Addressing Climate Change: We Can't Afford Not To

Elizabeth C. Schenk, PhD, MHI, RN-BC, FAAN


Nurs Econ. 2019;37(1):6-8. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Climate change presents significant challenges to health, well-being, and quality of life (U.S. Global Change Research Program [USGCRP], 2018). Thus, it is a matter of importance to nursing. In the past decade, we have witnessed more severe storms (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], 2018) with flooding, trauma, and loss of life and property (USGCRP, 2016a). We have seen an increase in wildfires (Congressional Research Service, 2018) including several devastating fires that have burned communities to the ground, with billions of dollars of loss in property and infrastructure, and priceless losses of human and animal lives (California Fire Data, 2018). While each of these have occurred historically, today their frequency and intensity are aggravated by climate change (NOAA, 2018).

Dramatic large-scale events are extremely challenging to address from a nursing and public health perspective, but they are not the only health threats from climate change. Heat-related illness, worse infectious diseases related to vector movement, longer allergy seasons, and other issues risk the health of our communities (USGCRP, 2016b) and bring new challenges to nurses and the healthcare system (Anderko, Schenk, & Huffling, 2017).