Choosing to be Brave: #divestfromfossilfuels and #fightfor1point5 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Choosing to be Brave: #divestfromfossilfuels and #fightfor1point5

| Posted in Climate Advocacy (AAP/Climate Reality/ClimateHealthNOW)

My opening slide.

August 5, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I’m choosing to be brave today. My eco-avatar me and the real me, that holds a position and a job. I have been working on this powerpoint for the last 2 weeks. It was mostly me sorting through my emails and messages from others, and collating my thoughts and furthering my understanding about fossil fuels and the importance of divestment.

My body was tired yesterday, but I realized after reflecting how much I had grown in my understanding of fossil fuel divestment and how involved I’ve been in this at the state level and nationally. My emotional fatigue and brain fatigue was well earned. I shut it off last night, and found a new sweet (but not too addictive) early 2010 K drama to watch. I slept deeply last night. When I do real impactful earthwork, that it what happens.

I posted around social media and the Facebook groups about the talk that I am giving. It’s more for me to remind myself to be brave in this work.

On our internal MD Facebook group, I was open and honest. And the positivity is real. The camaderie is real.

I’m choosing to brave today. I’m bringing up fossil fuel divestment at the regional green team in a 5 minute speaking slot. I’ve been amazed at how wonderful our healthcare system is. I heard my Audubon articles made it to the Riverside board meeting, and spreading good will. And folks up high heard I was preparing this talk, because I believe in KPSD and within SCPMG we can be the ones to be the catalyst for change. If I care about the earth and children’s health, I have to bring this up. We have to divest from fossil fuels along the lines of the UC system, Harvard, Maine, NYC. We’d be the first major healthcare systems to do so. Fossil fuel divestment also makes financial sense, as there are multiple studies showing that we would have made more if we had earlier invested in more clean energy. So many others have been partners with this, and Permanente doctors from across the country are connecting and this is truly a grassroots efforts. But we may not need to go that far, because our leadership is listening. They have been so wonderful! Nolan Chang and our CFO and people up so high (I didn’t even know they existed) are stopping in to listen, and we have two big meetings arranged already. I fully appreciate AAMDs and board members. I know our complex healthcare system can be frustrating sometimes, but I truly believe that when you awaken the “green dragon” – this is when we can help bend the arc toward a sustainable future. Here I go. Just want to be open and transparent as I’ve posted so much of the green team projects on this forum. I think I’m meant to be the one to bring it up, because about 3 years ago I stopped being scared. That’s what happens when you are no longer burned out.

And on the national Physicians for Sustainable Future Facebook group I wrote.

I’m choosing to be brave today. I can’t believe how fast this is happening. Got 5 minutes to speak at our regional green team meeting and I’m bringing up fossil fuel divestment. Have had friends throughout the system lending help, and have meetings set up with our CFO and people up so high – I didn’t know they existed. So here I go. Many thanks to Ashley McClure for being out in front of this (hope it’s okay I put your name on the power point, I’ll forward you the revised version soon). Grateful for friends lending support despite having new babies at home. Gosh, if I can make us move a bit faster on this – we are such a big system that it can continue the domino faster. It’s a code planet, and there is no time to waste. (The Audubon picture is just because it’s cute).”

This graphic is from a recent New England Journal of Medicine talk, illustrating the urgency that we need to address fossil fuels.

And that if in healthcare we think about keeping our own house clean (so to speak), we have to address Scope 3 emissions. That is emissions from our supply chain and investments.

And this shouldn’t be hard for me, because it’s not my job to figure out the details about how to invest. There are people who are paid handsomely to do this. I’m a front line pediatrician who works really hard. And what I want is for my patients to be healthy, my planet to be healthy, and my financial future to be secure – and divesting from fossil fuels should accomplish all three.

I’ve spent the last two weeks speaking to as many people as I could within the UC system and within the Harvard system regarding divestment. And at the same time I was thinking this, other folks in the AAP were thinking this too. There is already an AAP divestment proposal. I should just be able to model ours after the AAP one! I even have the email of the author and I’m just going to email him and ask to do it, with full credit of course.

That is it. This is my emotional environmental journey of a pediatrician who started to pick up plastic on the beach, and got better from burn out. I’m really well these days and I’m really brave. And I realized I had nothing really to be scared about in the first place. I’m surrounding by other doctors who want the same thing.

The world is truly a beautiful place, and I am so proud to work in the healthcare system that I work in. My son did tell me that “Mommy, you are weaponizing cuteness.” Oh yes son. Yes I am, because this is my slide one more time.

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