Climate Advocacy (AAP/Climate Reality/ClimateHealthNOW) – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Climate Advocacy (AAP/Climate Reality/ClimateHealthNOW)

Screen-shot of a meeting on oil and gas setbacks yesterday.

December 17, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Sometimes when I go to bed, my mind is confused. It lived through the day and reorganizing things. Too much caffeine today? Too little nature? Did I help the earth? Climate gathering in person or another organizational meeting virtual that also has to do with climate? The day is filled with choices. I chose to speak up at a middle management meeting yesterday. I said my piece which is my truth, and I let it land. Whatever happens may happen, but I was proud of that moment. It was interesting people’s responses to those comments. But I have to speak up for physician wellness and I have a crystal clear understanding of my place in the world, and who I am. I wish that clarity for everyone.

The mornings are clear. The Christmas tree lights are twinkling in our living room. It’s a thrice handed down plastic tree that we love. Nothing new here. All the ornaments we’ve collected through the years, and they are mostly hand-made by the kids when they were younger. We have enough. I have a beautiful tin of cookies someone dropped off yesterday and I am so excited to eat each cookie. They were made with love and the beautiful reusable box with the cheerfull santas I will cherish forever.

And yesterday, I chose my family yesterday and I chose the earth. I chose my family when I spoke up about my displeasure regarding changes in our schedules. Most of the things that are wrong with the world are actually due to inaction or fear. Folks didn’t care enough or were too afraid to speak up to correct it. I have neither. What is there to fear when we have the code red for humanity due to climate change looming? And I have always chosen to act rather than inertia, even when I was at my saddest. I chose to walk toward the beach and I chose to start picking up plastic. I can chose to become a truffle farmer at any time.

And yesterday I chose the earth. There are only so many hours in the day and I thought to myself with all the competing demands on time, where should I go? I chose to attend the AAP San Diego Chapter Advisory Committee as I need to make sure the other pediatric leaders are on board as the climate change and health committee continues on our way. My co-chair is out on maternity leave and it’s important for at least one person to be there. I chose to show up at a virtual lunch meeting with Dr. Marnie Granados, who is co-chair with me of our new AAP California State Government Affairs Expert Section on Environmental Health and Climate Change. We met to discuss AAP California’s further support of oil and gas setbacks. Most of the organization and planning had been done by Drs. Marnie Granados and Amanda Millstein. But I try to document our journey and I am just amazed at how intense we look.

Found the video of me talking. I’m not as narcissistic as I used to be.

December 1, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Here you come to see the true story of a local litter-picking pediatrician. And the true story is that I find it the utmost amusing thing that I’m all over the internet. I had met up with Dr. Marnie Granados from AAP-CA4 (Orange County) to discuss planning for two big state-wide climate projects. We are co-chairing the AAP California State Government Affairs Expert Committee on Environmental Health and Climate Change. Wow, that was a mouthful. Orange County is also the site for the next AAP NCE, and she is inspired to do a sustainability /climate service project and art exhibition. We had made moves to do something similar in San Diego, and the Philadelphia AAP also but due to COVID both conferences were virtual. We discussed ideas and structure. The meeting was very efficient. 45 minutes and jam-packed. My general impression is that Dr. Marnie Granados (who I have worked with before) is one of the nicest people I’ve met. Dr. Amanda Millstein is also really nice, but she is really busy. She’s in the photo also.

Since I met with my fellow Co-Chair (I have many co-chairs of all the committees I lead inside and outside of work), I just happened to Ecosia search the past AAP California multi-chapter chat and lo and behold, the recording of our talk was up on VIMEO! I watched myself speak last night (in addition to all my nice co-panelist) and I was surprised that I was quite well spoken and I think somewhat inspiring! My story is simple and I tell it only when asked now, but I think it still resonates. That talk had been one of many talks I had given that month, but now that I think about it – it landed well. It had it’s intended effect. The really funny thing is that you can see me adjusting my hair quite a bit and my facial expressions are so odd somethings. I have no filter. But I come to this work honestly and with an open heart, so it was really fine. I do look at times tired though, which I think I was. Kind of plays into the character of the former burned out pediatrician. I dyed my hair that day though so I look really young!

