JAN-MARCH 2022 UPDATES: Environmental Health Committee

SF Bay PSR EHC Members continue to work energetically on wide-ranging collaborative efforts to engage health professional students and institutions to address the unceasing threats of our climate to our health.

Recent highlights include:

Health Professional Education / Curriculum Development

EHC members are continuing to participate in the expansion of climate-and-health education at UCSF, Stanford, and Hayward State University, 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.

For example, the Climate Psychiatry Alliance released a successful infographic on climate change, extreme heat, and mental health for patients. It was translated into Chinese and the alliance is working to figure out the best mechanisms for dissemination to different age groups and demographics.

EHC Committee Co-Chair, Dr. Marjaneh Moini, has co-authored a petition with the Sierra Club Climate literacy team asking for funding from the state to be dedicated to legislation for climate literacy in K-12 schools.

Climate Crisis / Health Impacts / Environmental Justice

SF Bay PSR works at the intersection of the climate crisis, health, and equity, and continues to support community-driven environmental justice movements and projects.

SF Bay PSR’s Building Electrification Project advocates for system-wide electrification which would reduce the use of fossil fuels and promote renewable alternatives to produce electricity, with concomitant improvements in air-quality and health. Lower income communities are disproportionally affected by compounded poor air quality indoors and outdoors, and related negative health harms. READ MORE.

SF Bay PSR supported the VISION Coalition’s health professional comment letter to support 3,200-foot setbacks for new oil and gas operations permits to CalGEM.
SF Bay PSR also collaborated with UCSF Center for Climate, Health and Equity and UCLA in organizing a virtual meeting to educate health professionals about harmful effects of oil and gas drilling in neighborhoods. In addition, SF Bay PSR members are working diligently to prevent the approval of new oil and gas drilling permits, like supporting the Sunflower Alliance lawsuit in Contra Costa County for its approval of a new permit.

SF Bay PSR, with the guidance of Board Member Aude Bouagnon, PhD, continues to support the Bayview Hunter’s Point community-led efforts to demand the complete clean-up of toxic and radioactive waste from the Naval Shipyard and surrounding areas. READ MORE.

Divestment in Fossil Fuels / Investment in a Green Economy Task Force

SF Bay PSR’s new task force is advocating 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.

SF Bay PSR is a founding member of the NGO coalition that has been working for more than a year to bring a bill to divest public pension funds from fossil fuels to fruition. Together SF Bay PSR and Fossil Free CA, Youth vs Apocalypse, CA Faculty Association, and more to support SB-1173, introduced by Senator Gonzalez and Senator Wiener. The Act would require CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest from fossil fuels in the next five years. Teachers and state employees agree: our retirement savings shouldn’t be used to capitalize the fossil fuel industry. READ MORE on our Action Alert page.

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 pandemic, and its disproportionate toll on communities made vulnerable by structural racism and poverty.

After a year of advocacy by SF Bay PSR Member Dr. Tom Bush at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), the first lecture and study group on climate change was held at the ACR national conference. A petition is now going back to the ACR that has been circulating over this exciting development. Dr. Bush will also be interviewed by a podcast on Lancet Rheumatology regarding his article last year on climate change in rheumatic diseases, and the Santa Clara County health and hospital system is also adding an ad hoc committee on climate and health.