Tide turned: surveys show the public has lost its appetite for shark culls


Christopher Neff, University of Sydney and Thomas Wynter, University of Sydney

A Senate Committee report on shark deterrent measures has, in the words of committee member Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, moved the “shark cull debate into the 21st century”.

The first recommendation of the inquiry is to “immediately replace lethal drum lines” with so-called SMART drum lines and to phase out shark nets.

Yet if the news media are to be believed, these conclusions go against the grain of public opinion, with Western Australia’s spate of shark incidents having spawned previous headlines such as “Calls grow louder for shark culling in WA”. More recently, a series of incidents in Ballina in northern New South Wales prompted our surfing former prime minister Tony Abbott to weigh in, calling on the state government to authorise culls and nets.


Read more: Sharks aren’t criminals, but our fear makes us talk as if they are


The question of how much the public really supports policies that kill sharks has been surprisingly difficult to answer. The Senate inquiry noted that while it had been suggested “that lethal measures such as nets are no longer supported … reliably ascertaining community views on matters such as this could be quite difficult”.

Difficult? Yes. But doable. We have surveyed public opinion in Western Australia and Ballina, following shark bite incidents in each place. In fact, over the past five years we have searched high and low for the type of widespread support for lethal policies that is suggested by the tabloid press. It simply is not there, as our findings in the peer-reviewed journals Conservation Letters and Marine Policy show.

Public opinion in Perth and Ballina

In fieldwork including phone polling in both Perth and Ballina, as well as face-to-face surveys of local residents, beachgoers, and business owners in Ballina, we consistently found levels of support for lethal policies in the 20-25% range.

This is particularly remarkable in the case of Ballina. As the shire’s mayor David Wright told the Senate committee, between 8 February 2015 and July 2016, surfers there “were involved in 9% of the world’s shark attacks and interactions”, with the media dubbing it the “shark attack capital of Australia”.

A large majority of people in both Perth and Ballina viewed shark bites as accidental rather than intentional. While fear of sharks is linked to higher support for lethal policies, fear alone does not cause people to support killing sharks.

Support for lethal policies arises when fear of sharks is combined with the misconceived idea that sharks bite people on purpose. In our surveys, respondents who view shark bites to be intentional were more than 2.5 times as likely to support policies that kill sharks.


Author provided

This is strongly related to the Senate inquiry’s finding that the belief that “killing ‘rogue’ sharks will solve the problem” remains widespread. This is despite a clear expert consensus that there is “no evidence for anything called a rogue shark”.

As the Department of the Environment and Energy says, “No shark is thought to target humans as prey”, and the vast majority of shark bite incidents “can be attributed to the shark confusing us with its normal prey”.

This view was apparent among the relatively few beachgoers in Ballina who reported supporting lethal policies, with several respondents suggesting that they would only support killing sharks that “had gotten a taste for human flesh”.

Many respondents were also unaware that shark nets are lethal to sharks. Indeed, this is their primary purpose, as the Senate inquiry noted: “It is not intended that the nets create an enclosed area: rather, they are a passive fishing device designed to cull sharks in the area.”

Understanding overcomes fear

Our second study looked specifically at the interaction between fear of sharks and the perception that they bite humans intentionally.

We carried out an experiment in the Sydney SEA LIFE Aquarium’s “shark tunnel” – a one-way, U-shaped exhibit that provides perfect conditions for our study. We divided participants into two groups and assigned one group to a treatment to “prime” their emotions at the beginning of the exhibit.

We also surveyed all participants about their feelings about and perceptions of sharks, after viewing the exhibit. This also allowed us to capture both a before and after measurement of fear, from which we could determine whether people’s fear had subsided after seeing sharks’ behaviour at first hand.

We tested two “priming” messages. One called attention to the low probability of being bitten by a shark – we call this our Probability Prime. A second priming message drew “attention to intentionality”. This was our Intentionality Prime and it prompted aquarium visitors to consider sharks’ behaviours.

The Probability Prime, which reflects standard marine education attempts to reduce fear of sharks, failed to do so, consistent with research showing humans overestimate low probability risks. Crucially, considering our findings in Ballina and Perth, the Intentionality Prime successfully reduced the public’s fear of sharks.

shark fear.
Author provided

There are five take-home messages from our research results:

  1. There is little blame on the shark. The tide has turned and the public is sophisticated enough to understand that sharks are not intentionally hurting people.

