Climate change’s negative impact on local ecosystems put environment habitat we all depend on at risk. Photo: Black Press files

Sounding the climate change alarm bell

Symposium collaboration links community health to climate change

Adapting to and mitigating the impacts of global climate change are achievable, but uniting governments around the world to champion that cause remains a challenge, says a leading expert with the World Health Organization.

Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, coordinator of climate change and health policy for the WHO, says debating climate science doesn’t always capture people’s attention, equating a huge level of concern to a two degree change in global temperatures.

He said linking climate change to impact on health care tends to both personalize the issue in clearer terms for people.

Campbell-Lendrum says the health impact viewpoint brings the issue to a local or regional level, a grassroots-fueled initiative of concern that is necessary to ultimately influence government decision-makers.

“Change has to start at the regional and local level. There are mitigation and adaptation things we have to do, such a greenhouse gas emission reduction, but there is no guarantee we will do it,” he said.

RELATED: Climate change impact on forest wildfires

He cited the example of California, a leading proponent of climate change policy advocacy in the U.S., which drew support about climate change not by the science, but through a commercial that focused on a young child with asthma and what uncertain future the youngster will face if climate change is left unchecked.

He said the ad was very effective because it personalized the issue, which at the time was being advocated for by then California Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has since become a leading global climate change advocate.

Campbell-Lendrum was one of several keynote speakers at Making The Links 2018: Climate Change, Community Health & Resilience, a conference co-sponsored by Interior Health, Simon Fraser University Faculty of Health Sciences and the Shift organization which advocates for business and human rights collaboration.

Participants from across Canada have descended on the Laurel Packinghouse in downtown Kelowna, site of the two-day symposium.

Campbell-Lendrum, speaking via video from Europe, said 23 per cent of all fatalities around the globe are directly linked to the environment, which will only escalate if pollution impacts coupled with extreme weather events due to climate change are ignored.

“Climate change means more hurricanes in number and severity, increase in transmission of infectious diseases, more frequency of heat wave severity, sea levels rising which will submerge some island countries and impact low lying areas in other countries,” he said.

“In some parts of the world, the health care systems will collapse because they will be unable to cope with the impact of these environment changes.”

RELATED: Okanagan wine industry lacks plan to address climate change

But he sees some reason for optimism, as people are becoming more energized to the realities of climate change and finding a focus by improving health care inequities.

“We are seeing a large number of health care improvements projects around the world now whereas seven to eight years ago nothing like that was being done,” he said, citing the example of a new hospital built in a Caribbean country that was structurally built to withstand hurricane force winds and reliant on Green energy sources.

Trevor Murdock, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria, said the weather we have experienced the past two years in the Okanagan is the trend to expect in the future—more extreme precipitation events, hotter than previous normal summers, reduced snowpack in the winter which will lead to lower streamflows.

“Having up to a 60 per cent decrease in snowpack across the province is going to pose challenges to our water supply over time,” Murdock said.

“The number of days above 25 Celsius will double or triple in future compared to the past.”



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Workshops, networking events designed for Shuswap women entrepreneurs on the way

Tsuts’weye project holds successful roundtables where valuable information gathered

‘She was awesome’: Malakwa baker leaves U.S. holiday show

‘There are Christmas miracles, look at me’

Salmon Arm ranked 7th best place to work in B.C. for 2020

Categories reflecting quality of life influence ranking

School District #83 board approves pay increase for trustees

Decision reflects policy, changes in BC Consumer Price Index

South Shuswap health clinic welcomes first doctor

Dr. Jack Beech to do Saturday walk-in clinic at Copper Island Health and Wellness Centre.

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

Weak link in Sagmoen trial, defence says

Counsel questions whether search warrant police executed was obtained on reasonable grounds

Salmon Arm Work BC office hosts grand reopening

Services available at the office will remain similar to past offerings

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

North Okanagan MP says throne speech lacked specifics

‘Trudeau government presented a vague agenda,’: MP Mel Arnold

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

Independent Investigations Office seeks witnesses following arrest in Penticton

The male resisted arrest at approximately 8:40 a.m. and sustained a head injury

Most Read