Dr. Katherine Oldfield is a naturopathic physician, mother, and active member of the Nelson-West Kootenay chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Photo: Submitted

Dr. Katherine Oldfield is a naturopathic physician, mother, and active member of the Nelson-West Kootenay chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Photo: Submitted

COLUMN: Restore our Earth, restore our health

Katherine Oldfield marks Earth Day by writing about the priorities we need to have

By Katherine Oldfield

Citizen’s Climate Lobby Nelson-West Kootenay

The theme for Earth Day 2021 on April 22 is Restore Our Earth. Restoration is a hopeful word, and hope is an important ingredient in the age of COVID. The impacts of the pandemic have illustrated with painful clarity that the planet faces two crises and they are connected: global environmental degradation and its connection to our health.

We all need to help restore our Earth. In the words of the organizers, “not just because we care about the natural world, but because we live on it. We all need a healthy Earth to support our jobs, livelihoods, health and survival, and happiness. A healthy planet is not an option — it is a necessity.”

Simply put, human health is at stake and the health of our earth’s ecosystems are in crisis. The World Health Organization has declared climate change to be the largest threat to human health this century. The Lancet Countdown report on health and climate change focused their 2019 report on ensuring that the health of a child born today is not defined by a changing climate.

Let’s think about the first baby born in our community in 2021. What will we have done for them when they are nine years old in 2030? What kind of life do we envision for them at 29 years old in 2050? Science tells us that by 2030 we need to not only have plans firmly in place to prevent devastating warming of our planet, we need to cut our climate pollution in half. By 2050 at the latest, we need to have reached net-zero greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Healthcare providers recognize that our changing — and increasingly chaotic — climate is threatening to undermine the past 50 years of gains in public health. They are aware of the burden that air pollution, wildfires, food shortages, human migration, and worsening mental health problems are having on human health and the cost of delivering care. The most vulnerable face the worst outcomes.

As a result, healthcare providers are becoming increasingly vocal about climate change and its impact on health. Organizations like the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment are pushing for effective climate policies. Locally, semi-retired nurse Judith Fearing recently founded The West Kootenay Network of Healthcare Professionals for a Healthy Climate.

As this pandemic has illustrated so clearly, there is nothing more important than our health. Unless we place solving the climate crisis as the top priority in our COVID-19 recovery, we will continue to damage our health and strain our economy.

For Earth Day let’s embrace the idea of radical transformation to a just and equitable society that takes climate change as seriously as we have COVID. Let’s rally all our resources to ramp up a plan to tackle it, working collaboratively and creatively as is required. This is bigger than COVID; our planetary health is at stake.

If we value the health of the children who will be growing up while the world’s leaders and governments deal with the largest reckoning in our lifetime, then let’s push now for real leadership and action on climate. That leadership needs to come from all of us — community members, business owners, institutions, and all levels of government.

Let’s celebrate this Earth Day as the one where we decide to have hope in restoration and put the health of our planet and the beings living on it first.

Just Posted

File photo
Paramedic training returning to Castlegar

Emergency Medical Responder and Primary Care Paramedic training to take place in Castlegar

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

South Okanagan MP Richard Cannings wants to see dental coverage for all Canadians. (courtesy of Pixabay)
OPINION: South Okanagan MP fights for universal dental care

One in three Canadians have no dental coverage, with COVID making it even worse

COVID-19 cases are once again dropping across the West Kootenay. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Ten new cases of COVID-19 in Nelson area

Numbers are steadily dropping across the West Kootenay

Dep. Fire Chiefs Rich Piché (left) and Stephane Dionne said they were disappointed that only one person showed up at the George Evans fire hall’s recruitment drive Tuesday evening, May. 11. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks Fire/Rescue says rural fire hall at risk of closing

Home insurance could spike across North Fork if George Evans fire hall loses fire protection status

Conservation Service Officer Kyle Bueckert holds a gold eagle that was revived from acute rodent poisoning Monday, May 12. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks residents, Conservation Service Officer save poisoned eagle

CSO Kyle Bueckert released the eagle into the wild Thursday, May 13

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

The Libby Dam on the Kootenai River in Montana. The dam created the Koocanusa Reservoir, which straddles the B.C./Montana border. (photo courtesy Wikipedia)
Outflow at Libby Dam to be increased

Volume increase to aid migration and spawning conditions for endangered white sturgeon in the Kootenai River

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Most Read