Megan Tomlinson

OUR PLANETARY HEALTH: Climate crisis is a major health issue

Editor’s note: Comox Valley Nurses for Health & The Environment will be contributing a monthly Viewpoint column – Our Planetary Health – for the Comox Valley Record.

***

MEGAN TOMLINSON

Special to The Record

The state of the earth’s climate is a global health issue that all citizens, communities and nations need to take action on immediately. Children, elderly, immunocompromised and those impacted by socio-economic disparities are at highest risk of suffering from the negative impacts of climate change. The experience and lessons acquired through the COVID-19 pandemic must not be lost if we are going to tackle the greatest health issue of our time – the climate crisis.

Extreme heat and natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes due to climate change are increasing. The World Health Organization warns of impacts to the health care system: acute care needs will increase, water and vector-borne infectious diseases will continue to rise, and food supply and air quality will be negatively affected, placing those most vulnerable at highest risk. The trauma of witnessing massive loss and the impact of climate migration will negatively affect the mental health of fellow citizens.

Health sector associations such as the Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment (CANE) and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) stress the moral and ethical obligation to address climate change. On a local level, the Comox Valley Nurses for Health and the Environment aim to increase awareness, take action and advocate on issues threatening the health and well-being of our community. Indeed, nurses and health care professionals are concerned that the Comox Valley has earned the unenviable title for being in the top ten communities for worst air quality in BC. Poor air quality has been directly linked to an increase in hospitalizations and premature deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

The current pandemic highlights the critical need to keep our hospitals at a manageable capacity. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen health care providers and the greater community lean on one another in order to flatten the epidemiological curve. We have witnessed how the actions of every individual impact the health of the greater community and how the health of the greater community ultimately creates or avoids a collapse of the healthcare system. As nurses, these are lessons that we do not want to be lost.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates the need for governments to seek counsel from scientific communities and the health care sector to manage a public health crisis with evidence-based decision making. In the first half of 2020, the leader of our neighbour to the south chose to ignore the medical community’s plea for action in dealing with the current pandemic. We watched in disbelief as our friends, family and neighbours in the United States experienced an exponential growth of cases and a tragic number of deaths. Similarly, ignoring climate science and pleas for meaningful action on climate policy is negligent leadership. Focussing on economic prosperity without considering the health of our citizens is simply careless.

Too much time has been wasted turning a blind eye to the looming climate crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that individual action, community collaboration, evidence-based decision making and strong leadership can flatten the curve. As we envision a future that realizes optimal health outcomes for our future generations, let us learn from the lessons of today. Let us flatten the impact of climate change before it is too late.

Megan Tomlinson R.N. is a member of the Comox Valley Nurses for Health & the Environment www.cvnhe.org

Climate crisisHealth

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man sustained burns to his body near this spot around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 13 in Courtenay. The fire was left of the pathway. The Station youth housing facility and city public works yard are to the right of the trail. Photo by Terry Farrell
Emergency personnel respond to man on fire in wooded area of Courtenay

A man was badly burned in the early morning hours Tuesday in… Continue reading

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: Thieves steal truck from Black Creek car lot by towing it away

Have you seen a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 in your neighbourhood in… Continue reading

Teresa Hedley and a copy of her book, “What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism.” Photo supplied
Comox Library recognizes Autism Awareness Month with presentation by local author

April is World Autism Awareness Month, an annual opportunity to increase understanding… Continue reading

Comox council will further look at a troublesome traffic area in the Point Holmes area of the town. Photo submitted
Comox council to look at speed calming measures at Point Holmes

“…We are waiting for a problem to happen if we don’t act.”

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
19 Wing Comox crew involved in three-tonne cocaine seizure worth more than $293 million

12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron involved in Op Caribbe

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Comox Lake is the drinking water source for the CVRD. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Water Treatment Project nears completion

The Comox Valley Water Treatment Project is more than 85 per cent… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

Comox council approved a change in fees for using the Comox Municipal Marina, extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31 each year. Black Press file photo
Fee changes, increased costs coming to Comox Municipal Marina

The town will be extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Most Read