Climate Change and Your Health: How Are They Connected?

Climate change is a reality widely accepted by the scientific community. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, increasing temperatures worldwide are a crucial component of climate change and the alterations in temperature will impact nearly every area of human interactions resulting in “greater likelihood of injury, disease and death.” However, according to The Lancet, climate change could also be “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.” We will review the health impacts of climate change in three areas: respiratory health, infectious diseases and mental health, and discuss potential actions that you can take to protect yourself and your community.

A $50 discount will be applied automatically for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Online - Cecilia Sierra Heredia $170.00 0 Join Waitlist

Schedule clarification: This is a four-week online course. It runs from Monday,  November 8 to Friday, December 3. Each week, all week, you can study that week’s material, post and respond to messages, and engage in course activities. You will participate in Zoom Meeting sessions each Friday from 3:30–5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:

  • Describe some of the direct and indirect effects of climate change on your health
  • Judge the connections between the different topics covered in the course and how their interaction impacts your health
  • Evaluate the role of different interventions in human interactions with climate change

Learning methods

Your online learning will include the following methods:

  • Academic and non-academic articles
  • Participation in written discussions with other students
  • Participation in videoconference seminars

For Liberal Arts for 55+ Certificate students: you will write a reflective essay.


Week 1: What is climate change? Why should we care?

Climate change already has consequences. And changes in local ecosystems will present specific threats for humans there, with many interrelated impacts. Among the areas of life affected, health is immediate and prominent. The incidence, range and seasonality of many existing disorders will alter due to their connection with average climate conditions, climatic variability and other non-infectious drivers of health.  

Week 2: How does climate change affect our respiratory system?

The incidence and prevalence childhood asthma and allergies have increased steeply in the past 50 years. This trend has occurred over too short a period to be explained by genetic modifications within the human population. As environmental factors play a role in the development of allergies, it has been hypothesized that climate change may be partially responsible for the increase.

Week 3: How does climate change affect our mental health? And why does it increase the likelihood of infections?

Extreme weather events (such as hurricanes or droughts) impact mental health—conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are often diagnosed in survivors—and climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of these events. Additionally, with warming temperatures and changes in precipitation, insects that carry infections are extending their geographical range, exposing more communities to disease.

Week 4: What can individuals and communities do?

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated that without appropriate action, the social and economic devastation of climate change will be greater than that of COVID-19. Climate change exacerbates health inequalities, but has also been described as, “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”. It is crucial that individuals and communities are involved in designing mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Books, materials and resources

You will access course resources using SFU's online course management system, Canvas.

Technical requirements

This course is delivered using SFU's online learning system, Canvas. You can check if your browser is compatible with Canvas here.  

To get the most out of this online course, you should be comfortable doing the following:

  • Using everyday software such as browsers, email and social media
  • Navigating a website by clicking on links and finding pages in a menu
  • Downloading and opening PDF documents
  • Posting, replying and uploading images to a discussion board
  • Participating in videoconferencing sessions

You will be participating in videoconferencing using Zoom Meetings. For this, your computer needs to have a camera, microphone and speakers or headphones. Your computer software should be up to date with the latest available operating system and browser versions.

Accessing your course

  • A few days before the course starts, we will email you more information about the course and how you'll access it. You will also receive an email inviting you to access the Canvas learning platform (click on the link in the invitation to join the course). Once you’ve accessed Canvas, you can begin exploring the platform on your own. The full course will be accessible on its start date.
  • We’ll also host a virtual drop-in time on Zoom Meetings a few days before the course starts. This will give you a chance to check that you can access Zoom Meetings, and that your computer’s camera and microphone and speakers are working properly.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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