SEPTEMBER 8, 2021
PSR Member News, Action Updates, Anti-Nuclear and California Policy Watch, and More
At a time when we are daily reminded through spreading drought and wildfires, and extreme weather events, that our climate crisis is here and now, we simply cannot afford to continue to squander our resources for another era of militarism that only benefits the global “military-industrial” complex while accelerating our ecological demise. We must forthrightly bring into our conversations the links between militarism and climate change.
The sudden collapse of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which since 9/11 has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands at the cost of over $2 trillion, hopefully would provoke a serious re-examination of how we have been encouraged by our leaders to view the use of our military, and the massive budgets that sustain it, as the best way to achieve national and global security.
Instead, while belatedly, and very superficially acknowledging the strategic folly of our 20-yearslong deadly and destructive “War on Terror,” our government is moving quickly to mobilize us to support an aggressive “New Cold War” of heightened confrontation against China and Russia. This has been aided by an overwhelming bipartisan consensus among Congressional leaders to expand our bloated military budget, which would fund advanced conventional weapons systems such as greatly destabilizing hypersonic missiles capable of either nuclear or conventional payloads. This is coupled with plans for across-the-board modernization of our nuclear arsenal projected to provide the continued basis of U.S. “escalation dominance” over all other militaries, the use of which could end all human civilization in an instant.
Our enormous military budget has been justified by our political leaders on the rationale that in a world of nation-states in geopolitical contention over resources ranging from fossil fuels to rare minerals, there are no other rational choices but to maximize force projection for such control, and to deter opponents from attacking us in the process. This militarist drive that has fueled our endless and destructive wars in the Middle East now threatens to extend great-power military confrontation into the rapidly thawing Arctic. This is a last-ditch drive to control the new sources of oil and gas now “miraculously” made available, that if drilled and used, would completely use up our remaining “carbon budget” that we must adhere to in order to limit runaway temperatures that would quickly make our Earth uninhabitable.
We who are working for climate restoration and justice cannot ignore the fact that continuing our massive expenditures on the military, beyond preparing for the wars that directly destroy far-flung landscapes and create millions of refugees, greatly contributes to vast environmental pollution, with the U.S. military being one of the greatest polluters of our planet. For example, it is estimated that the U.S. military since 2001 has emitted 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to the annual emissions of 257 million cars on the road.
As well, while continually primed to guarantee our unfettered access to oil supplies in the Mideast and other regions, our Department of Defense is the largest institutional consumer of oil in the world, spending an estimated $17 billion a year. If the Pentagon were listed alongside other countries, just counting its fuel usage in isolation would rank it as the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, as it ramps up demand for continued sources and production, and resultant climate degradation.
The fiscal cost of the two decades of war on terror, estimated at $6.4 trillion, is far in excess of the estimated $4.5 trillion cost of changing the U.S. power grid to 100% renewable energy over the coming decade. And according to a 2019 study published by the Institute for Policy Studies, about $80 billion, or 11% of the military budget at the time was sufficient to create enough solar and wind energy to provide power to every household in our nation, more than 127 million.
So, we have plenty of resources that can be potentially diverted from U.S. and global military budgets to generously fund the needed transformations envisioned by a Green New Deal, both here and abroad. To begin to make any ground on this enormous challenge, we need to begin to break down the organizational and issue silos that have impeded development of a truly intersectional movement embracing our environmental, social justice, and peace movements as integral parts of developing the capacity for saving our immanently and increasingly threatened web of life.
This should be something we can unite around. Two decades ago in San Francisco, for example, there was a major “Environmentalists Against War” presence in demonstrations that drew millions around the world, and we need to develop and build that consciousness into our current work. It is not much of a leap to connect the ideas and movements that have advocated for “defunding” police programs toward providing more “protection” in terms of what is needed for truly safe and healthy communities, free of police racism and violence, to global anti-militarism movements that share a “defunding” perspective re: “swords into ploughshares” redirection of resources to serve our common human needs.
