When talking about climate change, I often ponder how to reach out to more audiences, how to cross barriers, how to carry the compelling message that the climate emergency deserves.
I wonder if I am making a difference, if my words will impact someone the same way I was impacted sixteen years ago when I discovered this subject. I used to say that at long as one person listens and my words transmit some of this energy, I will be satisfied. But the human in me wants more. And many times, I am left wondering if I accomplished my goal, or what else I can do or could have done to ignite a spark in someone from my audience. But in spite of this uncertainty, I keep moving forward.
A few months ago, I presented a lecture about the impact of climate change on children’s health, during the Texas’ Pediatric Society virtual annual meeting. I have to admit that a small wave of disappointment hit me when I noticed that my talk was on a less-than-desirable timeslot: Sunday, the last day of the conference, at noon. I did my best, got some good questions and made a couple of connections. A few weeks later, my administrative assistant informed me that there was a lady from Dallas who had been trying to get in touch with me since I gave my lecture. Her husband, a pediatrician who attended the conference, heard my talk had been moved to do more. He saw the importance of sharing this information with their community, and wanted to incorporate climate change in their upcoming South West Jewish Congress. There was enough interest from the Congress the scope of the climate conversation there was broadened to include climate change, energy and children’s health. This couple has renewed my determination and assuaged my doubts about whether I was making an impact.
Moving forward, I have many ongoing projects but will continue to “talk climate,” one person at a time. I hope you will, too. One never knows what can happen.
Susan E. Pacheco, M.D., is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas McGovern School of Medicine. She is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health and was on the Planning Committee for the National Children’s Health & Climate Leadership Forum.