A silent killer: the impact of a changing climate on health

Climate Change Europe

(European Environment Agency, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Kim van Daalen, a prospect Public Health master student at Cambridge University, currently living in the Netherlands. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The last decades, the political debate about climate change has remarkedly increased, as did, unfortunately, the urgency of this matter. After the announcement of America’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the debate has heated up over the last couple weeks. Terms as emission, greenhouse gas effect, deforestation, climate justice and energy efficiency enter the debate on a daily basis. Even more fundamental in this debate are the two terms; ‘’mitigation’’, any human intervention to reduce the human impact on the climate system, and ‘’adaptation’’, adjustment or preparation of natural human systems to a new or changing environment. But what about ‘’health‘’? Is the term ‘’health’’ mentioned at all? Should ‘’health’’ even be mentioned in climate change debates?

The answer is simple; yes, ‘’health’’ should be mentioned. Every year thousands of people are killed by extreme weather events, while the physical and psychological health of millions is undermined. Yet in the current climate debates, health is still being treated as a peripheral despite its overarching relevance to many central issues. This was perfectly reflected during my presence at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where the question I did receive most was ‘’ But how is health related to climate change ? ’’. This while we, as medical students and future health care professionals worldwide, have already seen the effects of this silent killer on our current health system.

Rising sea-levels, extreme heat waves, flooding and droughts, hurricanes, degraded air quality, disease migration, they all affect indirectly or directly the physical and psychological wellbeing of human worldwide. Moreover, infectious disease as malaria, meningitis, dengue fever and diarrhoea are  taking a heavy toll on the human population. And their virulence is highly sensitive to climate conditions, meaning that virulence will increase as climate change results in increasing temperatures and humidity. Climate change will affect the health of every individual and community, but certain population groups, as among others, aboriginal people, socially disadvantages people and seniors are most vulnerable and will have to cope with higher health risks. All in all, the present health consequences of climate change are severe and will increase over the next generations.

However, mitigating and adapting to climate change can protect health in the future while preventing death and illness now by recognizing the opportunities for health co-benefits in mitigation and adaptation strategies. Expected co-benefits are for example; decreasing greenhouse gas emission resulting in cleaner, smog-free air and less respiratory disease, increased active transport reducing cardiovascular disease and obesity, sustainable diets resulting in lower rates of cancer and other disease and early warning systems for disease outbreaks protecting populations’ health against spreading infectious disease. For such adaptation and mitigation strategies to be effective for health it is important to understand the climate change health impact and its implications as well as monitoring adequately the effectiveness of interventions. Thus, although the health impacts might be severe, there are solutions in mitigation and adaptation strategies.

So while the clock is ticking and the debate is proceeding, it is time to recognize health in climate change negotiations and integrate health in mitigation and adaptation policies.

About the author

Kim graduated her bachelor Cum Laude and is now a prospective Public Health student at Cambridge University, United Kingdom. She is the National Public Health Officer of IFMSA-The Netherlands, coordinating the Standing Committee on Public Health in the Netherlands. Kim  is highly interested in research, global health, climate change and politics. She deeply believes in interdisciplinary collaboration and tries to broaden her horizon beyond her own field of expertise, as she followed several interdisciplinary honours programmes. Next to IFMSA she has been part of other non-profit organizations and this year she founded the Peoples Climate March in Amsterdam.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Lack of investment and ambition means Youth Guarantee not reaching potential

Eurozone: Subdued inflation can lead to more recession

The EU Diplomacy in North Korea promotes peace or war?

UK keeps its Brexit plan secret or there is no strategy at all whatsoever?

45th Anniversary of the French Confederation (Confédération Nationale des Junior Entreprises)

IMF: How can Eurozone avoid stagnation

Yellen and Draghi tell Trump and markets not to expedite the next crisis

Eurozone: Austerity brings new political tremors

South Korea: A cherished partner for the EU

The EU Commission is lying to the “Right2Water” campaign

The Brits are not an exception and that’s why they voted to leave

An Easter Special: Social protection of migrants in Europe as seen through the eyes of European youth

EU economy: Between recession and indiscernible growth

German elections: Is Merkel losing ground or Shultz is winning?

EU members commit to build an integrated gas market and finally cut dependency on Russia

UN member states express their will to tackle global migration but specific actions are still missing

India’s Largest Entrepreneurship Event is Back! (23-24th August 2016)

Banking on sunshine: world added far more solar than fossil fuel power generating capacity in 2017

Why will Paris upcoming “loose” climate change agreement work better than the previous ones?

Vendor Pulse – 2000

ECB ready to counter the rise of the euro?

Britain in and out of the EU

MEPs Anti-fraud votes for more votes?

Brexit negotiations: back to square one, tougher words, no good faith

An EU Summit without purpose

No hard drivers in sight to remodel the stagnating affairs of the EU

Do the EU policies on agro-food smell?

Will the European Court of Justice change data privacy laws to tackle terrorism?

Climate Change: a challenge yet to be tackled in medical schools

Why growth is now a one way road for Eurozone

The banks first to benefit from the new euro trillion ECB plans to print

Is the ECB ready to flood Eurozone with freshly printed money?

Is a full course lunch, a new Commissioner and 2 million anti-TTIP citizens what you would call a “Fresh Start”?

ECB to play down IMF’s alarms for deflation danger in the EU

A day in the life of a refugee: the wait

The European Youth Forum needs better signal for its “call” for Quality Internships

Intel @ MWC14: Our Love Story with Mobile – Transforming Wireless Networks

The British “nonsense”, the relaxed Commissioner and the TTIP “chiaroscuro” at this week’s Council

French Prime Minister passes Stability Program and takes his ‘café’ in Brussels this June

How to test if Kiev’s ‘Maidan’ was an authentic revolt or a well-planned operation

Meet the Junior Enterprise network at JEWC 2014!

Data show EU Economy in a stubbornly subdued state

Amazon, a pair of shoes and my Data Privacy walks away

EU’s guidelines on net neutrality see the light although grey areas do remain

EU’s core members are eyeing larger parts of arms trade and of world map

To all far-right partisans who exploit Charlie Hebdo atrocity: a peaceful reply given by a peaceful student

A male gynecologist in Iraq: red line violated

Breaking barriers between youth in the new tech era: is there an easy way through?

The Brussels bureaucracy blocks the Youth Guarantee scheme

Learn from the margin, not the center: digital innovation with social impact as transformative force bridging digital divide

COP21 Breaking News_10 December: the final sprint of the Final Agreement Negotiations

Italy’s M.Renzi and Germany’s S. Gabriel veto austerity, ask EU leaders to endorse growth measures

Commission: Gifts of €6 billion and free trainees to ‘help’ poor employers

Changing for the change: Medicine in Industry 4.0

Manufacturers Get Smarter for Industry 4.0

Schaeuble wants IMF out and bailouts ‘a la carte’ with Germany only to gain

‘Habitual residence’ rules deprive EU workers from social benefits

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

ECB: The bastion of effective and equitable Europeanism keeps up quantitative easing

Is “Sustainable Development” a concept that integrates Health Literacy and Health Policy as a global health action?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s