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A rolling wrap of #CoveringClimateNow Twitter Festival discussions

This post is providing rolling coverage from the #CoveringClimateNow Twitter Festival. It is being compiled by Marie McInerney and Melissa Sweet.


Focus on Indigenous knowledges

Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute and Chair of Croakey Health Media
@JanineMilera, CEO of the @LowitjaInstitut

I am a proud Narrunga Kaurna woman from Point Pearce in South Australia, and I would like to begin by paying my respects to the Traditional Custodians of the lands where I am tweeting from – the Larrakia Nation, and their Elders, past and present.

I acknowledge and am grateful for your care for Country over many tens of thousands of years. I acknowledge too the links between colonisation & the destruction of Country that have led to the climate crisis.

I am very pleased to launch this #CoveringClimateNow Twitter festival because I am passionate about the importance of centring the knowledges of indigenous peoples globally in our responses to this health emergency

I am also an Atlantic Fellow, researching the stories of some of our leading social justice advocates, and am not long off the plane from New York City, where I was in meetings where the climate crisis was a prominent topic.

I’d like to acknowledge one of my Atlantic Fellow colleagues Karrina Nolan, a Yorta Yorta woman, and her work in our communities with Original Power, supporting communities to protect country and culture in this time of climate crisis

In New York City I visited Columbus University where the School of Arts has spearheaded the whole university to support a Year of Water, honouring the sacredness of water.

I met with Professor Carol Becker, who said humanity forgets we are part of nature and part of an ecosystem. I encourage all universities to embed the issues of climate change across universities. This is where our knowledge producers are.

This focus on the sacredness of water reminds me that Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing have so much to contribute to the climate response.

Indigenous people have always known that we humans are a part of nature. We are not separate from it or above it. We are part of it. We must care for Country as we care for each other.

As individuals, parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents, communities, organisations, employers, and governments, we must always be thinking of our legacy to future generations. That is the mindset that enables climate action.

As your conversations continue today, I urge you to listen closely to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to Indigenous peoples globally, and to ensure our expertise and voices are central in achieving climate action. And most especially, listen to our deadly young people! Support organisations like Seed Mob. 

I leave you with some photos from the huge climate strike in New York – unfortunately I flew out two hours before it started, but these are some photos from my Atlantic Fellowship colleagues.


Connected to country

#CoveringClimateNow moderator @SummerMayFinlay is a Yorta Yorta woman, and public health advocate, practitioner and leader.

Indigenous peoples around the world have been caring for country for generations on generations. The world can learn a lot from Indigenous people to limit the climate crisis.

Thank you to all those recognising the Traditional Owners of the lands you are on for #CoveringClimateNow.

The Indigenous custodians have been taking care of country for future generations. Lands now in Climate Crisis.

CroakeyNews is one of more than 300 news outlets involved in the  Covering Climate Now project, a global journalism initiative committed to bringing more and better coverage to the defining story of our time.

From my point of view, when considering the Climate Crisis we need to think what we can do as an individual.

As individuals we also need to think about our role in the community, nation and global action. What’s your role?


My dad as an non-Indigenous man has very strong connections to Lake Macquarie. His connections stem from his childhood growing up on the lake.

My mum, a Yorta Yorta woman, respect for nature stems from the knowledge of our ancestors. These connections are both important.

People need to dig their feet in sand. Feel dew on the grass. Listen to wind through the trees and the lapping of the water on rocks.

It’s also important for non-Indigenous people to be careful in their passion for climate crisis not to step on Indigenous knowledges. To truly connect to country, to reduce the climate crisis, I encourage non-Indigenous people to find out more about the Traditional Custodians. To stop and listen to what they have to say about the country you’re on. Then you will know what it was and could be.

#CoveringClimateNow moderator @bluntshovels

I live and work on the lands of the Dharug and Gundungurra people, and pay my respects to elders past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Covering Climate Now has been such an interesting project, from a journalism perspective. This podcast from @CJR was great.

Summer asked:  What do you think we need to do to bring those who are experiencing apathy towards the climate crisis or are unsure of man’s involvement?

That’s such a good question. I have been listening to the Brave New Words podcast from @anatosaurus about talking about issues from a values perspective. What do we value in common about climate action? 

I think that is one of the most important issues – what can I do as an individual, but more importantly, what action can I take with my community? How do we find common ground to take serious climate action?

I was telling Summer the story of People Power Blue Mountains yesterday, about how we campaigned across party lines, and with coal power workers, against electricity privatisation, and ended up taking about community renewable energy.

