CLIMATE CHANGE AND YOUR HEALTH
When you burn fossil fuels, you create two main kinds of pollution: greenhouse gases and smog-causing pollutants.
Smog has been linked to many health problems, from respiratory diseases to cancer. The Ontario Medical Association estimates there are nearly 6,000 smog related deaths per year in this province, and if climate change and smog are not addressed, it projects that numbers will rise to 10,000 by 2026.
This costs taxpayers. In 2005 there were over 60,000 emergency room visits in Ontario because of air pollution, and health costs related to bad air totalled more than $6.6 billion. With the elderly expected to make up a quarter of our population by 2030, these costs are likely to increase. Currently 1 in 8 children suffer from asthma, five times more than in 1978.
Greenhouse gases do not cause smog, but a warmer atmosphere creates the best conditions for sunlight and pollution to mix and create smog. Southern Ontario has had record numbers of both heat waves and smog days in recent years – 2007 is expected to break previous years’ records.
More than 80 per cent of Ontarians live in cities. As climate change intensifies, cities become much hotter than rural and wilderness areas thanks to heat-trapping materials like asphalt and concrete, lack of green areas, and greater concentration of greenhouse gases.