21 September 2009

A World of Mass Disaster

Excerpt from Adelaide Now, 21 September 2009

'Humans face great risks to their future health and survival because of climate change, a world expert will warn in Adelaide on Monday.

Professor Tony McMichael studied in Adelaide and is now head of climate change epidemiology at the Australian National University.

Professor McMichael also advised the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the health impacts of climate change. He says deaths and hospitalisations from extreme heat will increase, as will sickness from infectious diseases, and deaths from bushfires, cyclones and floods.

Climate change will disrupt ecosystems, infrastructure, and economic systems.

He also warns that in Australia, including SA, our food security is at risk because of reduced freshwater inflows, and that all these things will affect our health.

"All of those ultimately come together in their effects on human wellbeing, health and indeed survival. We're talking about the fundamentals," he said.

"We haven't had to worry about our absolute dependence on food and water because those things magically come out of supermarkets and taps in our houses.

"But the supplies of those things are ultimately at great risk from serious climate change."...

Professor McMichael pointed out that great civilisations have crumbled when their food production has failed or they have run out of fresh water, and warned that we are heading down the same path.

It is "politically uncomfortable" for politicians to discuss the potential death toll from climate change, he said, saying it was easier for them to focus on economic and environmental effects.'

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