Ten years have passed since an international panel of scientists declared climate change the biggest threat to global health in the 21st century. The 2009 Lancet article linked the rise in our planet’s temperature to direct and indirect health threats from increased chronic and infectious disease, and to extreme weather effects from floods to wildfire. Despite the scientific research supporting climate change, resistance to reducing climate-damaging practices persists.

The direct effects of climate damage impact the most vulnerable in our communities: children and pregnant women, older adults and people who live in or near poverty. As a nurse practitioner, I have seen first-hand the rise in rates of respiratory diseases, such as asthma and allergies, aligning with growing levels of particulate matter in the air and longer allergy seasons.

Karen Anne Wolf, RN, NP, a retired NP and Professor of Nursing, is a member of the Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment and a senior fellow of the National Academies of Practice.

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