Climate change is ongoing and accelerating. It has enormous implications for human health, and it is being manifested in rising sea levels and increased numbers of extreme weather events. Extreme weather events and new record high temperatures are being reported around the globe. Resulting changes in water availability and the disconnect between temperature and photoperiod cues are challenging the agricultural systems that support our growing human population. Such outcomes are associated with increased armed conflicts and displaced refugee populations. The ranges of vectors that spread infectious diseases are increasing which leads to climate plagues, especially among affected populations.
Human activity is a driving force behind this climate change, with emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases playing a large part. Decreasing emissions and enhancing “sinks” that accumulate and store these gases, such as oceans, forests, and soil, are ways to mitigate climate change. This requires a concerted move to a more sustainable way of living with alternative energy sources and better use of resources. While such mitigation measures are extremely important, adaptation, by which people reduce their vulnerability to the effects of climate change, is also important.
Although climate change is an existential threat, there is not a universal recognition of its importance. What is the best way to communicate about this topic to impress upon the public the crisis that is imminent? How will climate change affect human health? How can leaders make decisions in order to avoid negative outcomes that have not yet occurred?
The “one-health” approach recognizes the complex interrelations between humans, animals and the environment when addressing the global climate change challenge. Sea levels are rising, growing seasons and migration patterns are changing and extreme weather events are increasing. It is clear that climate change is negatively impacting the environment, animals and humans. Our future depends on effective, concerted efforts to address the challenges.
St. Edward’s University is committed to sustainability: