Events such as the financial crisis or climate change are not coincidences of the market or of nature. On the contrary, they denote the massive failure of the international systems that govern the interactions between nations and their peoples. The contagion of our mistakes is unforgiving and does not take into account fair play. Thus, the countries that have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions will be the first and most affected by climate change.
Various health effects of climate change have been identified with a high degree of certainty. Malnutrition and its devastating effects on children’s health will increase. Floods, droughts and storms will get worse and cause more deaths and injuries.
Heat waves will also cause more deaths, especially among the elderly. Finally, climate change could alter the geographic distribution of disease vectors, such as insects that transmit malaria or dengue. All of these health problems are already huge, largely concentrated in the developing world, and difficult to control.
In many cases benefits of Carbon Emission Management Software are considerable and could help solve some of the world’s most important, fastest growing and most resource-consuming health problems in the world, such as acute respiratory infections, cardiovascular disease, obesity or diabetes. Although mitigation measures have global and long-term effects on the climate, their health benefits are local and immediate, which makes them more attractive to politicians and the public.
This research focuses on the role of the health community in climate policy, provides other reasons to advocate for effective and fair mitigation measures, and adds a strong compelling case for sustainable and healthier public policies. These articles also illustrate the large variations in the magnitude of health benefits that can be achieved with any financial investment or reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Failure to prioritize mitigation options that are most conducive to health will waste an important social opportunity and less return on investment.
Today the problem is not one of knowing if climate change is taking place, but how to respond to it in the most effective way. The first step is obvious. In the short term, strengthening health systems and expanding the coverage of inexpensive and proven public health interventions to control climate-sensitive diseases would accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals related to health and save millions of lives.
In the long term, those same measures would also reduce vulnerability to climate change. Responding to climate change is not a distraction from health protection activities, but is part of the same agenda. Now that governments are meeting in Copenhagen on December 7-18 (at the COP15 conference) to reach an agreement on the response to climate change, the health community has three clear messages.
First, climate change poses a great threat to health. Second, strengthening control of the diseases of poverty is essential to protect the most vulnerable populations and is a safe investment in climate change adaptation resources. Third, as this series of articles shows, reducing greenhouse gas emissions can represent a mutually reinforcing opportunity to mitigate climate change and improve public health. Therefore, health protection should be one of the criteria for evaluating mitigation measures.
Tackling climate change is not simply a matter of international agreements or economic costs; is choosing the world we want to live in. Climate change is a price we are paying for myopic policies. The achievement of economic wealth prevailed over the protection of the ecological health of the planet and the most vulnerable sectors of society.
We are fundamentally faced with a choice of values: improvement of the quality of life, protection of the weakest and justice. These values are the same as those that motivate public health, and the health community is fully prepared to face this challenge.