Ethics of Climate Change in Australia

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The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to life and a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of an individual and their family (United Nations, 1948). Global average temperatures are projected to increase between 1.4 and 5.8 °C by the end of this century (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2001), and this, in conjunction with the increasing sea level, which, in itself, causes the number of individuals living in coastal areas to be exposed to increasing flooding and storm surges, affects human health. These affects are mostly brought on by climate change, which, ironically, is being heavily influenced by humans themselves. They can cause illness and fatalities from intense heat, a depleting food supply and also the alterations of infectious diseases.

A well-established climate change effect on human health is the influence the climate has on shortages in regional areas. According to the World Health Organisation, it is estimated that about 800 million people are presently malnourished, with almost half of them residing in Africa (WHO, 2002). Malnutrition remains one of the major health crises worldwide. Food crops are heavily and directly influenced by extreme climate conditions such as droughts, and this then severely impacts the levels of food available for consumption, especially in the remote areas in Africa. This then links back to the issue of undernourishment in Africa, as food is a depleting source in the current climate experienced in this continent.

Another human health impact that is supported by climate change is heatwaves. The summer of 2009 was possibly Australia’s hottest heatwave, in which many cities recorded their highest temperature since records began. On Saturday the 7th of January, Melbourne recorded its highest temperature of 46.4°C (Cameron, et al, 2009). It was as a result of this heatwave that bushfires broke out all over the state of Victoria, the dry winds and...
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