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

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

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.


A Few Years Ago

September 4, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s 230AM and I’m UP!!! I’m usually not up this early and I’m completely weaned off coffee for the last almost six weeks. I didn’t even drink a diet coke yesterday nor tea. Seeing a full panel of patients on Fridays was meaningful but it’s exhausting – emotionally. I thought I was okay, but after dinner when I was successfully able to have us eat a good several servings of vegetables by whipping up some broccoli and mushroom steamed vegetable side in the Instapot that went along with various leftovers a can of chilli – I fell asleep early. I was laying on the couch and the entire family was settled in the living room including the grandparents to watch some sort of documentary on a Kenyan marathoner breaking the world record. I dozed off pretty early. I just remember by daughter reminding my husband, “Can you make sure mommy gets to bed?” Somehow I ended up in my bed and had a good six hours of sleep. That is not bad. I usually sleep a good 8 hours these days. But I was thirsty and my body told me to wake up, and I had an idea about a climate project to further our collective efforts to Rewild Mission Bay. San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air have joined their coalition.


My trashart last night after finding out I did not get moved to the next round of the regional position. Happy and eyes wide open.

August 27, 2021

by drplasticpicker

In times of great emotion or confusion or happiness, I make trashart. I know it’s weird but it’s true. Last night I made this from bits and pieces of plastic from our lives. The bottle caps are from the two Izzy bottles our kids drank during our San Francisco vacation. The winecorks are from @donttrashmissionbeach famous litter picker fame. I’m almost through all the bits and pieces she dropped off at our house. Most I recycled or had to go into the garbage. I saved most of the winecorks. And most of the “head” of this trashart piece is from the packaging from the new headphones Mr. Plastic Picker purchased for me. Most the packaging was cardboard and recyclable but not the handle part.


Getting ready with my new political friends for our photo-up. One is city government and the other running for congress. I’m just a pediatrician getting my climate anger at the world OUT.

August 22, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Everything about yesterday was just great and fun. It was also one of the most impactful things I’ve done. Will it end up in the closure of this methane-spewing peaker power plant in the Environmental Justice community of El Cajon which is surrounded by black/brown children who happeend to be born into poor families and kids from refugee families? I don’t know. Will it make a dent in the fight against this existential crisis of climate change? I don’t know. But I tried. I tried so much with my whole heart. I did it with joy. I brought my friend Dr. Dear Friend along and re-inspired her into activism along the way (she had protested as a child along with Ceasar Chavez). We had a great morning and day together.


My tribe. Beautiful people.

August 12, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I did it. I am living my truth. I applied for a regional position in Physicial Leadership Development. I have no idea if I will be considered and what that would mean for our lives if I get it, but I’m proud that I took that risk and spoke my truth and applied for it. It was the night before the deadline and I had been thinking about that position for several months, and frustrations and then successes in middle-management made me realize that it was time. I need to grow. I’m well now, and my roots are firmly planted and healthy and I’m ready to sprout. I don’t know where. I don’t know if I’ll go left or right, but I need to grow in my climate leadership and my work-work leadership. I need to move on in my career. It’s best for me and best for my department. I’ll still be part of our department and Assistant Boss for now, but it’s time to make a lot of other people grow up too.


Those are wild fires in the back ground.

Augsut 10, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I had a semi-bad day yesterday because of an HMO issue. It was a misunderstanding but my passionate mouth got me in trouble again. The way the HMO machinery works is that I can’t just apologize for the misunderstanding. It will just sit there, not affecting my career as it’s a miniscule little blip. But for me, it does fester. The idea that I would retaliate is so ludicrous as I’ve never retaliated and the idea that Dr. Plastic Picker retaliates is antithesis to the core of who I am. I was instructed to not retaliate because that is what the HMO script tells us as managers to tell people. I’ve uttered to same thing to colleagues. I believe we are all connected and if I hurt someone’s feelings because they misunderstood what I said, makes my heart hurt as well. But with the stress of the entire world with the ramifications of climate change and COVID-19, the same thing that happend to me is happening across our organization and I’m sure in your life. No one is listening. People are on edge. Everyone is misunderstanding everyone.

