There is now a growing consensus that the next 18 months will be critical to be dealing with the global climate crisis.
Our mission at the Center for the Promotion of Global Health is to find innovative solutions to support climate action, to consequently promote global health, and global mental health.
Our current projects support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and focus on Goal Number 13: Climate Action as well as Goal Number 3: Good Health & Wellbeing.
A new study of climate change from Tufts University looked at over 5 million potential pathways for humanity, with very few predicting an Earth that is not severely warmed. It is clear to all that the environmental consequences of unchecked climate change are already being seen around the world, including extreme heatwaves, flooding, intense hurricanes, droughts and degraded air quality.
Our top priority at this time, is to support the Paris Climate Change Agreement, established within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015, the main outcome of the agreement being that global temperature increases should be limited to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. Global temperature rise above 2 °C will entail grave consequences in many parts of the World.
We want to do so by bringing billions of people in a global lobby group on behalf of the environment, and offering education and encouraging advocacy.
Given these grave consequences, the Paris Agreement is an urgent initiative to support at this time. However, the Paris agreement is by itself insufficient to reach our goals. Further actions are needed to prevent further global temperature increase. The political will to implement the actions necessary is not matching the urgency of the situation.
There is agreement among experts in the field that a grassroots movement is needed. This is already occurring but needs to develop at a faster rate.
We need to move rapidly to 100% clean and renewable energy, and to reduce carbon emissions across all sectors of the economy. There is agreement amongst experts that we need to move to net zero global emissions by 2050. Governments should also have a responsibility to prioritize high-quality jobs in climate change vulnerable communities, as well as de-industrialized communities.
The World Economic Forum in 2017 discussed a Sierra Club Report discussing the importance of working with communities historically dependant on the fossil fuel industry for employment through all stages of the transition to clean energy. This includes opening markets to ensure that these workers have jobs to go to.
The good news is that renewable energy technologies have been improving by leaps and bounds. Storage and wind systems make power from wind and sun increasingly viable. Individuals, businesses, and governments globally are making great efforts on behalf of climate change sustainability in mind. Young people have lead the way in organizing school strikes on behalf of the planet’s future.
Global Mental Health
It is clear that ecological grief and anxiety linked to the anticipation of environmental losses will increase in prevalence, and may particularly impact children and youth who are currently growing up with ‘doom and gloom’ narratives. It is estimated that by 2050, if there is no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, there will be a 14,020 excess in suicides in the US and 7,460 excess suicides in Mexico. Climate related catastrophes are linked to rising rates of PTSD, anxiety and depression.
This being the case, our second priority concerning global health is to support the WHO’s mandate focused on mental health. Our projects aim to promote mental health and resilience in youth.
According to the Centre for Global Mental Health, the majority of people living with mental, neurological and substance disorders do not have access to basic health care, making this a global health crisis.
Since April 2017, the WHO has been leading a one-year campaign to fight depression. With an increase of 18% in cases of depression worldwide, summing to 200+ million people being affected by the disease (WHO), it has become clear that urgent action is needed to overcome mental health challenges and encourage rehabilitation.
More and more children and adults are suffering from ecological grief- this is the grief felt in relation to experienced or anticipated ecological losses.
It has been estimated that by 2050, if there is no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, there will be 14 020 excess suicides in the US and 7 460 excess suicides in Mexico. These rates are comparable to the effects on suicide incidence due to economic recessions and unemployment.
Research recently published in JAMA pediatrics that was done at the Montreal children’s hospital, showed a doubling in suicidal attempts and ideation amongst children and adolescents in US emergency departments between 2007 and 2015.
Our vision is that in addition to focusing on climate change, the monthly meetings organized through the EarthLive app could also provide exciting opportunities for the building of resilience skills, as well as possibly mental health screening.
Bringing youth together in this way will provide them added opportunities for connection and community which have been shown to be an extremely important factor in bolstering resilience. Families coming together in homes to work together could also have many important mental health benefits.