Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility Programs
WPSR's strategy for achieving our mission is to educate and activate the medical and broader health community, the public, and decision makers in pursuing policies that promote peace and health.
Our program of nuclear weapons abolition seeks to revise WA state's nuclear legacy. We have one of the largest concentrations of nuclear weapons in the world and the most contaminated nuclear waste site in the Western Hemisphere. Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor on Hood Canal, which deploys the most lethal array of nuclear weapons in the world, is located within 20 air miles of Seattle. A deployment of nuclear weapons, whether intentional or accidental, would drastically overwhelm any possible medical response. We seek to leverage the significant clout of our region's federal delegation to Congress on these issues. Thus, we utilize our medical voice to call on federal lawmakers to reduce spending on nuclear weapons modernization and to specifically stop the rebuild of the Trident ballistic missile submarines at Bangor.
Our climate change work is positioning WPSR as a leader in WA on identifying and addressing the health impacts of climate change. Our efforts include physician-focused education, including presentations to both practicing clinicians and medical students; public educational forums on the health consequences of coal and oil; and testimony to state decision makers about the risks inherent in transporting and storing oil and coal, both drivers of global climate change. Recently, we took a stand against siting crude oil storage terminals in population centers, where they pose a major threat to human safety and environmental health.
For many years we have supported teams of medical professionals traveling to the Middle East, an area of nuclear risk. Recent teams have traveled specifically to Gaza, fostering an ongoing relationship with medical providers there. Our eighth delegation traveled to Gaza in November 2014, delivering desperately needed pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and teaching courses to physicians, nurses, and students. We continue to support the people of Gaza because we believe that the provision of services to vulnerable populations supports the goal of peace.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
On November 1, 2014, we co-hosted a public forum on the health consequences of crude oil projects and climate change in Grays Harbor. This was part of a series of planned educational events on climate change and health. We partnered with two local groups, Grays Harbor Audubon Society and Friends of Grays Harbor, who presented the environmental impacts of proposed crude oil storage terminals in their community. The community's response to this presentation, from expressing excitement about learning more about climate change to gratitude for explaining the major risks to human health associated with crude oil storage, was very encouraging for more forums such as this. In addition to members of the public, two elected officials attended our event. We continue to work in partnership with other groups to ensure that the three crude oil storage facilities proposed for Grays Harbor are not permitted.
Our programs rely heavily on volunteer leadership and service. While our healthcare professional members will always be the strength of our organization, we also need organizational resources to support our healthcare leaders and to ensure that their time and energy is used strategically. We hope to have adequate resources to hire staff to manage two programs next year: climate change and nuclear weapons abolition. This will help us to have a more sustained impact on the complex and far-reaching issues we address.