Widespread scientific consensus exists that the world’s climate is changing, with a majority of scientists in agreement that anthropogenic climate change is having increasingly adverse effects on human health (National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] Global Climate Change, 2018; U.S. Global Change Research Program [USGCRP], 2017). Some of these changes include rising temperatures, more variable weather, heat waves, heavy precipitation events, flooding, droughts, more intense storms, sea level rise, and air pollution. Each of these impacts is currently or has the potential to negatively affect population health. While climate change is a global issue, the effects of climate change will vary across geographical regions and populations (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2017a). The influence of climate change on human health appears in scientific, environmental, and public health literature, and, in more recent years, a growing discussion and advocacy for personal and professional response are present in the nursing literature. This chapter provides an overview of the influence of climate change on health, along with a selection of key findings from surveys exploring nurses’ knowledge, beliefs, and challenges in responding to climate change. A wide range of ongoing activities at various practice settings offers resources for further study and action opportunities for nurses and their healthcare partners.
Karen Levin brings her multi-disciplinary expertise in clinical critical care, master level in health education, program evaluation, and master’s epidemiology training and over a decade of direct engagement in disaster risk reduction and response to her responsibilities in SIPA’s Capstone workshop. During her years at Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), Mailman School of Public Health and Earth Institute, Ms. Levin served, concurrently, in two senior-level positions: Director of the Columbia Regional Learning Center, a training and education program for preparedness and emergency response, and Associate Director of NCDP’s Division of Planning, Operations and Response. In these roles Ms. Levin directed education and training curriculum development, programs and research for the emergency preparedness workforce in HHS and FEMA Region II, an area encompassing the New York City Metropolitan Region’s 10 counties, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Before joining Columbia University, Karen served as: Acting Director of Integrated Disease Surveillance at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where she participated in the department’s response to the World Trade Center attacks and served as Manhattan team lead in the 2001 anthrax-release investigations; Operations Planning Chair with the California State Department of Health Bioterrorism Surveillance and Epidemiology Response Team; and Bioterrorism Epidemiology Regional Coordinator for the NY State Department of Health, New York Metropolitan Region. Currently Karen serves in Disaster Services of the American Red Cross.
Karen’s international public health work includes serving as Communicable Disease Surveillance Team Leader, “Stop Transmission of Polio Campaign”, for the World Health Organization, AFRO Region, Ethiopia. She contributed her expertise in disaster task force development for India’s Bay of Bengal coastal communities at high risk for cyclones, monsoon floods, and tsunami.
Her work has been presented at APHA 2010, 2011 and 2012. Her curriculum development work for integrating community-based organizations and vulnerable populations in disaster risk reduction was presented at the 2014 Public Health Summit. She is author of “Climate Change: The Nurse’s Role in Policy and Practice”, in the seminal textbook, Disaster Nursing and Emergency Preparedness, 3rd Ed. and the new 4th Ed., Climate Change and Health: The Nurse's Role in Policy and Practice. Karen has participated in key national workgroups including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s development of a rapid needs assessment tool, Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response. And she served as a contributing member of a preparedness tool kit, Guidance for Integrating Culturally Diverse Communities into Planning for and Responding to Emergencies: Recommendations from the National Consensus Panel on Emergency Preparedness and Cultural Diversity.
She has received awards for outstanding contributions to public health, including the Distinguished Alumni Torch Award from Florida International University, and recognition as a Distinguished Health Education Specialist by the National Commission of Health Education Credentialing, Inc.
Recent Publication: Climate Change and Health: The Nurse's Role in Policy and Practice