Much of that type of thinking has been incorporated within the “Third Reconstruction Resolution” introduced into Congress by Representatives Jayapal and Lee, in partnership with the Poor People’s Campaign, which provides a context to anchor our peace and environmental work organically with daily struggles of tens of millions of Americans against hunger, poverty, and racism that have been deepened so tragically by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the type of education and organizing we need to take on if we are to fundamentally change the direction of our country, still the richest and most powerful in the world, to start rapidly demilitarizing our foreign policy at all levels, and hopefully encourage other great powers, particularly China, Russia, NATO nations, and the rest of the Nuclear Weapons States to follow our example.
Severely cutting our military budget, cancelling our plans to modernize our nuclear weapons, and calling for support for the U.N. Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) would be a good start for beginning to develop the global collaboration needed to cool global tensions and thus the planet. Only by partnering with the rest of the world in moving rapidly toward ending the arms race, can we develop the global political will and capacity to take on our climate challenge and regenerate a world we would seek to bequeath to all who might follow us.
In solidarity and peace,
Dr. Robert Gould, SF Bay PSR Board President
Institute for Policy Studies: State of Insecurity: The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11
United Nations: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report
ICAN REPORT: Complicit: 2020 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending
Please find more info about our Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee efforts below.
PSR MEMBER NEWS
SF Bay PSR Board Member Dr. Sarah Coates is featured in and on the cover of The Dermatologist. Read the article, “Climate Change: A Very Real Threat and What Dermatology Can Do.”
SF Bay PSR Board Member Dr. Tom Newman dedicated his book, Evidence-Based Diagnosis: An Introduction to Clinical Epidemiology, (co-authored by Michael A. Kohn), to his parents, Ed and Carol Newman, in whose honor he is donating his royalties to Physicians for Social Responsibility, in support of its efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
SF Bay PSR Member Dr. Tom Bushpublished a report, “Potential adverse health consequences of climate change related to rheumatic diseases,” in the Journal of Climate Change and Health.
WATCH this video with SF Bay Board Members Drs. Aude Bouagnon and Jeff Ritterman. Over 450 doctors from 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico call for democracy reforms to protect human health in the climate health emergency. By Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health and Climate Health Now.A shout out to our new and continuing interns! Thank you!
* * *
A shout out to our new and continuing interns! Thank you!
Alma Hernandez coordinates our building electrification community outreach project.
Jasmine Campos supports our Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee including tracking our anti-nuclear policy work, and she helps with social media, and events.
Daisy Valdivieso continues to support the Environmental Health Committee and to diligently track our CA environmental policy work.
Alma Hernandez: I graduated from Berkeley in 2020 and now I am working as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Medical Culture Labs at UCSF’s IHPS, working on dementia related projects and other Social Science studies. I grew up in Santa Ana, CA, in Orange County. I have always been interested in medicine but during college I discovered many different interests including public health, social science, and environmental studies. I also liked volunteering in the community and was able to learn about research by being involved in the Madsen group and doing a research project on Redwood Trees. I hope to go into medicine, public health, or obtain an MD-PhD. I hope to explore some of my interests such as environmental health and other related fields through this internship opportunity with SF Bay PSR.
Jasmine Campos: I was born and raised in Southern California. I am a rising fourth-year at UC Berkeley studying Public Health and Integrative Biology with an emphasis on Human Biology. I am pursuing a career as a pediatrician because of my passion for helping others and love for working with children. My commitment to helping others is demonstrated through my work as a Chemistry tutor at the Student Learning Center, working as a Health Advocate at San Francisco General Hospital, and volunteering as a swab coach for COVID-19 testing with University Health Services. In addition to being a pediatrician, I plan on working with community organizations to advocate for underrepresented communities, especially those affected by environmental racism like my hometown. I am interested in working with PSR because of their commitment to social justice and the environment. As an aspiring physician, it’s important to be knowledgeable about these issues since they have a large impact on health. I appreciate how the organization really centers communities affected and gives them the support to advocate for themselves.
