As a nurse midwife and Director of Programs at the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Katie Huffling thinks a lot about what women and children need to stay healthy. And as a result, she is passionate about working to stop climate change.
According to Huffling, the foundation of good health is clean air, clean water, and healthy food. Climate change threatens all three of these basic components of good health. (Tweet this)
I spoke with Katie about a new report from the US Global Change Research Program, a US government consortium of agencies and departments studying the impact of climate change. Their report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States, provides an assessment of the latest science on climate change and health, along with their estimation of the level of confidence with which scientists can predict climate-related health impacts.
The upshot: More than 100 scientists affirmed that climate disruption will harm our health. We will see a range of fairly predictable impacts, such as increases in heat-related illness and more asthma attacks from poor air quality. We’ll also see health impacts that are less well-known, such as a reduction in the protein content of major food crops like wheat and rice; and increases in intestinal illness and food-borne disease from flooding and warmer sea temperatures.
As a midwife, Katie says the new report is a good reminder of what nurses can be doing to combat climate change. “It’s important that nurses talk with our clients about how climate change impacts health,” she says. (See our joint brochure on just this subject, What Health Professionals Can Do About Climate Change.) “But even more important is that nurses talk with policymakers about the importance of addressing climate change now.”