My Story of More
A couple of our faculty have long been climate advocates and now are thinking about how we teach residents and faculty about the consequences of rising temperatures, extreme weather (flooding, wildfires), air quality, and vector-borne diseases on their patients. So I thought I’d better read about it to get some grasp of this rapidly evolving topic. I do believe in science and that climate change is happening, so I wasn’t looking to be persuaded – just to understand. In talking with colleagues, the consensus recommendation was Hope Jahren’s The Story of More.
Jahren grew up in Minnesota with an undergraduate degree in geology followed by a PhD in soil science. Then, as a junior faculty, Jahren was ‘vol-and-told’ to teach about climate change. This book is about her journey in learning, teaching, and advocating for change specific to climate. It is framed as our shared history of global changes and their impact on climate as told with simple explanations and personal stories punctuated with data.
BEWARE! Our changing climate is not a pretty story; particularly for the role that we in the U.S. and health care have played. Dang! Now when I have a nice steak or ham – I can’t help but think about how that contributes to global warming. When I turn anything “on” (eg, cars, house lights, cell phones), I try to consider renewal energies. I now grasp why we need to be Zero Carbon, why I should not use plastic (sorry Ziploc and GLAD) and try to recycle/reuse/share even more. It is why I cheered a resident who recently told us about his purchase of three beautiful sport coats at Goodwill for $20.00!
SOLUTIONS. There are simple and complex solutions. As individuals we can all take action in our own lives (yes, I’m eating less meat, trying to minimize plastic use). Yet as a culture Jahren convinced me that as Americans, we need to stop thinking we need “more”. There is plenty of food and resources on this planet for everyone – unless we all continue to believe that more is better.
RECOMMENDATION: Do read this book – realizing the stats are even worse than when it was written in 2020. Ponder what you can do as an individual, a teacher, and a member of a health care system. While it won’t cheer you up – it’s perfect to think about for a New Year’s resolution or perhaps a National Initiative IX project!
Brief Bio: Deborah “Deb” Simpson is a former AIAMC Board member, current member of the Programming Committee and honored to be a recipient of the AIAMC Innovation Award and humbled to receive the Ethel Weinberg award. Prior to joining Aurora Health Care (now a part of Advocate Health) as a Director of Education within Academic Affairs, Deb was one of the associate education deans at the Medical College of Wisconsin. In both positions, her task was to work with faculty to optimize the design, delivery, assessment, and evaluation of medical education. And have some fun. Beyond work, Deb is an enthusiastic sports participant and observer aided by a strong network of family, friends, and dogs across the U.S.
Climatenexus. How climate change affects your health. APHA Infographic. Accessed December 12, 2022.