Delegates from over 200 nations met in Katowice, Poland, this month, to discuss strategies on further reducing greenhouse gases. Much of the discussion centered around reductions in industries like mining and manufacturing. Little, if any, mention was made of the health-care industry—despite the fact that it’s among the planet’s more significant polluters.

While the causal link between health care and climate change isn’t much discussed, the causal relationship between climate change and health is. The World Health Organization has long warned about the perilous effects, of climate change on human beings—poor air quality, for example, is linked to lung disease, food shortages, increases in malnutrition disease, and increases in vector-borne illnesses. And this is a problem that’s only predicted to grow in severity: WHO projects that, between the years 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year.

Nurses and doctors are no strangers to patients whose lungs and heart conditions have been exacerbated by poor air quality and unseasonable heat. In fact, the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association have both recognized the impact climate change will have on public health, and both organizations have encouraged nurses and physicians to join initiatives that support environmental sustainability. Health-care professionals have developed groups, such as the Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment, to help educate and advocate for practices that will help protect the environment.

Read more at PSMag