Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Opening and Closing Plenary Presenter Preview with Joe Vipond

Joe Vipond has worked as an emergency physician in Calgary for eighteen years. In 2012, he became one of the key organizers for the successful Alberta Coal Phase Out campaign and the subsequent Canadian Coal Phase Out campaign. He currently is involved with The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), the Alberta Wilderness Association, and the CAPE-Alberta Committee, a regional group of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals who successfully negotiated the creation of Alberta Health Services first Office of Sustainability. When not doctoring or trying to change the world, he does his best to be a good husband and dad to his two amazing children, Sadie and Willa.

Please provide a brief overview of your role and the work that your organization does. How do you see your work connecting to the museum world?
Museums have two important connections to climate. First, they are institutions of communication. Through museums we learn. And we desperately need to learn more about the science of climate. It has become the undiscussable topic...who really wants to talk about the possible end of the world, and our role in it? But we desperately need to talk about it. Because by ignoring the subject, we also make it impossible to fix it.
Second, like all other institutions, museums need to rapidly decrease their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, at least by 2%, some say 6%, per year. These are drastic reductions in a short period of time. Strategic, well organized, economically sound transition plans need to be developed, and fast. As museums have the advantage of being very visible, they may be inspirational models of GHG reduction for other societal institutions.

Why are you interested in participating in the AMA’s 2018 Conference?
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is a small, national organization comprised of physician volunteers and a small cadre of employees. Despite our tiny size we have managed to achieve some huge accomplishments: pesticide bans in numerous provinces and cities, a national asbestos ban, an Ontario coal phase out, the Alberta Coal Phase Out, and shortly thereafter the Canadian Coal Phase Out. These will combine to decrease Canada's GHG emissions by about 66 megatons by 2030 (depending on what the electricity generation is replaced with), or about 9% of Canada's total emissions.
What I bring to the AMA’s Conference is the power of advocacy. The simple action of standing up for something is powerful, and can change the inertia of institutions big and small. Combine advocacy with organization and you've got an unbeatable power. We need to all be climate leaders now, and I hope to share my learnings with nascent advocates.

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