Action Alert Updates
Help us bring the health professional/advocate lens directly to policymakers and regulators. To join actions, look out for our monthly ACTION ALERT emails, or VISIT our ACTION ALERT page here.
Victory! Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) passed Rule 6-5, July 21, 2021
In case you missed this big news over the summer, the new rule is a huge environmental justice win! It will further reduce air pollution, particulate matter emissions, from East Bay petroleum refineries. It is now the most health-protective and stringent regulation of its kind in the country. A million mostly people of color who live near the East Bay refineries have for years disproportionately suffered from respiratory, circulatory and heart disorders, cancer, asthma, and early death. Communities for a Better Environment, Sunflower Alliance, 350 Bay Area and more that have been leading this struggle for many years. Bravo to Dr. Amanda Millstein of Climate Health Now for organizing, and to SF Bay PSR Board Members Drs. Janice Kirsch, Tom Newman, Jeff Ritterman, Marjaneh Moini, and Bob Gould, and to all other SF Bay PSR members who pitched in!
Reuters: Northern California requires oil refineries to slash pollution
Stop Line 3: Health Professionals and allies in the San Francisco Bay Area Joined the National Day of Action on Calling on President Biden to Stop Construction of Line 3 Fossil-Fuel Pipeline
On August 17, 2021, health professionals and allies in San Francisco came together peacefully in front of the San Francisco Army Corp of Engineers San Francisco headquarters to stand in solidarity with Indigenous and other directly-impacted communities and health professional allies in Minnesota as part of the National Day of Action against the Line 3 Pipeline. SF Bay PSR Board Member Dr. Aude Bouagnon read a letter signed by almost 200 health professionals calling on President Biden to revoke the permits and #StopLine3. Our request to the President was sent via the Army Corp because they have the authority to revoke the construction permit they issued and save the wetlands that Line 3 would cross. As noted by cardiologist SF Bay PSR Board Member Dr. Jeff Ritterman, “The rivers that run through Minnesota are like the arteries that run through our bodies. Polluting the rivers with tar sand is an inevitable consequence of the Line 3 construction. This is like giving Mother Earth heart attacks and strokes while it is also set on fire.”
READ THE LETTER here signed by San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility, Do No Harm Coalition, Climate Health Now, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Medical Students for a Sustainable future, and many individuals.
Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate report: Health Risks of the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project
Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate factsheet: Health Impacts of Line 3
VISIT STOP LINE 3 WEBSITE for updates and lots of info.
Dr. Aude Bouagnon speaks in front of the CalEPA. Photo courtesy of Jin Zhu. Thank you.
Protest to demand California EPA and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) take immediate action to protect environmental justice communities
On August 30, 2021, SF Bay PSR Board Members Drs. Aude Bouagnon and Marjaneh Moini joined environmental justice groups from up and down California to converged on the CalEPA building in downtown Sacramento and speak out against the refusal by CalEPA and DTSC to follow science and protect the health of vulnerable communities.
Years of neglect, bad management, and denial have left California’s children, their families, and the environment poisoned by radioactive and toxic waste sites, including SF Bayview Hunters Point. Industrial and military facilities contaminated with hazardous and radioactive wastes are disproportionately located in low-income, working-class, and communities of color. Residents and the environment are at risk due to inadequate cleanup and remediation of these sites.
We demand that CalEPA and DTSC take urgent action to address these injustices and health harms. We demand that CalEPA focus on protecting air quality in Oakland, Richmond, and all over California and quickly ending our reliance on fossil fuels. Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies and other false climate solutions should not be used to extend the life of fossil fuel operations that threaten our planet.
San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility stands in solidarity with, and offers our strongest support for the demands of the communities across the state whose health has been harmed by the twin evils of racism and environmental injustice. Their demands are health and science based.
“CalEPA and DTSC are in bed with the polluters, lobbyists and corporate developers and are neglecting environmental justice communities, while our children are sick and dying.”
