furacao sandy

Hurricane Sandy: personal health and our global health

Near the peak of the Hurricane Sandy as it roared through the East Coast of the U.S., one of the premier hospitals in New York City, NYU Medical Center, had to evacuate of all its patients when its two back-up power systems failed. Close to 300 patients were moved, including twenty babies from the ICU who were carried down nine flights of stairs, several of them being manually ventilated by doctors and nurses.

These days, with the constant flux of Brazilians between Brazil and the U.S., many Brazilians were affected by Sandy. One of them was Folha de São Paulo science writer Rafael Garcia, who was trying to get to Washington, but was stuck in Chicago.

While waiting in Chicago he wrote “Uma pergunta inconveniente sobre Sandy” (An inconvenient question regarding Sandy) for the Folha, about the contentious issue of global warming, and how warming of the oceans likely contributes to increasingly frequent natural disasters. He mentions the unfortunate lack of (up to now at least) discussion of climate change in the American presidential race, and how many Republicans in the U.S. seem to dismiss global warming as inconvenient, or bad science.

But global warming is not bad science. It represents many years of bad living on the part of us, the inhabitants of our planet, our home, our fragile ecosystem.

Certainly Brazil is not immune to natural calamities, and every year Brazil experiences large-scale flooding with loss of life. Much of the risk is not from drowning, or slipping hillsides, but from the infectious disease epidemics that can rise up after the floodwaters recede. Cholera, dengue, typhoid fever, yellow fever, hepatitis A, and leptospirosis, among others, all can surge after the rain stops, and with inadequate sanitation, the risks multiply.

In our last post Longevity Secrets from the Island of Ikaria we noted that while the people there attribute their healthy, long lives to their good diet and exercise, but more important to good personal health was the feeling of community on the island. They were all watching out and helping their neighbors as needed. Maybe we need more of that if we want to preserve our planet, as well as our own health.

We can all take some steps to benefit our planet and our health. As far as global warming, we can do more of what smart—even many of the richest—New Yorkers do (unlike much of the rest of the United States unfortunately). That is, walk more, drive less, and if you can’t walk to a destination, or bike, at least try to use mass-transit if that is available to you. Buy the most fuel-efficient car you can.

Not only will you be saving gas, and helping cut the biggest cause of global warming (each liter of gas burned equals almost 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere), you will be moving your body more. And any reader of this blog knows that is a good think if you want to live a long and healthy life.





Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)