As RNs we know that climate change is one of the biggest threats to our health and to our planet, and it is completely avoidable. It is chiefly due to human activity – especially through production of greenhouse gases by burning fossil fuels.
Immediate risks to the health of Ontarians include more extreme weather events, killer heat waves, poor air quality, and vector-, rodent-, food- and water -borne diseases. But the real threat is we could hit a catastrophic tipping point. Already, vulnerable populations in Africa are being displaced by droughts attributable to climate change.
Yet, as world leaders gather in Copenhagen, Denmark, this week to hammer out an agreement to get serious about climate change, Canada is in the embarrassing position of being part of the problem. Time is running out. Canadians need to stand up and tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper that climate change matters and the time for action is now.
Here’s a very quick way to send a message to the Prime Minister as he heads to the 2009 UN climate change conference, that you care about climate change. As RNs, you are in a unique position to explain how climate change is affecting the health of your patients. Please act today.
Scientists have known for decades that greenhouse gases are contributing to the warming of the planet by reflecting back heat radiating off the Earth's surface. The respected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change periodically updates its climate change reports, and the results bear out the worst-case scenarios. This is not surprising, given that the concentration of greenhouse gases is a staggering 57 per cent higher than it was in 1750 – the chemistry of the air is dramatically changing. The risk was so compelling that governments negotiated the 1997 Kyoto Accord, a protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. As a signatory, Canada committed to lowering its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels. However, business has unfortunately continued as usual. Federal government reports show that Canada now emits 26 per cent more than 1990 levels and 33.8 per cent above target levels. The current federal government has been widely criticized for its reluctance to meet commonly accepted targets.
Canadians and nurses are ready to deal with climate change. RNAO has endorsed the KYOTOplus greenhouse gas target for Canada of at least 25 per cent below 1990 by 2020 as the second phase of Kyoto. The Canadian Nurses' Association has sent an open letter  to the Prime Minister asking him to set the same target. The letter also asks him to help negotiate a strengthened Kyoto Protocol that binds signatories to capping and reducing greenhouse gases, and giving financial support to developing countries struggling with climate change.
Please don’t delay. Act NOW.
Please tell Prime Minister Harper that you want leadership and strong action from Canada on climate change – for our health, for our planet’s health. Feel free to share some of your insights from your nursing practice on why getting serious about climate change is essential for good health. The leaders of the two national opposition parties will receive copies of your messages. Simply go to the link below, fill out the fields, personalize the letter as you like, and send. You do not need to insert your name into the letter itself. THANK YOU!!! Please write TODAY!