'A footprint means pressing down and global means world, so 'global footprint' means pressing down on the world and we don't want to press too hard' (child's definition of a Global Footprint)
what is Global Learning? CoreKnowledge Key Skills Values and Attitudes what is sustainability? what about climate change?
what about climate change?

A large carbon footprint kicking at the heels of health

Evidence of the impacts rising carbon emissions are having on the climate continues to grow and with climate change comes implications for public health.

Climate and weather already exert strong influences on health: through deaths in heat waves, and in natural disasters such as floods, as well as influencing life-threatening diseases such as malaria. 

Continuing climate change will affect some of the most important basics of good health: quality food, clean air and safe water and regions of the world with weak healthcare systems, namely the poorest countries, will be the least able to cope.

Increasing global temperatures affect levels of pollutants and plant pollen, which can trigger asthma. About 300 million people suffer from asthma, and 255 000 people died of the disease in 2005. Asthma deaths are expected to increase by almost 20% in the next 10 years if urgent actions to curb climate change and prepare for its consequences are not taken. 

Another outcome of global warming is likley to be rising sea levels which will lead to increased risks of coastal flooding. More than half of the world's population now lives within 60 kilometres of shorelines. Some of the most vulnerable regions are the Nile delta in Egypt, the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh, and small island nations such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Floods cause injury and death and increase risks of infection from water-borne diseases.

Changes in rainfall patterns are likely to affect fresh water supplies. Globally, water scarcity already affects four out of every 10 people. A lack of water and poor water quality can cause hygiene and health problems. This increases the risk of diarrhoea, which kills approximately 1.8 million people every year, as well as trachoma (an eye infection that can lead to blindness – see  case study).

Crop yields are also expected to be affected by climate change, particularly in tropical developing countries, where food security is already a problem. Mali is a good example where the percentage of the population at risk of hunger and associated health effects is likley to double by 2050.

Steps to reduce the global carbon footprint could have positive health effects. For example, promoting the use of walking and cycling could reduce carbon emissions and improve public health.