Did We Just Stop the Asteroid? Yes We Did. And Then Reality Set In – a Broken Finger.
September 2, 2022
by Dr. Plastic Picker
This is the emotional journey of a formerly burnt out pediatrician who decided to pick up trash on the beach. I’m trying to get to 1000 bags of trash, and things have been slowing down a bit. For the month of August and September I only gathered 20 bags of plastic pollution. The reason why is that during my litter-picking I realized that I was better, and that the world actually was in need of a super-hero to help stop the existential threat of climate change. So Dr. Plastic Picker decided to join the legions of other super heroes that are trying to save the earth. Which is why this month the actual litter picking slowed down, because there were huge legislative wins this month.
One of the most impactful things I did, was accept the position of Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics California, Expert Committee on Environmental Health and Climate Change. I’m even officially on a website, https://aap-ca.org/issues/ I took this position seriously and we have a committee of about 8 of us from all the four chapters in the state. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do when I accepted this position, but I knew something needed to be done and I was the one they asked. And with that the AAP California led the way amongst other healthcare groups to push the legislative agenda forward for the state.
And with the awakening of the country to climate change, there was a need for healthcare voices. And AAP California was right in the mix and one of the few established professional organizations to take a stance. The ground swelling of support was there, but it was really Dr. Amanda Millstein up in San Francisco and with a lot of my support got us across the finish line to get our organization to sign on to one of the most impactful measures which was SB 1137.
And we were part of that momentous ground swelling of support for this setbacks bill. Snippets of emails I sent after the fact, as we were texting and emailing each other afterwards.
“Still processing everything. Amazing work everyone and thankful for each of you that you exist on this earth of ours.”
“Sharing joy from California. SB 1137 the 3200 oil and gas setbacks bill just passed the senate. Its breathtaking how different the legislative world is right now. Anyway, emails flying around the environmental groups we all work with. Amanda Millstein and healthcare voices playing an important role. Climate Reality told us there were thousands of calls pouring in during the last 48 hours up and down the state. AAP California thanks in large part to Amanda, signed on as the top signer to a letter authored by Physicians for Social Responsibility. A lot of last minute texting and calling trying to get the attention of our executive director, who signed for AAP California. And then 350.org organized lobbying meetings, and Amanda spoke as the healthcare voice with the bay area 350.org and I joined in with youth voices on a call to our state senator (who ended up abstaining) with San Diego 350.org.
It’s done. It’s done. Newsom still has to sign but there was a press conference about a year ago that he said he would support, so crossing fingers. BIG BIG win that belongs to everyone. On the ground level here just realizing how grassroots it all is, and how beautiful and chaotic and inspiring.
Love from the Golden State.
all of AAP California State Government Affairs Committee on Environmental Health and Climate Change, which is a lot of us
hugs hugs hugs hugs“
“Wow. As long as it passed. I just heard from climate health now as well. I ended calling those 6 other senators that had their names sent out and AAP California signed on officially with physicians for social responsibility, and they said having AAP was impactful. It was the entire movement up and down the state for sure . Amanda Millstein Peds up in Bay Area lobbied with 350.org up there too. Many many many thanks Rita for including me.”
“I did lobbying meeting already with San Diego 350.org last week on behalf of San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air. His aide said he was a likely yes. Tweet sent as well.”
“Called all of them! Told them it was the AAP California official position of support as well.”
There were text messages as well that I saved as screenshots to remember. And with that momentous day when the state of California passed sweeping measures, investing another $54 billion into the climate. Which is remarkable because the federal Inflation Reduction Act was $369 billion invested into the climate, so $54 billion is a lot. I just finished accepting a paper for the Journal of Climate Change and Health that details billion dollar disasters that have been more common in the last few decades due to climate change, and it clearly explains how cost-effective it is to invest in climate because all those tornadoes, heat waves, flooding ect ect are very expensive.
But with that momentous few weeks and the last two days, I felt like one of a legion of super heroes that stopped the asteroid from hitting the earth. And all the little earthlings were just walking around in their normal lives and not really realizing that we are almost helping avert the existential crisis! And one little earthling is my teen daughter who spent ALL SUMMER doing volleyball. She made the JV team as their setter, and that night after those historic wins – she jammed her finger playing pick up game of KNOCK OUT-BASKETBALL during freshman orientation!!!
I came home exhausted but elated, but then looked at her beautiful finger that was swelling up by the minute. I am a pediatrician. I knew it was fractured. She iced it and was pouting at my reaction. All summer, we were driving her to volleyball. All summer, we were listening to her go on and on about making this set or missing that play. And she was just sitting there very beautiful with her beautiful skin and her beautiful finger, pouting at me that I was looking at her finger with my mommy exasperated expression. “Why are you looking at me like that mommy?” She’s 14 and allowed to be exasperated at me. But I think at 44, I’m allowed to be exasperated at her.
I just shook my head, and we all went to bed kind of irritated at each other. Next day (which was yesterday), I ordered an xray from the office in the midst of seeing patients. Mr. Plastic Picker took our darling daughter for her xray. She indeed has a not subtle fracture. Mr. Plastic Picker was going to wait in line to be treated, but I told him – “you call in your favors now. She has a fracture and we need her seen. I just finished helped saving the earth, so you can ask for special treatment especially since you’ve worked every single weekend of most of our 15 years here at HMO without complaining.” So Mr. Plastic Picker did call, but the wait wasn’t that long anyway and he didn’t cut in the patient care line.
So the beautiful 14 year old has a splint on, and she was surprisingly nonchalant about the entire thing dear readers. And I’ll confess here because I know my children don’t read my blog, because I have over 700 blog post up. Last night, I fell asleep in my in-laws bedroom which is on the bottom floor because it is so hot. There is a heat wave right now (did you see one of my four interviews on the subject?). They are in New York. It was hot, and it’s the coolest there. And when I laid down, I landed on said teenagers phone. I admit it! I snooped. I checked out her text messages and they were all innocuous and no boy -dating texts. Good thing, because she is not allowed to date until 17 or 18. We haven’t decided yet. But anyway, there were a lot of text to her volleyball friends and she was soaking up the sympathy regarding her finger. Ahhhhh. I see now. That is why she’s not too upset. She can still work out and sit in on the games, as her finger is healing and she is getting some attention from her friends.
And with that dear readers, is the true emotional journey of your local litter picking pediatrician who helped stop the asteroid from hitting the earth. And then my 14 year old earthling broke her finger, and she’s out for a month. When I told her that perhaps it’s meant to be, and that the earth did that for a mysterious reason – she looked at me and said, “you could say that about anything mommy.” Which is absolutely true. But this is my real world and make-believe blogging world, and I think it’s meant to be.
Green hugs and it’s almost 7am and I have a full day of patient care. Thank you for letting me share my journey to 1000 bags and hopefully a livable future for us all.