This Week in Sustainability: How Climate Change Impacts Public Health and Business

 |   Josh Henretig

beachThis week, The Guardian published an article that ties climate change to real health concerns. As the article points out, as a society, we are much more inclined to take preventative action when it directly impacts our own health and well-being. By casting environmental concerns in the terms of public health—something done to great effect in the 1970s during the passage of the Clean Air Act—it’s possible to shift the climate change conversation toward issues that impact people’s daily lives. In addition to pointing out the negative effects climate change can have, it’s also worth noting that eco-friendly practices are often health-friendly as well, such as riding a bicycle as opposed to driving a car. As supporters of climate change continue to engage the public in this conversation, we can expect increased connections between health and the environment. Organizations such as Public Health England and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health have already studied this correlation in detail and are working closely with local businesses to develop collaborative research that could impact policy at a national and international level.

As anyone in the corporate sustainability field will tell you, climate change can impact the bottom line too. As GreenBiz reports, companies can and should take many steps on their own prior to government regulatory action. Severe weather, such as floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, can have a devastating impact on companies from small locally-run businesses to major corporations. Partnership for Resilience and Environmental Preparedness (PREP) released a guide to help manage these climatic impacts. Potential issues include distribution network disruption, worker health and safety hazards, infrastructure damage, among others. Strategic planning is crucial, and in order to plan appropriately, businesses need to have a clear picture of the threats of climate change to ensure that they’re mitigating risk and ensuring that tomorrow’s bottom line doesn’t succumb to rising global temperatures.

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