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Where in the World is Wendy?

Posted by Melanie Straessle, PSR Climate Intern on July 24, 2013
Dr. Ring (right) and her husband at the Pittock Mansion in Portland Oregon after a long bike uphill still looking pretty happy!

Climate Champion Wendy Ring, MD is two weeks into her bicycle tour across the country to raise awareness about the health impacts of climate change in the US and what we can do about it. She has come up with 5 simple steps our country can take to stabilize the climate and save millions of Americans from our top 5 killer diseases. She will be stopping at hospitals, medical schools, rotary clubs, churches, community houses and other various venues to speak to range of audiences.

Where is she now?

So far the trip has been a great success! Imagine riding your bike along the coast of Washington State on the San Juan Islands and stopping to do a campfire talk on climate change and the hazards of outdoor recreation.  Well, Wendy did just that. She then moved on through Port Townsend, Everett and Seattle, Washington meeting many of great people along the way. Dr. Ring did a talk for a Rotary group that meets in a brewery and a Grand Rounds in Olympia, WA where she learned that 20 percent of Pacific NW mercury and fine particulates come from China. With a couple of bumps along the way (fell off her bike, rain) the trip has overall generated enthusiasm among its audiences.

Who is she?

Dr. Ring is a rural family physician from California trained in both medicine and public health. She has dedicated her career to meeting the needs of the medically underserved such as the uninsured, the homeless, undocumented immigrants and others lacking access to health care. Dr. Ring has been recognized by the US Congress, the California State Legislature, and the California and American Medical Associations for her innovative work. She was also named one of America’s Five Best Doctors and the Nation’s Best Healer by Reader’s Digest. She has dedicated the latter part of her career to climate issues.

Why should we care?

Climate change harms health by degrading the basic elements we need to survive: air, water, food, livable climate and a safe place to live. When these factors are damaged, people’s health and wellbeing suffer. The health effects of climate change are already being felt in the United States, resulting in thousands of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths from heath effects, respiratory, cardiovascular and infectious diseases, accidental injuries, loss of water supplies and food crops, and even mental health effects. Dr. Ring discusses how severe storms, warmer temperatures, heavy rainfall and drought directly and indirectly can cause people to get sick. It is important for health professionals and the rest of the population to be aware of the consequences of climate change join together to fight against it.

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