The one thing I did well in that talk was include the names of many of the people who have collaborated on this journey. It’s important to make sure everyone understands it’s the biggest group project every, saving the earth.

So I’m just really looking forward to working with Dr. Marnie Granados over the course of the year. We are neighbors! OC is just north of San Diego. Our daughter had her hair styled like Marnie Granados yesterday when she went to school, and my mother-in-law said she was beautiful. I think they both are beautiful, inside and out. The funny thing about Dr. Amanda Millstein and myself, is that we often wear the same outfit at Zoom meetings. I think because we are minimalist. That’s my zoom dress and I’m sticking with it. If Mark Zuckerberg can wear the same Tshirt, why can’t I wear the same dress?

Better. The first picture I put Riley’s eyes were closed. Now they are open! My eyes are open as well.

November 19, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It was really fun yesterday. Riley Gilbertson our advocacy intern and I got to stop by to the UCSD PRIME HEq program, and we even had designated parking spots at lot #603 which is the end of Osler Lane! Riley got his spot. Someone was parked in mine! I parked in the pharmacy school’s spot. I hadn’t been at that area at UCSD since interviewing as a medical student over 20 years ago. San Diego is really a big city now.

The UCSD PRIME HEq program is part of a larger University of California program, and each campus (UCLA, UCD, UCSD ect ect) has a different emphasis. I learned this yesterday because my old medical school friend and friend Dr. Luis Castellanos is the director of PRIME HEq at UCSD. He even agreed to be features in my blog about a year ago! Here is the blogpost


How I see our HMO partnership.

November 18, 2021

by drplasticpicker

We did it! Our HMO green team did it. We gave our internal Ted Talk and it reached 1400 physicians and landed like this beautiful seed bomb onto a mature compost pile. The Green Dragon that is our partnership in San Diego is awoken, and the higher higher ups from region heard it too. We are getting emails and text messages, and things are mobilizing. I know we are pretty “green already” but we all know there is so much more to go. It had to be us. It had to be physicians that are in the trenches and that the others identify with. We shared our stories, and did our traveling show. Dr. RA made sure we practiced, and we pulled at the heart strings. We saw our area medical director get a bit choked up as we interwove physician burnout, physician wellness with planetary wellness and true healing. I was in like this really shy and fetal state yesterday as all the emails and text messages were coming it. Grateful that it landed well and ready for next steps. But wanted to share here, that each of us can do this locally. Experts are important, but I think our group have seen the three of us locally digest and take action and because we are connected – it makes a bigger difference. Green hugs. Our dragon is awoken. You should wake up yours. I like these metaphors.

We had prepared so much. Each slide was a culmination of multiple months of other projects, and thinking and digesting and doing. I think it showed. Our preparation and the body of our work. Now we continue doing. We can’t rest too long, because this is not about us. It’s never been about us. Actually it is about the 1400 physician us, that is our partnership. But it’s not about the three of us. But the three of us did pretty great yesterday. I think it’s okay for me to feel happy. I was feeling shy yesterday, but today I think it’s okay to feel proud. I was somewhat emotionaly yesterday and had to talk a walk at a local wetlands. I was there anyway waiting for our daughter to finish volleyball. It’s right there and easy to get to. So I went for a walk in the wetlands and picked up bag 12/20 this month. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get 20 bags this month. But now that I’m at bag 12, I think I’ll be able to get to 20.

All you need is salad tongs.

And I forgot. We got to pick the charity this year, and Dr. RA worked really hard to organize the donation drive. We have until December to really get everyone to donate.

Wow. We really did it. RA, DN and I did it. I’m so proud of us.
Puzzle our teen daughter and I finished Sunday.

November 8, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s daylight savings and I never have really understood the entire concept. The chaos that it causes doesn’t really affect me anymore, because my body is in rhythm with the sun and moon and I get up at the same planetary time. The amount of darkness while I’m peering out of our energy efficient glass doors into the backyard is about the same. It’s starting to get light outside a bit. Everyone is asleep except my in-laws as they too are usually up early like I am to take advantage of the quiet.


Local La Jolla Bananas from Dr. Joe.

