Climate Change: The Nurse Role in Practice and Policy

International disaster nursing expert, Dr. Tener Goodwin Veenema, Senior Advisor to the American Red Cross and former Senior Consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services, believes that global climate change is the greatest impending threat to public health. Her new book, Disaster Nursing and Emergency Preparedness for Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Terrorism and Other Hazards, the third edition of the gold standard award-winning text in the disaster nursing field, explores climate change and its health consequences. In this seminal textbook book Karen L. Levin, RN, MPH, MCHES and Dr. Thomas Chandler, PhD, the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, have authored a chapter entitled ‘Climate Change and the Nurse’s Role in Policy and Practice’.

The book is the first disaster nursing work to directly address climate change and its impact on human health and the nurse role. The health consequences of climate change and recent climate-related disasters are significant and far-reaching, says Dr. Veenema. The science-based climate change chapter provides examples of health consequences that include the emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases in increasingly warmer geographic regions, heat-related morbidity and mortality, respiratory ailments and allergies, food and water-borne diseases, and cancer. The authors put forward that nurses as trusted messengers, health educators and client advocates have an essential role in responding to these direct and indirect consequences of climate change. After the particular devastation of the tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes in the last few years, and in the wake of the 2012 extended heat waves, the hottest July on record, severe drought, and outbreaks of West Nile virus, this coverage is particularly timely.

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Additional Recommended Reading and Resources:

  1. “Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 from a Climate Perspective,”  Thomas C. Peterson, Peter A. Stott and Stephanie Herring, Editors, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  2. ANHE:  Alliance of Nurses for Health Environments
  3. Nursing: Health Impacts and Role of Professionals
    1. Environmental Health-Nursing Education, Climate Change Resource Guide
    2. No Harm and
  4. The Impact of Global Warming on Health Care and Nursing
  5. US Environmental Protection Agency Children’s Health Protection Climate Change and the Health of Children
  6. CDC’s Climate Ready States and Cities Initiative