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Guest opinion: Climate change impacts are already here
GUEST OPINION

Guest opinion: Climate change impacts are already here

Smoke over Billings

Smoke blown in by wind from nearby wildfires covers Billings on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020.

Though many are unaware or disbelieving, Montanans, like people everywhere, are already feeling the impacts of climate change. Many of those come in the form of detrimental impacts on our health.

Following on the information presented in the original Montana Climate Assessment in 2017, the recently released C2H2 report, short for “Climate Change and Human Health in Montana: A Special Report of the Montana Climate Assessment,” analyzed evidence from a wide range of sources. Key findings of the report include that the areas of greatest concern for climate impacts in Montana are increased temperatures and periods of extreme heat, worsening air quality, primarily from wildfires, and more frequent climate surprises, such as flooding and extreme weather events.

The report details direct connections between climate and health, such as the association of heat stroke and dehydration with higher temperatures, or increased risks of asthma attacks, even premature births, heart attacks and strokes from worsening air quality. More subtle, but no less important, are links between both warmer temperatures and drought to decreased crop productivity and lowered nutritional content of grains. Perhaps least recognized by many are the connections between higher temperatures with increased mental health issues, including depression, domestic violence and suicide.

In addition to the extensive supportive evidence cited in the C2H2 report, one of its greatest strengths lies in the diverse recommendations it contains for addressing climate change. These include actions for individuals, health care professionals, organizations and elected officials.

The first step in each is to acknowledge that climate change is a problem.

Think climate change is a hoax? Think again!

Think climate change will only affect future generations? Think again!

Think climate change only affects people who live elsewhere? Think again!

Think there is nothing you can do about it? Think again!

Let’s start talking about solutions.

Marian Kummer is a retired pediatrician who practiced in Billings for 36 years. She is a member of Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate, Citizens Climate Lobby

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