Saving the Planet with Small Steps
After COemissions swelled to record levels in 2023, we have just two years to save the planet (Abnett & Jessop, 2024). For the tenth consecutive time, Earth set a monthly global average temperature record in March 2024 (Copernicus, 2024). The climate crisis is projected to kill 14.5 million people by 2050 (World Economic Forum, 2024b) if we fail to decisively change course—now. Rather than motivating to confront the challenge, these kinds of statistics often do nothing more than overwhelm, even plunging the greenest among us into helplessness. The truth is, we can still stem the tide, and steer the ship—our precious Earth—out of harm's way, if we take small steps, daily and collectively. We'll talk about how, and making Earth Day everyday.

Environmental Risks of Climate Change
The climate crisis is exacting a devastating environmental toll from extreme weather, to loss of property, to food insecurity. Since the early 2000s, 71% of extreme weather events have been intensified or exacerbated by human-driven climate change (Pidcock & McSweeney, 2022), leading to deaths, injuries, and property damage. Of extreme heat events investigated during the same period, 93% were determined to have been made more severe by human-driven climate change (Copernicus, 2024; Pidcock & McSweeney, 2022). In July 2023, the planet broke or tied its record for the hottest day in history four days straight, with the annual days above 90°F/32°C rising by up to 30 days, in the U.S. alone, by 2050 (Center for Climate and Energy, 2023). And, we're already paying for it. From 2003 to 2023, extreme weather events across the planet—including hurricanes, floods, and heat waves—have cost approximately $2.8 trillion (World Economic Forum, 2023a). The annual cost of climate-change damage could surge to as high as $3.1 trillion by 2050 (World Economic Forum, 2023). Between 2000 and 2019 alone, extreme weather events averaged about $143 billion in damage, reducing to a staggering $16.3 million per hour (World Economic Forum, 2023a). These monumental costs are hitting homeowners, especially. In the U.S. states of California, Colorado, and Louisiana—which are at somewhat higher risk of extreme-weather events—homeowners have suffered onerous insurance hikes, with some being unable to secure policies at all (Porter, 2024). Across the U.S., insurance premiums rose 21% from May 2022 to May 2023 (Porter, 2024), with insurance premiums expected to rise annually by 5.3% on average, globally, leading to a 60% spike by 2040, according to the world's largest insurer, Swiss Re (Swiss Re, 2022). From torrential rain to scorching heat, extreme weather events can result in floods, droughts, and other deleterious conditions that undermine crop yields and leave dangerous food shortages. For every degree Celsius rise in average global temperature, there is a five to 15 percent decrease in worldwide crop production (Cho, 2018). In South and Southeast Asia, approximately 23 million hectares of rainfed rice production areas are already facing water scarcity, while recurring drought impacts almost 80% of the rainfed rice growing areas of Africa—among the regioms most susceptible to the climate crisis (Cho, 2018). Moreover, yields for corn, or maize—one of the world's most consumed crops—is projected to decline by 24% by 2030, due to human-driven climate change (World Economic Forum, 2024c). Climate change has also caused soybean, olive-oil, rice, potato, and cocoa yields to suffer similar deterioration (World Economic Forum, 2024c). The climate crisis's demonstrated impact on transportation cannot be overlooked when considering its effect on agriculture and food supplies. In the event of extreme weather damaging a waterway, for example, there are few, if any, alternative means of transport. High temperatures in the summer of 2012—particularly, in the western U.S.—led to historically severe droughts, triggering bottlenecks in the Mississippi Water Shed, which resulted in considerable food and economic losses (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2023). The heat waves in the region were followed by torrential flooding in the spring of 2013, leading to another round of disruptions in barge traffic and food transport, with limits to food access, across the U.S., being the ripple effect (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2023). As the planet has breached the 1.5°C-/2.7°F-threshold for over a year now, catastrophic devastation to land, property, and food is only poised to increase (Porter, 2024). We'll see how climate change's environmental costs are only matched by the physical and mental ruin it also wreaks.

