Eco-America Blog: Bringing Me (The Weird Dr. Plastic Picker and Former PreMed Advisor Me) to Climate Work
September 14, 2020
When I started this journey of climate activism and picking up ocean plastic pollution a year ago, I never thought that writing would be my way to make a difference. I began blogging at 4am this morning, earlier than I usually do. I had to work yesterday at Pediatric After Hours Clinic and it was a relatively quiet and fun shift. I did pick up a hip click that two other doctors missed so I felt good about that. But anytime my schedule is a bit off – my sleep is disrupted. Writing like ocean plastic picking tends to quiet my mind. I love the sound of the clicking on my key board. It makes me feel like I’m going somewhere, eventhough most mornings I’m just sitting at my kitchen table. The air purifier is running this morning and that is a stark reminder of our climate crisis. It’s been running all night and stable in the 30s PM 2.5 but when you open the door, it shoots up to the mid 50s. Before the wildfires began it was in the single-digits. My father-in-law is moving around the kitchen quietly making his coffee. It’s usullay just him and me in the mornings, and he tries to not make too much noise. I think he thinks I’m doing really important things on the computer, eventhough most of the time I’m writing nonsence. But the air purifier is running today and we will buy an additional one for him, because increased particulate matter and air pollution is associated with increased cardiac death in older adults.
I’m trying to figure out what I’m supposed to write about next. Usually in the morning I know where my life is going because blogging orders my thought process. But then by the time I go to sleep at night, I have discombobulating thoughts about what the heck my life has turned into? My friend Dr. McFrugal who I know in real life put it well is his blog “But what in the heck is FISE??? FISE stands for Financial Independent, Save the Earth. It was coined by my friend Dr. Plastic Picker a pediatrician who also works in San Diego.” His blogpost is really good by the way if you want to read it https://www.drmcfrugal.com/weekend-reflections-9-13-20-fire-and-fire/ But I do sometimes feel like that, what the heck am I doing?
I felt like that more because the only comment on my most recent blogpost as a call to climate action on KevinMD was from likely a troll that wrote “Stop the hysteria. Climate change is a hoax.” To which I replied, “Whimzy. Thank you for reading my post and for your comment. I appreciated your thoughtful reply. Of course I disagree but that we communicated and that you read the post is for me one win for the climate. I hope this finds you well. I had a good discussion with one of my patients that joins me on our group beach cleanings. We were looking at a plastic cup right about to float into the ocean. He is 5 and looked up at me and said, “My father said Climate Change is a hoax.” I know his father well and he is a good friend. In fact, my father who is a business person and of the financial bent tells me the same thing. I looked at the 5 year old said, “That is fine. Your father is a good person. But that plastic that is in front of you? See that piece right there? That’s non-partisan. Someone has to pick it up or it’s floating into the ocean.” So in the end, I would say the same to you. There are things we can agree on. And in that, this gives me hope.” Mr. Plastic Picker told me to ignore it but I had to reply since it was in response to a post on KevinMD. But honestly I don’t know how many people read it, and whether it’s even worth the effort. KevinMD invited me to do a podcast, but I have lectures to prepare for and several other writing projects I’m committed to. I don’t really care about the recognition. All I care about is that I try in my best way to move the needle on climate action. I need to think more about whether the KevinMD podcast is worth the time? Dr. McFrugal told me KevinMD is a really talented and non-threatening and nice interviewer.
But I have to keep my priorities straight. One upcoming projects I do need to work on is a blogpost for Eco-America. I signed up for that as part of the AAP. I’m going to take this time to review the instructions from Eco-America and the AAP. Always important to review the instructions!
- Complete by Oct 1 (from Lori). Okay at least I know the deadline. That is actually really soon. I need to start writing it this week.
- EcoAmerica is “our partner in the October Climate Conference.” So this is an AAP and EcoAmerica piece. Okay now I know my audience.
- Rebecca EcoAmerica and Lori Byron (AAP) https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-lori-byron-pediatric-environmental-activist-and-my-mentor-8/as contacts for questions. Okay now I know my contacts.
- Already one article from california Climate Advocate, “so yours should probably focus on advocacy – you can talk about how you have web space, ? newsletter space, climate interns, a climate committee, and all the things you told me about recently! And why you care!” Okay this is good. As I wrote in my previous blogpost, Lori really gets me https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-lori-byron-pediatric-environmental-activist-and-my-mentor-8/.
- A blog series from AAP chapter champions on the Climate for Health website. We’d like to post success stories from different chapters throughout October, leading up to the National Children’s Health and Climate Leadership Forum at the end of the month.
- “My understanding is that each chapter can submit content on their own behalf independent from (i.e. not needing review and approval from) AAP national. But each listed author must have permission to speak on behalf of the chapter.” Okay, make sure to run it by AAP-CA3 Chapter. No problem since our chapter executive director is my friend and totally nice person.
- Blog specifications:
- Tone/manner: building on the theme, inspiring, empowering, including a call to action if possible, applying learnings from Let’s Talk Climate
- Length: 300-600 words
- Imagery: at least one photo or image, rights-cleared for use/distribution, provided in high resolution format or already imbedded
- Provide: author name and title, all hyperlinks embedded or provided, photo credits
- Likely “cross-post the 3 on AAP’s site, then we only need 2-3 more.” Okay so our national committee will provide 6 blogs, and if mine is good (50% acceptance rate) it might cross-post on the AAP wesbite. That is a good goal to have!
- “Might also be a personal reflection from pediatricians about why they vote on or advocate for equitable climate solutions. If it’s ok with the AAP, I think we can cross post some of these on the CfH blog in October.” They want less patient stories (it’s kind of getting overdone right now on the blogsphere anyway) and more personal pediatrician stories.
Wow. This blogpost submission is like the real deal? I can’t just write about how I sold my 2006 Hondo Minivan and included a stuffed Olaf, and said I “Let It Go!” https://drplasticpicker.com/the-road-to-fise-let-it-go-the-2006-honda-minivan/ I wonder if anyone will read it though? A lot of people read my Star Trek Fanfiction blog post. It’s funny when you actually follow the blog stats, you’d be surprised what people read or what they don’t. My one of Cold Brew Coffee and my Living Trust and Will is one of the all time popular post https://drplasticpicker.com/cold-brew-coffee-did-you-finish-your-living-trust-will/. I once did a comparison of seagull poop to plastic, and no one read that one! LOL. But for anyone who actually cleans the beach it will ring true.
Thank you for following along on this weird journey. This helps me formulate some thoughts for the Eco-America and hopefully AAP blogpost as one of the California Climate Advocates. What really motivates me is that there is a 50% acceptance rate if I write a really good blogpost for it to be posted on the AAP. The former premed competitive me likes to have a goal. So I will use this idea that I need to be accepted to motivate me.
But in the end what I have learned since becoming Dr. Plastic Picker is I need to learn to accept and love myself first. I am worthy just because I showed up. When you actually get out there and start seeing the plastic pollution on the beach or actually feel the effects of worsening air pollution, one realizes that not enough people are showing up. But Dr. McFrugal showed up. I recruited a Pediatric Dermatologist to join our AAP CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee. And I am working on an ENT surgeon to join our Public Health Advisory Council. And one of my friends started a composting garden with her children. And that is one of the most beautiful ways to show up.
So thank you everyone and I hope you have a lovely Monday. I worked yesterday so I am a bit tired. I will show up at work and for the earth. But I don’t have to show my real face until 130PM as I’m working the afternoon. I had administrative time this morning so I will work on my next “How To” Guide for the department.