The Unified Demands from the Organizations Protesting CalEPA and DTSC
Environmental Justice Protest: About the Organizations Protesting CalEPA and DTSC
LA Times: Valley activists, residents head to Sacramento to demand cleanup of contaminated Santa Susana Field Lab
* * *
A shout out to Youth vs Apocalypse Action for their climate strike on August 27 to defund Line 3 and demand CalSTRS to divest from Enbridge and all fossil fuels.
Building Electrification Project
This year, SF Bay PSR is focusing on advancing electrification work with support from National PSR and the Energy Foundation. The goal of this project is to support building electrification and promote the transition from fossil-fuels in a just and equitable manner that centers the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Our new intern, Alma Hernandez, is creating an informational presentation and building relationships with community organizations with whom we hope to partner. Throughout the next year we will continue to build partnerships with other NGOs, submit public comments, and testify to policy makers and the the California Energy Commission to bring about local ordinances, including recent efforts to mandate electric infrastructure to replace gas in new residential construction. Please keep your eyes out for our upcoming presentation and read more at our Electrification webpage.
Environmental Health Committee Updates
NEXT meeting, Wednesday, October 20, 7:00 pm, on Zoom
To join the committee email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members work energetically on a wide-range of collaborative efforts, engaging health professional students and institutions to address the unceasing threats of our climate to our health.
Health Professional Education / Curriculum Development: EHC members are continuing to participate in the expansion of climate-and-health education at UCSF and Stanford, including organizing and teaching cross-disciplinary research inquiry courses on climate change and health; organizing student-led electives on climate change, and more; presenting dozens of lectures and talks on environmental and climate health issues in almost every medical specialty; and serving as journal editors and publishing on the impacts of climate change on health.
The Climate Psychiatry Alliance has been working to develop a mental health curriculum for residency training that includes the psychological impacts of climate change, and they are hosting a course for teen climate activists to help them build resilience.
UCSF and Stanford medical students are diligently looking through medical school lectures to see where they can incorporate climate health education and they are hosting the NorCal Symposium for Climate, Health and Equity on September 24.
If any students are interested in connecting with faculty or PSR members about environmental health projects, our members are dedicated to helping bridge those connections.
Climate Crisis / Health Impacts / Environmental Justice: Working at the intersection of the climate crisis, harmful health effects of air pollution, and the disproportionate impacts on low-income communities, EHC members continue to advocate for improved Bay Area air quality regulations, support Bayview Hunters Point Community Advocates efforts to push the CalEPA and DTSC to force the clean up the toxic waste in their community, and system-wide electrification programs which would reduce use of fossil fuels and promote renewable alternatives, with concomitant improvements in air-quality. Please see the Action Updates section for our recent efforts.
Sustainable Healthcare Systems/Health Professional Society Collaborations: EHC members are working with health-care systems and within their professional societies to become more proactive in dealing with our climate crisis that is simultaneously framing and impacting our COVID-19 pandemic, and its disproportionate toll on communities made vulnerable by structural racism and poverty. For example, long work within the California Medical Association (CMA) has recently culminated in CMA’s adoption of a new, updated policy resolution addressing our climate emergency, which includes supporting hospital system-based sustainability work of the sort carried out by UCSF and Kaiser’s environmental stewardship programs. Members will explore other openings facilitated by this new policy such as working with CMA to support medical and other health professional schools adopting curriculum focusing-on, and weaving-in climate health components germane to providing optimal care to our patients and communities. PSR’s own Dr. Barbara Erny gave talks on sustainability at the annual meeting for the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and shared that ophthalmologists are mobilizing to reduce Operating Room waste.
