Why Protecting The Australian Environment Is Good For Our Health

Here at Sequela, we are all about making conscious eco-friendly choices to live more sustainably, not only to leave the world in a better place than we arrived, but also for the health and benefit of humanity. Here are just a few ways unsustainable living, and climate change can affect your health…

One sequela of poor environment management fresh in all Australians minds is the 2019-2020 bush fires, which burnt 21% of all of Australia’s temperate forests (1). With global temperatures predicted to rise by a minimum of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 (2), bushfires will only become a more and more frequent event Australians will experience. Not only do bushfires have a destructive nature, which increases greenhouse gas release and the speed of global warming, but bushfires can have dire consequences on our health. In addition to the devastating immediate deaths caused by bushfires while ablaze, an average of 10.5 Australian deaths per year over the period  1965 - 2011 (both population density and bushfire frequency has increased since then) (3), bushfires can also have lasting respiratory effects on people located nowhere near the fires. I certainly remember the eery, dense smoke haze that blanketed central Melbourne during the above-mentioned fires, even though I was safe and sound from the flames themselves, I was still inhaling its toxic pollutants. Long-term effects of breathing in these pollutants are not yet fully understood but are thought to include deterioration of existing health conditions such as hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, and mental illness (4), also leading to increased substance abuse(5).

Heatwaves or hot days also become more prevalent with global warming, with 2019 being Australia’s hottest year on record(1), Australia is getting hotter. Consistent studies have shown many hospitalisations and deaths during heat waves compared to non-heat-wave days (1). One recent study in Victoria found a 67% increase in all-cause mortality during a heatwave. Unnecessary production of wasteful single-use products causes greenhouse gas release which will only further provoke the frequency and intensity of future heat waves. Reusable, eco-friendly products at the very least tend to get more use out of the gases produced.

Drastic weather changes such as drought, storms, and floods are all expected to rise in frequency in the future. The fallout from such events can leave towns filthy and disease-ridden, often followed by plagues of mosquitos which can spread Vector-borne diseases in Australia such as Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus, Murray Valley encephalitis, Kunjin, and dengue fever (1). Not only can such events destroy family houses, enhance the spread of disease, and traumatise people who have lived through them, but they also render crops useless. Whether the crops have died from barren nutrient-poor, dry soil or been inundated under a metre of muddy septic-filled water, more and more crops will be lost, pushing up the prices of the food and water we need to stay healthy and alive.

These are by no means an exhaustive list of possible health effects and costs we can suffer from poor management of our planet. By purchasing more local Australian eco-friendly products we can do our little part, this won’t fix all our problems but it is something. It’s about doing your best, not the best. To check out some of our amazing brands doing their part click HERE, every purchase on Sequela contributes to planting more trees to ensure a future ecosystem.

 

Bibliography

  1. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/natural-environment-and-health
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-48947573
  3. Blanchi R, Leonard J, Haynes K, Opie K, James M, Kilinc M, Dimer de Oliveira F, Van den Hornet R (2012). Life and house loss database description and analysis. CSIRO, Bushfire CRC report to the Attorney-General's Department. CSIRO EP-129645
  4. Clayer JR, Bookless Pratz C & Harris RI 1985. Some health consequences of a natural disaster. Medical Journal of Australia 143(5):182–4.
  5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011. Health and the environment: a compilation of evidence. Cat. no. PHE 136. Canberra: AIHW.

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