AAP Climate Change and Health – Dr. Plastic Picker

Tag: AAP Climate Change and Health

Helpers. Each one of them. There are so many people out there.

May 19, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Yesterday was another epic climate work day. If you were at the climate change and health meeting last night, I apologize if I sounded a bit manic. Tuesdays is my “admin day” and during my paying hours I stay true to my tasks that I am paid for. I had vaccine quality meeting, per diem physician meetings, sustainability emails, talking to schedulers and just trying to nudge the department on a forward path. It’s amazing how many time-booby traps are out there. Half of my job is to keep on scanning the HMO landscape of all the ways our department can go and yell “TURN TURN TURN” before we get sucked into the wrong direction. That can be the wrong physician, wrong project, wrong quality metric. For now, that is the role I play and I’m not shy about it. But it can be discombobulating at times. Right now I’m working on reorganizing this very large HMO committee into something functional and impactful. We will get there but there are a lot of politics and fine details that need to be worked out.

But then I had the climate work and it was indeed an epic day. To summarize what happened for the blog readership

  1. HMO Green Team: I thought this one was in the bag but the upper upper management person emailed confirmed my interest and Dr. DN. I thought we had already told the upper upper management person that we were going to do it. But anyway, it’s official now and we will share the role which comes with no time and no pay. Figures. But we are going to make it great and save the earth via greening our little corner of the healthcare sector, and then the time and pay will come later. And even if it does not come, it’s the right thing to do. I pick up trash for free, and I’ll do this. In the end money is a proxy for time and efforts. But what is the value of money if we don’t prevent Planet Earth from becoming like Vulcan. Vulcans can live without water for days. I am rewatching the Star Trek Enterprise. But we humans have not evolved to that extent now. I think it’s easier to try to fight to keep global warming to less than 1.5 degrees centigrade than evolve to live without water for a week.
  2. Gril Scout Troop Brownie Troop Outing/Trash Art Project: I became connected with a brownie troop in our area a few months ago and delivered a talk to them. They have our patches. The girls were so adorable I can’t begin to tell you. Trying to keep my circle of influence authentic and manageable, I offered to do a litter pick with them and a trash art project. We are in conversations right now. I have reached out more because I thought they were really fun, and it’s something I want to do. So I’ve saved the day for them.
  3. Committee Meeting: Above is our climate change and health commitee. The actual committee is about 30 people, but these are the ones that showed up. It doesn’t seem like a lot of people, but they are all leading big efforts that we needed to catch up on and discuss. It was a very impactful 30 minutes and exchange of ideas. I am so grateful for each of them. Truly.
  4. Climate Change and Health Rotation: We actually talked about this a bit yesterday at the committee meeting. Several offered to precept. We talked about strategizing it into a fellowship eventually. I’ve already begun to collate relevant articles. I have to learn not to rush things. Several of us are attending the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health this weekend, and it will be a natural time to text and flush out the rotation. There is nothing like that now in our area and I think 2 residents initially, one rotation in April and another in May would be good. We shall see. I think I need to sketch it out and hand it over to someone else to bring across the finish line. This is a manageable project for someone. I forget how much I’ve done in the past. The pediatric rotation that exists in our HMO was started by myself and an old mentor. I helped start that and I forgot all about it. So there is precedent. This rotation I’m more committed to and it will need my presence.
  5. Healing Gardens: Sounds like our particular office is going to get approval for a healing garden. I hope they put in pollinators and make it a monarch habitat. It’s so easy. Then you can put a sign on up. I heard about this from another departmental leader. I really do think the butterfly kit project helped propel this idea a bit. But it will be so nice to have a place to walk and sit during lunch. I’m still trying to green the top of the parking structure, but those planters are really rough. The soil is coming back to life but I don’t know how many years it is going to take.

