Not My Job by Pat Conrad MD

A couple decades ago in med school, I passed a girl in the hall wearing a sweatshirt that proclaimed “Global Warming!” which I thought was hilarious because of, y’know, the irony.

The latest Family Practice News reminds me of that girl, and of how much contempt I have for so much that falls under the term “medicine.” FPN has a commentary from Lise Van Susteren, MD titled, “Climate change: A call to action for physicians.” (The link is to the exact same commentary that was printed in “Clinical Psychiatry news, 1/24/17).

Dr. Van Susteren – apparently no stranger to irony herself – begins with citing “about 90 psychiatrists…[of whom] the overwhelming majority believed that climate change is human caused and would soon be harming their patients. They expressed an interest in knowing more, reporting that they sometimes had little knowledge about the issues.” I must have heard a joke somewhere that began “90 issues-challenged shrinks walk into a bar and…” but I forget how it ends.

Van Susteren wants her Climate Psychiatry Alliance to address “the mental health impacts of climate disruption with practical advice on how to help our patients and our communities in the face of climate disasters…” She cites the National Academy of Sciences, that “recently linked the Zika outbreak to a rise in temperature. The expanding reach of malaria and the growing incidence of such illnesses as dengue, chikungunya, and Lyme also are linked to higher temperatures.”

And that’s not all! She also quotes studies that link climate change to violent and self-abusive behaviors: “The link between climate change and aggression is clear: For each standard deviation of increased temperature and rainfall, a 4% rise in aggression between individuals and a 14% rise among groups can be expected.”

Van Susteren is a well-connected D.C. activist, an Al Gore disciple, a Huffington Post commentator, and is on the board of directors for both the Center for Health and Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, and the National Wildlife Federation. And she ran for the 2006 Democrat nomination for the U.S. Senate from Maryland.

Please understand that I am not debating the merits of the climate change movement. I happen to live on a Gulf Coast beach and have not felt particularly aggressive, but admittedly that’s anecdotal. What I am offended as all hell about is Family Practice News publishing a political piece by a self-aggrandizing left-wing busybody and dressing it up as medicine. Unlike any other profession or industry I can name, everyone seeks to use physicians to push their own agendas, and doctors are the worst of the bunch. Van Susteren can go collect all the speaking fees, board member honoraria, and media adoration she wants. As it is, she is part of a large and growing collective seeking to force physicians to address all sorts of non-health issues with their patients. Doctors are supposed to ask about AND DOCUMENT regarding a patients’ language skills, whether they can pay the light bill, whether they feel threatened by a family member, or if there are any guns in the home, whether they have any food insecurity, and whether they have any gender identity issues. Now we can start documenting if a patient or their family is worried about climate change, about which I cannot do a damn thing, with an idiotic AFBM MOC module to follow.

Van Susteren says, “We must confront our values: Climate disruption is an issue of social justice, because those who will be hurt the most are from disadvantaged communities, and it is an intergenerational justice issue, because our children will inherit our mistakes. How will we answer these questions?”

Now I have to be responsible for social justice too? My values, Dr. V., are to mind my own damn business, stick to what I know, and not run through life clubbing people with my medical degree just to push a political agenda, however lucrative.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  8 comments for “Not My Job by Pat Conrad MD

  1. Kathy
    April 10, 2017 at 11:46 am

    This excerpt is from G.K. Chesterton, A Miscellany of Men, 1912:

