When we think of climate change, the images we conjure up often have to do with melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and severe drought. These scenes, highlighted through the media, make for colorful photographs and stark associations. But the impacts of climate change can also be nuanced in ways that cannot be captured in a picture – and as those impacts can have the greatest effects on children’s health, they certainly deserve our attention.
One of the great benefits of advocating for climate solutions is that it’s a way to improve children’s health by providing better access to clean air and reducing pollutants in their daily environment. Whether the solutions involve clean energy, energy conservation, or a range of environmentally friendly practices – from sustainable foods to green consumer products – they can address several children’s health problems directly. Here are three major children’s health issues that environmentally sound solutions address:
Problem #1: Asthma. More than 6 million American children have asthma. Pollen and smog, both increased by climate change, can trigger asthma attacks. Moms Clean Air Force recently produced a new brochure that touches on the overlaps between climate change and asthma. In the brochure, Dr. Jay Portnoy, director of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MS, and past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, talks about climate change as a magnifier of this problem. He notes that “pollen counts never used to cross the 1,000 mark in spring time. But now we see three straight months where pollen counts are over 1,000 every single day.”
Solution: Decrease our carbon emissions from fossil-fuel energy sources and transportation, which contribute to air pollution. Lowering carbon emissions would also address the issue of rising carbon dioxide levels, which allow some trees and plants to make more (and more potent) pollen. In a nut shell, lessening air pollution and pollen will reduce asthma.