November 2, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Are you stressed out about COP26? I am a little bit. Watching the news and the bumblings and the Russian/China No-Shows. Watching the posturing. The mainstream media doesn’t help as well because gloom and doom always generates more clicks than hope.

But anyone who has ever been on any kind of committee knows that the leaders, they don’t do much. Most leaders anyway. They just posture and take credit for what the worker-bees accomplish. The true work is done by the creatives and those that have passion, and the people – the people is where the answer is. I’ve sat on many committees and indeed, I’ve lead many committees, and I know this to be true in my heart. So am I upset about COP26? Yes. But I also know the answer. The answer is that the people and the masses need to be inspired by eachother. We need more Boyan Slats from the Ocean Clean Up. We need more Greta Thunbergs. And we need more climate and health advocates/activists. The leaders will follow along once we’ve convinced more people, and honestly half of the world still needs convincing. No one said this was going to be easy.

So I am doubling down on local efforts and enacting change locally. This is where I can make changes, and looking back at the last two years – I am in awe at what we’ve been able to accomplish here. I am someone who likes to take action, but I realize the biggest way for me to help is to continue to talk about this work. As we are moving the needle on various projects and pair it with advocacy talks, for some reason it resonates. I’ll be interviewed by NIH this afternoon. We are preparing for an HMO wide walk on climate and health. We are giving a county LiveWell seminar on Climate and Health. I’m considering leading a breakout session and presenting our avGas project at Pediatric Academic Societies, in order to talk climate and health. The talking paired with the doing, that is what I’m meant to do right now.

Just here on the blog this morning, sorting through some climate emotions. The bananas above are from my friend Dr. Joe. He has banana trees in his backyard, and I pick up his coffee grounds for my compost. We kind of do this back and forth trading of things because he lives right next to my mom. It keeps me connected with him, and that sense of connection is what we need to #fightfor1point5.

I’m at bag, I think 575 abouts. I’ve given out over 500 reusable bags with the Dr. Plastic Picker logo on it that hopefully is decreasing plastic bag use. Those bags were really pretty. I may reorder some. I’ve banded together a motley crew of 40 pediatricians and premed interns in San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air, and we are lifting pediatric voices here locally. We have three pediatricians serving as public health members of different Air Pollution Boards. We are getting some headway on pushing our mayor to offer unleaded aviation fuel at Montgomery Gibbs Executive Airport. Well at least it sounds like some policy people are listening and city councilmembers are listening. The Youth Arts Project is getting to it’s completion and the art work from the children is absolutely amazing. We will print a collection of 10-25 of the entries, and have a traveling exhibit of the works in different offices in San Diego. And my mentor and former senior resident Dr. Young-Ho Yoon nominated me for an alumni award for my advocacy work. I’ve since somewhat given up on Harvard and having an influence over there and I think it’s unlikely that I will receive that award. The award is another opportunity to talk climate, but having him nominate me – his former intern – means the world to me. It means he noticed and he cares. He’s taught me so much. He told me to buy the Aerobin400 and the composter has been such a great metaphor for life. He inspired me to make my own pizza dough. I really should nominate him.

But he knows, and you dear readers know how much I appreciate you. I had colonic spasm yesterday and almost went to the Emergency Room. I’m 100% lactose intolerant now, and I made th mistake of eating sour cream. Lets just say it was a difficult 24 hours. But I’m back after resting and taking care of myself. I had no qualms calling in sick yesterday, as I rarely do and I was sick. I hydrating myself and napped. Dairy is my kryponite. But given there are so many plant-based alternatives and I am changing to mostly plant-based anyway, I just have to be more careful. Dairy is my kryptonite. That’s a cool turn on phrase!

Signing off to do more climate talk talk talk, and going to contact the California EPA about lead data. If you are the mayors office or city councilperson’s policy people sneaking around my blog, all I have to say is that I gave you guys fair warning that your constituents are not going to be happy that you led leaded avGAS continue to rain down on their children. I’m just doing my job. You should do your job. And yes I posted your job on the World Health Organization website. Yes I did.

Signing off, Dr. Plastic Picker – your local litter picking pediatrician who is also trying to clean the sky of lead from the Montgomery Gibbs Executive Airport. They would never do that to La Jolla. Which is why I know these La Jolla bananas are Lead-Free. Sad but true. It’s an environmental justice issue folks.

