Nurses say scaling-up action to protect the environment is critical to peoples' health
TORONTO, Feb. 2, 2007 – The release of today's groundbreaking report on global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) must spur all levels of government into action to protect the environment and the planet. Otherwise, everyone's health and future will be compromised, say Ontario's nurses.
The report provides evidence that actual concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased, proving the 2001 IPCC projections to be accurate. The report also cites human activity as the major cause of global warming.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) says this report must be acted on given the impact of global warming on human health. The effects of climate change include more frequent weather-related disasters such as fierce storms, hurricanes, floods, and heat waves, as well as droughts, increases in water scarcity, famine and a surge in infectious diseases such as malaria.
RNAO is calling on all levels of government to muster the political will to take meaningful and quick action to address this major challenge. "The potential health impacts across the globe are immeasurable," says RNAO President Mary Ferguson-Paré. "We should stop playing Russian roulette with our planet. As health professionals, it is our responsibility to raise the flag when peoples' health is at stake," Ferguson-Paré adds.
RNAO calls on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to formally commit to Canada’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol by setting firm targets and deadlines. It also calls on Premier Dalton McGuinty to commit to a sustainable energy path for Ontario that will meet its obligations under Kyoto. That includes phasing out Ontario's coal-burning plants by 2009 and replacing them with ambitious renewable energy projects, not with environmentally and economically questionable nuclear power.
RNAO also wants to see a much greater focus on energy conservation. "If governments are serious about improving our environment, they must divert resources from polluting and traditional energy sources," says executive director Doris Grinspun. "All of us have an obligation to reduce our consumption, but it's up to governments to lead the way with policies that help us realize this goal," she adds.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practice in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.