When Superstorm Sandy tore through New York, taking lives, destroying neighborhoods, leveling homes, damaging hospitals and wrecking vital energy and transit infrastructure, NYSNA knew that we had reached a turning point. With global warming posing a cataclysmic threat to public health, it was clear that our work caring for patients and communities would require that we charge headlong into the fight for climate justice.
The science is in: the climate is hotter than it has been in all of human history, and unless our society can make a dramatic break from its addiction to fossil fuels, it will only get hotter, threatening further catastrophic weather events and even greater destruction.
It's not just carbon emissions, either. The overarching problem is that our energy and environmental policies have been written to maximize the profits of the energy industry, no matter the devastation to life on earth. This leads not just to a hotter atmosphere and more extreme weather, but also contaminated water and air, extinction of wildlife, drought and displacement, and communities choked with rotting garbage and festering toxic waste.
Sandy showed us what the climate crisis looks like up close, but we also know its effects are felt very far away -- all over the globe.
In an earth whose shared resources -- the water, air, land, weather, and atmosphere -- are poisoned, destroyed, and reserved for the exclusive use of profit-driven corporations, we cannot truly foster healthy patients and communities. The cure for our energy system is the same cure we prescribe for our healthcare system: It’s time to put people over profits!
So how does a statewide nurses' union do battle on a global scale? Every way we can. NYSNA nurses are on the front lines in protecting our air and water from pollution, working on forward-thinking clean energy and good job solutions, and working in coalitions to build the movement for climate justice.
"Nurses are part of a larger movement, not just to heal our patients, but to rescue the world." Check out this powerful video looking back at nurses' role during Superstorm Sandy four years ago and how it has shaped our involvement in the climate justice movement ever since.