“Planetary health is integral to every person’s health and well-being,” says Dr. Erin Budd, a family physician who also works in addictions medicine at Fraser Health. “So it’s hard to be a health care provider and not worry about climate change.”
Working with vulnerable populations, Dr. Budd is concerned about how climate change will impact the people she serves: “While climate change affects us all, it’s the most vulnerable people in our communities who end up being most impacted.”
Erin is concerned that if we continue to divert our attention from addressing the growing crisis we’re creating a situation where we will be too focused on putting out fires – figuratively and literally – to be able to provide the preventative primary care we strive for. That said, when it comes to taking action, Dr. Budd recognizes that it can be overwhelming to know exactly what to do.
“I’m new to this journey and some days I struggle to know exactly what to do and how to do it,” she says. “So for me my focus right now is on reading books, listening to people who know a lot and cheering on my colleagues who are committed to this.”
One of the ways she’s done this is by joining groups like Fraser Health’s Green+ Leaders and Doctors for Planetary Health – West Coast, a grassroots organization made up of local physicians who care about the environment.
“I was inspired to get involved with these groups because many of the people within them are affecting change just by caring about this issue and doing what they can in their roles. It’s nice to have peer support in the psychological aspect of the climate crisis as well.”
Erin says through these groups she’s become more hopeful.
“It can be really overwhelming, but it’s great having these conversations with like-minded people because it inspires me not to give up. Being around people who are doing things to make a positive difference can really shift your perspective.”
For example, through the Green+Leaders program, Erin learned about an initiative from her counterpart at Island Health who is implementing a plan to reduce plastic waste in their practice through reusable options, something Erin is now looking at replicating at her practice in Fraser Health.
“Making connections and hearing what other people are doing helps me become more confident in understanding how I can affect change,” she explains. “It’s important to know that wherever there is doom and gloom, there is also hope.”
With more information, Erin feels that more people will feel empowered to make decisions that align with their values and beliefs and be motivated to make positive changes.
To find Fraser Health climate change information for the public and our communities, visit fraserhealth.ca/climate.
This story was originally posted on The Beat, used with permission from Fraser Health.