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

View of Larsson Hill from DriveBC camera at 7:25 a.m. on Oct. 21. (Contributed)
Vehicle incident at Larson Hill causing delays up to one hour on Coquihalla

The incident has blocked traffic in both directions

BC Green Party candidate Amanda Poon (left) and BC Liberal Party candidate Renee Merrifield (right). (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
B.C. Votes: Kelowna-Mission candidates discuss the issues

Two of the riding’s three candidates showed up to a forum

COVID-19 test tube. (Contributed)
test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health launches online booking for COVID-19 tests

Testing is available to anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms

École de L’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 confirmed at Kelowna Francophone school

École de L’Anse-au-sable is not affiliated with local SD23

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Vintage Vernon BC shared an image of the house on Highway 97 and 39th Avenue taken in 1911. The photo, which was contributed by the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives shows the home 10 years after it was built. Dolly McClusky, a resident of the home, is seen standing on the porch. (Vintage Vernon BC - Facebook)
WATCH: Abandoned North Okanagan house on fire

Single-lane traffic in effect on Highway 97 in both directions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

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

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer doctor Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s chief public health doctor says in the age of social media, fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading faster than the virus itself. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
VIDEO: Fake news creates serious issues for battling pandemic, chief public health doc says

Both Tam and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to be responsible about the information they share

A 20-year-old man was pronounced dead following a three vehicle collision on Highway 1 west of Revelstoke Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (File photo)
One dead after Highway 1 crash near Revelstoke

20-year-old man pronounced dead at the scene of a three vehicle collision west of Revelstoke

Most Read