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