Since the humankind and the environment are in an ongoing interaction, the attempts to restore the damage that has already been done by industrialization and minimize its future impacts on the ecology are actually long-term contributions to the public health of the population of the entire planet. Due to the rapid advancement of science and technology, today, it is possible to assess and evaluate the magnitude of damage produced by the human civilization on the environment and harmful practices that are still in place. Some of them are the pollution of air by various modes of transportation, the emissions and chemical discharge produced by plants and factories, the runoffs of hazardous substances inflicted by the farming industry, deforestation, and littering. Discussing these practices, it is critical to remember that they do not exist separately from the society but tend to have a powerful effect on people through the air we breathe, the food we consume, the clothes we wear, climate, natural disasters, the water supply, to name a few. In addition to the factors mentioned previously, the public health also can be affected by the workplace, home, and community environments.
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“An Inconvenient Truth”, the documentary featuring Al Gore and his global warming awareness campaign, was created in 2006 and represented one of the most significant attempts to speak about the issues of the environmental pollution and call to action from the side of the environmental and healthcare organizations, as well as members of general public. The primary objective of the film was to educate the viewers about the harmful effect that has been produced by the humanity’s actions on the environment and that in many cases and aspects, the damage that was done is irreparable (Lovgren, 2006). Overall, the Western societies such as those of North America and Europe began to pay a lot of attention to the environmental problems and working out strategies helping to address the issues that still can be fixed.
For instance, the concerns that tend to persist in the United States revolve around the pollution of waterways in Florida due to the inappropriate treatment of sewage and industrial waste (“Signature work,” 2017). In particular, the discharge of hazardous substances into the waterways of Florida done by its farms and production industry endangers many of the natural ecosystems (“Ending toxic algae in Florida,” 2017). Similar issues exist all around the territories of the other states, as well as those of the European countries. Many environmental initiatives have been implemented in order to minimize the pollution of air, water, and soil, and address littering and waste. The initiatives are maintained due to being supported by policies, the involvement of the communities, environmental activism, provision of education about the ways the individuals can contribute to the environmental practices, and the supply of all the resources necessary for a safe and secure lifestyle.
At the same time, it is critical to point out that the level of response to the world’s environmental concerns is not as high in the developing countries. This tendency is quite logical since there is still a significant portion of the global population that continues to face severe limitations when it comes to the sanitation options, fresh water supply, and safety measures, to name a few. The existing environmental challenges of such countries are often aggravated by the influence of the first world states that tend to outsource a large portion of manufacturing to the developing regions (Scientific American, 2017). As a result, the environmental initiatives that may be successful in the West lead to the relocation of the emissions and ecological hazards to the countries that do not have the corresponding policies and funding to address the concerns. In other words, while the safety is increased in the Western countries, it is diminished in the developing states that offer their services as to manufacturing and cheaper supply and production chains (Scientific American, 2017).
Environmental Factors that Impact Health
In that way, outsourcing the labor and production to such countries as China, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Mexico, among others, the richer states also outsource their emissions, toxic waste, and the workplace hazards (Scientific American, 2017). Due to the heavy rates of production in the developing and urbanizing states, their levels of pollution grow rapidly. For instance, China alone is facing a serious pollution problem as about fifty of its cities experience the percentage of dangerous emissions in the air that exceeds the one allowed by the WHO international environmental standards by seven times (Scientific American, 2017). The particulate pollution in China is known to produce adverse effects on the human health, affect lungs, and cause various respiratory problems (Scientific American, 2017).
In addition, the work environments created due to the outsourcing of production from the West often lead to the workplace hazards and kill or injure a large number of people almost every year. Moreover, the chemical substance discharge in the water bodies is one of the issues in the West that leads to the contamination of the population’s fresh water supply and the consequent public health problems (“Signature work,” 2017).
Also, the increasing number of motor vehicles all around the world and the emissions produced by the factories and plants are the significant threats not only to the safety of air we all breathe but also to the overall climate on the planet as the emissions contribute to the greenhouse effect (Lovgren, 2006). In “An Inconvenient Truth”, the global warming was connected to the increasing number of natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornados that kill and injure hundreds or even thousands of people.
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My Role in Improving/Eliminating Environmental Barriers to Health
As a healthcare practitioner, I can emphasize my contribution to the elimination of the environmental barriers to health by using the principles of the WHO Healthy Cities project. In particular, I can raise awareness of the factors that negatively affect different environments (community, home, or work) and educate the patients and their families about the way to address them and create healthier surroundings. Also, I can teach about the ways of connection with the past and respect for nature and resources consumed on a daily basis.
In particular, speaking about the low-income families and communities, I could facilitate change and encourage them to switch to healthier diets thus eliminating a lot of littering (plastic bags, bottles, and packaging are widely used for fast food) and to move to reusable and recyclable utensils and materials thus minimizing waste. Also, speaking with children, I could educate them about the respect for nature and resources such as water, electricity, and food that are often overconsumed and wasted causing a strain on the environment. Also, I could embrace the same practices and make my own household safer and healthier.
Finally, my major role as a healthcare provider is to monitor and address the public health issues preventing different risks and threats from impacting the population. In this regard, I could promote healthier lifestyles, more sustainable diets, moderate portions of food, physical activity, and giving up smoking. I believe, it is important to connect the problems of pollution and hazardous chemical substances present in the mass consumption goods to the health effects they produce in order to help the communities understand why the change in behavior is needed.
Summary and Conclusion
The adverse effects produced by the human society on the environment are numerous and occur due to a wide range of factors such as industrialization and production, transportation, overconsumption, littering and waste, deforestation, to name a few. While the wealthier countries of the West work on the initiatives helping to address the environmental concerns, their outsourcing of manufacturing lead to the increase in emissions and pollution in the developing countries. This tendency is as effective as hiding in the bedroom from the fire consuming the living room. Public awareness is a necessity when it comes to the success of environmental campaigns and practices. That is why education and demonstration are the major activities that can help the healthcare practitioners facilitate change.
Ending toxic algae in Florida. (2017). Web.
Lovgren, S. (2006). Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” movie: Fact or hype? Web.
Scientific American. (2017). Is the world outsourcing its greenhouse emissions to China? Web.
Signature work. (2017). Web.