The COVID-19 crisis has taught us that the health and safety of our communities is more important than almost everything else.
Our policymakers, acting on the advice of health experts, have made tough decisions to slow the spread of the pandemic. Their methods haven't been perfect, but we have flattened the curve for now.
As we try to nurse the economy back to health, there are worrying signs that policymakers and fossil fuel companies have instead been laying the groundwork for yet another health and economic crisis.
That crisis is the expansion of environment and economy-wrecking fossil fuel projects. Just last week, the Queensland government announced a multimillion dollar bailout for oil and gas companies. In NSW, gas giant Santos is lobbying hard to reboot its Narrabri project, claiming it's the key to a gas recovery out of COVID-19.
These developments follow months of quiet approvals for Peabody and South32 to dig for coal beneath Sydney's water catchment. In one form another, these companies and certain politicians argue that these steps are strengthening our economy. But that's simply not true.
Relying on fossil fuel projects to help with a COVID-19 recovery is like planning to recover from a heart attack by adopting an exclusively deep-fried diet. Or treating diabetes with mountains of sugar.
If you wouldn't do that, why would you try to rebuild an economy by supporting the expansion of an industry that is one accident away from contaminating our land and water with toxic chemicals, and worsens the climate crisis?
Climate change exacerbates drought impacts, and fuels more severe extreme weather like this past summer's bushfires.
That doesn't sound like a recipe for a healthy future to me. Let's not forget too that the industry's economic prospects look pretty poor anyway. Prices have crashed and no insurer wants to touch the coal seam gas industry, increasing the likelihood of the public picking up the tab when something like a contamination incident happens.
And, while the fossil fuel industry is on its knees due to COVID-19, renewables have stayed strong. This is a growing low-carbon industry that curbs climate change, while creating safe, long term jobs in regional communities. For safe and healthy communities, a renewables-led recovery is what this doctor - and everyday Australians, economists, energy experts, scientists and the like -ordered.
Dr John Van Der Kallen is a physician and NSW chair, Doctors for the Environment Australia.