    “When strikes were splitting England right and left a little while ago, an ingenious writer, humorously describing himself as a Liberal, said that they were entirely due to the hot weather. The suggestion was eagerly taken up by other creatures of the same kind, and I really do not see why it was not carried farther and applied to other lamentable uprisings in history. Thus, it is a remarkable fact that the weather is generally rather warm in Egypt; and this cannot but throw a light on the sudden and mysterious impulse of the Israelites to escape from captivity. The English strikers used some barren republican formula (arid as the definitions of the medieval schoolmen), some academic shibboleth about being free men and not being forced to work except for a wage accepted by them. Just in the same way the Israelites in Egypt employed some dry scholastic quibble about the extreme difficulty of making bricks with nothing to make them of. But whatever fantastic intellectual excuses they may have put forward for their strange and unnatural conduct in walking out when the prison door was open, there can be no doubt that the real cause was the warm weather. Such a climate notoriously also produces delusions and horrible fancies, such as Mr. Kipling describes. And it was while their brains were disordered by the heat that the Jews fancied that they were founding a nation, that they were led by a prophet, and, in short, that they were going to be of some importance in the affairs of the world…Nor can the historical student fail to note that the French monarchy was pulled down in August; and that August is a month in summer.”

  2. April 10, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Thank-you so much for commenting on this serious intergenerational social justice issue! This is so important for doctors to lead the way against the micro aggressive behavior of our galactic bully neighbor, the sun.

  3. Dennis
    April 10, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Denial and whining, quite the combo…

  4. Thomas D Guastavino
    April 10, 2017 at 6:58 am

    A challenge to any climate change advocate. Show me a plan that will actually improve things then we will talk. Without it you are nothing but a bunch of chicken littles.

    • Dennis
      April 10, 2017 at 7:53 am

      Why worry about it when you can keep your head in the sand, right?

      CO2 feedback loop from burn to decay takes up to 200 years. The longest loop of all the greenhouse gasses. This means that we haven’t even begun to decay CO2 from the start of the industrial revolution, so it would behoove us to lower our burning of the worst fossil fuels so when we start the decay from the IR we actually can show improvement or even a wash on the parts per billion of CO2 in the atmosphere. The goal is to start the process before its too late, but hey, you’ll be dead so it doesn’t matter….

      • Thomas Guastavino
        April 10, 2017 at 9:24 am

        Please re-read and answer my question.

      • Pat
        April 10, 2017 at 9:28 am

        Dennis, the merits of the climate change question to one side … should admitted non-experts, physicians in this case, be pronouncing on the topic?

    • Steve O'
      April 10, 2017 at 8:29 am

      I am notoriously despised by members of all the climate clubs, because I admit that I cannot tell if the data shows global warming or not; and I speculate that, due to the chaotic nature of climate, nobody can. Human nature is rife with examples of different camps with forced certainty engaging in lethal combat for the Truth. The Truth will pretty much come along whether it has a friend or not.
      If it is true, how much change do we need, and how soon? That seems to flummox the proponents. Who benefits? is another handy question. If we need to cut global emissions by 60% to make a difference, and we only cut 50% by much pain and suffering – isn’t that making things worse?
      If the planet and human life are at stake, there’s no question that we need an energy dictatorship that cuts carbon emission, with the Big Players sitting at the table. Then the spoils can be distributed. Hint – those countries without international war capacity get squat.
      But that’s not just! our friends say. Nope, it’s not. We’re talking Who Loses – and if it’s really that dire, it’s pretty clear that the Big Players won’t roll over and be pals with the little guys.
      None of this has anything to do with Medicine. It’s reminiscent of the post-WWII totalitarian states which had their share of phoney leadership, such as “Marxist-Leninist Doctors for Peace and Freedom,” who would, at the drop of a hat, condemn anything or endorse anything from a medical perspective.
      There are so many things doctors can do, and all of them more lucrative than seeing patients! Many of the advanced degrees and professional accreditations are earned by those who acquire little skill in their purported field. So what? Titles and degrees are merely a stepping-stone to power, not a set of skills to be learned, the powerful say.

      A Harvard graduate wrote in the Crimson about the Cult of Mediocrity. (Click here for it). The essay is 30 years old; its truth is even moreso. “Excellence” is a relic of the rational society.

      In the end-stage culture of marketing, there is no truthy Truth; just a focus group and set of talking points.Reality is ignored by those who can argue around it. Sadly, icebergs cannot be argued around, at least not by large cruise ships like the Titanic. One may embrace the wisdom of Full Speed Ahead, but Reality doles out its own punishment. Societies that do not learn this, just die.

Comments are closed.