Addressing Climate Change: We Can't Afford Not To

Elizabeth C. Schenk, PhD, MHI, RN-BC, FAAN


Nurs Econ. 2019;37(1):6-8. 

In This Article

The Time Is now

Two important reports were published in recent months. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018) stated that we have until 2030, a short 12 years, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The Fourth National Climate Assessment stated that if unchecked, the United States is likely to see hundreds of billions of dollars of damage to our economy by the end of the century (USGCRP, 2018). The urgency stated by these reports calls us to act now.

Mitigating climate change helps to protect our patients and communities as well as the future of all people. Conveniently, it saves substantial dollars in avoided risk and tragedy long-term, and in daily operations in the short-term. Our professional imperative to respond, plus the practical advantages of decreasing our own pollution, makes this a win-win challenge. Should nurses respond by decreasing greenhouse gas pollution and preparing for the impacts of climate change that are already occurring? We can't afford not to.