Divestment in Fossil Fuels / Investment in a Green Economy Task Force
Next meeting on Monday, October 25, 2021, 6:00pm, on Zoom
Meeting ID: 864 2653 3538, Passcode: 410416
The task force advocates for individual, health-care institutional, health professional society, and public retirement fund divestment from fossil-fuels. Members are actively working on targeting divestment of the personal retirement funds in UCSF and other UC systems from fossil fuels and connected industries, collaborating on the work of Fossil Free California’s CalPERS/CalSTRS divestment campaigns. Also, members are compiling extensive resources useful for individual and institutional action, including a sample divestment policy proposal and developing a Public Funds Legislative Proposal. Members also helped to organize a webinar focused on learning how we can decarbonize finance globally and in California, beyond the investment and divestment work we do. Featured speakers included Sandy Emerson, Board President of Fossil Free California, and Paddy McCully, the Energy Transition Senior Analyst for Reclaim Finance. You can watch the recording here and visit our Divest/Invest webpage here.
Thank you to our amazing EH Committee intern Daisy Valdivieso for her help writing this summary and for all her support of the EHC.
Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee Updates
NEXT meeting on Thursday, September 9, 7:00 pm, on Zoom.
To join the committee email email@example.com.
SF Bay PSR is working closely with the PSR National office on efforts in three main areas related to nuclear weapons abolition goals envisioned in our Back from the Brink (BftB) campaign. First, we are supporting legislation that would divert wasteful military spending, particularly on nuclear modernization efforts, to address graver threats to our country illustrated by our COVID pandemic. We are supporting national legislation advocating for limits on sole Presidential authority to launch a nuclear attack, and for our government to declare a policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. Finally, we are encouraging the Biden Administration’s return to diplomacy after the destructive “America First” policies of the Trump Administration.
Recent efforts by SF Bay PSR and PSR National
PSR Signed Letter to House of Representative and Senate Regarding Opposition of Nuclear Power Subsides
Legislation for the reconciliation package (S.2291/H.R.4024) and the bipartisan infrastructure bill would grant up to $50 billion to prop up old, uneconomical nuclear reactors for the next decade. Electricity generated by these reactors will need to be replaced by renewable energy in the coming years so spending money to prolong their operation has an opportunity cost of dollars, jobs, and environmental pollution. Bailing out nuclear power plants misdirects resources while perpetuating climate injustice.
Nuclear Information and Resource Service: Crunching the Numbers: How Much Would a National Nuclear Bailout Cost?
PSR Signs Endorsement for Jayapal Nuclear Letter
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) wrote a letter to President Biden urging him to use the forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review to set a nuclear strategy that aims to limit the role of nuclear weapons in our national security, reduce unnecessary spending, and set the stage for progress toward a recent agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin to pursue additional arms control and risk reduction measures.
Investing in Cures Before Missiles Act (ICBM) (Senate: S.982. House: H.R.2227)
Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Ed Markey are working together to introduce this new ICBM Act, which aligns with our Back from the Brink campaign’s call to “cancel enhanced nuclear weapons.” The legislation would essentially redirect funds from destabilizing new weapons systems (such as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent [GBSD] replacement for aging Minuteman III ICBMs and new W87-1 warhead) toward conducting research for the development of a universal coronavirus vaccine, and methods to combat emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases that pose the potential for future pandemics.
UPDATE: As of 3/25/2021 the ICBM Act has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.
Alongside Ro Khanna, CA Representatives Barbara Lee and Jared Huffman are co-sponsors. If one of them is your representative, please thank them. Otherwise, please call and/or write your member of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor the bill. Additional co-sponsors of H.R.2227 to date are Reps. James McGovern, Mark Pocan, Pramila Jayapal, Earl Blumenauer, Steve Cohen, Raul Grijalva, Jesus Garcia, Sheila Jackson Lee, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton
One-page ICBM Act factsheet from Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Ed Markey. Thank you Tri-Valley Cares!
Text of the ICBM Act. The text is the same for S.982 and H.R.2227.
Airforce Magazine, May 17, 2021: Garamendi: Pause GBSD As Other Nuclear Modernization Efforts Proceed
Thank you to our amazing NWA committee intern, Jasmine Campos, for her research and editorial assistance with this policy section of this newsletter.
EVENTS page here, buy tickets for our Gala on Sept 22, and so much more!