Both climate change and COVID-19 are major public health threats, writes Dr Dimity Williams. We must act urgently to combat the acute health threats whilst simultaneously taking steps to prevent future pandemics and climate related extreme weather events. Protecting the natural environment and restoring those ecosystems already damaged is part of the necessary response.
So, it is deeply disappointing to learn about the dire state of biodiversity outlined in the recent Living Planet report from the World Wide Fund For Nature. It states that global wildlife populations have dropped by two-thirds in 50 years and that Australia is one of the few places on Earth where areas of intact wilderness remain.
Yet, despite our unique wildlife Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate in the world.
With the review of the nation’s key environmental law, the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, the Morrison government has an opportunity to avert the ongoing demise our precious living natural resources.
Disappointingly, it has prioritised fossil fuel development instead, and recently used its numbers in the lower house to gag debate on its plans to weaken environmental protections.
Doctors outlined the links between biodiversity and health in detail in a submission to the EPBC Act review, and implored Environment Minister Sussan Ley to consider human health in the context of these nature laws.
We want a government that takes the health of the natural environment seriously and understands the wellbeing of all of us depend upon it.
Dr Dimity Williams is a Melbourne General Practitioner and the Biodiversity Convenor for Doctors for the Environment Australia.
Read the full article in Open Forum, 25 September 2020
Image: Kenan Kitchen, Unsplash