It was a good example of getting beyond what divides us, and thinking about what we have in common. Coal workers know heaps about making electricity, so of course they are central to how to get to knew ways to produce electricity.

Issues like privatisation and affordability of power are strongly linked to climate action and how we make our electricity system renewable, while ensuring that people have enough power.

I was reminded of this work from 2008 when I saw the climate strike key asks including coal workers, and those in fossil fuel industries.


Parental activism matters

Gabi Martinez, @Alexkollon, Australian Parents for Climate Action, Illawarra

I would like to start by acknowledging and paying my respect to the Traditional Custodians of the lands where I live today, the Wodi Wodi people and pay my respect to Elders past, present and future.

I migrated to this land as a child from Uruguay. We lived in a migrant hostel. My father was a coal truck driver and my mother worked as a cleaner and at the steelworks for a short time

Neither parent went to high school but my sister and I managed to finish university and now we both work in health promotion. I commute to South Western Sydney from Wollongong. Not many jobs in Wollongong. Wollongong has coal mining history.

A few months ago I attended the Climate Reality training with Al Gore and met the co-founders of Australian Parents for Climate Action. I decided to start a group in the Illawarra.

As parents, we protect the health of our children by vaccinating, offering a healthy diet and applying sunscreen but what can we do about the biggest threat facing our children – climate disruption?

Climate activism is what I choose to keep my children healthy. It helps drive away despair and keeps me optimistic that we can turn things around. I meet other people committed to transitioning fossil fuels.

Though parental climate activism I teach my children that we do not have to accept the status quo. We can organise and challenge decisions and policies that are against the public interest. Teaching children about democracy is part of my parenting too.

In 2016 Australia emitted 16.2 tons of CO2 per capita. In the 15 minutes I have spent tweeting, Australians will have emitted 10, 000 tons of CO2. That’s about the weight of 2000 elephants.

Follow @ap4ca to find your local parent group. For all parents , grandparents and carers.


In a medical emergency, how should we respond?

Dr Arnagretta Hunter, cardiologist: @cbr_heartdoc from @DocsEnvAus

We have so much to learn from Indigenous heritage in tackling and solving many of the challenges of Climate Change.  Hearing their stories and ideas for the future offers a powerful and much needed paradigm shift.

I am a physician working in Canberra and across the Riverina. As part of @docsEnvAus I have been thinking and working on the health risk from climate change for a while now.

We know that climate change affects human health. We discuss issues about air pollution and extreme weather and the health benefits of more sustainable activity like active transport and better nutrition.

But climate change and health is so much more. Climate change affects how we live, where we live and how long we are likely to survive. At its core we worry about climate change because we worry about survival – this is a health issue.

Physical activity (exercise) is so very important for many aspects of our health. Our exercise patterns change as the weather changes and with hotter summers (and colder winters) we will be less active.

The health consequences to less activity are insidious and disguised.  They’ve not been considered in the consequences of climate change and yet they may be profound: Increased falls, less easily controlled diabetes, challenges with heart failure management.

We will see climate change affect how we age, increasing community frailty and decreasing life expectancy. Climate change is not about the health of future generations.  It is affecting our health right now.

Today, as our summer heats up, my primary focus is on heat.  I know a little about the literature on heat and the health effects, and I’m worried we are underestimating the risks of high temperatures for long periods.

Last summer in much of eastern Australia the temperatures were much hotter than usual. And not the usual ‘heat wave’ period of ‘days’ but for weeks.  This changes how we live. It increases frailty among our older people.  It may affect our life expectancy.

As summer approaches again, I worry that the some of my local communities around the Riverina and western NSW aren’t prepared.  Not prepared for running out of water and not prepared for heat. 

I would like everyone working in NSW and Queensland to check their local health response to drought (water) and heat.  What plans are in place for your town?  There is no serious plan from federal government to act on this. @GregHuntMP


Global health perspectives: we are running out of time

Jeni Miller, Global Climate and Health Alliance
@JeniMiller from @GCHAlliance

@GCHA is an alliance of health and development organizations engaged in climate action because climate change is the greatest health threat of our time, and climate action is an opportunity to improve health.

Health groups instrumental in coal phaseout in Canada and against Adani in Australia; ultra-low emission zones in UK to reduce transport emissions;

Various health groups are in NY during #UNClimateActionSummit, including @LancetCountdown @HCWHglobal @MedWMA #UnmaskMyCity @LungCareFoundation @a4hp_geneva #EATFoundation #EveryBreathMatters

The critical thing we must see coming out of the UN Climate Action Summit is high climate ambition, meaning commitments by countries to reduce their emissions in accordance with the IPCC science, to limit warming to 1.5C.

