The New Zealand Climate and Health Council welcomes Justice Geoffrey Venning's rejection of the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust's (NZCSET) case against the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).
Spokesperson Dr George Laking says the medical profession recognises human-induced climate change as the number one threat to health this century. Health risks of climate change start with injury from heatwaves and storms, more tropical illnesses, and ultimately threaten collapse of food supplies and political insecurity from crop failure, coastal inundation and ocean acidification. Global food prices are already rising with the extreme drought affecting half of the United States
Climate change is widely recognised by world health authorities and leading medical journals to be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century and this is well-accepted by New Zealand medical professional bodies. Major threats—both direct and indirect—to global health from climate change will occur through water and food insecurity, threats to shelter and human settlements, population displacement and migration, extreme climatic events, changing patterns of disease, risks to security (e.g. war), and loss of economic potential.
Conversely, addressing climate change is an opportunity to improve population health and reduce inequities. In New Zealand, well designed policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can bring about substantial health co-benefits including reductions in heart disease, cancer, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, respiratory disease, and motor vehicle injuries, and improvements in mental health. These substantial health gains are possible through strategies such as transport infrastructure redesign to encourage active travel, healthy eating (including reduced red meat and animal fat consumption), and improving home insulation.
"Yet it has been incredibly frustrating for us as medical scientists to see political action on climate change repeatedly obstructed by groups such as the NZ Climate Science Coalition and their wealthy backers, apologists for the tobacco industry and the fossil fuel and mining industry."
Dr Laking says climate sceptics have pretended there is scientific doubt where it does not exist. “They are no different from tobacco company executives, who as recently as 1994 testified that “nicotine is not addictive”.
Ironically, NZCSET is part of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, which links with Big Tobacco. Tobacco giant Philip Morris funds the Heartland Institute in the United States, which funds climate deniers worldwide – including the NZ Climate Science Coalition. “Having tried to confuse and deny the evidence with tobacco, they are now doing the same for our destabilising climate, through people like the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. Still peddling lies that kill, they are delaying action essential to protect human health”, says Dr Laking.
The artificial climate of pseudoscepticism has made it very hard for the New Zealand public to understand how urgently we must move to a low carbon economy. Yet there are real health gains from low carbon measures including sustainable transport and local production of food and renewable energy.
"It is our responsibility to decarbonise the economy right now" ends Dr Laking. "The technologies already exist. We owe it to the health of current and future generations. New Zealanders should see Justice Venning's ruling as a wake-up call, and not be lulled into complacency by the fossil fuel industry and its helpers".
- High Court decision against the NZCSET, reported 7 September 2012 ‘Climate sceptics fail in NIWA case’ http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/7634489/Climate-sceptics-fail-in-NIWA-case , ‘Sceptics lose fight against Niwa temperature data’ http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10832396
- The tobacco industry has distorted scientific evidence on smoking and health, described in medical journals eg.
- The Philip Morris tobacco company has funded the Heartland Institute
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/20/who-funds-thinktank-lobbyists?INTCMP=SRCH , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heartland_Institute
- Heartland Institute funds the NZ Climate Science Coalition
- Barry Brill, ACT Candidate for Northland in 2011, Chairs the NZ Climate Science coalition
Alan Gibbs, New Zealand businessman, funds the ACT Party and is policy adviser for the International Climate Science Coalition (which the NZ Climate Science coalition belongs to) http://deepclimate.org/2009/08/01/meet-alan-gibbs-builder-of-amphibious-humvees-and-climate-science-coalitions/#more-568 ,
- Exxon Mobil has funded climate sceptics CFACT - Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (http://www.exxonsecrets.org e.g. http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=25). CFACT runs the Climate Depot website, whose material has been reproduced NZ newspapers word-for-word without attribution (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/letters-to-the-editor/5892519/Letter-Climate-change-claims-rehashed-and-wrong, referring to direct copy-pasting from Climate Depot website blog http://www.climatedepot.com/a/13338/Warmists-Now-Claim-Global-Warming-Worse-than-Predicted-Climate-Depot-Responds-The-scientific-case-for-manmade-climate-fears-has-collapsed).