Nate Matthews-Trigg, MPH, on Climate and Health

Last month, WPSR Climate & Health Task Force member Nate Matthews-Trigg led a webinar for youth activists with the organization Our Climate on climate change as a health issue. The presentation focuses on understanding the health impacts of climate change, and how activists can use the topic of climate change and health to promote mitigation and adaptation actions, policies, or general awareness.  

Close to 1.5 hours in length, the presentation is a helpful resource for new and seasoned advocates alike. The audience should already have a basic understanding of climate change. The discussion questions at the end can be used to facilitate small group discussions or act as writing prompts. 

Feel free to use, share, or alter this presentation, which you can find on the “Climate and Health Advocacy Resources” page on our website. However, do give credit to Nathaniel Matthews-Trigg!

"Let's go electric!"

On July 19th, WPSR Executive Director Laura Skelton joined leaders from Environment Washington, Sierra Club, Washington PIRG Foundation, King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Metro Transit in recognizing the County's commitment to bus electrification by 2040.

We know that transit electrification yields immediate health and climate benefits, and we're grateful for the County's leadership. See Laura's remarks below:


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I’m here on behalf of hundreds of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals in WA Physicians for Social Responsibility who recognize climate change as a growing health crisis. One of the best ways we can take care of people and patients is to champion policies that fight climate change and ensure a livable environment.

King County's electrification of public transit is an important means both of addressing climate change and protecting health. Transitioning to electric vehicles will help our communities realize immediate health benefits.

Pollution from vehicle exhaust has been linked to cancers, respiratory ailments, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Diesel exhaust accounts for 78% of the potential cancer risk from all air toxics in the Puget Sound area – and a third of that diesel exhaust comes from on-road vehicles.

Instead of diesel, let’s go electric!

Bus electrification will especially help protect the more than 600,000 Washingtonians who suffer from asthma. Not surprisingly, asthma rates and other respiratory ailments are higher in communities along heavy transit corridors.

Because low-income residents and communities of color are more likely to live along these corridors, they bear a disproportionate burden of the consequences of our fossil fuel use.

To fight this injustice, let’s go electric!

Moving to electric buses will immediately result in cleaner air, protecting some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. It will also protect health long-term, by mitigating further climate change. This is truly a win-win.

We are grateful for King County’s leadership in transit electrification. In order to protect our climate and the health of Washingtonians, we hope that more communities will follow King County's lead. Let’s go electric!

Saying "Yes" to Clean Air and Clean Energy

You did it! On Monday, July 2nd, WPSR members and staff joined our partners in the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy coalition in Olympia to turn in 377,000 signatures to get Initiative 1631 ("Clean Air, Clean Energy") on the ballot. We are honored to play a leading role and represent the health voice in this unprecedented coalition of tribal nations, communities of color, labor unions, and environmental groups working to improve the lives and health of all Washingtonians.

Over the past four months, volunteers gathered thousands of signatures for Clean Air and Clean Energy. From Farmers Markets, to rainy light rail stops, to retirement home lobbies and gatherings of friends, health activists were unstoppable. Together, WPSR members gathered over 8,368 signatures. We are amazed by your efforts and activism - thank you for helping us get here.

At the signature turn-in press conference, Dr. Mark Vossler (cardiologist and Chair of WPSR’s Climate & Health Task Force) gave the following remarks. He was joined on the speakers list by WPSR intern Jade Lauw, also a fellow with the youth advocacy organization Our Climate. Mark gathered nearly 1,000 signatures and played a leading role in the East King County signature drive campaign. We’re inspired by his efforts and those of our entire team.

Supporting I-1631 through health-based advocacy is a priority for WPSR’s Climate & Health Task Force. As we gear up for November, we’re getting ready to speak loudly and often about the imperative of putting a price on carbon pollution, supporting communities most vulnerable to climate change, and investing in clean energy. From talking to friends and neighbors, to writing op-eds and letters to the editor, there will be countless ways to support this critical effort.

Will you join us?


Dr. Mark Vossler's Remarks at I-1631 Signature Turn-in Press Conference

“Clean Air! Clean Energy!  What’s not to like?” I remember my first signature gathered in the campaign. The woman who signed on a rainy April day outside PCC said those words to me while she grabbed the board and then about to sign asked, “What’s this about?” As I briefly explained the proposal she said, “You had me at clean air.” That experience has buoyed me through the rest of the campaign.

I joined Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility to work on preventing that which we cannot cure. I took time away from my medical practice and my family to volunteer for Yes on 1631 because I know that climate pollution is affecting real people right now. I committed every free moment I had to the effort because there was nothing else I could have done over the past three months that would have had a greater impact on the health of our community. I know that the air pollutant co-riders with carbon are affecting people in Washington right now. I’ve read the studies showing increased heart attacks and strokes related to “bad air days." I’ve seen my own patients coming to clinic with worse heart failure and worse asthma when the particulate counts are up.

The health impacts of our continued addiction to fossil fuels hit the most vulnerable the hardest, from little kids with asthma to the frail elderly with heat stroke to residents of impoverished low lying coastal villages with water supplies flooded with sewage. Yet these vulnerable communities have done the very least to contribute to the problem. It is repulsively immoral that our nation continues to promote interests of dirty energy barons on the backs of the sick, the infirm, the young, the old and the poor.

We aren’t willing to let the naysayers hold us back. I feel so privileged to be able to work with so many amazing diverse groups who are ready to stand up for their communities. This coalition truly represents all of Washington because having clean air and a health place to live affects all of us.

The health of people in our community is NOT a special interest. It is everybody’s interest.

So Yes! Yes! Yes! On 1631…It can be done!!

WPSR members and staff gathered 8,368 signatures to get I-1631 on the ballot!