The gulp factor struck me when I heard the news that Boston was hit with a Random Act of Fear during the legendary marathon. No good, no good at all. Undeserved horror and tragedy in the host city of CleanMed, due to start April 24th. Ed and I had been planning for some time to take part, usually a highlight of the work year, now cast in shadow.

We felt the impact of these events in Boston while we were there for CleanMed. How could we not? But BOSTON STRONG is resilient and we could see that too.

Kady and Ed, Boston CleanMed 2013
Kady and Ed, Boston CleanMed 2013
See the memorial in the top right corner?

Fitting that one of the first CleanMed events was a tour of the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Located on the Harbour it was built to be climate resilient. In other words they have acknowledged that rising sea levels, severe storms and flooding are a very real concern for Boston right now.  The plan is, this hospital will be able to stay afloat, so to speak.  An illuminating intersection and concrete physical manifestation of what health care will have to consider in a world changed by accelerated carbon loading.  Nobody at the Conference was clearer on this point than Bill McKibben.

Kent, Kady, Bill, Linda CleanMed 2013
Kent, Kady, Bill, Linda CleanMed 2013

You all know him right? You have read one of his 17 books on the environment right? You are following the global success he has achieved at  right? You read his article that went viral in Rolling Stone last year right?  No, look him up.

He is a self-proclaimed bummer – but that is not a big surprise for me. As long as I have been doing environmental sustainability work the prospects for the future have been a big bummer. Spoiler Alert: things are not getting better. Mr. McKibben put it this way, ” the death toll from climate change is already at 5 million per year and climbing toward 100 million per year. Compared to 40 years ago only 20% of the sea ice in the Arctic is left.” Climate change is here, now, bummer eh?

This may come as a shock but people around the world care about this. If you are one of them speak up, you are not alone, we are connected, we can influence decisions and stop carbon loading. Which is one of the reasons that CleanMed makes so much sense to people like me.  Most of the year I keep my head down working my way through projects that are important for sustainability at UHN day-to-day. At CleanMed I can look up for a few days with 100s of others also working in these troubled waters.  Dozens of sessions with tonnes of speakers on themes that are music to my ears.  Carbon Footprinting, Green Revolving Funds, Climate Change and Public Health, Purchasing Partnerships and  Hospital Energy Management – Not just for Energy Geeks.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the presence of the powerful force behind the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care (see Kent and Linda – Coalition staff, in photo above). A team increasingly important on the greening health care global stage. And that is it…Bill McKibben wisely said that we will not protect our planet or ourselves one lightbulb at a time. We need to build movements that are  the size of whole economies. It is time to amplify and accelerate green health care. Some of us are doing that, CleanMed connects us and we all agree we have to be FUTURE STRONG.