Earth Doctor / Climate Troubadour


Doug in the GardenWhat can I say? I’m a left-handed Halloween baby (1950),  orthopedic surgeon turned climate troubadour. Originally from Boston, education included Harvard (BA 1973), working as an inventor’s assistant before medical school (Case Western Reserve, MD 1982), and orthopedic residency (Harvard, 1988).  I replaced hips and knees in Eureka, California and Harrisonburg, Virginia before hanging up my scalpel in 2010.

In retirement, I had the eye-opening experience of earning an MBA in sustainable business from Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Seattle.  It was at BGI where I really learned how critically ill our planetary life-support system has become, and how much of it is due to the ways we think about money and economics. Instead of broken bones, I now focus on our broken political and economic systems, driving us to liquidate our natural world to pay our “bills”. Our Pachamama, our Mother Earth, generous life-giving climate, and our foreseeable future are like a complex, critically ill patient in the emergency room. But you’d never know it from watching the news. Our major oil companies saw this coming 40 years ago, but most of us are just starting to pay attention. What’s going on? How did we get here? How can we recover a world worth passing on to our children?

Stories matter. We are constantly telling stories about everything, to ourselves and to each other. In the words of poet Thomas Berry, “we are in trouble just now, because we are between stories.” It is clear that the old one made some people and nations very rich, but threatens our very life-support systems. For civilization as we know it to survive, we have to change our story…our paradigm, the dream and goals by which we organize our lives and economy.

According to the late MIT systems expert Donella Meadows, changing the paradigm is the most powerful of all “leverage points” in a system.  Stories are the business and language of music and the arts. We need the arts as well as science to “save us from the humans.” I played rock ‘n roll in my youth, and now writing songs to wake up sleepwalkers.  My music is intended as “painless education” on some important issues. I hope some messages will stick in your unconscious like a bad beer commercial.  The life you save may be your own!

These songs are fairly quick “sketches”, attempts to distill complex issues into a few short verses, and to bring some dry and sometimes scary subjects to life, where we can see and share them with less angst. And shame or inspire other artists and musicians to do the same! You, the listener, are smart enough to understand these issues.  Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.   Food, Water, Energy and Climate Change are subjects too important to be left to politicians and economists! Look where that has gotten us so far!

These days, climate education and local activism take up a lot of my time. Nancy and I live on a hilltop in Virginia. The sun comes up over the Blue Ridge and goes down over the Appalachians. We live in a beautiful world, and know better than to take it for granted. Is the glass half-empty or half-full? I am about equal parts daily astonished at human greed, stupidity and short-sightedness, and also optimistic at how much and how fast we can change things, if we put our heads and hands together, and get our story right!

P.S. My musical hobby is completely non-commercial in spirit. My material is all “Creative Commons”, and can be used and shared freely. Attribution appreciated. If you’re old and square enough to have a CD player and want some CDs, write to me. SING LOUD!