MARCH 8, 2022
NEWS, STAFF & INTERN UPDATES, EVENTS & MORE
Once again, the new year is off to a tumultuous start. As our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, we painfully watch our world in crisis on multiple fronts: Russia invaded Ukraine and threatened to use nuclear weapons; the United Nations’ recent climate report urgently warns that we cannot wait to protect vulnerable communities and cut green-house gas emissions; and almost a million people in the US alone have died of COVID-19, and the threat of new variants will not end until we protect the rest of the world with equitable access to vaccines.
Though this moment may feel overwhelming—together we can make a difference and have hope. The hope lies partly in the interconnectedness of these public health emergencies and the core areas of anti-nuclear, environmental, and equity and justice work. Advancing one area helps to advance all the others.
For example, our reliance on fossil fuels contributes not only to the climate disaster but also to our global insecurity. Without Russian oil, the world’s oil supplies are in greater demand which means higher prices, spotlighting how our dependency on fossil fuels creates global economic and energy insecurities, and further exemplifying our need for a just transition to renewable energy. Also, as recent events have underscored, we cannot rely on nuclear energy as a safe or reliable transition to a carbon-free future in a world of anticipated increased conflict. The vulnerabilities of Ukraine’s aged nuclear power plants now in the line of fire are clear. If one of the plants is hit by a missile, it could trigger a nuclear disaster of a different sort beyond the horrific consequence of the use of nuclear weapons now threatened by Putin. Just last week, we narrowly missed a nuclear disaster that could have been six-times that of Chernobyl when the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station was shelled and taken over by Russian forces.
The United Nations’ recent IPCC report, released on February 28, also reminds us how these issues are interconnected. While it lists the impacts climate change will have on billions of people including extreme weather events and food insecurities, it also offers approaches for managing the risks and building climate resilient pathways that include: improved access to education, health facilities, safe housing, and social support structures; reduced gender inequality and marginalization in other forms; and improved access to and control of local resources and increased decision-making power. In short, the report affirms that addressing inequity and building a just transition to a green economy is essential to mitigating the impacts of climate change.
A hopeful note in the report seems to indicate that carbon dioxide does not stay in the air for centuries as we once thought. If we reduce greenhouse gas emissions now, we will see benefits in only a few years.
More than ever, we need to address these issues collectively. And that is why SF Bay PSR has worked for more than 40 years to advance science- and health-based solutions to the interlinked public health emergencies of militarization and nuclear weapons, the pandemic, systemic racism, and the climate crisis.
Toward this end, we at SF Bay PSR humbly offer our 2022 programmatic “roadmap” — some ways we can deepen our knowledge, stay informed, and optimally engage with our community of health professionals and activists toward common policy goals.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS ABOLITION and DE-MILITARIZATION: Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine and Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons, against the background of increased global instability, have affirmed the need to strengthen our support for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons and the Back from the Brink campaign’s five planks toward nuclear abolition. Along with National PSR, we are advocating for governments to use more diplomacy to solve conflicts and for budgets to be re-aligned toward the existential threats to our national security posed by the climate crisis, while demanding equal access for all to adequate healthcare, education, economic opportunities, and social services. On the local front, we are trying to deepen our support for the community struggle to clean-up radioactive waste in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point and other neighborhoods in danger of rising tides from climate change. READ MORE about our recent NWA committee policy work.
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH COMMITTEE: This year we are laser-focused on the following goals and more in California. (You are invited to join our committees—non-health professionals are welcome! To join please email email@example.com.)
- Educating the public and health professionals about the health harms of fossil (“natural”) gas appliances, and the compounded health inequities of indoor and outdoor air pollution
- Advocating for the expeditious removal of fossil gas from buildings, both new and old
- Helping to accelerate the just transition to all electric homes and transportation
- Protecting rooftop solar, currently the fastest path to an affordable, reliable, and safe clean energy grid
- Supporting California environmental-justice groups who are fighting fossil fuel expansion projects, and working for expanded setback and other protections from oil and gas extraction
- Supporting the clean-up of radioactive waste and other toxic contaminants in Bay Area communities, especially those in danger of rising tides due to climate change, READ about recent support of community efforts.
- Exposing the pitfalls and injustice of carbon capture proposals advocated by the fossil fuel industry to provide exemption from reduction of emissions and facilitate more oil and gas extraction
- Supporting California pension fund divestment from fossil fuel industries through our DIVESTMENT TASK FORCE. Read about the California Fossil Fuel Divestment Act, SB-1173!
- READ MORE Environmental Health Committee PROJECT UPDATES.
- READ MORE about our BUILDING ELECTRIFICATION PROJECT, including the brief that Earth Justice filed, and SF Bay PSR and Climate Health Now helped write, in the 9th Circuit supporting Berkeley’s ordinance on new gas hookups and spelling out the public health dangers of gas appliances.
Together we will do our part to mobilize health professionals and the wider public, and push elected leaders and decision-makers—on Zoom, in the streets, in the legislature, at city, county, and regulatory agencies meetings, in the courtroom.
EVENTS: Our 2022 Events series will focus primarily on deepening our understanding of the connections between militarism, climate change, systemic racism, and health inequities. On March 30, we will host a California Legislature Review to learn more about how to advocate for the state policy changes we need, REGISTER HERE. On April 27, join us for an expert panel on the health harms of gas appliances and the promise and challenges of electrifying buildings.
RACIAL EQUITY READING GROUP: Our Racial Equity Reading Group has expanded efforts to educate our members and the public, incorporate the lens of racial justice throughout SF Bay PSR’s work. Join our reading group to expand your understanding of the intersectionality of health, systemic racism, and environmental injustice. Non-health professionals are welcome! To join please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDUCATION & YOUNG HEALTH PROFESSIONAL PROJECTS: SF Bay PSR members have a longstanding dedication to medical school and public education, and supporting young health professionals’ incorporation of health activism into their careers. We have expanded our student mentoring and support, and will again give three awards to young health professionals for their contributions to health advocacy. If you are a student or member of a student organization interested in activist mentoring and/or helping to build our student PSR chapter, please contact email@example.com.
Stay IN-THE-KNOW via SOCIAL MEDIA: In addition to our weekly emails, you can stay informed by following us on Twitter and Instagram. We provide alerts about events, newsletters, policy actions, and breaking news.
NEWSLETTER and ACTION ALERTS: Our seasonal newsletter connects our policy advocacy projects with breaking news and initiatives, offers project updates, educational events, readings, resources and related opportunities for engaging your activism. Our Action Alerts make it easy for you to advocate on local, state, and federal levels. Please send this page to a friend or colleague who cares as much as you about our core public and environmental health issues and encourage them to SUBSCRIBE HERE, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, if they’d like to be involved in our work.
We hope you will reach out and join our activist network. Together we can make a difference!
The Guardian: UN Climate Report 2022: Impacts, Adaption, and Vulnerability
LA Times: Ukraine is a climate story. Because everything is a climate story
Campaign for Peace, Disarmament, & Common Security: Historical Background and Common Security Approaches to Resolve the Ukraine-European Crisis