  2. There is little blame on the government. Governments that feel they need to continue using shark nets or else face the wrath of the public following a shark bite should rework their political calculations.

  3. The public no longer supports policies that kill sharks. In WA, 75% supported non-lethal options, in Ballina the number was 83% and in the Sydney experiment it reached 85%.

  4. A Save the Sharks movement has begun, with the public we have polled consistently voicing greater support for conservation approaches above killing sharks.

  5. Survey respondents believe that governments choose lethal measures to ease public concern, not to make beaches safer. This is a problem for Australia’s democracy; the public believes that policies are being designed to protect governments, not people.

The ConversationThis last point is arguably the most serious flaw of all in these policies: the continued killing of sharks for political gain.

Christopher Neff, Lecturer in Public Policy, University of Sydney and Thomas Wynter, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Electoral Integrity Project, University of Sydney

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Extreme weather leads to public health crises – so health and climate experts must work together


Aparna Lal, Australian National University and Rebecca Colvin, Australian National University

This year has seen a number of extreme weather events around the globe, from hurricanes in the Americas to devastating flooding in South Asia. The loss of lives, homes and livelihoods are made worse by subsequent disease outbreaks: after the South Asian floods, more than 12,000 cases of watery diarrhoea were reported in Bangladesh. Presumably, many more cases are unreported.

As our climate changes, severe weather events (especially intense rainfall) will become the “new normal”. The connection between climate and disease is well established, even in less extreme situations.


Read more: Irma and Harvey: very different storms, but both affected by climate change


This makes it vital that our meteorologists, climate scientists and health systems work closely together. Particularly, health professionals should make better use of weather forecasts to proactively manage disease risk. Climate outlooks – with a longer-term perspective than weather forecasts – can also help with long-range tactical and strategic planning.

The link between climate change and disease

Climate change projections consistently indicate increased climate variability. A more variable climate creates conditions for the spread and control of infectious disease. In particular, changes in the intensity and duration of rain can help spread pathogens through water.

Both floods and droughts can increase waterborne infections, either when clean and dirty water mix during floods, or through inadequate storage and concentration of toxic organisms when water is scarce.


Read more: Flooding from Hurricane Harvey causes a host of public health concerns


These risks are not restricted to countries with limited resources. In Australia, fluctuations in the sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean (a phenomenon shown by the “Indian Ocean Dipole”) are linked to spikes in rates of waterborne diseases like cryptosporidiosis, which cause gastrointestinal illness.

NSW Health documents, obtained earlier this year by the ABC, reveal that more than 100,000 NSW residents were issued protective boil-water alerts in the past five years. These residents lived in areas where pathogens like cryptosporidium were found in unfiltered drinking water pumped from rivers, lakes and dams. A more variable climate can increase these risks.

Research suggests we can improve public health outcomes by integrating both climate dynamics and the impact on human health into our management of natural water resources.

We need integrated climate and health systems

Traditional disease surveillance systems rely on early detection of illnesses as they occur, not predicting them before they happen. But outbreaks that follow extreme events are already underway before authorities are notified.

The close relationship between climate signals and some waterborne diseases suggest that advances in numerical weather forecasting and climate science present new opportunities for public health officials.


Read more: How satellites can help control the spread of diseases such as Zika


Forecasting based on climate variables is well established in crop disease management and ecosystem conservation.

Recent technological advancements, such as real-time predictions of disease outbreaks, highlight great potential for forecasting to be used for human health benefit ahead of extreme weather events.

Collaboration is key

At present, health professionals and climate forecasters generally operate separately from each other, as very distinct professions. This can make it very difficult for researchers, public servants and service providers to work effectively together.

Our experience at the ANU Climate Change Institute has taught us that an important early step to fostering cooperation is helping individuals build relationships.


Read more: We’ve got to stop meeting like this


It’s important to create opportunities for people from different sectors to come together so they can exchange knowledge and make personal connections. Emphasising that health and climate experts have many shared goals can help encourage new cross-sector networks and a sense of a shared professional identity. (And realistically, one of the most important things you can do to promote productive exchanges is feed people well.)

There’s a real opportunity to integrate health and climate knowledge bases. This could be what’s known as a “boundary object”: something that can be meaningfully interpreted by people with different training and backgrounds, which helps to span the “boundary” between these sectors or disciplines.

