Climate change has emerged as a pressing global issue in recent years, with far-reaching consequences for the health and well-being of individuals and communities worldwide. The impacts of climate change extend beyond environmental concerns to encompass various aspects of human health. We will explore the intricate connections between climate change and public health, highlighting the significant implications for children, families, communities, and global healthcare systems.
Rising Temperatures and Heat-Related Illnesses:
As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, global temperatures are steadily increasing. This upward trend contributes to an increased frequency and intensity of heat waves, resulting in heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Vulnerable populations, including the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing medical conditions, face heightened risks. The difference between green schoolyards with tree canopies and traditional asphalt schoolyards is 30 degrees cooler with the tree cover in the summer. By planting more locally sourced trees and removing asphalt from schools we can help reduce the temperature at school and allow kids to have more beneficial time outside.
Changing Disease Patterns:
Climate change influences the patterns and distribution of infectious diseases. The expanding range of disease vectors, such as mosquitoes and ticks, has contributed to the spread of diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and Lyme disease. Additionally, extreme weather events can disrupt sanitation and water systems, leading to waterborne diseases and foodborne illnesses. During the Covid pandemic, it was discovered that metal and plastic playground equipment would allow the virus to live on the surface longer than on natural materials such as logs and stone. The use of natural playground equipment also introduces healthy bacteria into our systems giving us stronger immune systems.
Air Pollution and Respiratory Ailments:
Climate change exacerbates air pollution, primarily through the increased occurrence of wildfires, industrial emissions, and transportation-related activities. Polluted air quality poses significant risks to respiratory health, contributing to the prevalence of conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and respiratory tract infections. Trees and natural biodiversity soil that captures the pollution and cleans the air are needed to reduce the risks to everyone’s health.
Mental Health and Climate Anxiety:
The psychological toll of climate change should not be overlooked. The uncertainty, fear, and helplessness generated by extreme weather events, natural disasters, and the long-term impacts of climate change can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Both immediate and prolonged exposure to climate-related stressors can affect individuals’ well-being and resilience. Children learn from their parents, and when parents are worried about the planet, the kids will also be worried. Taking action on the climate by engaging in activities that will help not just now but in a hundred years, will reduce our collective anxiety about the health of our mother earth.
Water Scarcity and Inadequate Sanitation:
Climate change disrupts natural water cycles, leading to increased water scarcity in certain regions. Inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities has direct implications for public health, as it contributes to the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera and dysentery. Additionally, water scarcity can lead to poor hygiene practices and limited agricultural productivity. You may think that too many trees will reduce the amount of water we have, but the opposite is the fact, that trees filter pollution from rain, and their roots help the ground retain water and reduce droughts.
Food Security and Nutrition:
Changing climate patterns can impact food production, availability, and nutritional quality. Droughts, floods, and extreme weather events disrupt agricultural practices and reduce crop yields, leading to food shortages and malnutrition. Limited access to nutritious food increases the risk of various health conditions, particularly among vulnerable populations. With biodiversity soil and more green growing spaces in communities can help people have more food security and nutritional foods.
Displacement and Health Inequities:
Climate change-induced natural disasters and environmental degradation can displace communities, leading to social upheaval and increased health inequities. Displaced populations often face challenges in accessing essential healthcare services, leading to increased risks of infectious diseases, mental health disorders, and inadequate maternal and child health care. The reduced time outdoors due to climate change has been harmful to both our mental and physical health, having more natural areas with trees to visit and forests to explore will have a great healing impact on all of us.
The complex relationship between climate change and public health necessitates urgent action on global, regional, and individual levels. Mitigation efforts focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting sustainable practices, having more natural playgrounds and outdoor classrooms along investing in renewable energy sources are crucial. Additionally, adapting healthcare systems to address the emerging health challenges posed by climate change is essential for the well-being of present and future generations. By recognizing and actively addressing the interconnectedness of climate change and public health, we can work towards building resilient communities and safeguarding public well-being.