Beautiful newsletter for beautiful people.

October 9, 2021

by drplasticpicker

General Comments

It is indeed October 2021. HALLOWEEN!!! There are many scary things in the world, but we all know that the Climate Crisis is the scariest!!! But not to worry, by receiving this newsletter and working together we are boots on the grounds, #fightfor1point5. Hope is earned through action. This group is all about ACTION. Here is what the AAP/SCPCA pediatricians and premed interns are up to. We are earth agents, literally cleaning up this earth!   October 14: Children’s Environmental Health Day! Dan Spencer Knocks It Out of the Park and The Great Succulent Give-Away October 14 is Children’s Environmental Health Day, which is an effort of the Children’s Environmental Health Network (which AAP and Eco-America are a part of). Dan successfully applied to have the following recognize and issue proclamations recognizing CEH Day. City of San Diego, County of San Diego, La Mesa, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Chula Vista, and Lemon Grove. There are 3 proclamation press events (Encinitas, Solana Beach and Chula Vista), and we are dividing and conquering. Thank you to Dan and those that volunteered to show up and hold the AAP-CA3 banner, and smile for the photos!  In honor of that day, we are also doing a succulent give-away.  I received an honorarium for speaking at the AAP California Chapter Chat, since that money really belongs to all of us – Laisha Felix and I purchased 120 succulents (there is a great farm in Vista for $1 a piece) and will be dropping off 5 succulents per committee member. It will have a paper explaining CEH Day, and it serves as a moment of connection when you as an MD give to a child. You are making a commitment to that child and the earth, to be on the side of good. To #fightfor1point5.  Let me know at or text me if you want 5 succulents! We will give a succulent to each of the politicians as well!  

SDAFP Members Move to Join SDPCA/AAP in Rewild Mission Bay Coalition

Ben Schleifer has been hard at work being our Wetlands Liaison.  Ben met up with Andrew Meyer, from Rewild Mission Bay and the San Diego Audubon Society. Rachel Abbott, from Family Practice and UCSD rep were also there.  Our amazing AAP-CA3 Executive Board officially approved AAP-CA3 to join. Rachel Abbott is working with Family Practice doctors at UCSD FP and Sharp to lobby San Diego Academy of Family Physicians to also join Rewild Mission Bay.  Rachel and I both live in Jen Campbell’s city council district, and her support is crucial in making this happen. We wrote a joint advocacy letter and have initiated a meeting with her.  Thank you to the 30 folks out there that cosigned.  Ben is writing an op-ed for Climate and Health Blog, regarding wetlands restoration and plans to submit it to SD Union-Tribune as well.

Peony Liu Joins as our Anti-Tobacco and Anti-Vaping Liaison

Only great things come out of UCLA, including Peony Liu! Peony Liu is a pediatric hospitalist and well known to many of us. She has agreed to lead SDPCA’s partnership with an effort led by the American Lung Association and American Cancer Society, San Diegans vs Big Tobacco.  Peony will work closely with Nancy Graff, AAP. We have a team that includes Alice Nguyen, a high school senior, and Riley Gilbertson, our advocacy intern.

Intern Updates!

Our premed intern group is 8. We are trying to keep it at that but did interview and accept Nicole Escamarilla (UCLA) and Ashley Calderon (UC Berkeley). They are San Diegans and passionate about climate and health. Ashley Calderon completed the Eco-America training. Nicole will join Hakim in the Youth Arts Project, as Ashley Teo is transitioning to an HPV vaccine advocacy project with me at Kaiser. Riley has been hard at work on a project with Rachel Ireland, on reducing lead pollution from aviation gas around the Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport. It’s an urgent issue from a developmental pediatric lens.  This will be a separate update later, as it’s a stellar effort and we will have more news. Stay tuned! Welcome to Ashley Calderon and Nicole Escarmarilla! Vivian Nguyen our phenomenal student Co-Founder is presenting a poster at AAP NCE this weekend on our work. Please stop by her virtual poster entitled “Blueprint for a Volunteer Climate Health Advocacy Group: San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air. “ Congrats Vivian.    