We stand to gain from integration across climate and health

As our understanding of climate patterns grows, there are more opportunities for the health sector to take advantage of sophisticated modelling and prediction.

This is particularly true if disease surveillance and climate and weather forecasting can be combined to assess health risks ahead of extreme weather events, rather than during or after the fact.

The ConversationBy fostering collaboration and the integration of the health and climate sectors, we can improve our capacity to respond to the health risks posed by climate change.

Aparna Lal, Research Fellow, Australian National University and Rebecca Colvin, Knowledge Exchange Specialist, Australian National University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

How TV weather presenters can improve public understanding of climate change



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David Holmes, Monash University

A recent Monash University study of TV weather presenters has found a strong interest from free-to-air presenters in including climate change information in their bulletins.

The strongest trends in the survey, which had a 46% response rate, included:

  • 97% of respondents thought climate change is happening;

  • 97% of respondents believed viewers had either “strong trust” or “moderate trust” in them as a reliable source of weather information;

  • 91% of respondents were comfortable with presenting local historical climate statistics, and just under 70% were comfortable with future local climate projections; and

  • 97% of respondents thought their audiences would be interested in learning about the impacts of climate change.

According to several analyses of where Australians get their news, in the age of ubiquitous social media TV is still the single largest news source.

And when one considers that social media and now apps are increasingly used as the interface for sharing professional content from news organisations – which includes TV news – the reach of TV content is not about to be challenged anytime soon.

The combined audience for primetime free-to-air TV in the five capital city markets alone is a weekly average of nearly 3 million viewers. This does not include those using catch-up on portable devices, and those watching the same news within the pay TV audience. And there are those who are getting many of the same news highlights and clips through their Facebook feeds and app-based push media.

Yet the ever-more oligopolistic TV industry in Australia is very small. And professional weather presenters are a rather exclusive group: there are only 75 such presenters in Australia.

It is because of this, rather than in spite of it, that weather presenters are able to command quite a large following. And they are highly promoted by the networks themselves – on freeway billboards and station advertising. This promotion makes weather presenters among the most trusted media personalities, while simultaneously presenting information that is regarded as apolitical.

At the same time, Australians have a keen interest in talking about weather. It tends to unite us.

These three factors – trust, the impartial nature of weather, and Australian’s enthusiasm for the weather – puts TV presenters in an ideal position to present climate information. Such has been the experience in the US, where the Centre for Climate Change Communication together with Climate Matters have partnered with more than 350 TV weathercasters to present simple, easy-to-process factual climate information.

In the US it is about mainstreaming climate information as factual content delivered by trusted sources. The Climate Matters program found TV audiences value climate information the more locally based it was.

Monash’s Climate Change Communication Research Hub is conducting research as a precondition to establishing such a program in Australia. The next step is to survey the audiences of the free-to-air TV markets in the capital city markets to evaluate Australians’ appetite for creating a short climate segment alongside the weather on at least a weekly basis.

As in the US, TV audiences are noticing more and more extreme weather and want to understand what is causing it, and what to expect in the future.

The Climate Change Communication Research Hub is also involved in creating “climate communications packages” that can be tested with audiences. These are largely based on calendar and anniversary dates, and show long-term trends using these dates as datapoints.

The calendar dates could be sporting dates, or how climate can be understood in relation to a collection of years based on a specific date, or the start of a season for fire or cyclones. There has been so much extreme weather in recent years that there are plenty of anniversaries.

Let’s take November 21, 2016 – the most severe thunderstorm asthma event ever to impact Melbourne. It saw 8,500 presentations to hospital emergency departments and nine tragic deaths.

There is no reason why this event can’t be covered this year in the context of climate as a community service message. As explained in the US program, just a small increase in higher average spring temperatures leads to the production of a higher count of more potent pollen. Also, as more energy is fed into the destructive power of storm systems, the prospect of breaking up pollen and distributing it efficiently throughout population centres is heightened.

The need to be better prepared for thunderstorms in spring is thus greater, even for those who have never had asthma before.

For its data, the Climate Change Communication Research Hub will be relying on the information from the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO, but will call on the assistance of a wide range of organisations such as the SES, state fire services, and health authorities in conducting its research.

