As British Columbians seek shade during the heat dome that envelops our province, health professionals are committed to preventing harm to the populations we serve, including the health impacts of climate change.
For decades, we did not heed the call to action that the current climate crisis impresses upon us, as demonstrated by the wildfires that recently devastated the town of Lytton. This is happening around the globe as communities are displaced from their homes due to climate change.
Our changing climate brings about numerous health impacts such as increases in vector-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, and worsening air pollution which exacerbates respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD.
Locally, we witness our majestic Queneesh glacier recede, drought is impacting our farmers and threatening local food security, and counts of our coho fry are low due to the dwindling water flow of streams.
How do we advocate for health? Did you know that municipalities account for over 43 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions? (Source: Understanding Our Choices RGS 2009) What could our elected officials do to simultaneously mitigate and adapt to this changing climate?
Municipalities could require more urban tree canopies, proper infrastructure to accommodate the electrification of transportation, and place arrays of solar panels on all government buildings and schools.
As we catch our breath between COVID waves, let us dedicate our collective energies to responding to the climate emergency. Fortunately, this crisis also presents us with the greatest opportunities to improve health in the 21st century through innovation. It’s all hands on deck to navigate these warming waters!
Helen Boyd RN. co-ordinator CVNHE and Dr. Jonathan Kerr, Comox family physician