Nurses Weighing in on Climate Change

Kirsten Long

The Yale program on Climate Change Communication released a study a few years ago that showed around 60 percent of Americans haven’t given much thought to how global warming might impact health. A group of nurses are determined to address this attitude, at least in their own profession.

A project in the United States called the Nurses Climate Challenge was put into action with the goal of informing around 5,000 health care professionals about the effect of climate change on human health by the end of 2019. The initiative works alongside Health Care Without Harm and the Alliances of Nurses for Healthy Environments.

Global warming impacts human health more than Americans know; with extreme heat, more severe allergy seasons, air pollution and natural disasters creating numerous health challenges. However, the health-care facilities are also contributing to the problem, with health sector emissions totaling 10 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 and 2.5 times more energy use per square foot than commercial buildings. Creating sustainability plans is one of the ways that some nurses have taken action in order to minimize workplace impact. In other words, helping to create more energy-efficient hospitals.

The official website for the Nurses Climate Challenge urges nurses to become part of the movement and to take action in protecting patients and communities from the implications of climate change. With 4,753 health professionals already educated on climate and health, they are hoping that they can help prevent the worsening effects of climates change, as well as improve health outcomes.