Nurses Cite Diseases Connected to Calif.’s Warming

Nurses have a front-seat view of climate disruption and its associated increases in extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and prolonged heat waves. Photo Credit: Nat

Logan Pollard
California News Service

LOS ANGELES – You might not think of nurses as being concerned with the effects of climate change. But it turns out they see its impact every day, as a result of illnesses connected to our changing environment.

Katie Huffling, director of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, co-authored a report out this month that looked at climate change and its effects on nurses and patients. She said global warming is evident every day in increased cases of childhood asthma, Lyme disease and even unhealthy pregnancies. What’s more, California’s food supply and agricultural communities are impacted by it.

“In drought-conditions or during heat waves, the plants aren’t able to pull up as much nutrients as during a normal crop season,” Huffling said. “And so one of the concerns that we have is, over time, especially with grains, that they may not have the nutritional value that they do now.”

Advocates worry the new administration will be less open to seeing connections between climate change and human activity. NASA and NOAA data shows that 2016 was once again the hottest year on record.

Huffling said she’s also worried about how Native American communities in the Southwestmay be impacted by a warming climate.

“In the Southwest, tribal communities are one of the communities that will be most significantly impacted,” she said; “and so as nurses we want to be able to support those communities so that they’re not feeling such significant impacts.”

The report came out of a summit hosted late last year by the Obama administration called the “2016 White House Summit on Climate Change, Health and Nursing.”

The report can be seen online at