“When we talk about climate change, we do it on a planetary scale and it may seem far from us,” says Sofi Langis, director and co-screenwriter (with Alexandra Cliche-Rivard) of Disrupted climate, health in danger. Yet they represent “the greatest health threat facing humanity”, constantly warns the World Health Organization. Why then do we hear so little of the voices of healthcare professionals when they sound the alarm bells in unison? “In 2019, for example, some 20 Canadian health-related organizations sent an open letter to the federal parties, urging them to consider climate change as a public health issue,” recalls Sofi Langis, who is the starting point of the process of creating his documentary.
It now believes that the disconnect between citizens, politicians and the environmental crisis results from the general feeling of not being concerned. “In the documentary, we wanted to reframe what we see on the news and associate everything with the context of climate change,” she explains. Talking concretely about their consequences on our health is more challenging than showing melting icebergs or polar bears. Looking more closely at the case of recurrent flooding in Quebec, the subject enjoys wide media coverage. “But we rarely heard the point of view of a doctor who establishes a link with climate change”, says Sofi Langis. In this regard, the DD Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers, one of the four scientists taking part in Disrupted climate, health in dangerdoes not fail to point out, among other things, that many Quebecers consult for reasons of psychological distress following major floods.
Quebec under the magnifying glass
Because Quebec is a microcosm where the main challenges related to global climate change are concentrated — new diseases, extreme warming of the northern subarctic regions that have effects as far south as the province, etc. —, its population is much more affected than it seems. “Quebec is fascinating to examine. This is where it all happens,” says Sofi Langis. Beyond medical personnel, the quest for her film has also led her on the trail of local microbiologists and veterinarians who are particularly interested in virology. “Strangely, we realized that experts have been warning about the emergence of new virulents for a long time. We talk a lot about COVID at the moment, but we must not forget that it is only one virus among many others ”, notes the director.
For Sofi Langis, we are on the edge of a bottomless pit since there are thousands of endemic viruses and bacteria that threaten Quebec. Anaplasmosis is also one of the main dangers in North America today: the infection, which circulates between small mammals and which can be transmitted to humans by a tick bite, is already responsible for an outbreak in the province. A worrying phenomenon for public health given the lack of a surveillance system for pathogens present in ticks. “One can imagine that there are still many unknowns […] and the situation is changing rapidly,” warns veterinary epidemiologist Cécile Aenishaenslin in the documentary.
“In reality, we cannot isolate human health from that of the environment, territory, fauna and flora,” adds Sofi Langis. According to her, it makes more sense than ever to analyze climate change in terms of the concept of one health, an approach “which is at the human-animal-environment interface […] and which is expressed at several local scales [individuelle, communautaire, territoriale] in a global context,” she says. In Disrupted climate, health in dangerthe DD Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers also points out that this vision is in line with that of the First Nations, who have always had a deep relationship with their territory.
Indigenous resources and knowledge
“The people whose health is most affected by climate change are precisely the Aboriginal peoples. They suffer their consequences on a daily basis, ”recalls Sofi Langis. In fact, she believes that communities in northern Quebec have infinite knowledge about climate change. Perfect knowledge of their territory would also be an asset for the scientific world in its studies on permafrost and virology related to these ecosystems. “ Disrupted climate, health in danger however allowed me to see that the research is currently being carried out by people who do not live in these regions, regrets the director. Without a doubt, there is a lack of researchers from these territories. »
And she continued: “Because we, as non-natives, have a lot to learn from the First Nations, and vice versa, I think it is essential to publicize and popularize the projects of scientists in order to make them accessible to everyone. By carrying the word of those she met in the field for her documentary, Sofi Langis thus hopes to contribute her stone to the building and perhaps arouse additional collective awareness, because our health does indeed depend many climate changes.