It’s happening! It’s happening! Nicole will join as the new intern and she is strong in social media skills, and organizational skills. Hakim is rounding up our motley crew. Andrei is collating all the entries onto a PDF. We have 50 entries and almost enough prizes, as Rachel Ireland knows the director of the Children’s Museum in Escondido and we will ask for some tickets (crossing our fingers) and Rewild Mission Bay will donate some kids’ hats.  Kalpana and Jamie Rhodes are big environmentalist and donors, and Jamie is a scientist working on climate resiliency now on the Texas coast and formerly on renewable energy.  Their daughter Leela Rhodes is joining our youth arts council, and they have agreed to help us to try to get the Children’s Museum in Downtown San Diego to help host our event or display some of the pieces. Stay tuned! This is going to happen!!! Air Keepers Program? Our next big effort is trying to deploy this already established EPA program to hopefully all of San Diego, but especially our environmental justice neighborhoods. Also to find funding. We are going to apply for some climate awards and maybe present to the APCD to ask for money?  This program is essentially having kids “take a vital sign for the earth” – the PM2.5 level around their schools.  It would mostly be to purchase the PM2.5 monitors (which I believe are only about 150-200 a piece?) and a set of flags. Local middle school science classes would monitor PM 2.5 exposure, and hopefully act as a catalyst for hyper-local changes.  Students raise different colored flags outside of the school depending on air quality measured. We are in the thinking and building phase, so reach out if you want to help review the materials that AAP montana via Lori Byron (the National AAP Climate Advocate lead) sent over.  More hands make light work.

UPCOMING MEETINGS: General Committee Meeting: Q2MONTH Climate Change & Health Meeting November 9, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. (I think? Sally is going to correct me if I’m wrong)

September 21, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m going to find money. Yes I am. Dr. Sabrina Perrino and I are going to find money for our AirKeepers for South County Schools project. A new grant became available from Eco-America and looking at the application – I think we can easily do it. I have all the material from Dr. Lori Byron from AAP Montana as they had deployed the program throughout Montana. I had presented this program at our HMO talk and it went well, but no one offered to give me money to do this program. Therefore I will work the AAP angle, which makes more sense. There is also a grant through the APCD board I believe. I just need to synthesize this information and actually apply for the grant. I am going to pitch this grant as AirKeepers program deployed in EJ middle schools, and a partnership with pediatricians for the AAP Climate Change and Health Committee and the South Bay Middle School teachers and elementary schools in the south bay. I need to work with one of my great parents who is one of the middle school science teachers. Probably the next thing would be to draw up an interest list from the middle school science teachers.

That is all. That is what I am working on. Oh also two other great projects, but I needed to figure out this one in my brain.

And then our student Co-Founder for San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air and I put the finishing touches on her poster. Super proud. We’ll review her audio recording soon. Just proud of these students and what they are able to accomplish.

Front entryway succulent area. All repurposed, nothing new.

September 9, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I had a mixed day yesterday. I was talking to a colleage about departmental business and an area that I have since left, is going toward a direction I don’t agree with. This is why I left. But that anger that I have about unilateral decisions and injustice bubbles up. But I choose not to cast people as villains in my narrative, I instead choose to cast systems issues and inertia as the villain. Putting these minor departmental isses in the perspective of the climate crisis helps because it puts it in context, and reminds me that the entire world is stressed.

But I was able to put that issue away in the my brain, and it was a big climate day yesterday. Our local AAP chapter really knocked it out of the park. We had approached the executive board about AAP San Diego joining the Rewild Mission Bay Coalition and they agreed. It was a victory that I did not think possible. Now this has led to a cascading series of events and one of my climate and health colleagues and overall earth-hero is going to try to get the local Family Practice chapter to do the same. We are all in this together, and we must all work together. My only contribution was really living near Mission Bay and really caring about this particular wetland because I love birds, and wanting to help. And then I knew a colleage who was wonderful and I told him, why don’t you become our wetlands liason!. And that was it. This victory really belongs to the tide of humanity knowing in our hearts that rewilding these wetlands is part of our way to protect from storm water surges and rising sea levels. It makes sense for real estate prices as well. Your house is not worth as much if it’s wet.