19, 

The Warringah independent signs up to strategy to tackle problems of increased asthma, mental illness and heat-related deaths

Independent candidate for Warringah, Zali Steggall, has pledged to address the health impacts of climate change if she wins Warringah as an independent.

Like her fellow independent, Kerryn Phelps in Wentworth, Steggall signed up on Monday to the strategy developed by the Climate Health Alliance, which has more than one million health professionals behind it through their representative groups. It is pushing governments to start factoring climate change into their thinking about health policy, warning that a rise of 3C in world temperatures would have catastrophic consequences for the health of Australians.

Among the health impacts of climate change are an expected jump in severe asthma attacks, more disease due to severe weather events such as flooding, increased mental illness due to prolonged droughts and higher death rates among the elderly and chronically ill due to more frequent very hot days.

On 21 November 2016 thousands of people were taken ill and 10 people died in Melbourne due to thunderstorm asthma. High temperatures, thunderstorms and windy conditions blew rye grass pollen into the city causing the mass incident.

Melbourne has now implemented an alert system for epidemic asthma which operates during October and December each year when pollen levels are at their highest.

Mary Chiarella, professor of nursing at Sydney university, said increasingly warm weather meant there would be more out-of-season pollen that would extend the asthma risk season.

More hot days would drive hospital admissions putting additional stress – and costs – on the health system.

“[Economist] Warwick McKibbon says no action is not a zero sum game. Just because you don’t spend the money taking action, doesn’t mean it will deliver a zero cost,” said Steggall.

“We are in one of the most exposed regions to climate change,” she said.

Steggall said she would be pushing for the expert panel to look into the climate change impacts on health outcomes and to advise the government on its response.

“My point of difference [with Tony Abbott] is I do like facts and data,” she said, a reference to the criticism that Abbott has made of her expert panel proposal.

At a debate last week, Abbott said Steggall would be shirking her responsibilities as a parliamentarian when she said she would be “led by experts” on climate change policy and what emissions cuts the nation should commit to.

She also criticised Abbott’s focus on power costs due to measures to address climate change.

“The more people understand the other impacts on them personally, the more the case for action,” she said.

May 7, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2019

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