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LETTER: Why North Dakota should worry about climate change

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I am a long way from an expert on climate change. What I am is a concerned public health nurse and mother. My concerns about climate change heightened after viewing a film by Robert Kenner titled "Merchants of Doubt." In May, I attended a presentation by Dr. Bruce Snyder sponsored by the Grand Forks Public Health Department. Snyder recently retired after a 43-year practice of neurology. In his retirement, Snyder is trying to build awareness of climate change as a major threat to public health.

Why should we be concerned? After all, for those of us who live in North Dakota, warmer temps in the winter sounds wonderful! Well, that's what I used to think—until I learned the real impact of climate change includes such things as: worsened air quality (leading to increased allergy-related illnesses, respiratory and asthma complications), changes in the spread of vector-borne diseases (leading to increased risk of Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Zika and so on), increased frequency of wildfires and extreme weather events (which leads to injury, death, displacement, property loss, contaminated water and the like). OK, maybe I should pay attention.

Snyder reported that these problems will be significantly impacting us likely in the next two to four decades. So climate change will be affecting our children and grandchildren.

Those who continue to doubt that climate change is real can find many reputable resources echoing Snyder's concerns. They include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, World Health Organization and the American Public Health Association.

I urge Herald readers to consider taking some basic action. Let's educate ourselves on climate change, use resources wisely and support legislative measures that address the issue.

Sharon Laxdal

Grafton, N.D.

Laxdal, a registered nurse, works for the Walsh County (N.D.) Health District.

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