Artifacts and musings throughout HS 3250G

Archive for March, 2013

Health and the Environment

Today I heard of the Million Tree Challenge (http://www.milliontrees.ca/). It was advertised at the top of my calendar that has the recycling collection. I had never heard of this challenge before. At the same time, I noticed that Earth Hour is coming up soon. It made me think about how the environment is related to the health of the world’s population. I realized that it’s related in ways like as the temperature of the world rises, we will see an increase in insect-borne diseases as they proliferate north where it used to be too cold to for these insects to reside. So that’s things like Lyme Disease (where there isn’t adequate testing because it is so infrequently seen this far north) and malaria. Air pollution has obvious health effects such as respiratory difficulties and it is becoming a growing problem in developing nations like China and India where they have technology but it isn’t so advanced as to be “clean” technology. But even in Canada, we have too many “poor air quality” days in the summer and sometimes even the winter. When people can’t go outside because the air pollution is too bad, it could cause them not to exercise, which exacerbates the obesity problem. However, desertification of arable land is occuring, which means less space to grow crops and raise livestock (never mind less space due to urbanization). We saw the effects of drought this summer when the souther USA was hit hard by drought and farmers didn’t have enough hay to feed their cows and pigs. Meat and milk prices rose as a result and there were talks of a pork shortage. When the prices of food rise, people turn to cheaper, processed alternatives, which affects their health because poor diet leads to a myriad of health issues like cardiovascular disease, obesity and cancer. As glaciers melt, water levels in the world will rise. This, combined with desertification (and the resultant forest fires), will lead to the creation of “environmental refugees”. As people try and cram into less and less space, the incidence of communicable diseases will rise. In addition, in order to feed this population with no room to naturally produce food, we will have to resort more and more to genetically modifying food, even cloning plants in labs as species die out. The long term effects of GMOs are unknown thus far.

However, after thinking about this, I came upon a BBC article: ” Fun and games ‘can save the planet'” (link included at the end of post) which discussed the potential for long term changes in individual environmental impact and behaviour through engaging in competitive and incentive-based games. They also mentioned in the article that this strategy could be applied to health promotion behaviour changes as well.  I definitely look forward to seeing the results of this new study in several months.

Sources:

Fun and games ‘can save the planet’. (2013, March 7). BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21655918

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Poverty

I started preparing for this week’s class by watching the video link contained in the resource for this week. I am a huge fan of TED talks so I was happily surprised to discover that I would be watching a clip of one. I though that the video was amazing and inspiring. Firstly, I had no idea that they were doing social housing projects in Africa, so that was something that was nice to know was that they were taking a similar approach to improving living conditions for low-income families as we do here in North America and maybe even doing a better job of it that we are, what with Joe Fontana and his zero-percent tax increase strategy that means slashing assistance for social housing projects and funding to organizations to help the homeless here in London.  I loved that Jane, the woman from Nairobi who was mentioned in the talk was so positive about life even though she was HIV positive. It made me think of my CSL project where I’m working with Western Heads East. At out first meeting we watched a video that talked with some of the recipients of the yogurt that the mamas from the project make and I was so amazed to see how happy and upbeat they were, in spite of haing HIV and how much they wanted to help others. I like that projects like Western Heads East and microcredit projects use industry to help people to help themselves. It makes me think of that old saying: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life”. And I really do think that is what is essential to alleviating poverty is giving people the skills and education to be able to help themselves and their families and their communities.