Health Risks of Climate Change
The health risks posed by the climate crisis are just as dire. Climate change is expected to result in 250,000 additional deaths yearly—due to undernutrition and famine, malaria, diarrhea, or heat stress alone—if drastic changes are not immediately implemented (World Health Organization, 2023). Nearly 4 billion people live in areas highly vulnerable to climate change already (World Health Organization, 2023). Of those who survive climate catastrophes, up to 1.2 billion—roughly 10% of the world's population—could be displaced by 2050, if we continue on the current trajectory (Pepper Trail, 2024). Extreme weather, caused by climate change, has also had a marked impact on respiratory health. During extreme weather, asthma incidence has been shown to rise as much as 10 times in Western nations, with the precipitous rise in pollen and mold allergen severe storms bring (D'Amato et al., 2023). Additionally, a one-hour increase of 50 parts per billion (ppb) of ozone—resulting from increased CO2 imissions (concentration of substances in the atmosphere, recorded at a particular measuring station)—was associated with a 35% higher risk of wheezing and a 47% higher risk of chest tightening (D'Amato et al., 2023). Cardiovascular health can also be undermined by the climate crisis. Floods and resulting power outages have both been associated with a higher risk of hospitalization, especially if the power outage impacts over 75% of the area's customers (Aitken, Brown, and Comellas, 2022). Heat stress can result in increased cardiac workload (compensating for the body's vasodilatory response to heat); hemoconcentration (an increase in the cells and solids in the blood, which can raise the risk of blood clots); inflammation; autonomic dysfunction in the most severe cases; and cardiovascular mortality—particularly, during windstorm incidence—as heart disease has been shown to account for 11% of deaths in post-hurricane mortality data (Aitken, Brown, & Comellas, 2022). Cardiovascular-disease risk was also shown to increase in the wake of air pollution, forest fires, desert (dust and sand) storms, extreme weather events, heat waves, and significant surges in temperature (Khraishah et al., 2022). Climate change even impacts fertility and prenatal health. As indicated above, global warming and extreme weather events are associated with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease; however, they are also correlated with decreased fertility (Hill, 2022). Through a meta-analysis, researchers found the following: 1)warmer temperatures disrupt spermatogenesis, thereby reducing sperm quality and motility; 2)developmental competence of embryos formed from heat-affected sperm is impaired; 3)hormonal disorders caused by air pollution, and consequent DNA and epigenetic changes, adversely affect fertility; and 4)the deterioration in air and water quality, resulting from climate change, indirectly impacts fertility health due to ensuing disruptions to food and shelter, as well as general environmental and sociodemographic aftereffects (Tokat et al., 2023). Being subject to climate-related episodes and traumas places expectant mothers at greater risk of pregnancy loss, pre-term births, gestational complications, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and gestational diabetes (Hill, 2022). Studies have also indicated that hot weather during the third trimester of a pregnancy may undermine fetal health, on account of birth weight (Colgan, 2018). The effects of the climate crisis have been demonstrated to harm mental wellness too. Not only can extreme heat lead to higher rates of aggression, it can also lead to suicide—particularly, violent suicide—and worsen mood disorders, anxiety disorders, dementia, and other mental-health conditions (Padhy et al., 2015). Particularly, climate change was observed to be correlated with depression, anxiety, and stress among medical students (Schwab et al., 2022). Essentially, saving the planet means protecting the whole body.

