Climate change and your health

Environment & Animal Welfare

Vital Conversation details the personal risks and realities of the climate crisis.
Kim Perrotta
Kim Perrotta, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)’s Senior Director for Climate Health and Policy.

The Winnipeg Foundation, in partnership with Green Action Centre, presented a Vital Conversation called Your Health: The Risks and Realities of Climate Change. The event was held at the University of Manitoba’s Bannatyne Campus in September. Approximately 150 people gathered to hear a keynote presentation by Kim Perrotta, Senior Director for Climate Health and Policy at the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE).When we hear the words ‘climate change’, global warming and melting glaciers come to mind. But what about stress, health problems, and nutrition challenges? These elements of our health – and many others – are all affected by climate change.

Heat and weather extremes, air pollution, food and water insecurity and the stress that go along with the uncertainty of these events, are all examples of the direct impact climate change is having on the health of Canadians, Perrotta says. But with crisis comes opportunity – the benefits that climate solutions can have on our health. Solutions like using public transit, walking and cycling have the immediate health benefit of increasing physical activity, improving mental health, fostering childhood development and reducing some types of cancers and diseases.

Perrotta was joined by panelists, Dr. Ian Mauro from the Prairie Climate Centre, and Heather Mitchell, Sustainable Transportation Coordinator for Winnipeg’s Green Action Centre. Dr. Mauro, a world-renowned filmmaker, environmental and social scientist, demonstrated the Prairie Climate Atlas, an interactive website developed by the Centre that uses climate science, mapping and storytelling to bring the global issue of climate change closer to home. Mitchell outlined Winnipeg-based transportation initiatives, such as the Commuter Challenge, GoManitoba and Peg City Car Co-op, which are having real impact on greenhouse gas emissions and citizens’ health.

“Researchers and advocates are urging us towards collective, systemic change in order to meet our targets, which is both necessary and important, but Green Action Centre doesn’t want to lose sight of how important individual actions are,” Mitchell says.

Vital Conversations convene citizens on issues of importance, as determined by the community. They were born out of the community’s enthusiastic response to sessions held as a part of Winnipeg’s 2017 Vital Signs® initiative.

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What you said

We asked attendees:
Which impact of climate change are you most concerned about when it comes to your health?

  • 77% water security
  • 62% food security
  • 54% vector-borne diseases (i.e. lyme disease, west nile virus, etc.)
  • 47% respiratory health (heart and lung)
  • 47% stress
  • 38% heat exhaustion/ stroke
  • 9% other

This story is featured in the Fall 2019 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

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