Global Warming Impacts Health

Climate change threatens to trigger a widespread and devastating health crisis in Canada. Why are medical professionals and policy-makers slow off the mark?

by Alex Roslin
Canadian Geographic
October 2010
[This article won a gold prize from the National Magazine Awards in the Editorial Package category and was a finalist for a second National Magazine Award in the Health & Medicine category.]

Monday, July 5, 2010, was the kind of sticky, pavement-shimmering Montréal day that only kids at a water park could appreciate. And that is just where 14-year-old Mathieu Thibodeau-Ross found himself, heading for the whitewater rafting ride at the Mont Saint-Sauveur Water Park, 75 kilometres northwest of Montréal.

The humidex was approaching 40°C a little after 11 a.m. when Mathieu started up the stairs to access the ride. He never made it to the top. Witnesses would later report that the teen started to wheeze and then collapsed. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, a victim of cardiac arrest.

It will likely take several months for the Quebec coroner’s office to determine what role the high heat and humidity may have played in Mathieu’s fate. But it is already clear that the number of deaths spiked to unusually high levels during the hot spell which began on that blazing July day. By Thursday, Environment Canada was calling it the most intense heat wave on record in Montréal. With thick smog blanketing the city all week, 80 people died in Montréal from various causes on that Thursday alone — double the typical daily total. ...

[Read the rest of this story here.]