WEEK 8:
Global Environment 2:

The Implications of Climate Change to Human Health

Schedule
Monday  | 22 JUNE

What does the future hold with climate change?
Prof Will Steffen

Regenerative Organic Agriculture Can Reverse Climate Change

André Leu
International Director,
Regeneration International





Tuesday | 23 JUNE

The Impact of Air Pollution on Human Health

A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos

'Surviving the 21st Century'

Julian Cribb

What Does the Future Hold for Our Children in the Era of Climate Change?
Dr Karen Kiang




Wednesday | 24 JUNE

The Future of Food
Julian Cribb

Environmental Influences in Chronic Illness
Professor David O Carpenter

Are New Models of Education Needed For Human Survival? A Discussion Amongst Educators.
Prof Justin Beilby, Dr Deana Leahy, Dr Arnagretta Hunter


Friday | 26 JUNE 

PANEL:

Global Threats,
Environmental and Health

Moderator: Dr Ron Erhlich

Panel:
Prof Leigh Ackland
Prof Will Steffen
Dr Mark Donohoe
Julian Cribb




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Prof Will Steffen
What does the future hold with climate change?
Why are we facing an emergency? We are at a critical point in meeting the climate change challenge. With the massive bushfires fresh in our minds, the impacts and risks of climate change are now clearer than they have ever been.

Recent research has focused on system-level change that could be triggered by tipping points in the Earth System, such as melting glaciers and changing ocean circulation, threatening to take the trajectory of the system out of human influence. To avoid a Hothouse Earth scenario, vigorous action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions must begin now. We are rapidly running out of time.
Key Messages
  • The more we learn about climate change, the riskier it looks.
  • Tipping points in the Earth System could take the climate out of human control.
  • We need to act now to minimise the risk of a Hothouse Earth scenario.
A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos
The Impact of Air Pollution on Human Health
Assoc Prof Kotsirilos will present the scientific evidence to describe how air pollutants even in urban environments with exposures below accepted Government standards can seriously harm human health and is a cause of numerous health conditions commonly presenting to medical practitioners. She will present the solutions and how we can move forward to address air pollution.

1. Air pollution currently contributes to over 3000 premature and preventable deaths per year in Australia

An explosive growth in scientific research in Australia and overseas in developing countries demonstrates air pollutants can negatively impact human health. Air pollutants can cause or aggravate existing lung and heart disease and many other health conditions,. Particulate Matters 2.5 (PM 2.5), PMs 10, Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ground level Ozone (O2), Sulphur dioxide (SO2) are respiratory irritants and can aggravate asthma, respiratory diseases and cause poor lung and cognitive development in children, and heart disease in adults.


2. Motor vehicles, coal-fired power stations and industry are the main sources of air pollutants of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in Australia

Diesel powered vehicles emit higher amounts of nitrogen dioxide compared to petrol vehicles. Vehicle emissions are a significant contributor to air pollution, contribute to higher sources of NO2 and impact nearly every Australian person including those living in urban environments near high pollution sources such as major roads.

3. Population growth and urban sprawl is resulting in more motor vehicles on the road contributing to rapid rises in air pollution

Australia's estimated resident population at 30 June 2017 of 24.6 million people is projected to increase up to 49.2 million people by 2066. Electric and hybrid vehicles will help reduce the level of emissions, but it may take a generation or two for the Australian population to fully embrace these alternatives from fossil fuel vehicles. Tyre pollution from zero emission vehicles is also a source of pollutants.

4. People who live, work and/or children attending childcare centres and schools near major roadways or sources of high air pollutants are at higher risk of harm

Children are particularly at risk when childcare centres and schools are located near major roads. Air pollution is often difficult to measure as many pollutants interact with changes in weather and wind, so measurements even at 100 metres apart can be very different. Studies have found vehicle emissions can cause significant risk of lung cancer among people living within 100 metres of major roads.

5. There is no safe level of air pollutants even below current Government standards

In line with international studies, Australian research demonstrates there is no safe level of air pollutants even well below the threshold standards. The World Health Organisation air quality guidelines state, "there is little evidence to suggest a threshold below which no adverse health effects would be anticipated".

6. The duration of exposure to air pollutants will result in different health outcomes

Chronic long term exposure to air pollution is associated with poor lung development in children, and cancer, cardio-vascular and chronic respiratory diseases in adults
Medium term weeks-months of exposure is associated with Low birth weight in pregnancy
Short term within day(s), hours, minutes of exposure to air pollution is associated with acute asthma attacks, increased exacerbations of allergies, rhinosinusitis, chronic obstructive airways diseases, heart attacks and sudden death

7. Children, elderly, pregnant women and people with pre-existing health conditions are more susceptible to harmful effects of air pollution

8. The incidence of asthma prevalence in Australian adults and children is rising

Over the last 10 years, the prevalence of asthma increased in the Australian population from 9.9% in 2007-08 to 11.2% in 2017-18. Asthma is multifactorial but recent research of children across twelve Australian cities found small increases in NO2 exposure are significantly associated with increased risk of asthma and reduced lung function with mean NO2 at exposure of 8.8 parts per billion(ppb). Further reducing NO2 exposure would help prevent asthma.

Julian Cribb
'Surviving the 21st Century'
Humanity is facing the greatest existential emergency in its entire history. This consists of ten self-made, catastrophic threats which are coming together to imperil our future. This talk describes how these threats can be solved but they must be solved together.
Key Messages
  • Humanity is facing the greatest existential emergency in its entire history.
  • This consists of ten self-made, catastrophic threats which are coming together to imperil our future.
  • All these threats can be solved – but they must be solved together. This talk describes how.
The Future of Food
Key Messages
  • Our current food system cannot feed 10 billion people on a hot, damaged Planet. It is
    already breaking down.
  • Around three people in every four now 'die by their own hand' – the one holding the fork –
    from noncommunicable diet-related diseases, in a pandemic far worse than COVID19.
  • This talk reviews the exciting new changes in diet, health, food production and food itself
    that will revolutionise what we eat over the next 30 years.
Prof David Carpenter
Environmental Influences in Chronic Illness
Prof Carpenter's latest research focusses on the environmental causes of human disease, both those directly caused by chemical exposure and those mediated via endocrine disruption. He has directed large, interdisciplinary research studies on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlorinated pesticides at several sites, including in Native American and Alaskan Native communities. These studies have shown that exposure to these chemicals increases risk of several chronic human diseases, including diabetes, hypertension and the metabolic syndrome. He has contributed to the study of health effects of both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation and worked on a number of international projects looking at health effects of air and water pollution.
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