Tackling climate change is a health opportunity

Divide Mtn & Lower St Marys Lake in Smoke Season.JPG
Photo by Rikki Ollinger.

Global health researchers recently concluded that “climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century”. It’s already hurting our health and economy, costing hundreds of billions of dollars each year, particularly with an increasing number of extreme weather events.

This means that directly responding to the roots of climate change and its impacts provides a major opportunity to improve global health. In fact, the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change (a team of leading medical researchers from around the world) concluded that “tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century” (read more here).

We put human health first by prioritizing climate change action.

How can the Blackfeet Nation and the global community take action?

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change Countdown recommends we:

  • Encourage transition to cities that support and promote healthy lifestyles for individuals and the planet by:
    • increasing access to green spaces
    • increasing access to low-cost active transportation like cycling and walking
    • developing highly energy-efficient buildings
  • Rapidly expand access to renewable energy, unlocking substantial economic gains and promoting health equity
  • Adopt mechanisms to facilitate collaboration between health departments and other government departments, empowering health professional and ensuring that health and climate considerations are thoroughly integrated in government-wide strategies
  • Invest in climate change and public health research
  • Scale up financing for climate-resilient health systems
  • Phase out coal-fired power to protect cardiovascular and respiratory health

The Blackfeet Nation already offers vast and varied access to green spaces, and we can continue to do so even as our cities grow. We can encourage our people to walk and cycle, and we can promote policies that encourage new buildings to have high energy efficiency. Through support from the National Indian Health Board, we are already encouraging conversations about health and climate change between government departments, and collaboration will grow as we seek to become increasingly resilient to climate change.

Learn more about our efforts to shape our own future in a changing climate.

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