NYSNA nurses caring for our patients and our planet

There are multitudes of reasons that connect nurses to climate change. What underpins them all is the fact that climate change and the abuse of our planet that triggers it results in people getting sick. Very sick.

Some of you have attended climate workshops (see pp. 6-7), and others will in the future. I look forward to extended dialogue within NYSNA on this absolutely critical matter. Our role as caregivers places greater responsibility on us to take action.

Please join the People’s Climate March! Sunday, September 21, at Columbus Circle (59th Street) in Manhattan. (See details on p. 7, or go to www.nysna.org). The PCM Labor Rally starts at 11 a.m. NYSNA was the first labor union to endorse this major event and we want to see you all there!

Extreme Weather Events
Here are 10 key points to keep in mind as we head to the People’s Climate March:

No more Sandys. Carbon dioxide created by combustion-produced energy activity – greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use – threatens to raise global temperatures by more than 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, causing more Extreme Weather Events in the form of flooding, typhoons and drought. EWEs threaten lives and destroy property on a massive scale. Sea level changes leading to coastal flooding could endanger the lives of millions of people and leave many more sick and dislocated.

Keep our chemistry right. Climate change coupled with fossil-fuel pollution are profoundly disruptive to global cycles of nitrogen and phosphorous, both essential to all life on Earth. Shrinking water stocks, loss of biodiversity and ocean acidification are also affected. The destruction of reefs alone threatens our food, coastal protection and medicines, a direct impact on healthcare.

Crops, heat waves and pollution
Protect our crops and feed the world. Current levels of warming could harm crop productivity by up to 50 percent in the tropics and at low altitudes. Loss of water adds to crop failure. Given these trends, in the next 35 years the number of undernourished children under the age of five will increase by 20 to 25 million globally, with profound healthcare affects.

Put an end to the heat waves that are on the rise. Overall, warming patterns are undisputed. In South Asia, heat waves are killers in rural areas. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cites rising heatstroke deaths in the developing world. More than 150,000 Americans could die by the end of the century due to excessive heat caused by climate change. Illnesses that are caused or made worse by extreme heat – including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease – would result.

Stop weather-related disease that is increasing. Mosquito-borne diseases are often affected by drought events linked to climate change. There is also evidence that diseases transmitted by rodents and water-based parasites are linked to increased flooding. In 2010, there were an estimated 216 million episodes of malaria worldwide. Links between climate change and dengue fever are also cited.

Burning fossil fuels is a killer and must be controlled and ended. The majority of CO2 increase is attributable to fossil fuel burning in just the last 20 years. The air pollution alone has been tied to heart disease, strokes, asthma and more. The World Health Organization calls air pollution exposure the largest single environmental health risk

Recognize that deforestation is doing us in. Most of the rest of CO2 increase in the last generation is tied to deforestation, as plant life that consumes CO2 naturally is destroyed. We need forests for their beauty, and for our protection. More than half the people in the U.S. are already breathing air considered dirty enough to cause health problems.

Cease all hydraulic fracturing, “fracking.” This process of obtaining natural gas spreads poison in drinking water and the environment overall, and risks serious accidents. Scientists are now calling for more research on how fracking impacts the genetics of unborn children living near wells.

Contain fuel transportation and its inevitable accidents, leaks and spillage. Hardly a week passes in the U.S. in which a substantial spillage of oil or gas is not reported. These accidents despoil drinking water, kill crops and expose people to disease-inducing conditions. Even spill clean-up materials contain chemical ingredients associated with cancer, skin irritation and kidney disease.

Up with clean energy
Use technology and human knowledge for the betterment of the planet. Build an energy future that is safe, clean and the source of millions of new, quality jobs, keeping the planet safe, bountiful and robust. Labor plays a leading role. Nurses are leading advocates for the public health.

People before profits means a clean and safe environment!

People before profits means quality healthcare for all!

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