In their professional lives, they are keenly aware of how climate change increases illness and death, in Australia and overseas.
As specialists in public health, they advocate for the health sector to take a stronger role in the climate change response, by cutting its emissions and preparing for extreme weather events and changing patterns of morbidity.
As philanthropists, they aim to prevent further climate change, with Professor Madden describing reversing climate change as “the biggest health intervention you can do at the moment.”
“Anthropogenic climate change presents a threat to the natural environment and to human health that is unprecedented in the range and magnitude of its consequences,” says Professor Madden.
“Heat kills more Australians than bushfire, but both are on the increase:” says Professor Sainsbury. “Rural Australians are particularly vulnerable due to more droughts, floods and heat. And people who experience a climate disaster can suffer long term mental health problems.”
Professor Sainsbury describes their climate-related philanthropy as driven by humanitarian and social justice concerns. “While climate change affects everyone, wealthier people in developed countries are better placed to protect themselves and rebound from disasters.
But climate change has been inflicted upon people who don’t have the power or opportunity to stop it; young people, future generations and people who are already underprivileged.”
As enthusiastic nature lovers, with a deep appreciation of Australia’s wilder places, a key target of their philanthropy is protecting biodiversity. With strong evidence that other species are jeopardized by climate change, Professor Madden describes this as “giving other species a chance”.