Dr Suzanne Deed is a General Medical Practitioner, Psychotherapist and Family therapist based in South Gippsland, VIC. As a GP working in the Latrobe Valley for many years it was her observation that there was an increase in severity and incidence of asthma and respiratory illnesses in children and adults compared to when I was practicing in Melbourne. Suzanne shares her climate change journey with us.
What first got you thinking about climate change?
As a child I felt most at home in the bush and on the coast. I have always been troubled by damage to nature by humans. I was concerned when I read the early science of global warming in the 1980’s and became alarmed when the first IPCC report was published in 1990. The predictions were too horrendous to think about, but I couldn’t get them out of my mind, especially the predicted loss of the Great Barrier Reef. I had spent a few weeks diving on the reef as a research assistant in the 1970’s and the awe and wonder I experienced has deepened my love for nature. I am very concerned about the detrimental effect on children’s mental and physical health growing up with less contact with the natural world and missing out on the wonders I have seen and felt.
What are your concerns in regards to the health impacts of fossil fuels and climate change?
As a GP working in the Latrobe Valley for many years it was my observation that there was an increase in severity and incidence of asthma and respiratory illnesses in children and adults compared to when I was practicing in Melbourne. Now that the pathological effects of pollution from coal fired power plants on the respiratory and cardiovascular system is better understood I am deeply saddened by the suffering that they have caused and continue to cause.
The increase in severity of bush fires, floods and droughts linked to global warming is already heartbreaking and as this worsens the inevitable suffering of people and animals fills me with grief and dread.
How has climate change already impacted you, your family, your business and/or community?
Prolonged, severe droughts have been extremely stressful for farming families, and I have seen an increase in depression and anxiety in the community. The 2019/20 bushfires were distressing for us all and the social disconnection due to COVID19 has limited our ability to grieve and respond to this as a community. When I talk with young people about the future many are frightened and feel helpless and hopeless about the effects of global warming and damage to nature.
If you could send a direct message to the federal government about climate action, what would it be?
Please urgently support local people and communities to develop and fast track industries, businesses and employment in renewable energy, sustainable farming and restoration of local ecosystems.
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