I was talking to Dr. Dear Friend and she was very understanding. We planted another big succulent on the HMO parking garage. But the condtions on said parking garage are hot and harsh, and it’s hard to survive up there. I feel that is the same way about myself in middle-management. It’s hot and harsh, and having worked so hard to heal myself and heal the earth – I’m not willing to sacrifice my well being for a title that I no longer care about. I’m rather take my sunshine elsewhere. I know I garnered this stain on my record because I was just out there. Out there teaching residents. Out there trying to work on fundamental wellness for the world. And if I had just sat in my office and not ventured out, I wouldn’t have that stain but then the world would be sicker. So I won’t stay in my office. I’ll venture out. I’ll avoid that person because that is my right. I won’t retaliate, because that is not who I am. But I can have my feelings hurt. I can be sad. And I dealt with that frustration yesterday and again found how unfair things are, because I 100% know if I was a man – I’d never have to deal with this cr@p. Women are sometimes our worst enemeies, but also our allies. So here I am, still Dr. Plastic Picker – keeping on keeping on.

I did channel my frustration with the absolute inertia of big organizations, by moving things in my small corner of the world. I’ve been talking and writing about the Air Keepers program for San Diego. It’s a program I heard about from Dr. Lori Byron up at AAP Montana, and I wanted to replicate it here. So I sent her an email and cc’ed the two other pediatricians who want to get involved, and cc’ed our famous academic friend Dr. Perry Sheffield. I also emailed a student that potentially could work on this and gave him the details. There is funding possibly from the Air Pollution Control District, maybe our own HMO Community Benefits and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Community and I can try to find other funding. I don’t think this type of program cost that much, and I’m hopeful we can get it done.

So that’s what I did today. Send three emails to get the ball rolling on AirKeepers. Because someone misunderstood a comment I was making and the world is not listening, I’ve decided to do something to make myself feel better. And cleaning the air and bringing people together makes me feel better. Air Keepers San Diego version was probably deployed after a frustrating day at work. Just like San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air was created after a mean comment from a politician that said we were a “publicity stunt.” Sometimes hurt and humiliation is good if you can channel it. But the one petty thing I will promise you, that person will never be invited to my house again. I can’t believe they were in our house, and ate our food and we welcomed them as a guest. I will 100% be civil and cheerful at work, but in my own home – it’s only those that I love that are welcome here. So the foxes are welcome, the butterflies are welcome, the climate activists are welcome – but those that think I’m unkind and that I would ever say anything like that. You absolutely don’t know me and you aren’t welcome. And I won’t impose myself upon you in your home either. Let’s mutually agree to be professional. And so Air Keepers was born from this misunderstanding.

She’s thinking about when Mr. Plastic Picker is going to take her on her next walk.

July 23, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I really need to knock out the bags this weekend. I’m at 12 bags I think, so hopefully will do solo beach cleanups Saturday and Sunday. Today is a full week coffee-free mornings! My wake-time has shifted later so I’m up at 530 rather than 4am. I think this is healthier. My sleep is deeper and I’m going to bed earlier. My muscles are achy at night though which was an unexpected withdrawal symptom. This makes sense because when I was running half marathons, I fueled myself on coffee. I would drink one before the races and on long-run days would need more. This is not sustainable nor healthy. I’ve heard of older runners former pediatricians who needed knee replacements early on because they kept on running more than they should have. After my myalgias resolve, I’ll restart running again but maybe just 2-3 times a week 3 miles or so. Right now I’m working on getting through the days without coffee, and that is it. Things feel a peaceful sort of good. Yesterday I ate tomatoes, argula salad (thank you Dr. Dear Friend!), vegetarian burrito, lots of plums (thank you dear patient family), and a banana. I think it was a plant-forward type of day!!! I did eat other foods but those were the plants I ate.


Beautiful shorebirds I saw yesterday.

July 6, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Two big things happened this weekend. I final submitted for our author group Durrwachter-Erno Et Al our paper titled “Informing Policy on Built Environments to Safeguard Children in Environmental Justice Communities: Case Study of Five American Academy of Pediatrics Climate Advocates” to the Journal of Applied Research on Children. This was the final edits after the copy-editor read through. It seemed like a simple process fixing the citations and doing the rewording, but it took all weekend and probably a combined 10 hours of actual work. Commas are important, and citations have to be formatted a certain way. It was a labour of love for all six of us. The round-table discussion from Children At Risk will be made available today as well, where they interviewed our author group along with two other climate and health related papers. During this process, I half fell in love with the copy editor (with my husband’s knowledge) as I felt his last read that he really understood what we were trying to impart. My hubsand was an editor of several highschool and college publications and an English major, and he understood.