“There are many ways that health and climate change intersect,” said Anna Rahrick, a third-year University of Minnesota Medical School student.
Rahrick’s interest in the relationship between climate and public health led her to Health Students for a Healthy Climate, an interdisciplinary student group aimed at helping health professionals learn about the impacts of climate change and ways to advance action as future health leaders. The student group is affiliated with Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate (HPHC), a nonprofit organization founded by a number of advocates affiliated with the University of Minnesota, including executive director Brenna Doheny, PhD, MPH, a postdoctoral associate at the Medical School’s Duluth Campus.
The effects of working in this heat can be dire, especially for workers who are not acclimated to high temperatures, said Laalitha Surapaneni, M.D., MPH, an assistant professor and hospitalist at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Health professionals and Indigenous activists held a day of solidarity in St. Paul, Minnesota, and other U.S cities on Aug. 17 calling for an end to the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 project. They describe shutting down Line 3 as a critical health protective measure. In St. Paul, a delegation of health professionals delivered a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office calling on the Biden administration to revoke permits for Line 3.
Authored by members of Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate, the letter cited the United Nations recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report declaring climate change as a health crisis, noting that burning tar sands oil to be carried by Line 3 would exacerbate the problem.
Medical professionals around the country rallied on Tuesday against the expansion of Enbridge’s Line 3 crude oil pipeline, calling it a threat to human and planetary health.
“The health of Minnesotans is at risk,” said Teddie Potter, director of planetary health at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, addressing a crowd in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Tar sands oil threatens the health and wellness of future generations; we must stop the line.”
U.S. doctors, nurses, and other health professionals came together Tuesday for a national day of solidarity against Line 3 that included various events and a letter calling on President Joe Biden to block Enbridge’s tar sands project.
What we’ve been experiencing statewide isn’t just a little bit of air pollution. It is a prolonged period of the worst air quality Minnesota has ever experienced. As a nurse specializing in environmental health, I am both deeply concerned for the health of the residents of my state and frustrated by the lack of coordinated statewide and local responses to this slow-moving, smoky health crisis.
As physicians, our duty is to protect the health of all Minnesotans, now and for the future. As daily witnesses to the importance of clean air, water, and land to human health, we are deeply distressed about the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline currently under construction across our state and through 1855 Treaty lands.
On July 20, we traveled to northern Minnesota to better understand the efforts of Indigenous-led water protectors, who tirelessly worked for seven years through legal and political channels to prevent Line 3’s construction, and why they are now risking arrest — and their lives.
In the last couple weeks, Minnesota has been visited periodically by a heavy cloud of haze, courtesy of smoke from wildfires up near Canada, borne south on the wind.
Since hazy air like this is expected all weekend and into next week MinnPost asked Teddie Potter, director of planetary health at the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing, some questions we’ve been hearing about how to stay healthy on bad air days.
A total of 788 workers building Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline through the US state of Minnesota have tested positive for COVID-19, according to data obtained by Al Jazeera from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
In November, more than 200 healthcare workers and Indigenous tribal leaders petitioned Governor Tim Walz to issue an emergency stay on construction until after vaccines were widely available. But Walz allowed the project to go ahead.
Brenna Doheny, executive director of Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate, spearheaded the petition to prevent a surge of COVID cases in rural areas, where hospital capacity is severely limited. She called the governor’s decision “disappointing and frustrating” because the state had previously listened to healthcare workers.
Health-care workers often conceptualise addressing the social and structural determinants of health as working upstream.
In response to the racial disparities of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Movement for Black Lives, health systems are acknowledging systemic racism, promoting implicit bias training, and screening for the social determinants of health. Although welcome, these changes will not achieve the social transformation necessary to eliminate health inequities. We must move even further upstream.
Water Protectors, working upstream on the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota, USA, provide a model of what this work entails.