ArticlesMay 19th, 2022

Our Planet, Our Health, Our Vote

A photo of Rachel Podbury
Rachel Podbury, Principal Strategic Designer
An illustration voting card going into the world. The world is made up of hearts some of which are falling to the floor underneath.

The theme of World Health Day is ‘our planet, our health’ in recognition that humanity cannot survive or thrive unless our home is healthy and well.

In Australia, we have experienced back to back crises impacting our health: blazing fires, torrential flooding and a mutating coronavirus.

The science says these crises and their ferocity are linked to climate change.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes, including the climate crisis.

The consequences of our warming planet including devastating cyclones, extreme heat waves, blazing infernos, flash flooding, choking air pollution and increases in zoonoses and food-, water- and vector-borne diseases are already killing us.

And, according to WHO, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress alone.

Two thirds of the world’s health workforce, some 45 million health professionals, signed a letter urging governments to take stronger action on climate change, noting that “hospitals, clinics and communities around the world have already been responding to the health harms caused by climate change” (World Health Organization, 2021).

The risks posed by climate change could dwarf those of any single disease.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization

It is the greatest threat facing humanity, yet governments have not reacted as assertively, judiciously, or collaboratively to protect our health from its current and future impacts as they have in response to covid-19.

Our health and wellbeing have always been at the mercy of our environment, but fire after fire, flood after flood, we are increasingly aware of just how little control we have over the environmental tides that are capable of turning expansive landscapes to ash.

No amount of visionary speech making from parliament or the campaign trail will save us from the wrath of our scorned environment. We need decisive action right now.

If you are able to vote in the upcoming federal election, the single most impactful thing you can do to protect your health, the health of your community, and your planet is to use your voice when you vote to demand action on climate change.

Vote for MPs who have a track record of using their vote in parliament to take action on climate change. theyvoteforyou.org lets you search your local MP (and all MPs) to see how they have voted in the past on issues including investing in renewable energy, divesting from fossil fuels, introducing a carbon price, banning carbon farming and ending illegal logging.

Campaign speeches are just that, speeches. The greatest predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Before you head to the polls, know how your MP has voted on all the issues related to the single most important health crisis that will impact your life.

If you aren’t able to vote, talk to your family, friends and networks about the importance of electing MPs who will tackle climate change.

Our health and survival depends on it.

References

https://www.who.int/news/item/09-11-2021-countries-commit-to-develop-climate-smart-health-care-at-cop26-un-climate-conference

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/climate-change-and-health

https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2022

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