The health community will keep up the pressure, alongside young people and many others, until countries get on the right side of history. To do any less would be untrue to our vow to protect people’s health.

For the Summit, WHO put out a call for cities and countries to commit to meet WHO air quality standards, with Peru and Spain. Air pollution and climate change  have many common sources – burning fossil fuels for energy and transport.

@antonioguterres is bringing incredible leadership on climate and some countries are too. But highest emitters remain out of step with what is needed. They still think we have time to go slowly. We don’t.

@WHO also calling for increased financing for #climatehealth, which we see as essential to ensure we’re preparing communities for climate impacts, and that health sector can join decision-making about climate strategies.

We’re bringing together some of the #UniversalHealthCoverage community (in NY for UN meeting) with the climate action community, joining up health and climate movements is key to protecting the last 50 years of gains in global health.

Climate science indicates the next 15 months are key to preventing climate catastrophe. We call on world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit to deliver national commitments to climate action.


Calling for an Australian Clean Air Act

@adampulford tweeted from the @climate_healthy

First up, we’d like to pay our respects to the Wurundjeri people, the traditional owners of this land. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.

If you haven’t met us, we’re a coalition of health groups & individuals working to build a powerful health sector movement for climate action. We have 30+ member orgs, incl. the Royal Australian College of Physicians, the Public Health Association of Australia, and the Australian Federation of Nurses and Midwives. Our members represent 500,000+ working individuals.

We also work with the health sector to lead by example, supporting hospitals & health services to reduce their carbon and environmental footprint through the @Green_Hospital program, in partnership with @HCWHGlobal

Today’s UN Climate Summit is well-timed given @WMO’s latest report finds “the world is falling drastically behind in the race to avert climate disaster, with the five-year period ending in 2019 the hottest on record”

There’s so much we need government and all sectors of society to do to act on the climate crisis, but today we’re going to talk about air pollution. This is because air pollution kills 7 MILLION people each year, with 91% of world population breathing polluted air.

The same processes that contribute to air pollution, ie burning fossil fuels in power stations or motor vehicles, also produce the greenhouse gases that drive climate change, creating ever increasing threats to the health & safety of people around the world

At the UN Climate Summit, the World Health Organisation is calling on governments to commit to ambitious action on climate change and health by achieving air quality that is safe for people and aligning their climate and air pollution policies by 2030. Learn more and check out @WHO’s resources for this call here.


This has helped lead to the current situation where ambient air pollution contributes to over 3,000 premature deaths in Australia each year, and costing the Australian public an estimated $16 billion per year.

This December, Environment Ministers will meet to review Australia’s air quality standards for 3 dangerous pollutants connected to the burning of fossil fuels: nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide & ozone..

These pollutants can have harmful effects on people’s health even at levels well below current standards. We need strong, health-based standards to reduce harm to people’s health and to accelerate the transition away from dirty fossil fuels to safer technologies.

Our alliance of health groups is calling on Environment Ministers to lower the thresholds for dangerous air pollutants; expand air quality monitoring so public are better informed about their exposure to air pollution; & enforce compliance with these standards.

This could be achieved with an Australian Clean Air Act. The cost benefit analysis of the US Clean Air Act over a 20 year period has been estimated at a value of 22.2 trillion USD (health related economic benefits) compared to  implementation costs of 0.52 tr.

It’s time Australia followed suit so we can reap the health, economic & environmental benefits from cleaner air. Can you sign our petition asking Environment Ministers to cut air pollution to protect our climate & health this December?

For more information, read our submission to the review here. You can also read the Expert Position Statement.

Our rolling coverage of the #CoveringClimateChange #TwitterFest continues now here.


This article is published as part of the Covering Climate Now initiative, an unprecedented collaboration involving more than 300 media outlets around the world that is putting the spotlight on the climate crisis in the leadup to a Climate Action Summit at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 23 September. It is co-founded by The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), in partnership with The Guardian. Croakey invites our readers, contributors and social media followers to engage with these critical discussions, using the hashtag #CoveringClimateNow. See Croakey’s archive of climate and health coverage.If you value our coverage of climate and health, please consider supporting our Patreon fundraising campaign, so we can provide regular, in-depth coverage of the health impacts of the climate crisis, taking a local, national and global approach. All funds raised will go to a dedicated fund to pay writers and editors to put a sustained focus on the health impacts of climate change. Please help us to produce stories that will inform the health sector, policy makers, communities, families and others about how best to respond to this public health crisis.

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