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

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

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

Just Posted

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Kelowna International Airport. (Contributed)
Contactless parking payment available at YLW

Kelowna International Airport parking now compatible with the PayByPhone application

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
Outbreak at Kelowna long term care home declared over

Penticton, Kelowna long term care home outbreaks declared over Jan. 20

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, after a vehicle came into contact with a pedestrian light pole at Kalamalka Lake Road and 14th Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Minor injuries in rollover after vehicle hits Vernon crosswalk pole

The vehicle flipped onto its side, closing Kalamalka Lake Road

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

A petition to spare the Mount Rose Swanson area from logging later this year has eclipsed 21,000 signatures as of Jan. 20, 2021. (Rose Swanson Mountain/Facebook)
Controversial logging will cut 4% of ‘sensitive’ Armstrong forest area: Ministry

A petition to spare the Rose Swanson area from logging has eclipsed 21,000 signatures

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

Vernon firefighters douse a fire inside a cardboard bin behind the Shops at Polson off Highway 6 Wednesday, Jan. 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Dumpster fire behind Vernon shopping mall

Vernon Fire Rescue Services respond doused recycling bin fire backing onto Polson Park

Most Read