Without communication, science is worthless. For example, in environmental science, with communication, scientists can inform people from all over the world about their results and how they benefit or negativity impact mankind. With the right communication from scientists, we can act accordingly to their findings. Without appropriate communication, the public remains uninformed and will most likely continue their lives oblivious to the changes required in their lives in order to help themselves and the environment. An efficient science communicator not only informs the public know what’s going wrong, but also how to help fix the situation and attempt to get the appropriate policies in place to do so. If scientists don’t communicate their findings, they are just useless facts.
A group of Irish doctors are attempting to communicate science to government and public bodies to inform them that there is a direct correlation between environmental impact and the health of the population. Last autumn, a group of junior doctors joined up and created Irish Doctors for the Environment (IDE). The IDE currently have a central assemblage of around 20 on their board, all junior doctors, and a mailing list of close to 400. The IDE is motivated by three significant realisations: Firstly, the biggest global health issue we’re facing is climate change. Secondly, we have a window of opportunity for change. And thirdly, tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.
The EPA’s Climate Change Research Programme carries out appropriate and current studies on climate change in Ireland. Examination of the meteorological archives indicates that Ireland’s climate is fluctuating in line with global patterns. 6 of the 10 hottest years in Ireland have taken place since 1990 and a decrease in the number of frost days and shortening in the length of the frost season are strong indicators of global warmings effect on Ireland.
The IDE research group are looking at the correlation between the amount of people in A&E and in hospitals and heatwaves. “A&E sees an increase in severe sunburn, as well as constipation and collapse in older patients secondary to dehydration.” Thanks to the communication of these facts, the public are more aware of heatwaves and can take the necessary precautions to stay safe, such as applying sunscreen and staying hydrated. The IDE has also cited air pollution as a cause of concern. An estimated 4.2 million premature deaths globally are linked to air pollution, mainly from heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.
Although Ireland has a relatively low level of air pollution, still over 1000 premature deaths occur each year as a result of air pollution (O’Callaghan, 2019). Everyone shares the same air, so therefore we are all responsible to do our part to maintain air quality. The IDE brought forward motions to the Irish Medical Organisation to tackle climate change. Some of these motions included the increase in maintainable energy and increased investment in cycling and walking.
Thanks to the efficient communication of the IDE, the public can take the necessary precautions to maintain their health and do their part in looking after the environment. IDE have made several recommendations to the public, which include: spending more time in outdoor spaces. This promotes conservation of the outdoor space and is good for mental/physical health. To decide against using a fossil fuel burning mode of transportation and walk or cycle instead. This improves air quality as well as overall health without this communication of science from the IDE it wouldn’t be science as their finding would have no effect. With successful communication, they have informed the public on how to preserve the environment as well as maintaining their standard of health.
On May 6th, 2019, Scientists from the United Nations let the world know that we are in a biodiversity crisis. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) have warned the general public that nature is declining globally at rates that are unparalleled in human history and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with severe effects on people around the world now expected. (Anon., 2019) Biodiversity is defined as the variety of life found in a place on Earth or the total variation of life on Earth (Pimm, 2019) The conservation of biodiversity is extremely important to human health. Biodiversity supports food security, essential for climate change adaptation and has social, cultural and spiritual importance within communities.
Overwhelming evidence of the IPBES global evaluation from various types of fields of knowledge presents a gloomy picture, stated the IPEBS chair Sir Robert Watson. The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species rely on is deteriorating quicker than at any point in recorded history. We are wearing down the very basis of our ecosystems, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life. The report states that it is not too late to make a difference and preserve our ecosystems, but only if we start now at every level from local to global levels. Through ‘transformative change’ (a fundamental, system wide recognition across technological, economic and social factors), nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably.
It is estimated that there 8 million species at present on our planet. The report from found that about 1 million animal and plant species are currently faced with extinction, most within just a few decades. This is more than ever before in human history. Prof. Josef Settele, who co-chaired the assessment in this report stated that the web of life on Earth in continuously getting smaller and smaller and that it is as a direct result of human activity, which threatens human well being all around the world. The report highlights a number of facts that contribute to biodiversity loss.
These include, the growth of global timber production has increased by 45% since 1970, a greater than 100% growth in urban areas since 1992 and a 300% increase in crop production since 1970. These are outrageous statistics communicated in this report and one would hope that the message of these facts from the evidence that these scientists have gathered in the report would open the public eye to the changes needed in our civilization’s in order to preserve biodiversity.
Policy actions and societal enterprises are helping to promote awareness on the impact of the destruction of nature, minding local environments, endorsing maintainable local economies and re-establishing tarnished areas. The Report presents possible actions that could be taken to preserve biodiversity. For example, in agriculture, the encouragement of promoting good agricultural and agroecological practices.
Scientists inform us that there are so many other approaches that can be taken in preserving biodiversity. One example is to help native pollinators. Pollinators are the key to reproduction of flowering plants which are the corner stone to the survival of many species on our planet. This can be done by eradicating the use of pesticides or providing nectar sources by planting a variety of wildflowers.
Another step to preserving biodiversity recommended by scientists is to reduce energy demand. The burning of fossil fuels is the culprit of causing climate change which is exponentially speeding up biodiversity loss by presenting plants and animals to a hospitable environment. A Home Energy Audit can help make you realise how much energy you are using and where you need reduce energy use in the home. Renewable energy such as solar is also recommended.
Not only is it important for scientists to record the most accurate results as possible, it is as just important to accurately communicate these results in an efficient and appropriate manor. Scientists cannot do all the work themselves, that’s why its vital for them to communicate their findings, informing the public on how to act out of the best interest for themselves and our environment.
- Anon., 2010. The importance of biodiversity to human helth. [Online] Available at: https://www.cbd.int/doc/health/cohab-policy-brief1-en.pdf [Accessed 2 June 2019].
- Anon., 2018. 11 Things You Can Do To Protect Biodiversity. [Online] Available at: https://theunfoldingearth.com/10-things-you-can-do-to-protect-biodiversity/ [Accessed 2 June 2019].
- Anon., 2019. Ambient air pollution: Health impacts. [Online] Available at: https://www.who.int/airpollution/ambient/health-impacts/en/ [Accessed 2 June 2019].
- Anon., 2019. UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’. [Online] Available at: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/ [Accessed 2 June 2019].
- Anon., 2019. What Impact will climate change have for Ireland?. [Online] Available at: https://www.epa.ie/climate/communicatingclimatescience/whatisclimatechange/whatimpactwillclimatechangehaveforireland/ [Accessed 2 June 2019].
- O’Callaghan, H., 2019. Irish Examiner. [Online] Available at: https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/lifestyle/healthandlife/climate-action-meet-the-young-doctors-who-want-to-save-the-planet-927704.html [Accessed 2 June 2019].
- Pimm, S. L., 2019. Biodiversity. [Online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/science/biodiversity [Accessed 2 June 2019].