‘It’s critical’: Public health, climate experts share vision to create resilient communities

SPOKANE, Wash. — When severe weather hits, everyone feels the impact. The Inland Northwest has its fair share of dangerous weather systems that health and climate experts say play a major role in people’s overall wellbeing.

“People are displaced from their communities and their homes due to a lot of these impacts of climate change. All of these indirect impacts of climate change have health effects — asthma, mental health impacts from stress or displacement,” said Amber Lenhart.

She’s a public health, policy and climate expert who works to help people see the intersection between health and climate.

She, along with Dr. Bob Lutz, spoke on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at the Hemmingson Center to address the Climate Crisis as a Public Health Crisis. She says climate change has effects people see early on such as extended periods of bad air quality and more severe weather. It also has long-lasting effects on people’s bodies.

“When you breathe in wildfire smoke, the effects that has on your lungs, your respiratory systems. you’re taking in particulate matter, chemicals,” she added. “That all has an effect on your body.”

She says everyone can play a part in the growing crisis by recycling, driving less, transitioning to electric cars and voting for policies that help the environment. Taking these steps will ensure the community can be resilient in the future.

“Every single one of us has an important role in this issue,” Lenhart said.

She says bringing health and climate issues together will keep more people safe and healthy in the future.

“It’s critical we’re having this conversation now so that we can protect our children and their children from some of these health implications of climate change,” she said.

If you want to watch her presentation live from Gonzaga, you can do that HERE.

You can also learn more about regional climate issues and solutions from Gonzaga’s Center for Climate, Society and the Environment.

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