1. Section Editor(s): Donnelly, Gloria F. PhD, RN, FAAN, FCPP
  2. Editor in Chief

Article Content

"Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century." declared a group of prominent international scientists and practitioners in 2009.1 In 2019, 10 years later, a global coalition of 220 news outlets is publishing stories with the same message. "As climate changes, health dangers increase" was the banner headline on the Health section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, a member of the news outlet coalition.2 These 2 messages, from the Lancet in 2009 and the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2020 should be disseminated and discussed in every government, clinical, and educational setting. The world is running out of time to make the changes needed to avoid climate-related global disaster, particularly for the poor and vulnerable.

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The world is getting worse by degrees, ocean temperatures are rising, and coral reefs are dying. Coastal areas are being inundated and storms are strengthening as a function of warmer ocean temperatures. Rising global temperatures are deleterious to crops, producing food shortages, causing new and increasing insect-born infection like malaria. The number of summer days that extend beyond 90 degrees has increased exponentially over the past decade. Heat stress can be serious for those suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Deaths are on the rise from heat-related causes. In fact, the Philadelphia Medical Examiners have established new criteria for classifying deaths as "heat related." Applying these criteria, a recent heat wave in Chicago reported 450 heat-related deaths.2


Climate change creates a world out of balance, a state that is anathema to those of us who claim to live holistically. Let us abandon our lotus positions for a bit and act! Call your congressmen or write a letter, search the Internet for climate change impact statistics that apply to your own region, and let those who can legislate a change in carbon emissions know of your concern-of your outrage. Self-care and self-responsibility are the cornerstones of living a holistic life-but we cannot live healthy lives on a sick and dying planet. Speak up!


-Gloria F. Donnelly, PhD, RN, FAAN, FCPP


Editor in Chief




1. Costello A, Abbas M, Allen A, et al Managing the health effects of climate change. Lancet. 2009;373:1693-1733. [Context Link]


2. Avril T. As climate changes, health dangers increase. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Sunday, September 15, 2020., p. G1-5. [Context Link]