A Canadian woman was diagnosed with ‘climate change’ on Monday after suffering intense symptoms following a record-setting heatwave.
Dr. Kyle Meritt of British Columbia felt that using the term — which is often reserved for describing humans’ effect on the planet— was the only appropriate way to account for how the woman’s underlying conditions were exacerbated by the extreme temperatures.
Temperatures rose to 122 degrees Fahrenheit this summer, marking a historic moment in Canada’s history. A total of 570 people died due to the effects of the extreme temperatures.
The patient that Meritt diagnosed with ‘climate change’ is a woman in her 70’s suffering from numerous conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues.
“If we’re not looking at the underlying cause, and we’re just treating the symptoms, we’re just going to keep falling further and further behind,” Meritt said when asked about the patient by Glacier Media.
Meritt noted that “all of her health problems have been worsened,” by the heatwave, and that her deteriorating condition was irreducible to any one of her health issues, but rather the effect the heatwave had on her entire body: “she’s really struggling to stay hydrated,” he added.
Meritt also commented on the nature of his work at the hospital, saying that:
“We’re in the emergency department, we look after everybody, from the most privileged to the most vulnerable, from cradle to grave, we see everybody. And it’s hard to see people, especially the most vulnerable people in our society, being affected. It’s frustrating.”
Experts back doctor’s diagnosis of “climate change”
Some experts have backed Meritt’s decisions to claim climate change as a health risk. Marina Romanello who authored Lancet’s most recent study on the relationship between health and the environment said that Meritt made a “very wise decision.”
“I think it’s really great that medical professionals are starting to bring visibility to the fact that climate change is actually a health hazard,” Romanello told Euronews Green.
“Doing things like this and doing better studies that can help us attribute deaths to climate change is incredibly important because that is what will ultimately allow us to quantify the health dimension of climate change.”
Romanello’s work has paved the way for understanding the causality between climate change and personal health:
“What we’re seeing is that basically in the global north the awareness of environmental risks is becoming driven by science, whereas in the global south it’s being driven by the awareness within communities.”
Meritt and other Canadian healthcare workers have been inspired by their experiences with patients affected by climate change to start the ‘Doctors and Nurse for Planetary Health’.
They say that they hope to “better protect human health by protecting the planet.”