Professor Colin Butler is a co-founder of the NGO BODHI (Benevolent Organisation for Development, Health and Insight) and a Professor of Public Health at the University of Canberra. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health, Australian National University. He is a former Senior Research Fellow of the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University.
His work lies at the intersection of sustainability, globalisation and health. Globalisation includes social, economic, cultural and environmental changes, at scales from the microscopic to the planetary. His main research interest lies in trying to find ways to advance sustainable global health for all, including people who are marginalized and oppressed.
Over 200 published letters, papers, chapters and reports (to date) have concerned agriculture, climate change, demography, development, ecology, economics, environmental change, epidemiology, ethics, future studies, general practice, global change, global health, health promotion, human rights, inequality, infectious diseases, nutrition, poverty, public health, social justice, sociology and sustainability. He is particularly interested in eco-social systems and the relationships between human conflict, resource scarcity and human carrying capacity.
He formerly worked in rural general practice in Tasmania. He holds post graduate qualifications from the the Royal College of Physicians, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Australian National University, where in 2002 he completed a multidisciplinary PhD. His thesis ("Inequality and Sustainability")  argued that the unequal distribution of global political and economic influence facilitates "environmental brinkmanship" whereby the wealthy and powerful risk global environmental change of such degree that it threatens the fabric of civilisation.
He was awarded the 2001 Borrie Prize by the Australian Population Association, for a long essay which traced the decline of Malthusian thinking within demography. It also suggested that demographers had "sold out" to powerful, vested interests who denied the reality of limits to growth, starting during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan. This essay remains unpublished. Despite its prize winning status, it has been rejected by every major demography journal in the world, including the Australian Journal of Population Research.
He was extensively involved with the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Some open access papers include "What will a four degree temperature rise mean for world health?", "Human carrying capacity and human health" and "Primary, secondary and tertiary effects of the eco-climate crisis: the medical response".
He is currently completing the editing of a book called Climate Change and Global Health. This involves about 50 authors; anticipated publication is 2014.
He has given over 120 invited lectures, in 14 countries to date. In 2009 the French Environmental Health Association named him as one of 100 doctors for the planet. In 2010 he was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship.  The project of this grant is "Health and Sustainability: Australia in a Global Context."
BODHI was co-founded with Susan Woldenberg Butler in 1989. It works in the field of international health, primary health care and education and is one of the oldest Buddhist influenced aid organisations based in the West.
In 2012, Colin chaired the festschrift which honoured the career of Professor Tony McMichael .
In 2013, Colin publicly announced his intention to be arrested and if necessary go to prison, by end 2014, for peaceful civil disobedience, in protest at Australia's participation in "earth poisoning" - particularly the global coal trade and the fracking of coal seam gas.