In February 2018, the hub will hold a workshop with TV weather presenters as part of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society conference. At the conference the planning for the project will be introduced, with a pilot to be conducted on one media market to be rolled out to multiple markets in the second year.

The ConversationThe program is not intended to raise the level of concern about climate change, but public understanding of it. As survey after survey shows, Australians are already concerned about climate change. But more information is needed about local and regional impacts that will help people make informed choices about mitigation, adaptation and how to plan their lives – beyond tomorrow’s weather.

David Holmes, Director, Climate Change Communication Research Hub, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Public support for climate action on the up after dark days: Climate Institute survey


James Whitmore, The Conversation

Public support for action on climate change is rebounding despite political uncertainty, according to survey results released today by The Climate Institute.

According to the poll, 65% of Australians think the nation should take a leadership position and 77% agree that climate change is happening, up from 70% in 2015.

The Climate Institute’s chief executive, John Connor, said that “public support on renewable energy and climate change is the strongest it’s been since 2008”.


The Climate Institute

Before then, a combination of drought, international action and bipartisan support for emissions trading had driven climate support to its highest level.

But the end of the drought, the global financial crisis and a disappointing outcome from the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks sent support crashing.

In Australia, the replacement of former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull with Tony Abbott ended bipartisan climate ambition. This was soon followed by concerns about electricity prices under Labor’s carbon “tax”.

Connor attributed the recent upswing to people realising that “there’s no way Australia is out there by itself”. While only 50% of those surveyed knew about the Paris climate agreement, other issues such as renewable energy and electric vehicles are increasingly affecting people’s day-to-day lives.

When it comes to government performance, only 19% think the federal government is doing a good job on climate policy, while 90% believe the Commonwealth should play some role in climate mitigation.

When asked for their top three preferred energy sources, 86% included solar, while 70% included wind, 20% gas and only 12% chose coal. Support for solar and wind is growing, and support for coal and gas is declining.

Bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef this year seems to have increased concern over climate change’s impact on the reef, up from 75% in 2014 to 82% in the new survey.

Of the 77% who agree climate change is happening, some 90% agree that people are at least partly to blame, although only 39% think humans are the main cause.

The survey featured 2,000 participants and focus groups in major cities.

Will Grant, a science communications expert at the Australian National University, said the report “seems to show we’ve perhaps come out the dark days of climate politicisation”.

From a climate science communications perspective, everything was going in a good direction, he said. More people were supporting the consensus scientific position of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and more were calling for further action.

However, while government is a significant player in climate action, Grant said there needs to be a shift in focus towards new business leaders. People need to realise that “futures can be made in climate resolutions”, he said.

Matt McDonald, an international relations expert at the University of Queensland, said the report continues a trend of an “inverse relationship between public concern about climate change and government action”.

“Essentially, when they perceive that their government is doing little, Australians increasingly support strong action. When governments indicate an intention to commit Australia to substantive climate action, as the Rudd and Gillard governments experienced, public support seems less robust,” he said.

The difficult position Malcolm Turnbull is in with his own party would make it hard to make big changes, McDonald added. “Increasing public support for strong climate action that this report confirms may change those calculations, but after the last election we’re probably not there yet.”

The Conversation

James Whitmore, Editor, Environment & Energy, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Is this the moment that climate politics and public opinion finally match up?


Matt McDonald, The University of Queensland

More than 60% of Australians support strong action on climate change, according to a survey by the Lowy Institute ahead of the Paris climate summit.

With opposition leader Bill Shorten having added his voice to those calling for deeper cuts than Australia’s current target, the government could pledge stronger action in Paris without significant political damage at home.

The poll underlines the continuing upward trend in public concern about climate change, which has been evident since 2012. That year marked a low point in public concern, corresponding with the entry into force of Australia’s “carbon tax”.

A contrary bunch

But over the past decade, another trend has been evident in public attitudes towards climate change in Australia: namely, that public support for strong climate action has typically been inversely related to the position of the federal government of the day.

In other words, Australians seem less likely to support climate action when governments outline a commitment to strong action, and more likely to support it when when Governments appear reluctant to take the issue seriously.

