Doctors for Planetary Health at the BC Legislature - GTEC Blog

Photo by @arvinoutside

Introduction by Arden Henley

On Thursday November 4th Doctors for Planetary Health held a rally on the steps of the BC Legislature. Below is the text of the speech given by Dr. Linda Thyer at this event. Linda is a family physician practicing at SFU’s Health and Counselling Services clinic, a member of the GTEC Board of Directors, a founding member of Doctors for Planetary Health-West Coast, and a mother to three teenagers.

A simultaneous rally was held on the 4th by Planetary Health doctors and nurses in Nelson, BC. Kyle Merritt, a physician in Nelson, is getting press around the world (UK, India and US) because of an interview he gave at the rally in which he talked about how he diagnosed climate change and wrote that in the patient’s chart as an underlying factor in a patient’s ER visit this summer.

Gratitude to the Earth

We are not here today to fight climate change.

Climate change (and global warming) is just a symptom, like a fever, but not the disease itself. The underlying problem is the ecological emergency, the destruction of our ecosystems, the destruction of our home.

As we pollute our water, air and soil, we are destroying life on this planet. We are only one strand in the complex web of nature. Cash Ahenakew, a member of the Atahcacook Cree Nation and Associate Professor at UBC writes that we are part of the metabolism of the Land. In the past few centuries, our behaviour has been decidedly parasitic, and we are destroying our planet Mother Earth, our host. We would all be better off with a symbiotic relationship instead.

We are not following the Laws of Nature, the Laws of Mother Earth. So I think Mother Earth is trying to teach us a lesson. So far we’re not being very good students. We are continuing along our destructive path. And this has led to enormous loss of life. In one short week here in BC this past summer, nearly 600 human lives, many millions of aquatic lives and countless plant lives were lost. Let’s take a moment to remember those lives. Feel free to raise your stethoscope or raise your hands to your heart while we remember those lives.

Mother Earth is trying to tell us we need a major change in our behaviour, a fundamental shift in our mindset. This is a beautiful planet even with its wildfires, floods and heat domes, and it is still our home, our vital source of nourishment and sustenance. Nature is life, and our life support system. This planet is home to myriad living and non-living beings who directly or indirectly sustain us. So we must not fight Mother Earth, but rather provide care and protection for her and for all who call her home.

Providing care and protection for Mother Earth and for all who call her home is a central task of Doctors for Planetary Health. To bring our minds together at the beginning of each meeting, following an acknowledgement of the Indigenous lands on which we gather, we offer a few words of thanks to the Earth. They go like this:

We give thanks to the Earth for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the natural beauty that fills our hearts and our souls. We give thanks for the many living and non-living beings and their teachings.
May we be mindful of these facts in the decisions we make as we go about our day. May we find ways to give back and to tread ever more lightly.

Thank you,

Linda Thyer