CommunityOff the Charts

Nurses speak up about climate change

By: Julie Cullen

By Julie Cullen, Managing Editor, American Nurse Today

The past few days have seen a lot of news coverage of the climate strike by young people around the world and the short (but forceful) United Nations speech by young climate activist Greta Thunberg. Another group that’s been on the frontlines of the recent climate rallies is nurses. According to interviews given by some nurses, they’re motivated to participate by what they see daily in their work settings and experiences they’ve had after natural disasters and on mission trips.

Climate change is a hot button political topic, so some nurses may feel nervous about speaking out, but nurses’ associations have already made statements about the environment. A recent Washington Post article reminded readers about the American Nurses Association resolution after a U.S. senator called global warming a hoax. The ANA said, in part, that “the challenges we face as a result of global climate change are unprecedented in human history and it is critical that nurses speak out in a united voice and advocate for change on both individual and policy levels.”

Nurses are in a unique position to advocate for measures to help slow (or even stop) climate change. The public views nurses as competent and caring, so when they advocate for an issue they’re listened to. In February 2019, American Nurse Today published an article about preparing older citizens for global climate change. In addition to offering specific care recommendations, the authors provided a list of resources to help nurses get involved—Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Elders Climate Action, Health Care Without Harm, and WHO’s Climate Change and Human Health toolkit. Take advantage of your trusted position in society and speak up about climate change.

Source: Washington Post


  • Excellent article! We are linking to this particularly great article on our site.
    Keep up the good writing.

  • Wow, harsh comments! Yep, I am a bleeding-heart liberal. I guess over my many years I have seen the changes wrought by damage to our environment. I guess the super storms, rising ocean levels, endangered wild life populations, and the fact that our human population has doubled world-wide in the last 50 years must be all fake news? If as nurses, we do not take care of our home, the planet Earth, we will not need to worry about patient care as there won’t be any of us left. Promoting judicious use of antibiotics, reducing waste, and endorsing plant based diets are all healthful activities and help to save our mother (earth).

  • The ANA’s take on climate change is what I would expect from a bunch of scientifically challenged educated people. Nursing tends to think with its emotions, not rational evidence-based information gathered across thousands of years of human history. Greenland was once considered attractive for European settlement. Unfortunately, the climate cooled & the settlers starved & froze to death, abandoning the settlement. The southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea was forested & green before Carthage fell to Rome during the Punic Wars (264–146 BC). Humans do change the surface of the earth & change local climate, but not global climate. The current belief that excess carbon dioxide released by fossil fuel combustion is smothering the globe is based on incomplete knowledge of earth sciences, faulty computer models, & falsified weather/climate data.

    Perhaps we should focus NURSING attention on the resurgence of diseases we thought were eradicated in this country. Measles. Cholera. Typhus. Internal & external parasites. Tuberculosis. Many of these diseases are the results of filth & poor sanitation, conditions we nurses have more influence over.

  • Climate change has been going on for millions of years it is normal. Let’s get together and figure out how to get mental health care for people in need of it.

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