World Health Day – climate change and preschoolers

Today is World Health Day 2008 and the theme this year is “protecting health from the adverse affects of climate change”. On April 7th, the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization, we should think about how climate change is affecting human health – from the higher risks of extreme weather events to changes in the dynamics of infectious diseases. Coming as it does at the end of a winter with near record snowfall (and the record could still be broken), when my thoughts have gone often to the people who live on the streets or who lack the financial resources for heat, it’s a theme that makes sense to me.

The experts say that vulnerable populations – the very young, elderly, medically infirm, poor and isolated – in vulnerable areas – where climate-sensitive diseases are common, water is scarce and food production unstable, on small islands and in mountainous regions – are in particular jeopardy. Of course the actions that we need to take to address this health issue are those that people have been saying are necessary to address environmental degradation for its own sake.

Reid was intrigued by Earth Hour. It might have been the candles that drew her in but even if they are a conversation starter, we still talk about taking care of our planet. We’ll just have an added reason to think about how we can “lighten our environmental footprint” this World Health Day.

Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess offers a series of green tips that are practical for a family with small children. Jennifer at Treehugging Family also writes about living an environmental lifestyle while raising kids. What sorts of conversations do you have with your preschool kids about climate change? Do you tackle health when you do?

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