The state of South Australia was fortunate when Covid hit to have just elevated Nicola Spurrier, a thirty-year veteran of the department of health, to chief public health officer. She spent every waking moment hectoring the good people of South Australia – for their own good, of course. True, there were a couple of bloopers. Identifying a takeaway pizza box as the likely conduit of the virus and warning South Australians not to touch footballs in the event they landed inadvertently into the crowd, were not edifying moments. However, she took the ensuing ridicule like a woman. Being made a figure of fun is a small price to pay to whip the Wuhan flu.
Anyway, I shouldn’t single out Professor Spurrier. Covid brought out the overwrought hysteria and inner martinet of public health officials around the world. Few embraced the opportunity to exercise restraint and common sense. From years in the backroom to centre stage went to their heads. Sadly for them, they are now back in the backroom. Here and there, they try desperately to rekindle alarm. Unsuccessfully, except among the cohort of the perpetually alarmed, who I still see wearing masks in Sydney streets and buses. What to do? Silly question. Replace Covid with "climate change."
Dreaming of a world in "permacrisis."
Thus Spurrier and her fellow public health gurus around the world are grasping a second opportunity. As per her recently released biennial report, which averred that “climate change is the most significant global threat to human health… and we need to respond to this threat today, not tomorrow or in the distant future.”
We face a deadlier foe than a virus, she said, we face a climate-change “permacrisis.” You have to see the advantage of a permanent health crisis if you’re a public health official in want of attention. Though not everyone is convinced. By “not everyone,” I mean sane people. Sky News (Australia) commentator Chris Kenny called her comments “alarmist, hysterical and unscientific.” Imagine, talking like that about a woman. That’s typical of these sexist "climate deniers."
In the meantime to COP28; which turned its collective mind to having its first COP “Health Day.” A day which pledged one billion dollars to some lucky recipient countries and their wheeler-dealers in high places.
Today the COP28 Presidency joined with the World Health Organization to announce a new ‘COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health’ to accelerate actions to protect people’s health from growing climate impacts. Signed by 123 countries, the Declaration…marks a world first in acknowledging the need for governments to protect communities and prepare healthcare systems to cope with climate-related health impacts such as extreme heat, air pollution and infectious diseases.
And the hard data on the climate-health crisis? Obviously that’s a typical denialist question; and, to boot, a racist one when you consider the countries most "at risk."
It's a girl thing.
Naturally, The Lancet, a formerly esteemed British medical journal, has piled on. It “welcomed” the Health Day and informed its readers that it “has long campaigned for the link been climate change and health to be recognised.” And it is particularly aggrieved about “populist” political leaders who are into “climate denial.” Several are mentioned. Geert Wilders, Javier Milei, Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump of course, and those wannabes vying against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. Moreover, these reprobates, and others like them, are insensitive to the plight of refugees.
Climate denial is becoming a successful populist platform. Over the coming decades, climate change will create millions of climate refugees, people who will be victims not only of inaction on climate change but of populist governments’ restrictions on migration that deny basic rights and dignities.
There is no doubting where The Lancet stands on the political issues of the day. And you might have thought it was simply a medical journal. These days medicos trip the political light fantastic. Professor Spurrier, in little old South Australia, isn’t alone. Medical establishments not only know about morbidities but about "climate change," populism and immigration and who knows where their expertise ends. They expertly distil information from today’s media hacks and, Bob’s your uncle, they know it all. And are ever willing to lecture you about it.