The case for clean renewable energy from wind farms, rooftop solar panels, and large-scale solar plants is usually made in terms of addressing climate change, yet health experts say they’re also necessary on public health grounds.
“We should really be moving towards renewable energy generation.” says Dr George Crisp in Climate and Health Alliance‘s documentary, The Human Cost of Power. “We know that renewable energy is not just good for reducing our carbon emissions. But it also has significant health co-benefits and other environmental benefits too–in terms of reducing air pollution, and water use, and other pollutants into our environment.”
The Climate and Health Alliance is not alone highlighting the ways in which the mining, extraction and combustion of fossil fuels harm human health.
Only last week, the World Health Organisation it had officially classified air pollution from fossil fuel power generation, transport, and industrial emissions among others, as carcinogenic. A Reuters report put the news bluntly:
The air we breathe is laced with cancer-causing substances and is being officially classified as carcinogenic to humans, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency said on Thursday.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) cited data indicating that in 2010, 223,000 deaths from lung cancer worldwide resulted from air pollution, and said there was also convincing evidence it increases the risk of bladder cancer.
The proven health impacts associated with fossil fuels strengthens the case for rolling out renewable energy. It also has implications for policy makers.
Whether its the Abbott government scrapping the Clean Energy Finance Council or reviewing the Renewable Energy Target, to the Napthine government’s anti-wind farm laws, decision making on renewable energy now has a clear public health dimension.
Governments who put the brakes on the shift to renewable energy sources will not only be risking our climate, they’ll be be risking our health.