Being Open to Change, Being Open to Love, That Is What Climate Work has Given Me
February 15, 2023
by Dr. Plastic Picker
The climate work has been remarkable the last few days. I’m in the midst of San Diegans who truly care for the earth and a livable future for our children. I’ve been on the phone and in conversations with such influential people in San Diego, and our ultimate goal is to build some climate resiliency for our region. The one thing I contributed is my creativity and thinking of the name and idea of a “Heat and Human Health” Summit to be held at UCSD, and bringing all the healthcare groups in San Diego together to tackle this issue. This will be the first of it’s kind in the country and hopefully a model for other regions.
But in the process of truly reviewing the data from Scripps Oceangraphic Institute and the power point presentations on heat from the County of Public Health, one again realizes how absolutely dire the climate crisis is. The heat waves are here already, and they are only going to get worse. We have to continue to try to address the climate crisis by plummeting our green house gas emissions, but we have to also plan for the more likely future of worsening heat waves. Heat waves drive premature birth, smaller babies, cardiac deaths, mental health flares and violence of all kinds. In looking at the data objectively, I again was met with a wall of climate grief.
Climate grief is real. It is so very real. And when you are a deep in the weeds climate and health advocate, you know what it means. It weighs on your heart, as you look at your children and realize the world that we’ve handed them. It weighs on me, and I’m holding back tears this morning. Last night, a few slipped out as I was laying next to my peacefully blissfully asleep husband. I still have dreams for my children, dreams for my son and my daughter and for their families and future grandchildren. But when you dream, one has to acknowledge that when we make the predictions for a 7x fold increase in heatwaves in 30 years in San Diego – that those that will be bearing the brunt of this are the current children we have when they are adults raising their own children.
Realizing the existential crisis of climate change, opens ones heart. My heart is so open these days. I was chatting with a work friend who is also a climate friend, and we talked about how we are different. Exploring passions and talking about our work and climate with others.
This morning I’m realizing I need to give myself some time. I’ve been on a whirlwind of planning and brainstorming for this conference. “Heat and Human Health” Summit! I think that is a great idea! I just need to bring everyone together, and other’s will be standing on the podium when we do the opening sessions. But you heard it here first dear readers!!!
Love this morning as I think about those that are on this journey with me. Love for our premedical students who have been spreading ideas and inspirations. Love for those at UCSD who have opened their hearts and their physical facilities to this prospective conference. Love for my future family, those that will join us when my daughter and son decide whom they will love. Love for my future grandchildren, in whatever form they will take.
And love for myself today. I still need to remind myself to take care of myself. I went for a short jog yesterday. This afternoon I think I’m going to take a break from the frantic emailing, and buy myself some vegetables and try a new recipe. And despite my teen daughter reprimanding me for mentioning a certain boy’s name yesterday, I will refrain from mentioning that boy’s name but I can still dream for her. I can still plan and think of a fuzzy future. But I realize that I don’t want to be thought too weird so I’ll keep those thoughts to myself! So if you see me humming and thinking, just remember I’m imagining my daughter in a hanbok like myself on her wedding day.