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Doctors make Earth Day plea to heal unhealthy planet

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People walk amid LED lights during a ceremony to mark Earth Day at Dhammakaya temple in Bangkok, Thailand. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

People walk amid LED lights during a ceremony to mark Earth Day at Dhammakaya temple in Bangkok, Thailand. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

People walk amid LED lights during a ceremony to mark Earth Day at Dhammakaya temple in Bangkok, Thailand. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

DOCTORS concerned about the environment have appealed to the Government to urgently address climate change and pollution as public health issues.

Irish Doctors for the Environment (IDE) presented a letter to the coalition at a demonstration outside Leinster House to mark Earth Day.

They wrote that, as doctors, they had a professional responsibility not only to treat disease but also to promote health.

“These responsibilities mean that we must play our part in society by informing the public and their leaders of the health consequences of policy decisions,” they said.

They said Covid was a “message from an unhealthy planet” and said the Government had a choice now that the pandemic was waning to return to business as usual or make changes for the better.

“People want to emerge from the pandemic knowing that we are building a healthier, more just world,” they wrote.

“The things that people want, like an equitable functioning health system, like healthy air, soil and water, like a secure energy supply from renewable resources, the eradication of poverty, urban regeneration, liveable cities that promote social connection – these are the key ingredients of a safe and sustainable future.”

Earth Day, an annual global event since 1970, is marked to highlight the need for environmental protections.

In recent years, climate change has become a key focus of events and it was centre of the campaign by school students who joined the Dáil demonstration.

One of their demands was for free, green, widely available public transport.

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“With rising carbon emissions and oil prices, it is inconceivable to keep public transport from becoming free and expanded,” said fifth year student, Ewan Fitzgerald.

“Time after time, we’ve heard the Government tell us to use less applications in the home or conserve our water usage while offering us no real solution and leaving big polluting companies profiting from environmental destruction untouched.”

The gathering took place as the latest EU annual state of the climate report was published, showing last year to be another year of extreme weather events with record-breaking heat, intense wildfires and devastating floods, while carbon emissions continued to rise.

Around the country today and over this weekend, community and environmental groups are holding a variety of local walks, talks, cycles and clean-ups to mark Earth Day.


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