It is widely recognised that global climate change is already having long-term health consequences, which expose people to conditions that can result in illness and death due to respiratory illness, such as asthma, heat-related stress, effects of flooding and colder weather, and insect-borne diseases. Furthermore increased UV radiation has increased the incidences of skin cancer.
Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health for Northern Ireland, said: “Many of the activities that contribute to climate change lead to ill-health. Fortunately positive steps such as walking or cycling instead of driving and eating less meat and processed foods can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers and be more friendly on the environment.
“Fewer cars also mean less trauma, less air pollution and less respiratory disease. Insulating your home makes it warmer, drier and more efficient, making it a healthier place to live, less costly to run and reduces our carbon footprints. Preserving the natural environment and spending time in green spaces has proven to have mental and physical health benefits.
“There are co-benefits for the health system and for health, in reducing your carbon footprint.” Dr Harper added: “It is important to bring about a long-term shift in the way people approach climate change and get them to adopt a number of changes that can be made to move towards a low-carbon society.”
Simple, yet effect ways to reduce your carbon footprint and lessen the impact of global warming are:
• Get active – why drive when you can walk or cycle to work? This will improve general fitness, reduce your risk of being overweight/obese and have a positive impact on your mental health
• Shop locally – If you can, buy local and try to avoid imported goods. Foods transported from other countries use huge amounts of fuel.
• Reduce, reuse, recycle – Reduce: If you don’t buy so much stuff in the first place, then you don’t need to reuse or recycle it. Reuse whatever you can, like plastic supermarket bags. If you can’t reuse something, recycle it!
• Turn it off and shut it down – Leaving electrical equipment, including TVs and computer monitors on standby uses a surprising amount of energy. If you are not using something switch it off.
Work out your carbon footprint by visiting www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx
Notes to the editor
The Climate Change Act (2008) – reduce the UK carbon footprint by 34% by 2020, and 80% by 2050.
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.