Engaging the Health Sector in Climate Action

By Rebecca Rehr

On this special episode of ecoAmerica’s Let’s Talk Climate series, I had a conversation with Gloria Barrera, RN, and Jerome Paulson, MD, about engaging their peers, community, and policymakers on climate action. This 20-minute episode is jam packed with advice and insight from our speakers. We were inspired to have this discussion today by way of the U.S. Call to Action on Climate, Health, and Equity. The Call to Action lists 10 priority actions, one of which is “Engage the health sector voice in the call for climate action.” 

Watch the Episode Here

Climate change impacts the health of every human being on the face of the earth and as health care professionals, if our goal is to protect the health of human beings then we need to engage on the topic of climate change.” – Jerry

“As the most trusted profession in the country, nurses are in a unique position to amplify their voices and take direct action on climate change.” – Gloria

Our conversation ranged from health professional advocacy for climate policy and on enforcing regulations consistently and equitably to the personal actions we can all take like reducing meat consumption. It is important to engage at all levels.

“Working health professionals who take time out of their day [to testify on legislation] cuts through the noise of the sausage making. It really makes a tremendous impact when health professionals speak out, at the state level in particular.” – Rebecca 

Gloria and Jerry both spoke about using real world examples to bring their colleagues along in climate & health work. 

“As nurses, we have a duty to provide our patients, our communities, our families, children, with a safe and healthy future.” – Gloria

“Climate change impacts low resources communities, communities of color in much more devastating ways than other communities…we must incorporate concepts of climate justice in every climate activity we undertake.” – Jerry 

Thank you so much, Jerry and Gloria, for spending time with me to share your wisdom and concrete actions. Let’s all follow through on their advice to speak about, act on, and advocate for climate solutions as a health imperative.  

More Information/Resources Shared During the Webcast

Climate for Health Moving Forward Toolkit

Medical Society Consortium On Climate & Health and information by state

Our Children Our Future: Why the AAP is Leading on Climate Change and How Pediatricians Can Help” [Video]

Children’s Health & Climate Change A Moment of Reflection on Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary

Let’s Talk Health & Climate

Nurses Drawdown

 

About our Speakers:

Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics and of Environmental & Occupational Health, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health

Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP is Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics and Emeritus Professor of Environmental & Occupational Health at the George Washington University Schools of Medicine and of Public Health. He created the American Academy of Pediatrics Program on Climate Change and Health. He is a consultant to the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health and is a founding member of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action. He is helping a group of clinicians create George Clinicians for Climate Action. He is a past chair the executive committee of the Council on Environmental Health of the AAP and past Medical Director for the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units – East. He served on the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee for the US EPA. Dr. Paulson co-created, and for a number of years lead, the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health & the Environment.

Dr. Paulson received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with honors and with general honors from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD. He received an MD degree from Duke University in Durham, NC. He did his pediatric residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospitals and Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD. He also completed a fellowship in Ambulatory Pediatrics at Sinai Hospital.

 

Gloria E. Barrera, MSN, RN, PEL-CSN, Certified School Nurse & Adjunct Professor, Dist. 99, DePaul, Capella, Saint Xavier University

Gloria E. Barrera, MSN, RN, PEL-CSN is a public health nurse leader, specialized in school nursing. She currently works as a certified school nurse at a public high school outside of Chicago.  Gloria is also an Adjunct Professor of Nursing at several universities, most notably DePaul University, and her alma mater Saint Xavier University. Her leadership and service has been recognized by several organizations.  She is the President Elect of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses-Illinois Chapter, President Elect of the Illinois Association of School Nurses, and a proud member of ANA-Illinois, and APHA.  She’s been an active member of ANHE since 2016, and has made it a priority to advocate for healthy environments, and raise awareness on climate change.  Gloria is an ACLS 2020 Climate Scholar.  Her passion is public health nursing, and she is committed to continuing her efforts to improve child health outcomes in our most vulnerable populations through her practice, teaching, and advocacy. 

 

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