Is Climate Change an Opportunity to Improve Global Health?

Is Climate Change an Opportunity to Improve Global Health?

Aug 31st, 2015 related to Building Shared Leadership for Climate Action (2010 - Current)

How can we transform climate change from a threat to an opportunity to improve our health?

The Lancet Commission's Report "Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health" provides new insights into climate adaptation. The report explains our current realities into around health impacts of climate change and proposes policy responses. 

Current predictions show that we can expect the impacts of climate change in B.C. to continue and become more severe in the future.[1] While climate change is a global issue, we know that there are many adverse human health impacts of climate change that are and will continue to be experienced at the regional and local level in B.C. communities.

Storms, drought, floods and heat-waves are anticipated effects of climate change. These changes can result in loss of life from extreme weather. The damage to eco-systems we rely on for health can result in air pollution, decreased crop yields, and less access to clean water leaving us at risk of under-nutrition and aggravated respiratory disease.

Impacts to human health may create negative social dynamics such as competition for scarce resources and conflict. Not surprisingly, the Canadian public health sector has made a public statement claiming climate change is the most pressing health issue facing Canadians.[2]

New research from the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change maps out the impacts of climate change, and the necessary policy responses, to ensure the high standards of health for populations worldwide. 

The good news is that many key responses to climate change have significant co-benefits to human health. For example, reducing greenhouse gas emissions with low-carbon vehicle use and active transportation options can also improve air quality and fitness - leading to less obesity and cardiovascular disease.

To find out more: watch this video by the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change to find out more on the health in a changing climate and how health profession can play a vital role to in taking climate action.

Learn more about BC Healthy Communities work with the Climate Change Health Policy Group (CCHPG).

[1] Ostry, A., Ogborn, M., Bassil, K.L., Takaro, T.K., and Allen, D.M. (2010). Climate change and health in British Columbia: Projected impacts and a proposed agenda for adaptation research and policy. International Journal on Environmental Research in Public Health, 7, 1018-1035.

[2] Globe and mail article June 16, 2014: Canada's most pressing health issue is climate change: public-health experts


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