Former Australian of the year Fiona Stanley has attacked climate change deniers and warned time is running out for Australia to take action to prevent the public health impacts of global warming.
Professor Stanley, a paediatrician, declared “I don’t think I can be silent” and said she was “anxious and angry” about climate science being denigrated.
“Once something does become politicised the science goes out the window,” she told the ABC’s Radio National on Thursday.
“At a time when we need science to be used more than ever people are sort of denying the science and the second thing that’s happened with this politicisation of the climate change agenda is the denigration of scientists.
“The mechanism of how we do the science has to be appreciated more by the politicians and bureaucrats who are trying to use the science to make really important policy changes that are going to affect the health and wellbeing of the population.”
Professor Stanley warned that climate change was expected to cause an increase in malnutrition among children as well as a rise in both old and new infectious diseases.
She said the children and grandchildren of the next two generations would bear the brunt of climate change and expressed frustration that international and local efforts to mitigate global warming were not concentrating more on the public health effects.
Professor Stanley said a group of physicians and public health experts, including herself, “didn’t get a look-in” at climate change talks in Copenhagen five years ago.
She also reserved stinging criticism for the Abbott government, asking what it was doing to ensure global warming did not lead to a public health crisis.
“I thought the health effects would be more of a concern to people,” she said.
“But where are the departments of climate change, health effects of climate change, in Australia?
“Where are they?”
The public health advocate said the medical community could also be doing more to sell the health benefits of climate change policies such as active transport or reducing consumption of animal products.
She argued there was “a good news story” in the opportunities that could be grasped by countries that were prepared to take tough action quickly.
“My whole life has been about prevention. It’s not only more humane, it’s more cost effective. It’s the logical way to go,” she said.
“My whole life has been dedicated to getting the best data, the best information to try and prevent problems
“So that’s the tack that I’m now taking and that we all should take with this big complex problem because if you wait and things are irreversible, it’s too scary to contemplate.”
The story Fiona Stanley attacks deniers and Tony Abbott, warns climate change is a serious health issue first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.