Climate Change and Health – summary



Summary of Jim Thom’s August presentation

At our movie night in August we reviewed the Lancet’s recently published report on Climate Change and Health.

It’s a comprehensive document with over 60 contributors mostly from Europe and China and covers most aspects of climate change and health. The direct effects are caused by:

  • Heat Waves
  • Droughts
  • Floods
  • Extreme weather events
  • Fire

and the indirect effects:

  • Air pollution – heart and lung diseases
  • Water Quality – cholera, diarrhoea
  • Land use change – no longer suitable for agriculture, famine
  • Ecological change – spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever

These direct and indirect features interact and are also affected by social conditions such as poverty, general health status and the availability of health services.

These health effects are already upon us (eg an estimated 7 million die from air pollution every year) and if we continue on our current trajectory they will become progressive more pronounced and “may become incompatible with organised global community.”

If we are to avoid this two actions are essential in the short term. Firstly we must stop burning coal and secondly we need to put a real price on CO2 emissions. The good news is that we already have the technology to move to renewable energy for the generation of electricity.

Barriers to change include national and commercial vested interests, the inertia of our current systems and public opinion. Because climate change is a complex issue which is perceived to be in the future people tend not to connect with it and are distracted by more immediate and easy to grasp issues.

Throughout the article mention is made of the power of smaller groups to create local change and to be more locally resilient.  This is very much aligned with the principles of the international transition movement. It will be necessary for both bottom-up as well as top-down change if we are to avoid catastrophic warming of the planet.

The full report can be read at:

“Your Final Footprint” – summary


A brief summary of the August presentation to the Voluntary Simplicity group by Joy Thom

What is the most climate friendly way to dispose of our body once we have done with it? The evidence is not clear. Cremation uses a lot of energy since the temperature needs to remain high for a considerable time to ensure that the bones turn to ash. Also there are direct emissions from the burning during the process. On the other hand burial can involve expensive metal lined, high quality wood coffins, expensive headstones and on-going maintenance of the burial ground.
Two other body disposal techniques are available in other countries:

Promession – dissolving with liquid nitrogen and

Aquamation – dissolving in alkaline water. 

Both leave a non toxic substance suitable for the garden. Unfortunately they are not available in Perth.
In WA the best option currently available is natural burial. There are areas set aside at both Fremantle and Pinnaroo for this. For a natural burial the coffin must be made of an easily decomposable fibre such as  bamboo or banana skins.  There must be no metal in the coffin. Headstones are not allowed although there is a wall for remembrance plaques.  Flowers are not allowed.
For some options see: