Dear Friend of Greater Boston PSR,
As the summer draws to a close, I thought I would offer a shout-out for two of our big upcoming events (save the dates: September 25th and October 4th!) and give a brief summary of our ongoing advocacy on Greater Boston PSR’s two signal issues, the climate crisis and nuclear weapons.
Please don’t forget to sign up for our virtual fall event on September 25th at 7:00pm, honoring the legacy of Dr. Bernard Lown, co-founder of Greater Boston PSR, and featuring Yo-Yo Ma and a Longwood Symphony Orchestra quartet. The event is free but the donation of any amount is gratefully accepted. This is GBPSR’s main fundraiser of the year and allows us to carry out our important work.
Please also put October 4th at noon on your calendar: GBPSR and the Massachusetts Medical Society will be co-sponsoring a one hour forum, Nuclear Weapons: a Public Health Issue, moderated by Dr. Jennifer Leaning from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and featuring speakers from across the country. CME and risk management credit are available for that activity. Stay tuned for more details and the registration link.
GBPSR will also have a table at the Green Expo in Newton on October 17th. Please stop by to say hello!
IMPORTANT ADVOCACY UPDATES
Climate: The dire public health impacts of the climate crisis unfold daily, with each climatic disaster outdoing the one before.
The good news is that robust public health policies — for instance, something as simple as enforcing our current laws, like the Clean Air Act — could substantially improve the situation. The bad news is that many in the world are moving in the diametrically opposite direction. We remain stuck at the part of the Ken Burns movie about the Dust Bowl…. where we keep doing the same misguided things, over and over: investing vast sums in fossil fuels and nuclear weapons development rather than clean energy and public health.
In case you missed these events: Andee Krasner, GBPSR’s Program Manager for Climate and Health, gave an outstanding recap of outcomes from GBPSR’s Energy Foundation grant at our last monthly meeting. She discussed our support of environmental justice communities, education of the medical community about the health benefits of electric power vs. fossil fuels, and a pilot program of geomicrodistricts.
I also recommend Dr. Philip Landrigan’s recent MGH Grand Rounds on pollution, climate change and health. The same issue, from an environmental justice perspective and told through a storyteller’s lens, is powerfully presented in: “A Climate Conversation: Scientists and Storytellers.” Winona LaDuke of Minnesota starts off with a clear and compelling look at the health and environmental hazards posed by Line 3 (2:58 min). The webinar also features inspiring stories from Kanaan Thiruvengadam, about the founding of Eastie Farm here in Boston (53:12 min); a short story by Mexican fablist Valentina Ortiz (17:35 min), about the destruction wreaked on forests by avocado farming in Mexico — told, of course, from the point of view of a bird; and your GBPSR Chair shares some data — and stories — about the climate crisis and environmental justice (30:36 min).
GBPSR’s climate advocacy centers around local issues related to fossil-fuel driven climate change and especially air pollution. In the past months, we have advocated on the following issues:
1/ with PSR's Dr. Laalitha Surapaneni's national leadership and Dr. Regina LaRocque spearheading the local effort, we have delivered a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers about the unnecessary expansion of Line 3 in Minnesota that will hurt human health and exacerbate the climate crisis;
2/ offered testimony in favor of protecting the health of the citizens of the Commonwealth by calling out the unwise efforts of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to weaken air quality standards and disband a biomass oversight committee; drew attention to the inequitable health effects of constructing a biomass incinerator in Springfield next to an environmental justice community;
3/ and highlighted the devastating health effects of a planned massive expansion of a natural gas power plant in Peabody, MA, involving the addition of a compressor station and peaker plant that will expose the abutting environmental justice neighborhoods to ever more air pollution. Meanwhile, the Weymouth compressor continues to pose climate, explosion and health dangers on the shores of Quincy Bay. GBPSR continues to call for the shutdown of this dangerous facility and a legislative review of its manifold climate, health and safety risks.
Nuclear: Daniel Ellsberg discussed the very concerning US saber-rattling towards China in this webinar that GBPSR co-sponsored. If you missed it, you can view the public airing of The War Game; a remarkable film depicting a hypothetical nuclear attack on the south east of England, it was made for the BBC in 1965, but was never broadcast since it was deemed too terrifying. The public health threat of nuclear weapons, from development to testing to deployment, is as real now as it was then. Our advocacy around our Back from the Brink initiative is ongoing and in the last months, we have successfully earned the sign-on of five Boston City Council members including Michelle Wu, Ricardo Arroyo, Kenzie Bok, Liz Breadon and Andrea Campbell, to back the campaign.
Drs. Brita Lundberg and Kea van der Ziel represent GBPSR at the LSO concert on the Esplanade, August 18, 2021
Please Join Us!
We welcome all GBPSR members to join our monthly meetings. We generally start with a 10-minute presentation on a current issue in the climate, nuclear or public health realm. Please join our efforts and lend your skills and interests to our work. If you would like to volunteer your time, click here; if you prefer, you can donate online or by check here. We have big ideas and big goals — but we need your help. With your donation, we can continue to tackle these critical issues.
Yours in the common pursuit,
Brita E. Lundberg, M.D.
Chair of the Board
Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility
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Board Members Amy Hendrickson, Dr. Ira Helfand and
Dr. Kea van der Ziel at the Hiroshima peace vigil
in Arlington Square. August 6th.