December 3, 2020
By Chloe Parkins
At this point, most people around the world accept climate change to be a fact and acknowledge that some level of action must be taken to combat it. However, what many people do not fully understand, is how much climate change is impacting the current population. Implementing more environmentally friendly regulations and lowering greenhouse gas emissions will not only improve quality of life for future generations, but it will help decrease the number of premature deaths that climate change causes today.
This article discusses how both pollution and rising temperatures are causing premature deaths and it discusses how the health of impoverished people is affected by climate change disproportionately. A recent study published by The Lancet is one of the most comprehensive studies to date. It looks at 2019 public health data and the connection between environmental factors such as heat waves and pollution, and a decline in health. The report found that over 296,000 people died in 2018 due to heat. Additionally, the article notes that the number of heat-related deaths in people over the age of 65 has doubled in the last 20 years.
The article discusses how pollution from the agriculture and transportation industries threatens people’s health. Asthma caused by air pollution is also worsening the effects of COVID-19. More countries are beginning to link their hospitals with meteorological agencies in hopes to better equip them in dealing with climate-related injuries and hospitalizations.
Below is a graph that depicts the number of heat-related 911 calls in Phoenix, AZ in 2019. It can be found here.
The main way in which climate change disproportionately affects poor people is in what jobs poor people hold. In general, poor people tend to have jobs that are more outdoors, exposing them to increased amounts of heat and pollution. Poor people are also less likely to afford health care that prevents and treats climate-related illnesses adequately. It is paramount that the next administration tackles this measure of inequality and ensures that people subjected to less safe working conditions have access to adequate and affordable health care.
This article presents an interesting connection between the health care industry and the environmental sector. Health care professionals will have to partner and work with environmental scientists and experts in order to best understand what they currently are and will be dealing with. This article reinforces the idea that business and society is an interactive system and that all parts must work together in order to be successful. I also believe that as more workers become educated on the risks they are taking by working at their jobs, more labor unions could form. I think employees may educate themselves further on their rights and push for increased worker-protection and better pay for jobs with higher health risks.
I believe that it will take a long time before these necessary changes are made. While I believe the Biden administration will begin to take steps in the right direction, I do not see them prioritizing this issue. I think that due to a lack of publicity on the topic, changes will be pushed back on the agenda. Additionally, I do not see many long-term solutions being presented in the near future.
Hersher, R. (2 Dec. 2020). ‘We Don’t Have To Live This Way’: Doctors Call For Climate Action. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/12/02/940790818/we-dont-have-to-live-this-way-doctors-call-for-climate-action.