But rather than waiting for years for things to happen, I’ve realized that with all the above projects that I need to reach out. Find help. Sometimes the help comes from unexpected corners. I try not to force projects, just put my head down and keep plugging away. And sometimes I look up and I see a bird for inspiration or I see a beautiful face of a fellow pediatrician lending a hand. In the end this task of stopping climate change is monumental and existential. When I accepted that, that it when I learned to reach out and ask for help. And for everyone out there who shows up, whether it be at last nights meeting, or all the multitude of ways we can move the needle on climate change – just thank you. Thank you for showing up and getting to work. Hope is earned. Hope is earned through action.

I found hope yesterday morning with a good bag. Those are reused upcycled styrofoam! We are lots of onions coming!
Our beautiful wholesome AAP-CA3 Legilstaive Advocacy Group for Climate Change and Health.

April 14, 2021

by drplasticpicker

This is the picture I’m most proud of this past week. Three friends together who naturally came together to work on climate change and health policy. It’s been two years to reach this point, then AAP San Diego Chapter Leadership told us – you need to go to this conference. Here is the money. As co-chairs of the Climate Change and Health Committee, we had already been working on moving legislation. But now we had their seal of approval, and off to virtual DC we went.


We are advocating! But this my amazing younger sister did! It gives me strength.

March 3, 2021

by drplasticpicker

We did it! We advocated. I started this blogpost yesterday and just wrote “Time to ADVOCATE!!! SB 467.” And that was it. I’m returning to this blogpost now with a cute new picture and also to say that for the last 24 hours (with some well deserved sleep in between) I worked really hard for our HMO/department doing a gazillion projects but in between was advocating. It is all happening.

When I declared I was going to save the earth (along with everyone else) I was not kidding. The Youth Climate Movement is powerful, but they are children. They woke me up, pediatrician and mother me. The adults need to get to work. To be honest, back in August 2020 when I wrote this post https://drplasticpicker.com/ab-345-did-not-fail-politicians-failed-but-pediatricians-are-quick-learners-and-we-rise-up/ I was really sad and mad. I just emailed Erik Anderson from KPBS thanking him for the interview from August, but it was again a sad time when we were accused of this being a publicity stunt and ultimately the bill failed in committee.


No photo description available.
Similar to the cool planter we purchased.

February 24, 2021

by drplasticker

I would usually write a Hopeful Wednesday post, but today in lieu of Hopeful Wednesday – I will just cross-post something from my real-life facebook. Our AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee is a real group of friends. And one our friends did something amazing. Here is the post.

It’s been a year of efforts, and I wanted to give a big shout out to Patty Pascual Hosking part of our AAP CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee who works on the climate advocacy/legislative side of things with us. She was helped by our colleague Jim Moseman who leads the award from Kaiser. Patty had this dream of establishing a Green Ribbon to be given out by pediatricians in our committee at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair for research on climate change. Patty is San Diego raised, and Science Fair had been a treasured part of her teenage years and she wanted to give of herself to our community and to the environment through this venue. As with things that are driven by passion, it happened. I can’t tell you how joyous I am. And thanks to Drs. Anne Marie Birkbeck-Garcia, Joe McQuaide, Cindy Fuji and Laurence Ashbacher and our premed intern UCSD student Ashley Teo for jumping on in. “The AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee has been established as a professional organization at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. The committee will judge and award the top 2 high school science projects that are most committed to the improvement in environmental health and most likely to lead to impactful environmental change. The GSDSEF is scheduled to take palce virtually on 3/15-3/18/2021.” Two high school kids will be awarded a “Green Ribbon” with a small monetary award for books, and also we decided to give each a cool concrete planter below with a native succulent. They have been ordered and on their way. These are made locally in Los Angeles by a small business, and hand poured using carbon-capture technology on site from coal and gas plants before they are released into the atmosphere. The carbon is infused with fly-ash and replaces 80% of the concrete compared to traditional methods. It’s lightweight and it’s cool, because Patty Pascual Hosking is cool as is saving the earth, science fair and empowering youth. Oh, women of color in science too since three of the judges are women pediatricians of color. Patty is too modest and I’m telling her awesome story.

