What drives doctors to take on climate change?

Sometimes it seems like the sheer scale and complexity of climate change is too daunting for us to tackle as doctors, but I recently spoke to two doctors who have changed my mind.

Albury-based GP, Dr Rebecca McGowan, was shocked to see a patient’s photo of her placenta from the birth of her tiny premature baby.

It was grey and shrivelled like someone who smoked a pack-a-day. The thing is, she had never smoked a cigarette in her life. But she had been exposed to unprecedented levels of bushfire smoke.  

That was the moment Dr McGowan knew she could no longer sit on the sidelines.  

Dr McGowan presented this and other compelling bushfire stories to the Senate Estimates Committee in September 2021.

She spoke about how smoke and climate change affect our health, and how she has seen this first-hand in her general practice.