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In 2008, poor air quality alone, including from oil and gas production, cost Canada about $8-billion, according to a report by the Canadian Medical Association. By 2031, those costs are expected to rise to $250-billion….almost 90,000 people will have died from the acute effects of air pollution,” the CMA said. (Source: The Globe and Mail).

The 2014 US National Climate Assessment outlined the human health implications of a warming planet. Our changing climate will produce severe health impacts which “will manifest in varying ways in different parts of the world,” states the report.

Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impact from extreme weather events, wildfires, decreased air quality, threats to mental health and illnesses transmitted by food, water, and disease-carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks.

Climate Change – the Medical Emergency

As reported in Citizens’ Climate Lobby Laser Talks ~ Rolly Montpellier, Editor for BoomerWarrior

The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine the last 50 years of gains in development and global health, experts warned in the Lancet in June 2015.

The [Health and Climate Change] report said direct health impacts of climate change come from more frequent and intense extreme weather events, while indirect impacts come from changes in infectious disease patterns, air pollution, food insecurity and malnutrition, displacement and conflicts.

The good news is the panel also said burning fewer fossil fuels reduces respiratory diseases, for example, and getting people walking and cycling more cuts pollution, road accidents and rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Previously, Canadian Health associations sounded the alarm about the health impacts of climate change. In June 2014, Dr. Eilish Cleary, Chief Medical Officer of Health for New Brunswick, expressed the necessity of considering human health when making decisions about emissions.  She said, “There hasn’t been adequate recognition by all levels of policy-makers and decision-makers that it is really a problem that we have to do something about.”  Nova Scotia’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang concurred, adding that the discourse has been too focused on adaptation to the exclusion of mitigation planning.

Public health officials know: if you are concerned about public health you should also be concerned about climate change.  If we want to prevent the health consequences of climate change, we need to work to decrease our fossil fuel emissions.  That’s why Citizens’ Climate Lobby supports a revenue-neutral carbon tax: carbon fee and dividend as proposed by MP Bruce Hyer repeatedly in the House of Commons since November 2013.  The return of 100% of the proceeds from the tax is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine of a carbon tax go down smoothly.  It’s time to take action.

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Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Reality leader, a blogger and a Climate Activist. Rolly has been published widely – Toronto Star, The Hill Times, Kingston Whig, the PEN, UnpublishedOttawa, Climate Change Guide, World Daily, Examiner, The Canadian, 350Ottawa, ClimateMama, MyEarth360, GreenDivas, The Elephant, Countercurrents, County Weekly News.

He’s a member of Climate Reality Canada, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Ottawa) and 350.Org (Ottawa). You can follow him on FacebookTwitter and Linkedin.

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  1. I’d say that complete extinction … and all the steps along that route … could be considered a health emergency!

    I think we’d see more pressure on governments from health professionals if the latter saw the connection (or were helped to make the connection) between ecological positive feedbacks and physiological positive feedbacks. In other words, once the patient is sick (as the biosphere is now), the health care team needs to be vigilant that the patient’s condition doesn’t suddenly worsen, knocking out one body system after another, spiralling out of control — just as is happening to our climate systems.

  2. Julie,

    Your analogy of the biosphere to the human body is bang on. And yes it would be best if the medical profession did its part in linking the degradation of the biosphere to human health. The emergence and spread of disease is inevitable on our warming planet. Are we facing an imminent health crisis? I can’t really answer that. But certainly medical people can.

    Peter Carter, whom you know well of course, is a medical professional now involved in climate action at many levels. I’m sure he’s reaching out to his colleagues in the medical community.

    Thank you for your comment.

  3. The statistics for deaths in 2008 caused by poor air quality in Britain are 29,000 people according to UK government department ‘DEFRA.’

    “Poor air quality is a significant public health issue. The burden of particulate air pollution in
    the UK in 2008 was estimated to be equivalent to nearly 29,000 deaths at typical ages and
    an associated loss of population life of 340,000 life years lost.1 It has been estimated that
    removing all fine particulate air pollution would have a bigger impact on life expectancy in
    England and Wales than eliminating passive smoking or road traffic accidents2. The
    economic cost from the impacts of air pollution in the UK is estimated at £9-19 billion
    every year3. This is comparable to the economic cost of obesity (over £10 billion)4.”

    Unfortunately, the paper that this quote was taken from, doesn’t really blame the buildup of greenhouse gases or mention global warming…. so why are these governmental departments, health professionals, scientists and statistical analysts not talking to each other?


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