The Lowy Institute’s annual survey of Australian attitudes to the world broadly illustrates this trend. Since 2006, it has presented Australians with a choice of phrases to sum up their attitudes to climate action. Here are the phrases, followed by a graph of the responses:

Global warming is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs

The problem of global warming should be addressed, but its effects are gradual, so we can deal with the problem gradually by taking steps that are low in cost

Until we are sure that global warming is really a problem, we should not take any steps that would have economic costs

https://charts.datawrapper.de/wbPea/index.html

When it was first put to Australians in 2006, a large majority (68%) agreed with the sentiment that global warming is a serious and pressing problem. At the time, the then prime minister John Howard was maintaining the position that Australia would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which had come into force the previous year. He was promoting coal exports as a driver of Australian economic growth, and had reduced government funding for renewable energy and climate science.

By 2008, after what some described as the world’s first climate election, support for strong action on climate change was beginning to fall away. As the new prime minister Kevin Rudd outlined his intent to act on the “great moral challenge” of climate change, Australian support for action waned. By the following year it had dipped to less than 50%, and Rudd’s commitment to an emissions trading scheme became a political liability.

This trend continued under Julia Gillard’s minority government, with support for climate action reaching a low point of 36% in 2012. It was then that the carbon tax – Australia’s most significant climate legislation – entered into force, amid large-scale protests.

The carbon tax backlash was a key factor in delivering the next prime minister, Tony Abbott, into office. But no sooner did he get there than the worm again began to turn. Support for action grew amid concerns among Australians that Abbott had not put his days of embracing climate denial behind him.

Making sense of this trend

The story is, of course, more complex than Australians simply being contrary and tiring quickly of their political leaders. Australia’s high point of public support for strong climate action in 2006-07 coincided with a global high watermark of concern. This was linked to the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol in 2005, followed in 2006 by the Stern Review and the release of Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and in 2007 by a landmark IPCC report on climate science.

Similarly, the erosion of Australian public support for climate action in 2008-09 coincided with international trends, driven in particular by the global financial crisis. This created concerns that climate action might worsen the economic hit for countries like Australia – a key element of Abbott’s campaign against carbon pricing.

Momentum building again?

But significantly, in the lead-up to the Paris summit, the role of international cooperation is also potentially important. Australia’s exclusion from the Kyoto Protocol from 2005 helped build support for climate action, while the collapse of talks in Copenhagen undermined Rudd’s attempts to build support for his emissions trading policy.

This suggests that Paris has a role to play in influencing Australian climate policy, and potentially in building a case for a more fundamental and long-term policy response than the current government’s Direct Action plan. If agreement is forthcoming, momentum may well build for strong climate action once again.

Few issues in Australia have been as politicised as climate change, and research tells us that the position of political leaders influences the attitudes of their supporters. Certainly, the significant political mobilisation in favour of climate action by Rudd in 2006-07, and against it by Abbott in 2009-13, affected public opinion across the country.

But if Paris is a success, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will have an opportunity to make a case for strong action on climate change, and potentially to draw on public support to build the sort of bipartisan response to climate change that he sought when he was opposition leader in 2008-09. The greatest obstacle to such an outcome in this case, however, may not be the opposition – it may be members of his own government.

The Conversation

Matt McDonald, Associate Professor of International Relations, The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Climate mitigation – the greatest public health opportunity of our time


Fiona Armstrong, La Trobe University

Tackling climate change is the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century, a team of 60 international experts today declared in a special report for The Lancet medical journal.

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate report comes six years after the groundbreaking first Commission report – a collaboration between The Lancet and University College London – which described climate change as the “biggest global health threat of the 21st century”.

The latest report shows many mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change can directly reduce the burden of ill health, boost community resilience, and lessen poverty and inequity.

In particular, switching to clean renewable energy sources, energy-efficient buildings and active transport options will reduce air pollution and have flow-on health benefits. This includes reducing rates of heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, mental illness and respiratory disease.

The commission also reveals these health co-benefits associated with emissions reduction strategies offer extraordinary value for money. The financial savings associated with avoided ill-health and productivity gains can outstrip the costs of implementing emissions-reduction strategies – if they are carefully designed.

What if we wait?

The commission makes it plain we cannot afford to wait. There are limits to the level and rate of warming humans and other species can adapt to.

With “just” 0.85°C warming since the pre-industrial era, many predicted health threats around the world have become real. Long, intense heatwaves and other extreme weather events such as storms, floods, fires and drought are having direct health impacts. The impacts on ecosystems affects health indirectly, through agricultural losses, as well as contributing to spread of disease.

Mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change can directly reduce the burden of ill health.
Vaclav Volrab/Shutterstock

Climate change is affecting economies and social structures, which also cause health impacts, particularly when associated with forced migration and conflict. Given the risks of climate change-induced “regional collapse, famine and war”, the commission notes mitigation-focused investment “would seem to be the prudent priority at a global level”.

How does this affect Australians?

Climate change is driving record temperatures in Australia, with heatwaves now hotter, longer and more frequent. People die from heat exposure during these events. Many others seek medical attention, leading to massive surges in demand for ambulances, emergency services, and health-care services. Deaths from heatwaves in Australian cities are expected to double in the next 40 years.

Hotter summers are leading to more bush fires, which cause injuries and fatalities. People lose their homes and businesses. Communities lose schools and health care. After bush fires, communities also face a higher rate of general illness, increased in alcohol and drug abuse, and more mental illness.

Extreme rainfall and cyclones cause direct fatalities and injuries. Floods and cyclones can severely affect health care services. In 2011, floods in Queensland caused the cancellation of 1,396 surgical cases, increasing waiting times for vital procedures by 73%.

Rising temperatures are leading to increases in deadly foodborne illnesses, disruptions to food production and water security, and worsening air quality, increasing respiratory illnesses.

Finally, infectious diseases are becoming more common, as are vector-borne diseases such as Ross River fever and zoonotic diseases, which are spread from animals to humans.

What does the future hold?

The report notes that since the first commission six years ago, emissions have risen beyond the “worst case scenario”.

Without mitigation, the authors warn “large-scale disruptions to the climate system” (not currently included in climate modelling and impact assessments) could “trigger a discontinuity in the long-term progression of humanity”.

In lay terms, they mean “wipe us out”.

At the very least, or at least put another way, the authors suggest likely temperature rises may be “incompatible with an organised global community”.

A prescription for action

Cutting emissions, the commission says, will limit health damages, as well as bring important health improvements associated with improved air quality, increased mobility from better public transport, and better physical and mental health from greener spaces and more energy efficient homes.

There is no need to wait. The commission says it is technically feasible to transition to low-carbon infrastructure now. The technologies have been available for at least 40 years, and some since the 19th century.

The financial savings associated with avoided ill-health and productivity gains can outstrip the costs of implementing emissions-reduction strategies.
TCDavis/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

There is potentially significant economic savings associated with the health benefits of climate policies. One study suggests savings from avoided ill-health arising from the implementation of an emissions trading scheme could return up to ten times the cost of implementation.

Policies to achieve this must include carbon pricing, the commission argues – either carbon taxes or emission trading schemes. Where these are not appropriate, it recommends taxes on energy products. Feed-in tariffs (for electricity fed back to the grid) should drive renewable energy deployment, while perverse subsidies to fossil fuels should be abolished.

A key recommendation is the rapid phase out of coal – part of “an early and decisive policy package” to target emissions from the transport, agriculture and energy sectors.

Timing is everything

In order to have a 66% likelihood of limiting global warming to less than 2°C, the remaining global carbon budget will be used up in the next 13 to 24 years.

As all good health professionals know, treatment is of most value when it addresses the cause – in this case, largely fossil fuels. Scaling of low-carbon technologies policy options is vital.

The commission doesn’t spell this out, but in order for global emissions to begin to fall, we must use our remaining carbon budget to make the switch to low-carbon technologies and resources. Doing so will create many new jobs, and help avoid expensive adaptation costs.

Questions for Australia

The Lancet commission makes a clear case for climate action based on health benefits alone. This raises important questions for the Australian government, which abolished the carbon price, wound back policies to support renewable energy, and committed to supporting coal as an energy source:

Why is it failing to protect the health of Australians from this very serious threat? And why are the health benefits associated with climate policies not being factored into policy decisions, given the billions of dollars in savings for health budgets?

Australians should themselves be asking these questions, but at least now we know the Commission will also be listening for the answers.

The Conversation

Fiona Armstrong is Associate, Melbourne Sustainable Societies Institute, University of Melbourne; Sessional Lecturer, School of Public Health and Human Biosciences at La Trobe University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Media Release: NPWS to review Glenrock Track Closures


Planned track closures in Glenrock State Conservation Area have stopped and will be reviewed following public outcry. The link below is to a media release on the issue.

For more visit:
http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/media/OEHmedia13081400.htm