The COALition's coal infection: Is it contagious?

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Cartoon by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons.

When a large number of apparently sane people suggest, not only prolonging existing coal-fired power, but building more coal-fired power stations, we must consider what is causing the psychosis, writes Dr Graeme McLeay.

IT IS INCUMBENT on a doctor to get the diagnosis right.

When a patient comes complaining that he has been abducted by aliens, psychosis comes to mind. But when others follow who are also seemingly deranged, the doctor must search more widely for the cause.

And so it is with Canberra, when a large number of apparently sane people suggest, not only prolonging existing coal-fired power but building more coal-fired power stations.

Was it an infection they picked up on a visit to the climate-denying Heartland Institute? Or something in the environment, perhaps? Maybe it's that lump of coal they passed round in Parliament?

How is it that so many of our elected representatives are so divorced from scientific reality?

Global warming and its resultant climate change is no longer a theory.

It is a stark reality, as even a casual reader must grasp:

And the list goes on. Already the effects on human health and well being are widespread.

How strange it is that some in the National Party seem also to be afflicted with this condition. It is the regional areas which have so much to lose unless we mitigate and adapt to climate change. Drought is a natural phenomenon in Australia, but scientists have warned that the southern half of our continent is drying. Cereal crops have an optimal temperature for growth and, in extended heat waves, productivity falls off dramatically.

But it’s the economy! they all shout — as if the economy was somehow divorced from nature. Australia’s emissions – which are possibly under-estimated because gas is not properly measured – are “only” 1.3 per cent of the global total, they say. But added together with similar sized nations, we make up 40 per cent of the global total.

Australia’s emissions are rising – even now – and have been since the carbon tax was abolished. Near the top of the league table for emissions per capita, we are part of the problem rather than being part of the solution as we could so easily be.

Leaving aside Canberra’s delusional sickness, climate change and the pollution from fossil fuels are very real health threats to Australians, especially the young, who continue to be exposed to pollution from coal and transport, and under the business as usual – or worse – scenario expressed by Kelly, Morrison, Abbott and others, will be for a long time to come.

Dr Graeme McLeay is a retired anaesthetist and member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, which concerns itself with links between the environment – particularly climate change – and human health. You can follow Doctors for the Environment Australia on Twitter @DocsEnvAus.

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