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“Nurses Caring for Climate and Health”: Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, in Partnership with Climate for Health, Releases New Video

By Tim Kelly
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Climate change is one of the most pressing public health problems of our time. But it is also one of the greatest opportunities to make positive changes to the health of Americans, as well as globally. Nurses are in every community and as the most trusted profession are well-positioned to take a lead in addressing this public health crisis.  In this week's blog Cara Cook of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) introduces a new video produced by ANHE and Climate for Health and describes the tremendous opportunity nurses have to lead on climate and health.

As part of a new program designed to inspire and educate nurses on climate action, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments has joined with Climate for Health in producing a new video highlighting the need for nurses to band together in caring for climate and to ensure immediate health protections and a healthy future for all.

Nurses Caring for Climate and Health shares stories and experiences of nurses across specialties, describing how their practices and patients are impacted by climate change and what they are doing to move climate solutions forward.

As highlighted in the video, the threats posed by climate change to health are real, happening now, and require immediate and urgent action. These impacts include:   

  • Worsened air quality from harmful air pollutants, such as ground-level ozone, and airborne allergens contributing to worsening cases of asthma, increases in allergens and allergy symptoms, aggravation of chronic disease, and premature death.
  • Rising rates of heat stress exhaustion, heat stroke, and premature death resulting from increases in the intensity and frequency of heat waves.
  • Rising temperatures and changes in precipitation increase potential for spread of insect-borne diseases, such as Zika and Lyme disease.
  • More intense and severe droughts, heavier periods of precipitation, rising sea level, and severe storm surges contribute to flooding which can impact water and food supply.
  • Increase in the overall burden of mental health disorders worldwide resulting from extreme weather events and natural disasters.

While climate change may seem like a daunting topic, there are solutions to address this issue. And tackling climate change is an opportunity to protect health on a global scale. What an amazing opportunity! If the almost 4 million nurses in the US use their collective power to tackle this challenge, we will have an amazing positive impact on the health of our patients and communities. This new video provides examples of how nurses are already taking action in their practice settings to care for climate. Various health professions and organizations are also embracing this sentiment and stepping up to ensure that health is a key driver of climate solutions.

Among the nursing profession, ANHE is leading the charge to increase awareness and engage nurses in leading on climate action.  As the largest and most trusted healthcare profession, nurses are crucial to spreading the word about climate and health and building support for solutions. It is essential that nurses are informed on how health is impacted by climate change, engage others, lead by example in their practice settings and personal lives, and are part of the solution.

As part of the nursing profession response, ANHE, in partnership with Climate for Health, has joined with other national nursing organizations to form a Nursing Collaborative on Climate Change and Health. The Collaborative is a combined effort among nursing organizations to build visible nursing leadership on climate as a health priority. ANHE is pleased to announce the first five nursing organizations to join on to this collaborative effort:  National Association of Hispanic Nurses, National Student Nurses' Association, Association of Public Health Nurses, Service Employees International Union Nurse Alliance, and the Public Health Nursing section of the American Public Health Association. This nationwide network of nursing organizations will be instrumental to move the profession forward in addressing climate change. The main goals of the Collaborative work are to elevate climate as a visible health priority, create a climate literate nursing community, engage all stakeholders in connecting climate and health, and to build collective support and action for solutions.

Please, view our new video, share it, and join us in caring for climate. For more information on what nurses can do to address climate change check out the resources on ANHE or Climate for Health’s website. For further information on how nursing organizations can join the Nursing Collaborative on Climate Change and Health, contact Cara Cook at cara@envirn.org.