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Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

A cardboard sign at an event that reads "you'll die of old age, we'll die of climate change"

I’m sure you have heard the words climate change. Are you familiar with their meaning and impacts? Climate change describes a change in the average conditions, such as temperature and rainfall, in a region over a long period of time. Most people are aware of the affects of climate change on the world we live in including temperature, environment, air quality, and many others. Did you know climate change can impact our health? In 2015, former Director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, publicly acknowledged climate change as an urgent public health issue. She stated “The evidence is overwhelming: climate change endangers human health. Solutions exist, and we need to act decisively to change this trajectory.”

According to the US Global Change Research Program, climate change affects human health in two ways:

  • It changes the severity and frequency of health problems that are already affected by climate and weather factors.
  • It creates unanticipated health problems or health threats in places where they have not previously occurred.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these factors and the affects they can have on our health. Rising temperatures, more extreme weather, rising sea levels and increasing carbon dioxide levels lead to a variety of conditions that affect our environment and ultimately our health. Listed below are some results of climate change and the impacts they can have on our physical and mental health:

  • Severe heat – injuries, fatalities, mental health issues
  • Air pollution – asthma, cardiovascular disease
  • Increasing allergens – respiratory allergies, asthma
  • Water quality impacts – bacteria and viruses in the water
  • Water and food supply impacts – malnutrition, diarrhea
  • Environmental degradation – forced migration, civil conflict, mental health issues
  • Extreme heat – heat-related illness and death, cardiovascular failure

How we live, work, and play together in our communities and cities can have a huge impact in tackling climate change. What can communities do to combat this issue?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Inspire, educate, and raise awareness on how our everyday behaviors affect the local environment and planet. Introduce people to actions they can implement into their daily routines to reduce their negative environmental impact. 
  • Encourage sustainable commuting – walking, biking, ride shares
  • Support local businesses who produce products and food locally
  • Address the needs of the most vulnerable
  • Reduce the use of energy in buildings
  • Recycle
  • Create wealth from waste – upcycle, practice responsible production and consumption patterns
  • Reclaim green spaces – community gardens, parks, green roofs, trees
  • Implement community sharing – some objects are not necessary to be owned by every household

Working together to curb the negative affects of climate change is going to take everyone working together. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Just remember what’s good for our climate is good for our health, and what’s good for our health is good for our climate.

Written by Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Belmont County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Sources:

NASA Climate Kids. What is Climate Change? https://climatekids.nasa.gov/climate-change-meaning/

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Cities and Local Action to Combat Climate Change. https://unfccc.int/topics/education-youth/youth-engagement/global-youth-video-competition/global-youth-video-competition-2019/cities-and-local-action-to-combat-climate-change U.S. Global Change Research Program. Climate and Health Assessment. https://health2016.globalchange.gov/


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