Monday, April 3, 2017

This Earth Day, focus on education

On Earth Day this year, April 22, take time to think about the environment and climate.
This year’s Earth Day focus is on environmental and climate literacy. The Earth Day Network is offering toolkits to help community members hold events and “Teach-ins” about the importance of climate change awareness, advocating for environmental education in schools and encouraging individuals to take action in their communities.

Climate change, and its impacts on health, have been widely recognized in the public health community. The American Public Health Association declared 2017 the Year of Climate Change and Health, and is dedicated to educating the public on just what a changing world means for them and their families.

"If anyone doesn't think this is a severe problem, they are fooling themselves," said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjami, in the Washington Post.

Water quality and availability, insect-borne diseases and the health impacts of extreme weather events are among the top public health issues regarding climate change.

A recent report from CNN also detailed the lasting impacts climate change has not only on physical health, but on mental health, too. With climate projections predicting an increase in severe weather events, like flooding, heat waves, wildfires, droughts and large storms, the mental and emotional impact of the environment is expected to grow. In the article, British psychologist James Rubin said the impact of climate on mental health needs to be given attention.

“There are a whole host of stressors around (flooding),” said Rubin, whose research centered around the impact of floods. “Preventing (climate change) from happening, from worsening and intervening is really important.”

To learn more about the impact of climate change on health, watch the videos from the national Climate and Health Meeting in Atlanta, Ga., in February. The conference was hosted by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, APHA, The Climate Reality Project, Harvard Global Health Institute and the University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment with support from the Turner Foundation and other organizations.

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