Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    Free presentation on climate change and human health

    23/09/2005 12:00 AM

    The global and local consequences of climate change on human health will be the subject of a lunchtime presentation in Perth next week by Professor Tony McMichael, Director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health and the Australian National University.

    Environment and Science Minister Judy Edwards said global climate change had the potential to significantly affect the economic, environmental and social well-being of Western Australia.

    “Activities such as agriculture, aquaculture, tourism and forestry will be directly affected by changes in rainfall, average temperatures and frequency of extreme weather events,” Dr Edwards said.

    “This presents two major challenges.

    “We need to reduce the State’s emissions so that the impacts of climate change are minimised.

    “As climate change already is occurring, we also need to be able to adapt to those impacts.”

    The Minister said significant initiatives already were in place to help limit the State’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    “For example, the State’s biggest renewable energy project, the Alinta Wind Farm, south of Geraldton, which was opened a few weeks ago, will displace 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions - the equivalent of removing 80,000 cars from the road each year,” Dr Edwards said.

    “In addition, linking Mandurah to Perth with the new railway is estimated to save 67,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in its first year of operation.

    “Moreover, the new desalination plant will be powered by renewable energy from the proposed Emu Downs wind farm, thus avoiding a further 220,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. This means the plant will not add to the greenhouse problem that created the need for it in the first place.”

    Professor McMichael is a medical graduate from Adelaide University, with a PhD in epidemiology from Monash University. He was previously Professor of Epidemiology at the internationally renowned London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. When returning to Australia in 2001, he received a five-year Burnet Award from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

    The professor’s research interests have spanned occupational diseases, studies of diet and cancer, environmental health risks and, more recently, the health impacts of global environmental change.

    From 1993 to 2001, he chaired the assessment of health risks for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and is now doing likewise for the international Millennium Ecosystem Assessment project. This recent work, on global environmental changes, has focused particularly on the larger-scale determinants of infectious disease patterns around the world.

    Professor McMichael’s hour-long presentation will take place at 1 pm on Tuesday, September 27 at the Alexander Library Building. Admission is free but people are advised to contact the Greenhouse Office on 9222 9293 to reserve a seat.

    Minister's Office - 9220 5050