The Paris Agreement of 2016 was different. Not only because countries finally agreed to do something against the climate crisis, but is also had a different perspective. The Paris Agreement doesn’t just focus on climate change and its effects. Sounds crazy? Well, not entirely. Not everybody sees the urgency to do something against the climate crisis immediately and so we need to show the other benefits as well! There are many, but today I am talking about the benefits of a sustainable world for our health. I want to discuss the relationship between sustainability and health.
The arguments I am sharing today are almost impossible to encounter. There are people who think the climate crisis is not urgent. They obviously don’t know the facts and the science, but still, these people are around. Unfortunately, these people also are in the highest positions in politics around the world. Of course this is a massive problem. That’s the reason why we should also address other problems concerning our current economical system. It’s one thing to say: we don’t need to act on the climate crisis. However, it’s a completely different thing to not want health for everybody on the planet. I mean, who wouldn’t want clean air and less heart attacks? You just can’t encounter the argument of health.
We could decrease the number of deaths per year enormously if we implement climate policy. Here’s some of the diseases/problems which are related to the climate crisis.
Air Pollution. Clean energy would also mean clean air. I mean, who doesn’t want clean air? If we switch to renewable energy we could improve the air quality to unprecedented levels. 5 million people die premature from air pollution each year. 5 million lives we could save, every year. Along with that comes the diseases, air pollution makes people sick and decreases their quality of life. It’s one of the biggest risks on poor health. So, we die earlier and have lower quality of life because of air pollution. This could all be lowered if our economy switched to renewable energy (Source).
Obesity. Another big killer. Obesity often doesn’t come alone. People who are heavily obese often have high blood pressure or diabetes as well. Obesity is also a great risk for developing cancer. 4.7 million people die premature from obesity each year. If we may believe the World Health Organization obesity is the result of 2 things. 1. an increase of calories by food that are high in sugar or fat. Now, what food is bad for the planet, is consumed a lot in the countries where people suffer most from obesity and has a high amount of calories and fat? Right, animal products.
As you might know, going vegan is one of the best things you can do for the planet. It’s also amazing for your health. The second thing that the WHO considers a massive contributor to obesity is the fact that we are less active. Society is highly urbanized and therefore we are less active. We use cars to move around instead of biking or walking. We sit all day at the office instead of moving around. The most sustainable thing to do is also the healthiest thing to do. (Source and Source). *
The lack of green. One of the most promising ways to do something about the climate crisis is to take CO2 from the air. Which organisms do this best? Right, plants. We need more green areas! Not only in the form of nature reserves (where animals would also thrive which would be good for diversity and therefore for us), but also in cities. We need to arrange our cities different for a sustainable future. Green roofs, more parks and nature areas, urban farming, etc. This is not only good when combating climate change, it’s also good for our health. A green environment can reduce stress, can stimulate people to move and make people interact with each other, to name a few example. (Source).
‘5 million people die premature from air pollution each year‘Our World in Data
These are just a few examples on a global level. There are more example to be named, some small, some big. I hope you get my point. If we have a sustainable future, we have a healthy future. However, I want to say something about this issue on a personal level. I think every step you take to a more sustainable lifestyle brings you health on a personal level too.
If you bike more than drive by car you’ll exercise more, which is better for your health. Also, if you go vegan you’ll have a lower blood pressure and often a lower fat percentage, which is better for your health. If your house or neighborhood contains a lot of plants and green you’ll have less stress, which is better for your health. Maybe it seems impossible to tackle something like air pollution on a global level, but remember that every personal step you takes benefits you personally! We can create a future by combating the climate crisis while we’ll be helping ourselves at the same time. We must recognize that there’s a relationship between sustainability and health.
*I am not writing this to fat-shame or create fat-phobia. There is nothing wrong with someone who is heavily obese, let me be clear. I hope to emphasize that the system we live in makes us highly vulnerable to develop obesity and that this brings risks along.
What do you think of the relationship between sustainability and health?