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Climate change is impacting your health

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POSTED: April 23, 2008 5:00 a.m.
National Public Health Week is April 7-13 and this year's theme is "Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance."
The National Public Health Association wants to use this time to help us understand the direct connection between climate change and the health of our nation.
Few of us are aware of the consequences of climate change on the health of our communities, our families and our children. But knowing this is important: It is important for our children and their children!
Scientists around the world continue to debate how the climate is changing, but none discount the role human activity plays in these changes. Greenhouse gases from fossil fuels we burn are causing temperatures on our planet to increase.
These changes have a dramatic affect on human health. And although the impact is different in different parts of the world, the effects are disproportionately burdensome for the world's more vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, the poor and those with chronic and other health conditions. These groups are the most vulnerable because they are most susceptible to extreme weather events like heat waves, drought, intense storms and floods.
The World Health Organization reported that the climate change which occurred from 1961 to 1990 may already be causing more than 150,000 deaths or the loss of over 5.5 million disability adjusted life years. While these numbers are staggering, they are not as surprising to public health officials and scientist.  
Suggestions of ways we can play a part in combating these changes include:
1. Travel differently -- Leave the car at home, use public transportation, carpool, walk, bike or telecommute. The transportation sector is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases. Encouraging people to walk, bike, use public transportation or carpool is co-beneficial, as it helps reduce vehicle emissions and helps improve an individual's health. Similarly, improving community design to reduce reliance on cars means less greenhouse gases and less obesity, diabetes and even asthma exacerbation because of cleaner air.
2. Eat differently -- Eat less meat and buy local produce from farmer markets. Eating less meat reduces the need to convert land from forest or grassland to grazing fields; requires less corn to be grown for feed (meaning less pesticides and other fossil fuel-based products needed in the growing process) and reduces the output of methane gases from manure.
3. Green your work -- Use recycled paper, print less, use energy saving computer settings and green our office.
4. Green your home -- Seal and insulate our homes, reduce, reuse, recycle and use water efficiently.
5. Educate yourself, your family and your community about the connection between climate change and health.
This material came directly from National Public Health Week Web site, www.nphw.org
 

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