Climate Change is a Public Health Issue
This is a guest blog post from Hacah Boros, RN, MSN. Hacah is the Environmental Health Coordinator for the Connecticut Nurses’ Association and a lead partner in the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut. The Coalition is coordinated by Clean Water Action.
As a nurse, I'm deeply concerned about the health impacts of climate change. Many may not realize that climate change is the most pressing public health issue of our time. According to the American Lung Association, all eight of Connecticut's counties got a failing grade for air quality and we're experiencing more bad air quality days, more frequent and severe storms, and we dealt with a seven-month drought this past year, something almost unprecedented in Connecticut.
Recently, I attended the Governor's Climate Change Council (GC3) meeting. This group was convened by Governor Malloy to develop a plan that assures Connecticut meets the legally required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 2050. The Council has been deliberating on an interim target for 2030, which is particularly important since our emissions have actually risen since 2015! I was surprised however to see a lack of emphasis and concern by many members of the Council on the health impacts of climate change. Rather, the focus seemed to be on the costs of renewable energy and the difficulty in achieving targets.
Nurses and other public health professionals must be at the table during planning meetings, speaking out about the health impacts of climate change. We must get more comfortable in advocating for policies that may be unfamiliar to us--like the need to ramp up the use of electric vehicles and sources of renewable energy for our homes and businesses. Health care professionals need to encourage the hospital systems they work for to take climate responsible actions like recycling, considering alternative operating room gas use, and investing in alternative heating and electrical systems.
I’m pleased that Clean Water Action and the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut is working to get more nurses and health care voices involved and I look forward to lending my voice to this critical issue.