Canada’s federal government is trying to bury an important report on climate change and health … but the blogosphere is fighting back
Last month, C&C reported that Canada’s federal government was planning a “low-profile release” of Human Health in a Changing Climate: A Canadian Assessment of Vulnerabilities and Adaptive Capacity, a 500-page report prepared for Health Canada. As with a previous report from Natural Resources Canada, Harper and crew had decided to hide science that they don’t like.
Late in the day on July 31, just before a long weekend, Health Canada quietly announced the report’s existence. The news release said nothing whatsoever about the report’s findings or recommendations.
And, contrary to normal policy, Health Canada did not post the report on its website. If you want to see it, you have to email them and request a copy — we did that, and received a reply promising to mail the report after it is printed, sometime in August. The news release doesn’t say so, but you can ask them to email you a “low-res” version of the report in PDF. it arrives in 12 separate files, spread over 4 separate emails.
The official excuse is that the file is too large for downloading — but it is no larger than many other PDF files available on federal government websites. Obviously they don’t want any public discussion of this report so they are making it as difficult as possible for people to see it.
They didn’t count on the power of the web. Milan Ilnyckyj, who writes the blog A Sibilant Intake of Breath, has posted all 12 files, separately and combined into a single 9.3MB PDF file.
Here’s an outline of what you’ll see:
Chapter 1, Introduction, describes the origins, scope and organization of the Assessment and provides information on climate change in Canada to support the understanding of the relationship between health and a changing climate. An introduction to adaptive capacity and adaptation concludes the presentation of concepts that are common to all the chapters of the Assessment.
Chapter 2, Assessment Methods, discusses methodologies used for this Assessment, as well as their general limitations, including the topic of uncertainty. It should be noted that some chapters use methods and practices appropriate to their specific investigations, and these are discussed in detail in the respective chapters.
Chapter 3,Vulnerabilities to Natural Hazards and Extreme Weather, examines the occurrence of climate-related natural hazards in Canada. It reviews the impacts of such events on health, and the systems and measures in place to mitigate these impacts. It also proposes research directions and measures needed to reduce future risks.
Chapter 4, Air Quality, Climate Change and Health, provides a brief overview of the impact of air pollution and the effects of its interactions with warmer temperatures on health. It examines the effects of one future climate scenario on air quality in Canada, and uses modelling to predict future impacts on health. It also discusses current Canadian risk-management strategies, including key research needs on this subject.
Chapter 5, The Impacts of Climate Change on Water-, Food-, Vector- and Rodent-Borne Diseases, reviews the potential effects of climate change on the risks in Canada related to specific diseases that originate from food and water sources, and from insects, ticks and rodents. It summarizes current key public health activities that protect populations, and discusses future directions for research and risk management.
Chapter 6, Health Impacts of Climate Change in Quebec, and Chapter 7, Health Impacts of Climate Change in Canada’s North, are assessments of vulnerabilities to health in two regions of the country; both cover the full scope of the issues addressed in this Assessment. These regions were selected because of the availability of data, case studies and research expertise.
Chapter 8, Vulnerabilities, Adaptation and Adaptive Capacity in Canada, assesses adaptive capacity by examining the current capacity to handle increasing exposure or sensitivity of the population to certain climate risks and to manage climate-sensitive diseases. It also reviews measures that have been developed to strengthen the ability to manage these risks, and provides insights on how future population exposure and sensitivities might change in Canada.
Chapter 9, Conclusion, reflects on the findings of all chapters and presents five themes common to all. Under each theme, it highlights findings that have the potential to influence current policy and program decisions as well as future research directions in Canada.
(Go HERE to order a hard copy of the report from Heath Canada.)