Houston Doctor Honored by Obama as a ‘Champion’ of Climate Change Education

susan pacheco
Dr. Susan Pacheco

One of Texas’ own was honored by the White House this week as one of 11 “champions of change.” Climate change education, more specifically, in this case.

According to NBC  Latino, Puerto Rico-born and Houston-based pediatrician Dr. Susan Pacheco has been working to educate people about the growing threat of climate change and the need to prepare for rising heat and tides ever since viewing An Inconvenient Truth in 2006.

Pacheco told NBC, “I started working with the Climate Reality Project for former Vice President Al Gore in 2006, and I’ve been working with the group ever since.”

The story continues:

Shortly after, she also founded The Alliance of Health Professionals Against Climate Change and the Texas Coalition for Climate Change Awareness — organizations formed by diverse community groups and individuals willing to take a public stance and call attention to the adverse effects of climate change in Texas.

“What worries me the most is the vulnerability of the populations that are not as blessed as we are that have access to knowledge,” says Dr. Pacheco, explaining that in the U.S., minorities are more at risk than other populations just because of their social and economic limitations.

She goes on to say that in 2010, there were 1.6 million children reported homeless according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and that number is expected to increase with climate change as there are more weather-related catastrophes.

“With Hurricane Katrina there were thousands of people who had to leave everything they knew to move away from a natural disaster,” says Dr. Pacheco. “When I was a volunteer at the Astrodome, I remember hearing on the speaker systems, ‘We need a family of three to go to New York,’ and it was completely unreal what was happening. People were being completely displaced — the same thing happened with Sandy, and most of them were minorities.”

Pacheco received the award along with 10 others, including Dr. Yadira Caraveo, from Thornton, Colo., according to NBC.

Pacheco has delivered more than 75 presentations on the health challenges that come with climate change to school and community groups, according to The Climate Reality Project.

“Two weeks ago, President Obama declared that solving the climate crisis is not just a job for politicians,” said Maggie L. Fox, President & CEO of The Climate Reality Project in a prepared release. “Susan Pacheco’s extensive work to educate the country about the health impacts of climate change is a key example of the leadership needed from many sectors to confront the climate challenge and lead the conversation on solutions.”

“I have the responsibility to share the challenges we face as a society,” reads a recent blog post by Pacheco, “particularly where the vulnerable health and security will be totally disproportionate to their contribution to the climate crisis.”

I would suggest that burden is shared by us all.