Human activities produce greenhouse gases that affect the composition of earth’s atmosphere. Many people don’t realize that ‘climate change’ and ‘global warning’ are about more than glaciers and polar bears – science proves there is a direct connection between climate change and the health of our community. As the atmosphere changes, we see a direct effect on respiratory diseases like asthma and allergies. As summers become hotter, the risk of heat stroke increases. As sensitive eco-systems respond to changes, disease like West Nile will spread beyond their ‘normal’ locations.
The World Health Organization reports that human-induced changes in the Earth’s climate now lead to at least 5 million cases of illness and more than 150,000 deaths each year.
In our shoreline location, we face particular health dangers. We will have more damaging storms, affecting our food and water supplies. We will see an increase in insect activity and vector-borne diseases. Our children will encounter continuing worsening air quality, increasing the likelihood that they will have respiratory disease and illness.
There are smart choices we can all make that will lessen the impact we face. Small lifestyle changes by each of us will have a big impact on the health of our planet!
- Be Prepared. Inform yourself about the health impacts of climate change and regional climate change issues facing your community and take action to prepare for possible disasters.
- Travel Differently. Leave the car at home and take public transportation instead. Walk or bike – if you need to drive, carpool – and, if you can, telecommute.
- Eat Differently. Buy food from a community farmer’s market and that doesn’t travel across the country to get to your supermarket shelves. Eat more vegetables and less meat.
- Illuminate More Efficiently. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) have become a popular way to provide light, while reducing energy consumption. However, it is important that people area ware that CFLs contain small amounts of mercury and must be handled and disposed of properly to avoid an unnecessary mercury release.
- Green Your Work. Use recycled paper if you don’t already, and even if you do, print less often and on both sides of the paper. Set your computer to energy-saver mode and buy eco-friendly office furniture.
- Green Your Home. Insulate your home so that energy isn’t literally going out the window. Reduce your use of wasteful products, reuse or recycle the products you do use and conserve water.
- Use the National Public Health Week Climate Change Pledge Checklist help track your progress on each of the five areas of change.
- Test your knowledge – take the Climate Change and Health Test!
- Get ideas for energy conservation at Connecticut’s One Thing Site.