For too long we've put health and the environment in different boxes. The work of our generation is to bridge the two, to understand that in fact, they belong in the same box--that planetary health defines human health--and that as we improve one, we will improve the other as well.
Courtney Howard is a University of British Columbia and McGill-trained Emergency Physician who practices in Canada’s subarctic and is the Vice President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). Motivated by work on a Médecins Sans Frontières pediatric malnutrition project in Djibouti, and by climate-related health impacts on her Northern patient population, she led the successful campaign to have the Canadian Medical Association divest from fossil fuels and for MD-Financial to create a Fossil-Free Fund for individual physician investment. She has contributed to advocacy efforts in active transportation, hydraulic fracturing and coal phase-out, including the recently-announced Accelerated Canadian Coal Phase-out and frequently on climate-health at medical conferences across Canada and internationally. Research-wise, she led “FLOW-Finding Lasting Options for Women,” the first randomized controlled trial comparing menstrual cups to tampons, and is writing up the “SOS: Summer of Smoke” research project on the Northwest Territories’ severe 2014 wildfire season under the leadership of Dr James Orbinski. Courtney. She has been honoured to win the Canadian College of Family Practice’s Environmental Health Award in 2013 and its Mimi Divinsky Award for History and Narrative in Family Medicine in 2015. Courtney represented CAPE during COP21 in Paris when it became a founding board member of the Global Climate and Health Alliance and continues to be CAPE’s main contact with the international climate-health community. Mother to two young daughters and married to Pediatrician Dr Darcy Scott, she can frequently be found dancing with them in a little house on the shores of Great Slave Lake in Yellowknife. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.
Is climate change making you sick?
Is Climate Change Making You Sick?
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: Power and Politics, November 2, 2017Television
Recorded after the launch of the 2017 Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change Briefing for Canadian Policymakers: Dr. Courtney Howard discusses her new report on how climate change is affecting Canadians' physical and mental health. 7:41
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Dr. Courtney Howard is an Emergency Physician in Yellowknife, in Canada’s subarctic, and a Clinical Associate Professor in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. She is a nationally- and globally-recognized expert on the impacts of climate change on health, and in the broader field of planetary health. She was the first author on the 2017-2019 Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change Briefings for Canadian Policymakers as well as being the 2018 International Policy Director for the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change. Recently, she has been the climate policy coordinator for CODA, a global group of acute care professionals convened by the founders of Social Media and Critical Care (SMACC).
In the pursuit of improved planetary health, Howard has done research on the health and environmental impacts of menstrual cups, leading FLOW, the first randomized controlled trial comparing tampons to menstrual cups, as well as having investigated the respiratory and wellness impacts of Yellowknife’s severe 2014 wildfire season. She has additional academic interests in ecoanxiety/ecological grief and the interaction between social movements, societal change, and wellbeing.
As the first female board President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) she has been involved in policy and advocacy-related work on active transport, plant-rich diets, integrating health impact assessments into environmental assessments, fossil fuel divestment, carbon pricing, coal phase-out, and the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing.
Dr Howard has sat on the boards of Ecology North, the Canadian Medical Association, and Health in Harmony, represented CAPE on the board of the Global Climate and Health Alliance, and been the co-chair of the advocacy subcommittee of the WHO-Civil Society Working group on climate change and health, which co-led the recent call for G20 leaders to target a green #HealthyRecovery from COVID-19, an initiative which gained support from organizations representing 40 million health workers worldwide, representing two-thirds of the global total workforce.
Dr Howard is on the steering committee of the Planetary Health Alliance and the editorial advisory board of the Lancet Planetary Health.