Climate Change and Human Health: The Role of Nurses in Confronting the Issue

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Climate change will impact human health in various ways as the ecology of our planet changes. Environmental changes such as increased heat waves, sea-level rise, and increased drought around the globe will aggravate already-existing health problems, increase the onset of new health problems, and, in some cases, cause premature death. Catastrophic events associated with these environmental changes, such as floods, and increases in hospital and routine clinic visits will have nurses on the front lines tending to those in need. Climate change needs to be reframed as a public health issue, and the importance of nurses to be educated and engaged cannot be overstated. Nurses can be instrumental in communications with patients and families, working with their hospitals and health systems to reduce emissions and influencing the adoption of strategies to better prepare our health care facilities and our communities for the health impacts of climate change.

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