And that is it. There is a Bright Vibes Feed they had reposted a quote “The Greatest Threat to Our Planet is the Belief that Someone Else Will Save It” along with the caption “We need more than a handful of environmentalists. We need 7.8 billion of them.” This is true on so many levels. We are all influencing eachother. And I know that in my small corner of the real world and virtual blogsphere, it’s not just me as a climate advocate. I have friends who are more modest (I’m the loud out there one) and they are environmentalist as well, and we’ll do this together. Hugs from Dr. Plastic Picker on this Wednesday morning. Amazing what good friends who care, and a solid night of sleep after yoga will do for my wellness.

Blueberry bush done.

February 22, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m working on several substantial climate projects. Therefore I’m up at 424AM to take advantage of the quiet and to read and think. Anyone who wanders onto this blogpost, please know that the readership is like this virtual blanket of friendship I feel as I’m typing away in the silence. This blog is really my journaling about the eco-avatar me trying to save the earth.

We are working on an article for the Journal of Applied Research in Children entitled “INFORMING POLICY FOR CHANGING OUR BUILT ENVIRONMENT TO REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS AND ALSO TO SAFEGUARD THE HEALTH OF CHILDREN IN EJ COMMUNITIES, COMMON SENSE ADVICE FROM FOUR COMMUNITY PEDIATRICIANS.” We were excited to get the article accepted, but now we have to write it. Since our tween daughter was able to almost finish her 7th grade drama project and her History Day Project on Mahatma Ghandi, I thought to myself yesterday – I certainly can try to knock out some work on this writing project. Time moves quickly and I’m the lead author, so I want to really get this moving so we enjoy this experience.


High Priestess and two insectoid supplicants. I think I was also thinking about the insect apocolypse.

December 24, 2020

by drplasticpicker

I’m looking at yesterday’s trash art piece and I’m still blown away. This is going as a set to someone but as I look at it more there are layers and layers of meaning. When I make the trash art, I have to be in the right mindset and then it just comes. I honestly don’t know or understand what I’m making until it’s done. And then I relook at it and sometimes I get scared or awed at what my subconscious does.

This is the High Priestess and her two insectoid supplicants. They are bonded together by the wooden knitting needles which is my daughter’s which was broken and I carefully salvaged. The bodies are upcycled wine corks. I didn’t realize until I was discussing the pieces with several colleagues yesterday (I had randomly texted them the pictures of the pieces while we were discussing our institution’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout) is that I was really intriqued by each person’s eyes. Each eye is different and none of them are normal. The High Prietess has tunnel vision and is looking inward and her one eye socket is deep. The one eyed insectoid has an innocent wide eyed mouth, but sharp ends to protect the High Priestess. It also has a purple felt half heart and purple is the color of valor. Half a heart, is what we should bring to work. Then there is the insectoid supplicant with the disconjugate gaze. I now understand that this one is me. Looking looking everywhere. Scanning. Scanning with a visual field different than humans. Blunt arms ready to protect and defend the insect colony.


Future AAP Climate Change and Health Intern? My friend Ryan again.

September 12, 2020

by drplasticpicker

Our internship program is closed! We have four AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health Interns. I have to provide them with mentorship and guidance, and I can’t do it well if I have too many. So our internship program (which I just made up!) is closed. More candidates keep on coming out of the woodwork, but I tell them next year or the year after next we may have an opening. When one gets a job or gets into medical school, than a spot will open up. Sometimes when I wake in the morning, I’m not sure what to blog about. I half started two blog posts but deleted them. They were on environmental projects that are completed now, so really no need to write about them. So much of this blog is helping me figure out what to do next with the climate.


I wanted to blog about my “new to me” sewing machine.

August 25, 2020

by drplasticpicker

I really wanted to blog about my “new to me” sewing machine. My sister handed it down to me last Christmas. We had a magical family vacation up in Park City, Utah where we were able to be together for a long time. Especially now that our home state and Utah are being scorched by wildfires and I haven’t seen my sister since Christmas, it was a magical snowy memory https://drplasticpicker.com/how-did-our-greener-christmas-go-10-ways-we-changed/. We snow-shoed through Utah’s Aspen forest, and I learned how Aspen forest are one living organism connected through their roots. The forest talked to me that day.