With Covid-19 and climate change, there is no doubt everyone is experiencing some anxiety about safety. Although some people like to deny climate change, Mother Earth has been warning us. Many parts of the world are experiencing unusual phenomena, and we “feel” this change with our skin, and our bodies are warning us actively.
Some of us may feel we have no control over this global change. Some of us feel, however, that we can all do something to stop climate change. How many times did you struggle when making everyday choices? For conservationists and the likes, I bet it is quite difficult. The food we eat, the coffee we buy, the containers restaurants use, and even basic hygiene like taking a shower, we struggle every day to make conscious choices not to hurt our planet further. This is the baseline mentality of today for many conscious people.
It only makes sense for healthcare organizations to be at the forefront of the conservation effort for what the organizations exist for — well-being. However, our overall system does not have the efficiency to make the healthcare system environmentally friendly. The study done by the Australian Research Council and published in 2020 shows how the global supply chain feeds and cycles back into the environmental damage, counteracting what we promote in healthcare. The same study also shows the United States produces more carbon print than any other country.
Just like Covid-19, because climate change and global warming affect how we feel, people will start making conscious choices if they are not already doing so. More people will want to pay more to buy more eco-friendly products, as shown in this PBS poll. People will start banning, abandoning, and protesting businesses that are not conscious of the global climate change we experience collectively. Healthcare organizations will not be exempt from this tendency. People will want to know how much waste is generated and how wasteful organizations utilize resources.
This is not a simple problem that can be solved by healthcare organizations only, as we all know. In the example of recycling, the local ordinance matters as to whether the facilities can recycle or not. The infrastructure needed to recycle can be quite complicated. The entire cycle of a “thing” from the hands of the patients or from nurses to the recycling facility, there are so many barriers unless we think of the trail entirely. And this is only a small portion of the entire issue.
Greta Thunberg’s United Nations speech nailed it down to the core. Young people are creative in their activism demands by using music and arts. What are we doing to our children by not listening to their concerns and rights? What are we showing to future generations?
All healthcare organizations need to be at the forefront of the advocacy for supporting the effort to show they are aligned with their purpose of existence in the first place: caring for patients’ health. Healthcare leaders must restructure and advocate for change together with policymakers and stakeholders rather than waiting to be urged for change.
What you can do where you are:
- Children learn about global warming and conscious choices they can make at school that adults may not necessarily actively have learned. Listen to their concerns, hopes, and dreams. Honor and encourage their wishes if they get motivated to do something for the earth or fundraise for causes, rather than dismissing their voices.
- Find your tribe by joining groups and learning together. Join Pachamama Alliance’s 8-week intensive course, found here, for example. Use the resources in the courses to share data and stories of people making a difference. One of the books mentioned in the course was All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis. Join a chapter of Climate Change Project near you. Start a chapter if you don’t see one!
- If you are a healthcare organizational leader, consider pledging by October 28th, 2022, to be recognized at United Nations Climate Conference in November 2022. The complete list is available here, which includes Stanford Health Care, Keck Medicine of USC, and many more.
What is the point of anything we do if Mother Earth cannot support our existence? Healthcare organizations must care for all patients’ well-being. It is supposedly their purpose.