My Carbon Footprint

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I checked out my personal carbon footprint on wwf website. I recycle, I turn my lights and plug sockets off, I’m a strict vegetarian, I walk as much as I can… and yet we would still need over 3 planets if everyone lived as I do! Its my drive to work and my commute to university that’s the problem. Beyond giving up work that’s a very difficult problem for me to tackle. We nurses need our cars when we work in the community. I guess my next step would be to consider a hybrid or low emission car, but the CO2 emissions from producing a new car are so high we are advised to only buy second hand vehicles. How very confusing. More research to do on this matter I believe. I would love the ‘no work’ option but my landlord probably won’t appreciate the lack of rent being paid each month…

Apparently I need to turn the heating down in my home a bit. I love it toasty warm! As summer is approaching that should be a bit easier, and in winter I can get some lovely big jumpers and fluffy socks!! I also need to start composting my food waste.

The WWF carbon footprint calculator is short and simple and gives you an idea of what you need to change in your personal life to tackle carbon emissions. You can sign up for emails with daily suggestions too. Some top tips include:

Cut down on meat and dairy products
Reduce your car journeys for short trips, especially those under 2 miles
Eat more seasonal foods

Check it out. You might do better than you think!

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Greatest Opportunity

As a ‘glass half full’ sort of person I think that’s why I got involved in public health nursing in the first place. If I didn’t think people could change, or that things would never get any better, then I would definitely be in the wrong career! I absolutely echo the thoughts of the Global Climate and Health Alliance that by working together, we can turn climate change into this century’s greatest opportunity for public health. They have produced some excellent resources which were released this week to help us understand climate change and its implications for our health. If we all start to work together, we could start to make a real difference.

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Fossil Free Health

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report this week, which has highlighted the unavoidable conclusion that climate change is a global health issue with massive implications.

“This report really emphasises that climate change is the biggest threat to public health and that without urgent action to curb emissions, both by individuals and organisations, the impact on the health of many will continue to increase. The good thing is that there are co-benefits between action to reduce emissions and action to improve health – for example, walking and cycling instead of driving is both good for the planet and good for your health”
Sue Atkinson, Co-Chair, Climate and Health Council

1 in 8 deaths last year were due to air pollution. The recent smog in the UK put us all at risk, particularly asthma sufferers. 400,000 deaths last year were due to climate change. This isn’t something that will affect us in the distant future, its happening right now! In 2003 the heatwaves killed over 70,000 people across Europe. Summers like these will become more frequent and more severe. Recent UK flooding left some UK residents vulnerable and their homes destroyed. Current estimates are that by 2080 100 million people worldwide will be at risk of displacement due to sea level rises and increased floods. Elderly people and young children are the most vulnerable to these extremes of weather. As nurses we see the effects of these extremes of weather- hospitalisations and tragic deaths every year. As climate change affect us more and more each year these will become an ever increasing problem. The health of the children that we go to great lengths to protect every day will be at risk as they grow older in this environment.

This is not some regrettable but inevitable cost of economic and development progress; the truth is, we don’t need fossil fuels. As a recent report from Stanford University demonstrates, even the USA could achieve technologically and economically feasible 100% renewable energy generation by 2050 – saving the average American consumer £3,400 per year by 2050, relative to the current energy regime. As the researchers put it: “the greatest barriers to a conversion are neither technical nor economic. They are social and political.”

The operations of the fossil fuel industry are incompatible with global health worldwide – but health organisations materially support the industry by investing in it. That’s why today we’re asking health and healthcare organisations – Colleges, professional bodies, funding Trusts – to break the carbon addiction, and divest from fossil fuels.

Please support Fossil Free Health, a Medact and Healthy Planet UK campaign. If you are a doctor, nurse, student, or other health professional your help could be invaluable. Check out the campaign website. It is so important that we act sooner rather than later.

#fossilfree #climatehealth

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So why write a blog?

What do nurses do? What do health visitors do? Since beginning as a student the answer to that question has been debated and no real answers have been universally agreed. My own personal take on it (and its my blog so that’s what I shall write!) is that nurses care for the health of our patients. I’m on a challenging journey studying to become a health visitor, as I was inspired a while ago to care for the health of the well as well as the sick. And that’s really where my passion lies, as I imagine it does for many other health visitors /public health nurses/ students out there.

My idea for this blog has been a long time in the making. As health visitors (or HV students!) we are committed to four principles:

1. Search for health needs

2. Stimulate an awareness of health needs

3. Influencing policies affecting health

4. Facilitating health enhancing activities

Now I know we all got that last one down! And the first? Again, nailed it. But how about 2 or 3? I am sure there are health visitors out there who do work on these every day, but hand on heart I’m not sure I do. But I want to.

So that leads me to, why write a blog? The Lancet and UCL Institute for Global Health Commission called climate change the ‘biggest global health threat of the 21st century’. That’s a big statement. So what are the facts? And why should we get involved as nurses? That’s what I want to look at more over the next year. A 365 day journey in starting to work on this issue in my personal and professional life. Because as public health nurses don’t we have a responsibility to influence policies which affect health? And doesn’t it follow that we should therefore be getting involved with climate change policy and its potential MASSIVE effects on human health? By writing this blog I hope to raise people’s awareness of the problem and the vital part that nurses have to play in helping solve it. So here goes nothing.

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