For World Health Day (7th April), we interviewed Amiteshwar, a student doctor and Mock COP Staff member to learn more about the intersection of health and climate change.
Health is inherently political and there is more work to be done.
- Why is World Health Day important?
World Health Day is an annual event that provides a platform for individuals and organizations to discuss and collaborate on health initiatives and policies to ensure everyone has access to good health and healthcare. This year, the theme is ‘Health for all’, which will focus on ensuring health equity for communities across the globe.
2. What motivated you to work at the intersection of health and climate?
Upon joining medical school, I entered the realm of global health and discovered that climate change poses the greatest threat to public health. As I delved deeper, I found a supportive community working towards justice. Health is inherently political and there is more work to be done – the effects of colonial violence are evident in the contaminated food and water we consume, necessitating our resistance. I am simply one of many within the movement who has joined the fight founded by many before me, and hopefully one which will be carried by many after.
3. How does climate change impact health and well-being?
Climate change can impact health and well-being in various ways, such as increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, spreading disease-carrying vectors, worsening air quality, and affecting food and water security. It is essential to recognize that the same factors driving climate change also fuel health inequity: colonialism, infinite economic expansion, and greed. This has resulted in catastrophic health consequences, such as the stealing of lands from communities that rely on them for sustenance, culture, and well-being. Moreover, cultural oppression also has a direct impact on health, as spaces designated for healing within the community are seized.
4. What about mental health, is there a connection there?
The disruptions to ecosystems and the environment caused by climate change can result in increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, can lead to trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The effects of climate change can also have social and economic consequences that contribute to mental health problems. For example, displacement due to climate-related disasters can result in a loss of community, support networks, and a sense of identity, which can lead to feelings of isolation and hopelessness. These experiences are only inflamed further by the continuous extractive growth of fossil fuel companies that destroy communities and their safe spaces.
5. How is Mock COP working to address this?
Mock COP is leveraging education to influence decision-makers and compel them to take action on climate change, which ultimately reduces its health impacts. Our approach centers on empowering young people and disrupting power dynamics that promote destructive environmental practices. Through this, we work to create a community that shares experiences and climate solutions while providing a healthy outlet for pent-up energy and emotions. Our theory of change recognizes that education and youth empowerment are critical in the fight against climate change and its devastating consequences.
6. How can other young people who are interested in working on issues related to health and climate get involved in this work?
- Keep an eye out on our social media to find ways to get involved with Mock COP.
- Check out the upcoming launch of the Youth Climate and Health Network here.
- Find local and national organizations working towards climate and health within your area.
- Reach out if you have any questions!
Prepared by Anja and Shreya.