Our decisions, our health, our future and climate change

Broad changes to our region’s climate, like increasing temperatures, decreased summer precipitation, and extreme weather events, are impacting our health in many ways. The highlighted and underlined links below describe different ways climate change is impacting our health now and how it could impact our health in the future (you can click on any of the links to take you to further information in these areas). The word “could” is important here because the decisions we make influence health, as do climate change impacts to the surrounding environment.

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A Pikuni Rainbow. We our making decisions now so that our children can have a better future. Photos by Blackfeet community members.

Our decisions and actions CAN influence the degree to which our community will experience these impacts to our health.

As an example, climate change is bringing hotter summer temperatures, and extreme events like heat waves are expected in the future. Proactive decisions and actions taken before and during a heat wave can prevent health impacts like dehydration and heat stroke. Should a specific heat wave be predicted in Blackfeet Country, the decision to identify older adults and children living in places without air conditioning, and then assist with transporting them to a cool place could protect them from dehydration and heat stroke. Proactive planning and action can prevent catastrophic outcomes like the heat wave fatalities experienced in France in 2003 and America in 2017.

Impact of Climate Change on Human Health
Climate change impacts human health in many ways, as illustrated by this diagram from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

We draw from reports by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to briefly describe some of the possible health outcomes that are most relevant to Blackfeet Country. These pages do not include all possible health impacts and outcomes, nor do they include all possible risks and responses. Instead, each page lists categories of health outcomes with some likelihood of affecting people in Blackfeet Country in this century. The pages offer ideas for adaptation as a way to help begin community discussions about how best to adapt to health-related impacts of climate change. It is important to keep in mind that our decisions and actions can influence the degree to which our community will experience these impacts to our health. Being proactive and making decisions now to safeguard health will help us be more resilient.

Our decisions and actions can influence the degree to which our community will experience changing climate impacts to our health.

Climate change is impacted by many different decisions that interact with each other. Because there are so many interacting variables, it is impossible to know the future. Instead, scientists make predictions with various levels of uncertainty. We invite you to read the three reports mentioned above to get a better sense of the uncertainty around each prediction (from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

We encourage you to consider some of the impacts and adaptation ideas presented on the following health-related impacts of climate change in Blackfeet Country:

You can also read about how climate change might be viewed as a health opportunity.

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