23 Apr Link between Climate Change and Health
During a round-table discussion on the impacts of climate change on public health at Howard University in Washington on April 7 2015, United States President Barack Obama made the case that protecting public health is as important as cutting greenhouse gas emissions in tackling climate change.
President Obama revealed a series of initiatives to draw attention to the public health issues associated with climate change. Amongst the initiatives announced were convening stakeholders, identifying solutions to minimise impacts and expanding access to climate and health data.
Obama restated his commitments to combating the health impacts of climate change and protecting the health of future generations. In his announcement Obama highlighted the doubling in the percentage of American people with asthma in the last three decades, and that climate change is putting these and other vulnerable individuals (e.g. children, the elderly, the sick and the poor) at increased risk of hospitalisation. He also noted that higher temperatures can lead to increased frequencies of smog episodes and injuries related to extreme weather events as well as longer allergy seasons.
In a unique partnership with the United States Government, public and private entities have jointly pledged to make health and climate related data more easily available to the general public. Google will donate 10 million man hours to map out climate related data on Google Earth, and Microsoft will develop a prototype to detect infectious diseases before they become outbreaks.
President Obama should be applauded for his continued leadership in the climate space, and the multinational nature of Google and Microsoft means that it is possible for such initiatives to be replicated virtually worldwide. The other important piece is of course Government support, however the increasing power of social media means that citizens are able to bring issues to the attention of their Government very quickly and that Governments are under more pressure to show leadership to avoid criticism and loss of popularity. If you believe that this initiative would be beneficial in your country and that the Government should form a similar partnership with Google and Microsoft, please share this blog with your friends, family, colleagues and social media friends/connections/followers.