Climate Change Driving Doctors out of the Aussie Northern Territory – Watts Up With That?

Climate Change Driving Doctors out of the Aussie Northern Territory – Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to The Conversation, it’s not the increasing violence against gangs, theft, rampant drug use, and alcoholism that are driving doctors out of the Northern Territory. The real problem is climate change.

Too hot, heading south: How climate change can drive a third of doctors out of the NT

April 10, 2021 8.47 a.m. AEST
Simon QuiltySenior Staff Specialist, Alice Springs Hospital. Ehren, Australian National University
Catherine PendreyVisiting Researcher at the Australian National University

A significant portion of the Northern Territory’s doctors are considering leaving the territory because of climate change, our new research shows.

Our study, just published in The Lancet Planetary Health, shows that 34% of doctors in our survey know that climate change is already causing, or likely to cause, them to leave the NT.

In this case, there would be a large void in the health system of the area, which is already suffering from rapid turnover. These doctors would leave communities already suffering from the effects of climate change.

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From the study;

The Northern Territory is increasingly exposed to extreme heat, water insecurity and violent storms.3, 6 In December 2019 and January 2020, the temperature in the Northern Territory was almost 4.0 ° C higher than the long-term average, and in 2019 Katherine was the third largest city in the Northern Territory, 54 days with temperatures above 40 ° C, 6 extreme heat associated with significantly increased morbidity and mortality. 3, 4 poorly maintained and overcrowded housing, energy insecurity, insufficient air conditioning and significant socio-economic disadvantages exacerbate the health risks of the population in these areas, especially among indigenous communities with high rates of chronic diseases. 3

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What’s happening?

The idea that climate change is a threat to doctors is absurd. Even prefabricated temporary structures have air conditioning systems.

I suspect a group of liberal, city-trained doctors had a good impetus to travel to the hot north of Australia to help disadvantaged communities. But when they got there, they quickly realized it was too much for them – the ongoing threats to personal safety, aggressive bullying, the need to deal with a steady stream of drug psychotics and violent alcoholics, ugly overdose deaths, people who constantly try to trick them for pills as they witnessed ongoing drug brutality, incest and rape, the lack of a safe place to relax after work, and overwhelmed the people who followed them home all of this her gentle, liberal sensibility in the city.

How can a traumatized city liberal withdraw from such a catastrophic personal decision? If they come clean and say, “It was too much for me,” they look weak – their “friends,” who have no idea what it is like in some of Australia’s remote communities, could accuse them of under-engaging . But if they are victims of climate change they wanted to help, but it was our global failure to address the great moral challenge of our time that thwarted their good intentions. Instead of looking weak, they can claim to be climate refugees.

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