Climate change is the next health crisis we face

Australia heading for another health crisis

As a healthcare worker, I've been proud of the response Australian citizens have demonstrated to the COVID crisis.

We listened to the health experts and practised social distancing, only completed essential travel, worked from home, and practised good hand hygiene.

It's one of the reasons why Australia flattened its curve better than most nations and why we're able to begin easing restrictions already.

It proves that when we are in a crisis, we rise to the occasion and do what is right to protect all of us.

I wish we would have a similar response to the critical issue of climate change.

In this regard, I've seen our governments ignore the science and disregard the health experts, opting to continue to pursue investments in the fossil fuel industry, an industry that has proven to negatively impact the environment and our own health.

On a federal level, our government is pushing forward with its Technology Road Map, which relies on gas, a highly polluting fossil fuel. Gas is a major cause of the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.

Investing in polluting fossil fuels counteracts our desire to keep global carbon emissions low enough to limit our global temperature rise to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Gas releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that adds to the serious health risks of climate change. The process of unconventional exploration and extraction also poses many health risks to workers and people living nearby.

We must remember that while the COVID-19 health crisis begins to ease, our climate crisis continues to brew and reach critical, irreversible impacts. We will see more extreme weather events such as heatwaves, prolonged drought and deadly bushfires which will impact our respiratory, mental and physical health.

Due to COVID-19, we now know what it feels like to have the freedom of a healthy life taken away to the point where it no longer feels safe to live our normal lives.

As Australia looks to recover from the current health and economic crisis a choice must be made. We can continue our unsustainable, polluting "business as usual", or we can embrace a progressive, responsible, and healthy strategy for energy production and land preservation. I'm praying we opt for the latter.

Dr Beau Frigault is an Obstetrics and Gynaecology Resident on the Gold Coast and Queensland State Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia.

This story Australia heading for another health crisis first appeared on The Canberra Times.