It occurred to me recently that talking about climate change is a lot like talking with a client about their pet’s cancer… “Come in, please have a seat. I’m afraid I have some bad news. I know this is upsetting, but we have some options to help and they’re not as bad as you may think…”
We’re trained in interpreting the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and the overwhelming weight of evidence shows that climate change is already occurring as predicted and will continue to worsen without timely action. This is certainly compelling – but what makes it a veterinary issue?
Veterinarians are charged with the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, and the promotion of public health. Climate change threatens animal health, welfare and public health, and risks domestic and wild animal suffering.
Wildlife exposed to flood or bushfire, or whose habitat is changing excessively (climate change doesn’t cause floods or bushfires; but it increases the frequency and severity of both) are at risk of suffering. Heatwaves stress koalas and platypus, and individuals cannot extend their ranges sufficiently to adjust. Hot weather also reduces the nutritional quality of eucalyptus leaves, and when koalas travel for better conditions they become vulnerable to predators and trauma. Domestic pets and production animals also suffer in heatwaves, floods and bushfires: over 1,000,000 animals are estimated to have died in the Black Saturday fires. Continue reading Letter to the Editor: Why vets should care about climate change