Climate crisis is a health crisis: Alberta researcher

When people think about climate change they think of it as an environmental issue — but not always as a health issue — but a new research hub out of the University of Alberta is bringing more attention to that.

The Climate Change and Health Hub has brought together more than 30 researchers with a goal of shifting the view of climate change impacts. 

“It’s really important to think about climate change as a health issue,” explained Sherilee Harper, a Canada Research Chair in Climate Change and Health & Professor at the University of Alberta School of Public Health.

“There’s some really good research in the United States showing that if we frame climate change as a health issue it’s more likely to inspire people to take action compared to if we frame climate change as an environmental problem, or as an economic problem, or as a national security problem.” 

Tuesday afternoon, hundreds gathered for a panel session with Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam to officially launch the hub and learn more about climate change research.

Not only are there impacts on one’s physical health, like respiratory illnesses from wildfire smoke, but mental health too, as people come to terms with the devastation they are seeing around the world.

“It doesn’t matter what the hazard is, it impacts health in a number of multifaceted ways,” said Harper.

According to the World Health Organization, climate change is expected to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050. The hub’s goal is to fill the gaps in climate change research and its impacts on health.

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