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 effects of climate change are achievable, but uniting governments around the world todo so remains a challenge, says a leading expert with the World Health Organization.

Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, co-ordinator of climate change and health policy for the WHO, says debating climate science doesn’t always capture people’s attention.

Linking climate change to its impact on health care, however, tends to personalize the issue in clearer terms for people.

Campbell-Lendrum says the health 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

That said, there’s still 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 looking to 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 for Metro Vancouver is going to pose challenges to our water supply over time,” Murdock said.

“The number of days above 25 C 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

Kelowna man sentenced to 20 months for having sex with minor

The incidents occurred over a four-month period between February and May of 2018

Well-known Kelowna developer, Al Stober, dies

Al Stober, whose Landmark Centre development spawned new town centre in the city, passes away at 88.

Police investigating sudden death in Lake Country

It’s unclear if the death of a man in his 90s is criminal in nature

Fire erupts in dump truck on McCurdy Road

The driver dumped the load at the corner of McCurdy and Mayfair Road

VIDEO: First all-female spacewalk team makes history

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir did work on International Space Station’s power grid

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

Shooters compete in Summerland

Seven youth participants take aim

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

VIDEO: Meet your Kelowna-Lake Country candidates

All seven Kelowna-Lake Country candidates answer questions about themselves and their policy

VIDEO: Meet your Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola candidates

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola candidates answer questions about themselves and their policy

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

RDOS cannabis production bylaw goes to public hearing

Hearing on micro cannabis production facilities will be held Nov. 21

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Most Read