Amelia Kaune is a Registered Labor and Delivery nurse and is mom to a five-year-old son. Caring for others—whether it’s moms and newborns or her own family—is second nature for Kaune. That’s why she’s worried about global warming.

“When we’re unified we can make change. I really believe that.”

As a mom and as a nurse it scares Kaune to think about what the world could look like in 50 years if global warming continues at its current pace. “I’m concerned about how climate change affects our health, especially the elderly and the very young,” she says. “Older people and newborn babies are vulnerable to extreme weather. Air pollution is associated with preterm labor and low birth weight, and the heat we lived through this summer was tough. Any of my patients would tell you… it’s sheer misery to be pregnant in that kind of heat!”

Climate change hit Kaune close to home this summer. Her five-year-old son suffers from asthma, a condition exasperated by air pollution. “Last month I was driving from Bend, Oregon to Seattle with my son who is an asthmatic,” she said. The smoke from summer forest fires was thick around the car. “I kept thinking… what am I going to do if he has a sever respiratory attack right now? How is he going to function with all this smoke?”

Thankfully they made it home without incident, but Kaune knows poor air quality is a concern not just for her son but for everyone because it will increase ER visits. “We’ll eventually see it reflected in higher costs of healthcare,” she said.

Despite all she’s seeing, Kaune has hope. “Many people in Washington support reduced emissions, so I think the public opinion and public desire for change is there. We’re a progressive State and so I believe we’ll make the right choices,” she says. Seeing a coalition like the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy work together to stand up to special interests, like the fossil fuel industry, gives her a lot of hope. “When we’re unified we can make change. I really believe that.”

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