Health and Climate Change

An article from the New England Journal of Medicine calls on the health sector to take on climate change and share the connections between climate disasters and long-term health impacts.


There is a growing human toll brought on by increased numbers of storms, floods, droughts, and, of course, the wildfires that have raged throughout California over the past several months. In addition, other environmental concerns – such as clean water and air, waste management, carbon emissions – are still here and need to be addressed. These issues negatively affect our health and lifespans. So many of us in the San Joaquin Valley suffer from chronic asthma or other sinus issues. The droughts and fires, and subsequent floods and mudslides, affect all Californians. These climate change events contribute to people’s inability to turn on their water or walk outside and breathe normally. So many have seen their homes destroyed, eliminating their access to clean and safe shelter.

Those who need extensive healthcare or cannot pay for it will be affected most. While there are always things we can (and should!) do at home and at work to combat climate change, like compost or reduce food waste, use public transportation, and conserve energy, the health sector has a bigger influence. Health professionals can be advocates for climate change mitigation through healthcare avenues, through their facilities, and through education.


Some of us in California can access services from Kaiser Permanente, which wants to be an environmental steward and promote healthy communities. If your healthcare provider doesn’t have greening health care goals, bring this to their attention! Share how taking on climate change thoroughly benefits our physical health and longevity, a natural goal of the health sector.

Do you work in the health sector? Check out the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Make your voice heard and act to bring your industry to the forefront of the climate change conversation.