News & Media Opinion Pieces Outlook for 2011

Outlook for 2011

2011 has brought another year of controversy and debate about the best way
for Australia to respond to the risk of climate change. We see passionate
debates in Parliament, in the community and in the profession about the
risks of climate change, and what ought to be Australia’s role in reducing
the risks for future generations.

As expected the usual misinformation and scare campaigns are in full flight.
Bizarrely, non-scientific sceptical views about climate change are still
getting disproportionate airtime in the media. The consensus opinion of the
main scientific communities around the world are still too often dismissed
as if they are no more valid than just another opinion, no more legitimate
than the uninformed.

All this has been underway on a background of extreme weather events,
flooding and cyclones, which, it is true cannot be entirely attributed to
climate change–but certainly should be focusing the minds of Australians as
to the vulnerability of our continent to such events.

The medical profession continues to have an important and trusted voice on
these issues. In particular, Doctors for the Environment Australia, has been
hard at work presenting the health perspective in the media, on the Internet
and within the profession.

Let’s hope that 2011 bring some sanity to the debate–the business community
in fact are ready to make the hard decisions required to compete in a low
carbon economy–but they are crying out for certainty and predictability from
government. Government in turn needs community support- hard to make good
policies when you are worried about being voted out!

Maybe we are at a turning point, where Australia with its highly educated
community, its history of innovating and its resourceful and longsighted
perspective, will become a leader in our region.

Could 2011 will mark the start of a reshaping our economy and our use of
energy, where we finally get on the front foot to start creating a
sustainable society? Future Australians will thank us if we can make this
leap, which will protect not only our economy, the jobs for the future, but
also ensure the health and wellbeing of the next generations too.

A/Prof. Grant Blashki MD MBBS FRACGP MAICD
Doctors for the Environment Australia
Nossal Institute for Global Health &
Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute
University of Melbourne