Framing Climate Change as a Health Issue

Published on October 09, 2018

Climate Change Health Issue

 

The World Health Organization had identified climate change as ‘the defining issue for public health during this century’ over a decade ago, and since then a number of public health professionals have been keeping track of climate-related effects on Ontarians’ health. As the effects of climate change are becoming more noticeable in our environment - such as an increase in wildfires - so too are the health effects of climate change becoming more prevalent in both media coverage and in our population.

Some of the health issues that have been increased due to climate change include: heart and respiratory diseases, allergies, asthma among children, risk of injury or death due to extreme weather conditions, temperature-related complications such as heart attacks or heat stroke, and diseases such as West Nile and Lyme Disease. As these health issues are slowly receiving more coverage, research has shown that framing climate change as a health issue allows the public to see a more noticeable and immediate effect of climate change on their own lives, and may help to bring new people to the climate change conversation that were not previously involved.

The Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) is now in collaboration with nine other environmental and health organizations that are helping to build public support for climate change, presenting it as more than just an environmental issue, including: Asthma Canada, the Ontario Lung Association, and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario. The Atmospheric Fund’s initiative topresent climate change with a ‘health first message’ is intended to engage a wider audience, thereby increasing public awareness and involvement in climate change issues.

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