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Climate Health Matters Vector Borne Illnesses

There’s no denying that human activity is having an effect on the planet, and not always for the better. Generations of fossil fuel use is connected to the recent changes in the earth’s climate, and linked to some of the rising human health concerns as well—which can affect kids the most. It’s time we do something to address climate change and preserve our planet for our kids. That’s why Seventh Generation has joined forces with Sierra Club in the Ready for 100 Campaign, which aims to spark a grass-roots energy revolution by inspiring cities across the nation to switch from dirty fossil fuels to 100% clean, renewable energy sources.


The adverse health effects of fossil fuel use are becoming far too common[1]. More kids are struggling with asthma[2], more coaches are treating heat illness at practice[3], and more family doctors are diagnosing West Nile Virus, Zika, and Lyme Disease[4]: seriously dangerous vector-borne illnesses that may permanently change the way parents look at insects and prepare their kids to go outside. That is, if they even let them go outside much longer. 

“Vector” is the scientific word for organisms (often insects) that pass diseases to humans—diseases such as the Zika Virus or Lyme Disease. The bad news for our kids is that our changing climate is inviting more vectors—namely mosquitoes and ticks, whose larvae mature faster in warmer temps and warmer water[5]—to their favorite outdoor hangouts, making activities like hiking in the woods, swimming in the local lake, and playing on the backyard jungle gym seem a little suspect.

Has a nightly tick check behind your kids’ ears become a bedtime ritual in your home? We wouldn’t be surprised if it has. Cases of Lyme Disease have almost tripled in the last two decades,[6] and it’s now the most common vector-borne disease in the U.S, with confirmed cases ballooning from 10,000 in 1995 to nearly 30,000 in 2015. And since Lyme Disease can be hard to diagnose and often goes unreported, the Center for Disease Control thinks the actual number of incidents is about ten times that amount.[7]

The unpleasant side effects of Lyme Disease include fever, headache, muscle soreness, and joint pain. Many of us are also getting used to seeing that infamous bullseye rash—a common sign of Lyme Disease—in our Facebook feed. Unfortunately, even when treated with antibiotics, the effects of Lyme Disease can last for years, if not a lifetime. Do we really want to reach the point where instead of just being annoyed by insects, we outright fear them, soak our kids in bug spray 24/7, or maybe just opt to keep them inside?

The good news is that we don’t need to wait for slow-moving government agencies before we can take action on climate change and global warming. Alternatives to fossil fuels are not only available, they’re attainable. So, join forces with Seventh Generation and Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 Campaign and tell your city to commit to 100% clean and renewable energy. It’s one step toward making a difference for our environment and children today, and for the next seven generations.






[5] E. K. Shuman, “Global Climate Change and Infectious Diseases,” N. Engl. J. Med., vol. 362, no. 12, pp. 1061–1063, Mar. 2010.



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