The increase of greenhouse gases leads to global warming and results in climate change. Climate change leads to disastrous weather events from hurricanes, to heatwaves, wildfires, and record temperatures that costs society their health. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) addresses climate events from a historical perspective. Since the year 1980, the United States has had 258 weather and climate disasters and the cumulative cost exceeds $1.75 trillion. The most expensive year for weather and climate-related disasters in the United States was in 2017 at around $306 billion (Smith, 2020). Just as the number of billion-dollar disasters is increasing, the health burden of polluting energy sources is now high as well. Reversing global warming will take reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sequestering carbon. To reduce the devastating climate changes, there needs to be deliberate and effective policy changes, a sustainable budget to develop eco-friendly systems and significant public health actions to educate and prevent catastrophic consequences from occurring.
Instead of rapidly discontinuing the use of the chemical compounds heating our planet, there are solutions to progressively reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions trapping in the air. There is a process called carbon sequestration; the long term removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, just as trees do. However, since the climate crisis is happening at an alarming rate, the approach of artificial carbon sequestration is also a concept developed by researchers. Artificial carbon sequestration refers to levels of carbon emissions being captured and stored in soil underground or in other areas within the earth. Another solution could be through a process called Silvopasture. Silvopasture is a farming and agricultural technique to sequester carbon by growing trees in areas of livestock. Trees sequester large amounts of carbon and are typically essential when planted on marginal land. On a large-scale, afforestation; the establishment of a forest in an area that previously did not have forestry is a safe and more inexpensive form of carbon capture.
Other ways to reduce GHG emissions is through renewable energy, sustainable food choices, and sustainable mobility. An example of renewable energy could be through the implementation of solar and wind farms at a local level. These concepts are essential because they do not deplete natural resources, significantly reduce carbon emissions that cause air pollution, and adverse health effects on the population. Reducing GHG in the form of transportation could be through walking or biking, replacing the number of cars with electric buses, or even replacing the number of buses with streetcars. Sustainable transportation is cleaner and does not heavily rely on natural resources.
To obtain the concepts, communities will need to support public policy that is willing to protect our environment. From there, creating a budget and providing public health actions to be essential in working together for viable solutions. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH), public health response to climate change has been favorable in the assessment which includes monitoring climate hazards, diagnosing health status, and assessing vulnerability. However, in the area of policy development and assurance (mitigation, workforce development, and evaluation) public health efforts have been rather weak. (Fox, Zuidema, Bauman, Burke, & Sheehan, 2019). The causes of climate change are at a global level but the health impacts happen at a local level. The climate-adaptive policy has numerous areas of improvement to obtain the goal of protecting the well being of the society at the local level. To carry out restructuring efforts, public health will need to step in as a natural leader in the new decade.
To enhance these efforts, taking steps in our day-to-day lives to reduce our energy consumption can also contribute to a reduction in GHG emissions. Actions can be taken in our personal lives by investing in LED light bulbs, changing our diet, or even installing solar panels in our homes. Overall, consuming less, planting more trees, and installing renewable energy sources results in less carbon dioxide and less warming.
Fox, M., Zuidema, C., Bauman, B., Burke, T., & Sheehan, M. (2019, September 4). Integrating Public Health into Climate Change Policy and Planning: State of Practice Update. International journal of environmental research and public health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6765852/
Smith, A. B. (2020, January 8). 2010-2019: A landmark decade of U.S. billion-dollar weather and climate disasters: NOAA Climate.gov. Retrieved from https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/beyond-data/2010-2019-landmark-decade- us-billion-dollar-weather-and-climate