May 23 2014

Climate Change’s Newest Public Ambassadors? Nurses

By path2positive

As the climate changes, nurses have been on the frontlines seeing the health impacts of extreme weather, increased allergens and asthma rates, increasing vector ranges, and the resultant strain on our healthcare infrastructure. There are over three million nurses in the U.S., working in a variety of settings including communities, schools, workplaces, and health care facilities with the capacity to reach a large number of people in efforts to advocate for clean energy and clean air policies that would reduce impacts of climate change. However, most nurses are not informed about climate change, its health impacts, and how to advocate for healthier policies.
Earlier this year the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) and Big Shoulders Communication Consulting, collaborated on a three-part video series to create a campaign for advocacy that will target public and environmental health nurses who are interested in learning about the science of climate change, public health impacts, and how they can effectively advocate for the Clean Air Act and clean energy policies.
Goals that will be addressed through the web based media module advocacy campaign targeted to nurses for clean energy and clean air policies include:
• Promote the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to set air pollution standards and defend against attacks
• Continue engagement and development of grassroots activists, community leaders
• Support development of a strong EPA proposal for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants
Engaging nurses and encouraging their intrinsic relationship with public health and the environment is our ultimate goal. We decided to use a photomontage with voice-over narration that told nurses’ stories from the inception of the Clean Air Act in the 1970s into a speculative future. The inherent starkness of the topic is highlighted with the optimism of the nurses telling their stories.
The specifics of our current climate crisis may not be the same as they were in 1972 or will be in 2022, but the importance of nurses’ approach to public health and their community has been and will continue to be a foundation of advocacy and sustainability.
The first module:


Click here if the video is not showing up in your browser.
Laura Anderko, PhD, RN, serves on the MomentUs Health Leadership Circle and holds the Robert and Kathleen Scanlon Endowed Chair in Values Based Health Care at Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies. Dr. Anderko is a member of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments.


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