Declare Climate Crisis Threat to Global Public Health

Target: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization

Goal: Increase resources, investment, and response by declaring climate crisis a global health emergency.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported a significant global surge in cholera cases. This disease, spurred by contaminated water or food, is increasing not only in frequency but in deadliness. Flood-ravaged regions like Pakistan and drought-vulnerable nations in Africa are battling particularly concerning epidemics, made worse by a lack of access to medications and vaccines. These deeply troubling outbreaks represent just one of the many threats that climate change poses to public health.

Research has consistently found links between water-borne diseases like cholera and precipitation rates. Widescale changes in temperatures and habitats also bring communities in more frequent contact with wildlife and disease-carrying organisms like mosquitos, significantly upping the risk of the next pandemic-inducing virus jumping to humans. Climate shifts can even make these diseases more resilient while weakening our immune system’s defenses. Drought, for example, can have a significantly negative impact on the body’s inflammatory responses.

Even setting aside the potential for more infectious diseases, large temperature and precipitation deviations along with degraded air and water quality take a more direct and punishing toll. Heat stroke, dehydration, malnutrition, respiratory distress, and cancer are just a few of the health hazards made more urgent by the climate crisis. It is well past time to fully recognize climate change as a critical threat to public health.

Sign the petition below to urge the world’s foremost health organization to take this needed step.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Dr. Ghebreyesus,

The World Health Organization estimates health costs for climate-related conditions to be in the billions per year, with a quarter of a million deaths directly traced to climate stress. This organization has studied the effects of climate on infectious disease, heatstroke, malnutrition, and a number of other illnesses. It has sought to educate the global community about these dangers, and it has championed initiatives on climate resiliency, vaccination programs, and more through efforts like the COP26 Health Programme.

What is has not done, however, is to declare an international public health emergency. This step has been taken for other threats that constitute a serious danger and a widescale disruption to the global order. If the climate crisis does not meet these specifications, then what does?

Research has demonstrated how past emergency declarations led to more mobilized, robust, and effective responses. Please help unite all countries in confronting this existential threat to the health of all people and the health of the planet we all call home.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: CDC 


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