Although the Conservative government has argued that a critical Health Canada report on climate change impacts is “too large” to be made available online, the DeSmogBlog has sourced a copy that you can now access through these links.
The report warns of forest fires, drought, and increased deaths from smog, heat and disease - a grim scenario against which the Conservative government is taking virtually no action. In fact, the Harper government's principal reaction was to try to supress the report, now available only by snail mail, with delivery in “two to four weeks.”
The 500 page “Human Health in a Changing Climate study” was supposed to be released early in 2008, with a coast-to-coast public engagement exercise. Instead the Harper government quietly revealed the document’s existence this summer, cancelled the publicity exercise and provided no on-line downloads.
The findings of this blue ribbon panel on the health impacts of climate change are grim to say the least. “Heat waves are very likely to increase in frequency and severity, which could lead to hundreds more heat-related deaths in Quebec and greater air pollution in cities such as Edmonton.”
The report also forecasts that more frequent heat waves will increase the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths and lead to more respiratory and cardiovascular disorders.
Frequent bouts of extreme weather - such as droughts, violent storms, heat waves and cold snaps - are expected to carry a higher risk of injuries, illnesses and stress-related disorders.
Air pollution, including higher levels of ground-level ozone and increased production of pollens and spores, will exacerbate asthma symptoms and allergies. Poor air quality will lead to more heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.
Outbreaks of E. coli, typhoid and other water-borne pathogens are also expected as drinking and recreational water is contaminated by run-off from heavy rainfall. And the report predicts new infectious diseases - and a comeback of others previously eradicated in Canada - will crop up across the country.
The authors call on the government to act quickly to prepare for these sweeping threats. “The findings of this Assessment suggest the need for immediate action to buttress efforts to protect health from current climate hazards.”
But Health Minister Tony Clement's response was that Canadians will “have to get used to” the gloomy scenario laid out in the report, adding, “This report makes it clear that if you have bad health outcomes now, you're likely to be more impacted by extreme weather events than if you're at the top of the health ladder.”