Give Me Strength Today. Peaker Power Rally in El Cajon. I’m Up – As a Speaker.
August 21, 2021
Okay. I’m up and the comments are written. Dr. Dear Friend and I are representing San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air at a rally in El Cajon, and I’m speaking about the health affects of power plants on pediatric asthma. It’s funny when you speak on a topic that you know well and are passionate about, it comes very easily. I started writing my comments about 45 minutes ago and I’m done now. I used bits and pieces from our journal article. Since I wrote the words with my friends, it’s okay for me to use those phrases directly. I intermixed health facts with a story. Patient stories are always powerful.
I thought I needed strength when I started blogging this morning, but I’m okay. I fill myself up on real food that is mostl vegetables and a lot of really delicious tomatoes. I also got a very good nights sleep last night. Without coffee, my body naturally quiets toward the end of the day and I don’t wake up at 2-3am anymore. We are supposed to be there by 930AM, and I’ll leave here in about an hour. Pick up Dr. Dear Friend and we’ll meet the other climate activist at 930AM. We’ll walk one mile together to the rally. I guess I don’t have as much time as I thought. My speech is done but I need to practice. Okay. Here it is.
El Cajon Peaker Power Plant
My name is Dr. Plastic Picker and this is Dr. Dear Friend, and we are here representing 40 pediatricians who practice mostly in the south and east county who advocate together for our patients as San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air. Collectively we take care of approximately 80,000 families in our region. Most of us are also members of the American Academy of Pediatrics Climate Change and Health Committee, and I am Assistant Chief of Pediatrics and have worked on pediatric asthma care quality for almost 15 years. Today we are here speaking on behalf of our friends at San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air. Dr. Dear Friend is here today because she was actually raised in the East County, and cares for many children with asthma when they get sick enough to be hospitalized as an inpatient doctor.
Have you ever seen a child who is struggling to breathe? It’s one of the first things we teach medical students. You have to be able to recognize sick or not sick. Usually, their intercostal muscles between their ribs are tugging and you’ll see what we call retractions. Their nasal ala bilaterally will flare, and they’ll usually be holding their head tilted upward as they try to struggle to draw air into their lungs by increasing their intrathoracic volumes, but the medium sized airways are constricted and the passage of air through those narrowed airways is difficult. And they can’t talk. When you can’t breath you can’t speak a full sentence, this is one of the easiest ways to tell if someone is having an asthma exacerbation.
Dr. Dear Friend and I, and indeed all our colleagues, know what to do with that child having an asthma attack. You throw the kitchen sink at them. Systemic steroids, 3 back to back albuterol nebs, oxygen, and sometimes magnesium and god forbid if they are decompensating because you can’t bag-mask valve an asthmatic too long. It’s not the safe move. You have to try to intubate them quickly if they are at that point and transport them to the hospital or ICU where Dr. Valladolid works. She’s a good friend to have.
And all of this, we are seeing more. There is more asthma now due to peaker power plants , and there is more asthma within those communities around peaker power plants. Particulate air pollution causes oxidative stress and inflammation that decrease lung function, even in individuals without asthma, and is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. Extreme heat events and exposure to air pollution are also associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weight. Climate change is a public health crisis, and more importantly to pediatricians – it is a pediatric public health crisis. Over 88% of the diseases caused by climate change affect children under five years of age. Children are uniquely vulnerable when it comes to the health risks imposed upon humans by the changing climate. Children are still developing, including their vital organs, and have a greater surface-to-body ratio of their skin and lung epithelium to total body surface area. These two factors make them uniquely at risk to air pollution and heat.
So we are here today to throw one more thing to try to help save our patient’s with pediatric asthma. We are here to deal with the root cause of the rise in pediatric asthma, air pollution and climate change. Our organization which is 40 pediatricians who take care of 80,000 families in San Diego is here to ask that this peaker power plant to be shut down rather than renewed when its permit expires later this year and replaced with renewable energy and battery storage. It doesn’t seem fair that kids have to suffer more asthma especially poor kids who live around the power plant. It doesn’t seem fair that all of us have to pay more for health care cost due to increased asthma incidence and hospitalizations, and also to pay for power that is dirtier and more expensive. Thank you to everyone here today from the surrounding community and the concerned citizens who are speaking up for our earth and more importantly to us for the kids. Thank you for inviting us as a group. We are in this with you now. It’s the only way world. God help anyone who is listening who has the influence to do what is right. Close this plant.
Wish me luck! We are going to have lunch afterwards too. I dyed my hair last night because we may make the evening news!