What We can Do
Yep, that's much of the bad news. But, we can clear the gloom and doom with if we take the following, and similar, steps daily:
  1. Walk, bike or take public transportation: Walking, biking, or taking public transportation is not only good exercise, it also minimizes your emissions. Do right by your body, and the air.
  2. Support local small businesses: By supporting local businesses, you reduce transport costs and further decrease emissions, reducing your carbon footprint. You're also promoting the growth and strength of your community, supporting your hardworking and dedicated neighbors.
  3. Go dark for at least an hour daily: Before your day starts, as it winds down, as a respite after key tasks, or intermittently throughout the day, unplug —no phone, no screens, no distractions. You'll cherish the time to yourself, and the time to reconnect.
  4. Take some light out of your leisure: Take time out by walking, running, or biking (with devices running only on batteries) so you're neither relying on, nor wasting, energy. You'll realize that you have all the power you need. 
  5. Be more plant-based in your diet: You can have vegetarian meals a couple of times weekly, go vegan, or integrate plant-based food into every meal. Just keep it healthy and convenient, ensuring meal plans fit your lifestyle, so you can sustain routines. Pack raw, or lightly cooked, foods for snacks or quick meals on the go. Limit red meat consumption—livestock is among the biggest sources of greenhouse gases—and add a delicious mix of fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  6. Use carbon trackers: Download a free carbon tracker that monitors how your daily activities add to, or decrease, your carbon footprint. The data will indicate how you can be even greener, further reducing your greenhouse impact. 
  7. Draft a short, weekly plan for going green: Each week, plan how you, and the family, will be green. Jot down at least five ways at the beginning of each week, and quickly check your progress at the end of the day. You can even coordinate with friends and colleagues through friendly contests or weekly shared goals.
Remember to celebrate all the victories; e.g., starting to walk those last six blocks of your commute today or packing a sandwich, instead of stopping at the café, for lunch. The above and similar steps will takes us from Earth Day to Earth Daily.

Living Greener Makes you Healthier

The thread binding this post is living greener means living healthier. Powering down your devices and "dimming the blue light," when you can, liberates you from the distractions, offering precious time to reflect on, and be reminded of, what's important. Making your leisure time outdoor time, reveling in picturesque beauty, enables natural stimulation and rejuvenation, without even a plug. Savoring nature's treats–crisp vegetables, succulent fruits, delectable nuts (be mindful of allergies), etc.—allows you to quickly nourish your body while convincing you candy is overrated. The Earth has given us, and continues to give us, priceless gifts. The least we could is try to repay that generosity. After all, the more we give to It the more It gives to us.


Abnett, K. & Jessop, S. (2024). U.N. climate chief says two years to save the planet.

Aitken, W.W., Brown, S.C.. & Comellas, A.P. (2022). Climate change and cardiovascular health. Journal of the American Heart Association, 11(24). doi: 10.1161/JAHA.122.027847

Center for Climate and Energy. (2023). Heat waves and climate change.

Cho, R. (2018). How climate change will affect our food—State of the Planet.

Colgan, D. (2018). Climate change is making it harder for couples to conceive.

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D'Amato, G., Chong-Neto, H.J., Ortega, O.P.M., Vitale, C., Ansotegui, I., Rosario, N., Haahtela, T., Galan, C., Pawankar, R., Murietta-Aguttes, M., Cecchi, L., Bergmann, C., Ridolo, E., Ramon, G., Diaz, S.G., D'Amato, M., & Annesi-Maesano, I. (2020). The effects of climate change on respiratory allergy and asthma induced by pollen and mold allergens. Allergy, 75(9), 2219-2228.

Hill, D.J. (2022). How climate change is likely to worsen reproductive health for generations.

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Padhy, S.K. & Sarkar, S., Panigrahi, M., & Paul, S. (2015). Mental health effects of climate change. Indian Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 19(1), 3-7. doi: 10.4103/0019-5278.156997

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Tokat, M.A., Bilgiç, D., Yağcan, H., & Demirdağ, C. (2023). A factor whose effects on fertility are often overlooked: Climate change and its consequences.  Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 47(Supplement, 2023, 103551). 

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World Economic Forum. (2024c). Extreme weather is driving food prices higher. These 5 crops are facing the the biggest impacts.

World Health Organization. (2023). Climate change.


Savion Kince

Date 4/16/2024

Seminal Wellness Team

Date 4/16/2024

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