A Mother’s Hope: A Livable World
August 24, 2020
It’s our last morning here in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Forest to mark our small escape from the COVID-19 quarantine. It has been six months and we went for a short 3-day 2-night reprieve to renew ourselves yet at the same time trying to keep safe with social distancing, masked and plenty of hand washing. The desert was pretty empty – Mr. Plastic Picker and I agreed that we unlikely caught COVID-19 here.
It was very hot here – 110 in Palm Springs and 95 at the coolest areas in Joshua Tree National Forest so there was no hiking. But we did stop by Hidden Trails and exited our air conditioned Prius to look at the rock formations and the Joshua Trees. I read somehwere that they are going to be a victim of climate change as well. These Joshua Trees won’t survive the already changing climate. Our daughter was sad to be reminded about this and we bought a Joshua Tree seed packet. She wants to try to grow one.
They are both so big now. A few more summers with us. At some point this pandemic will end and they will be returned to the world. At some point our teen son will go to college, and soon after that our daughter. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are like everyone else, parents who fiercely love our children. We had them relatively early for doctors, in our late twenties and early thirties. It wasn’t the most well-thought out decision. I just remember wanting to be with them when they were growing up. I wanted them to exist as we were making life decisions. My parents had my siblings during war, as refugees and as they struggled to establish themselves in this country – and I remember valuing growing up with them as they struggled. I didn’t want my children just born into a life already set up for them.
They’ve been there with us through the struggles when Mr. Plastic Picker and I were trying to figure our Boston versus California, Academic Medicine versus HMO, and many other life decisions. They haven’t had a particularly difficult life, but we’ve moved at least six different times until we reached our “forever” home that we are raising them. They’ve been through this entire Dr. Plastic Picker journey as well, commenting and giving their perspectives. It’s their mommy’s little side project as I’m always typing away at the kitchen table and sometimes chuckling to myself.
I have a panel size of about 2,100 patients families, 1130 Instagram environmentally minded friends, 90 Dr. Plastic Picking Facebook Likes, 20 pediatrician friends as part of our AAP Climate Change and Health Committee or SD Pediatricians for Clean Air, 11 children as part of the AAP Climate Change and Health Children’s Art Council and 3 really great premedical interns. But most importantly I have my two, the two people who my hubsand and I brought into this world. I don’t believe that as a pediatrician you have to have children to be a good doctor. I know pediatricians who have children who are not ideal physicians. But in general for most of us, including myself, my children made me better at my craft.
Indeed, Dr. Plastic Picker was created in desperation when I fully reazlied about one year ago of how bad it is right now. We are indeed in a climate crisis and we are it mitigation mode. Another Katrina like storm is hitting Louisiana. Wildfires are scorching Nothern California like they did Australia last year. It is 110 degrees in Palm Springs and 130 in Death Valley. There are 14 years left now to try to avert the worse of climate change. I made that promise to myself about 1 year ago, that I would do everything in my power to try to stop climate change for the next 15 years. It’s one year out of 15 now, so 14 years left.
But I have a great sense of peace this weekend. I’m just one person, a single pediatrician just going about my life. I am amazed what a single person has been able to do. In the fourteen years that we have left, my son will hopefully be established in his career and my daughter will be finishing graduate school. She wants to be a pediatrician. They are good kids and are on good paths. I’ll probably hang up my environmental hat in 14 years, and just be a grandmother. But the funny thing is that if I want a livable world of these make-believe grandchildren, I will need to work harder as Dr. Plastic Picker. We all will. A Mother’s Hope for a Livable World is also a future Grandmother’s Hope. I want to be a grandmother, and I won’t be able to have a livable world for my grandchildren nor yours unless we stop this climate crisis now.
These are five easy things you can do right now to start your journey on environmentalism. We need more mothers and future grandmothers in this fight. And all the steps won’t cost you any money, but will bring you a sense of contentment and peace. It’s true that adage, the greatest antidote to despair is action.
- Switch your search engine from Google to Ecosia, for every 45 searches they will plant a tree through Eden Reforestration Projects.
- Try to Reduce your Single-Use Plastics. Carry your Reusable Water Bottle, refuse a straw, or just bring your own lunch to work.
- Go out and pick up some plastic from your own environment.
- Watch something about climate change that will inspire you. I recommend Biggest Little Farm or 2040.
- Eat less meat. Every vegetarian or vegan meal you choose, is a gift you are giving to all of us. Yesterday we chose pescatarian which was still diffiult in the Ralphs in Palm Springs. There was so much chicken around, but we finally settled on wild caught salmon.
We are so imperfect, our environmentalist family. We are imperfectly vegan, really just pescatarian yesterday. We created more trash than we usually do traveling, but we did mostly use our reusable water bottles, no food waste, and bringing out recycleables home. We only bought one thing at the gift shop, but it’s the one thing we all really wanted. We drive a Prius that gets 50 MPG, but it’s paid off and still runs great so we haven’t bought that Tesla yet. There are huge environmental impacts of any new car purchase, so I’m not convinced that going out and buying a Tesla is the most prudent environmental move for us as a family. The money I think is better diverted to saving the Rainforest. And I’m mostly nonjudgemental, but see I’m judging those that went out and bought Teslas but still fly around all over the world! But what I wanted to convey, is that if you care about the earth – just start. Do something, anything. You’ll see it is like a snowball, one action will beget another action and multiplied by millions – that is how we are going to change the world.