Climate ActivismCanadian scientists team up to shift climate change focus to health impacts

Canadian scientists team up to shift climate change focus to health impacts

Scientist Sherilee Harper of the University of Alberta argues that humans and their bodies are impacted by climate change in the same way as trees and sea ice are.

“Everything we care about is impacted by climate change,” she stated. “The issue is more than just environmental.”

For this reason, Harper and about thirty other academics from a variety of fields, including epidemiology and economics, have formed what Harper refers to as Canada’s first university hub to change the perception of climate change from one of an environmental issue to one that poses a threat to human health.

According to Harper, a professor at the School of Public Health and vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s preeminent scientific authority on the subject, “the hub is about helping people see that every climate change decision is a health decision.”

“Health implications are present in all climate change research projects.”

Consider bike lanes as an example.

They are considered by city planners as a means of reducing automobile tailpipe pollution. But cycling has health benefits as well.

Framing climate change as a health issue has a lot of power, according to Harper. “Studies indicate that framing the issue as a health concern motivates greater action than framing it as an environmental or economic concern.”

Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, and a wealth of studies has already shown that rising temperatures are causing an increase in health issues.
Climate change is “the single biggest health threat facing humanity and the livability of the planet,” according to a 2022 Public Health Agency of Canada assessment.

Lung function harmed by wildfire smoke, which caused Canada to have some of the worst air quality in the world last summer, especially for young children. As the parasites that cause diseases like West Nile and Lyme disease take advantage of new settings, the illnesses are becoming more widespread. The prevalence of diarrhea is rising as more germs found in warmer waters.

The intense stress experienced by individuals compelled to escape flames and the widespread sense of loss and sadness as people lament a familiar setting that has transformed into something else both influence mental health. The psychological and physical symptoms frequently coexist and exacerbate one another.

Many may also be aware of Harper’s personal experience during the wildfires of last year.

“I have two small children. We spent the entire summer indoors. That was quite challenging.
International threats exist.

According to World Health Organization estimates, between 2030 and 2050, climate change anticipated to result in an additional 250,000 fatalities year from heat stress, malaria, diarrhea, and undernourishment.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer of health, will be present at an event on Tuesday to officially introduce the Climate Change and Health Hub. Currently, it will primarily consist of a network of scientists, knowledge keepers from First Nations communities, and students who share the belief that multidisciplinary work is necessary and who intend to exchange ideas and research.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia already have these hubs, according to Harper.

According to her, Alberta’s centre will be more than simply a boffins’ talk shop. It will also engage in advocacy and public outreach.

We believe that having a location that can organize evidence-based campaigning is crucial in this age of misinformation. It is supplying data so that decision-makers in government can act upon it.

According to Harper, the hub will close a significant vacuum in Canada’s climate change research community.

Although there research done on the subject, its unconnected, and the researchers are not in contact with one another. By definition, the subject of climate change is highly interdisciplinary.

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