Climate Change Is a Public Health Emergency
Ever since human-caused climate change emerged into public consciousness around the late 1980s, news stories and public awareness campaigns surrounding the topic have predominantly been accompanied by images of polar bears and melting ice, reinforcing common misconceptions that the impacts are far away in space and time and removed from our daily lives.
Read the entire article at Scientific American.
Mounting scientific evidence has led experts to conclude that climate change presents “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century”. A recent study demonstrated that there are 467 different pathways by which human health, water, food, economy, infrastructure and security have already been impacted by climate hazards. Here are 8 major ways that climate change harms our health today and threatens it tomorrow:
- The frequency, intensity, and duration of heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms are increasing due to climate change.
- As average temperatures continue to rise, so will heat-related disorders.
- Climate change exacerbates air pollution.
- Elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are associated with decreased human cognitive performance.
- Climate change influences the transmission of vector-, food-, and water-borne diseases.
- Climate change threatens food and nutrition security.
- Climate change will cause mass migration and most likely increase collective violence.
- Climate change poses threats to our mental health and well-being.
Despite all of this, it is also important to realize that tackling climate change presents “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century” and that the barriers to achieving this are primarily sociopolitical (rather than economic or technical). Actions to mitigate climate change offer a wealth of immediate and local health benefits that include reducing air and water pollution from fossil fuel combustion, designing cities to include more green spaces and with active commuters in mind, avoiding massive costs in health care and emergency relief, and ensuring energy, food and water security.
Put simply, if you care about your health, you should care about climate change too.