Katherine Wong/ OCSA 11th
Australia’s bushfires are raging across the country and currently show no signs of stopping. With twenty-seven people dead, millions of acres destroyed, and billions of animals killed, the Australian bushfires are raising environmental concern and attracting attention around the world.
With these environmental concerns regarding the imminent dangers of climate change comes several public health issues. Our Earth’s rising temperatures bring worries of the health effects that can accompany global warming. Currently, Australia is seeing increased mortality rates and increased hospitalization due to the fires and prolonged smoke exposure, especially for those who have already been affected by lung and heart disease in the past.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change will affect certain groups the most: socially isolated city residents, the poor, and the elderly. These populations are especially susceptible to injury and disease, and in a world with augmented temperatures, health risks like malaria can arise. Without access to proper healthcare, these diseases and injuries can prove to be extremely dangerous and risky.
In addition, in the case of extreme weather patterns and events, climate change can affect the available supplies for healthcare and further deprive people from gaining the treatment they need. Extreme weather events like hurricanes (which have been seen increasingly often in the past few years) can affect critical medical supplies like IV fluids. These events can also affect connection to power, which can be problematic towards healthcare facilities trying to provide the necessary care for patients.
The list doesn’t end there. Our current climate crisis can also lead to numerous other issues, including intensified allergy symptoms, mental health challenges, trauma, skin disease, dehydration, and more.
Some groups and organizations have already taken action against these rising public health issues. Just recently in December of 2019, the Yale School of Public Health launched their Center for Climate Change and Health (YCCCH), which aims to establish an interdisciplinary research program, increase educational opportunities, and expand their public health practice program. WHO has also spoken out about climate change’s threats towards global public health and is urging strong action in the United Nations. Additionally, the Nurses Climate Challenge is a national campaign that assembles nurses to educate over 50,000 health professionals on the impacts of climate change on human health.
With this in mind, it is imperative that we act out against climate change ourselves to prevent further public health issues from arising. Simple changes can lead to more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyles, such as recycling, reducing energy use, and using more green methods of transportation (carpooling, walking, biking, public transportation). Through these efforts, we can work together to rebuild our planet and intercept the climate crisis’ global health issues.
<Katherine Wong/ OCSA 11th