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7 October 2014



Vale Professor Tony McMichael AO -
global champion of population health

All at Australia21 were saddened by the death on 26 September in Canberra of our colleague and friend Professor Tony McMichael AO, who concluded his illustrious career as Emeritus Professor of Population Health at the ANU. Tony was a valued contributor to several Australia21 projects, including most recently as an essayist in our collection on global change in 2013 and as a participant in the Inequality roundtable held in 2014. He was also a generous donor in support of our work.  We offer sincere condolences to his wife Judith Healy and daughters, Celia and Anna.

we’ve started to disrupt the world’s climate system and very many other of the great natural systems that are this planet’s life support system, we are actually beginning to change the conditions of life on earth. And that’s a big deal. That’s what I would regard as the most important aspect of the climate change story. And we’re just now starting to realise that as we begin to see that in addition to all the other impacts that climate change has already begun to have, we can see effects on human wellbeing, human health, in some parts of the world, and we’re expecting that there’ll be many more in the future. It includes infectious diseases as an important part of the story, but it’s only part. There will be a whole range of adverse health effects.”  
Professor Tony McMichael, from a 2009  National Health and Medical Research Council podcast

Tony McMichael's contribution to a better, healthier world
Tony was internationally recognised for his pioneering work in environmental health, particularly in climate change and health. For many years he led the assessment of health risks for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.

A 2012 festschrift in Canberra celebrated the breadth of his career and achievements:

“Professor McMichael has made seminal contributions to scientific and human understanding of the health implications of tobacco, the health risks from lead production, uranium mining, rubber production, and ozone depletion as well as climate change.

Professor McMichael’s work as a public health researcher and epidemiologist has been instrumental in the phasing out of lead in more than 100 countries; key to legal decisions to determine what constituted scientific proof in relation to harm to human health from tobacco; and profoundly influential in highlighting how the health of the natural environment and the health of the biosphere is fundamental to human health.”

He was also acknowledged as an outstanding leader and mentor. Just a few days before his death, he was emailing colleagues about climate change and health.  People from around the world have paid tribute to Tony. Here is a small sample:

From Dr Norman Swan, the ABC's Health Report

From a public tribute page

The eulogy at Tony's funeral was given by long time colleague and friend, Bob Douglas.
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