October 25, 2022
by Dr. Plastic Picker
I haven’t been blogging as much lately. The reason why is that I’ve been exchanging emails with a now family friend about our children, my own family’s pseudo-kdrama. The story has come to a beautiful end/pause/conclusion/season 1. One of my patient families was telling me truly that if we ever published the emails (which I would never do without said other person’s permission) it would make a great teen angst novella. As the ending is something unexpected, friendship.
Which makes me realize that I’m a pretty convincing person that lives in my very active imagination. When I was young and in between English and Vietnamese, the world was very silent. During that time I think I was learning English by immersion as a Vietnamese-speaking child and somehow emerged in 1st grade fully fluent without an accent, I just remember silence. I remember my imaginary friends that I would make up from the paisley swirls of the brown sofa in our Clairemont living room. I remember faces of friends and images, but those memories are strangely silent. I don’t remember any words neither Vietnamese nor English? I’ve always been curious about that. Maybe I should make some more friends with neurologists or speech pathologists or linguists?
But I do realize I have an active imagination, as I’m always imagining that I can literally save the earth. I someone induced myself and another very intelligent family to go along with a kdrama-like series of events that ended up beautiful and innocent, but gosh really took up a lot of time of a very busy academic. I’m not sure if I really feel guilty about it, but more bemused and very child-like – were you binge-watching the same show as I was? But in the end I know the association and the connections between us will help move the world toward equity and justice and hopefully a livable planet. It’s been very nice being the do-gooder Dr. Plastic Picker. I get forgiven many things, and I am hopeful and confident that this family has forgiven me my kdrama shenanigans.
I’m back in the world of occasional daydreaming, but awake now and blogging again rather than daydreaming. But the daydreams were so beautiful dear readers!!! I would sit and smile by myself and giggle in between patients. It was such a beautiful dream that I’ll hold dear in my heart. But when I realized those dreams were not productive for those that are the inspiration for those dreams, the pediatrician adult in me – did put it all to a stop. I’m mature enough to do that.
But I’m continuing to dream about our planet and our children’s future, and realizing I’m pretty good at selling my dream. I hope it’s your dream as well. I was selling this dream of climate and health advocacy and activism as an antidote to physician burnout. I was selling it at the HMO Regional Pediatric Symposium. Gosh this last Saturday was impactful. I’m still floored that it happened. Our climate friend Dr. Elizabeth Friedman from Kansas City was flown out and given posh accommodations to give a talk on climate and health. She was in our HMO space now, and her off-beat and somewhat sarcastic and intelligent take on the climate crisis was honestly pitch perfect for our clinical practice crowd. Then we came in, the three physicians from San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air with our panel discussion and twice really knocked it out of the park with a “Deeper Dive in Climate and Health Advocacy.” I honestly did not know how it would go, and just putting our hearts and our full-selves into this work, it resonated. It absolutely resonated with other physicians in our large regional group.
At the same time I was collaborating again with Dr. Elizabeth Friedman, and she was able to get me involved with a paper that hopefully will be published soon. I’m trying to focus on how I can be most impactful and I’m working on the fossil fuel divestment side. At least I can help try to get us off investments in coal!!!! Pollution from coal mining and the GHG emissions from this are the absolute worst! The edits to the paper were scattered and I tried to help paint the divestment story as more grassroots to tell the real story of how divestment happens. My edits I have sent in but here are some of the notes I had jotted down while thinking of what I could add to this paper.
“Scope 3 Investments, 8% of GHG emissions in from the health care section. Indeed, there was a recent white house event joined by major health care organizations calling for the decarbonization of the health care sector. but of that scope 1, scope 2, scope 3. 28% of healthcare emissions are from investments.
For pediatricians to be involved in addressing GHG from healthcare section investments, we must be familiar with not only the health effects from GHGs but also how we can influence GHG emissions from healthcare sector investments. We are investors ourselves who choose funds. We are members for healthcare organizations and sometimes physician groups that have retirement committees. We are administrators and managers, who have influence over funds.
We must become familiar with the nomenclature of healthcare sector investing. Only then, can be understand and advocate and unravel. For example, for those that are part of retirement committees they have fiduciary responsibilities. (list what is talked about in the slide?). Due diligence and green washing ((slide).”
And then I got to have a wondrous late lunch with my also friend Dr. Elizabeth Friedman now at Balboa Park. We walked and chatted and shared. We shared about our lives, but we mostly talk about the earth. Yes I’m one of those. I’m a crazy environmentalist. That’s all I think about. And as I was updating her on the end/pause/season 1 of my family’s pseudo-kdrama, she told me the ending was because of the patriarchy! I don’t believe it, but having green friends and working together – I listened to her and I considered it. And when I told my daughter about Dr. Friedman’s thoughts on the patriarchy. My daughter truly perked up. “It was the patriarchy mommy!”
I don’t pretend to know the answer to saving our earth, but I do know that it includes environmentalists who are as diverse as myself and Dr. Elizabeth Friedman. We are such an diverse and off-beat group. But we all know it will take all of us, right-wing and left-wing, religious and irreligious, patriarchy and matriarchy, and all those ying and yang terms that balance each other out. As I was leaving my friend after an absolutely lovely late afternoon walk, lunch and brain-storming and dreaming session, we gave each other the tightest green hugs. I also gave the same hugs to that family that dreamed with me in our pseudo-kdrama. After you get past the climate anxiety and climate grief and how bad the state of the environment is, than the only hope we have is to dream together. We can have a group psychosis together, that we can avert this code red for humanity.
And I believe it. I absolutely do. Still doing so much just me a single pediatrician picking up plastic in San Diego. And I just need to convince a few people who will convince a few more, than you can make a difference. It has to be grassroots. Every great endeavor begins with the people. And pediatricians and UC system provosts, we are pretty great people to influence others. Can you sell your dream? I absolutely am. But my dream is 100% free hence the free entertainment on this blog. All you have to do is read and care, and think about helping out one piece of ocean bound plastic at a time.
It’s 6:43 now and I’m going to dream by myself about my daughter’s future, but I hope you’ll dream together with my about our earth’s. Much love from your pediatrician who is going to work soon! My matcha green tea tastes great this morning with a side of macaroons.