Personal Reflections on a Singular Year

Santosh Pandipati

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Photons captured by the author on a hike in Los Gatos, CA (2020)

The 21st century has already seen many momentous orbits of the Earth around the Sun, but that the current year — 2020 — will remain a singular year in human history is no longer of any doubt. As of the date of this publication, for over 1.44 million people around the world, 2020 was also their final year of life. Millions more and their families have suffered quietly, from being ill, or being hospitalized, or dealing with disabling and prolonged recovery, or being laid off work, or losing their life savings. …


Humanity is at an existential crossroad

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(Photons captured by the author, July 2018)

Humanity is at an existential crossroad. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are each being manipulated in a war of ideas. The ultimate resolution of this conflict within each of us, when integrated across all humans, will determine the ultimate fate of our species. Yes, we will first have to overcome our current viral plague, but we will persevere through COVID-19 as a species relatively intact. What I reference here is more profound, more insidious, more ingrained in the fundamental order of modernity. Unfortunately, we have limited time — perhaps less than a decade — to collectively make some crucial decisions. …


A Doctor’s Perspective On Climate Change — Dr. Santosh Pandipati, MD, FACOG

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Photons captured by the Author outside of his home in Northern California during recent wildfires (Sep 2020)

As my family and I nervously await the U.S. election results and I consider how so much of our species’ global future hangs in the balance on this one historic election, I recall presenting a grand rounds lecture seventeen years ago at the University of Washington Medical Center. I was a third-year ob/gyn resident; my talk was entitled “Challenges to the Survival of the Human Species.” I focused on climate change and overpopulation; many attended the talk, which was well-received. I reprised the talk two years later as a maternal-fetal medicine fellow at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Although the environmental concerns that I presented were disturbing, no one, including myself, had felt that the threat would become so grave so quickly, and certainly not within our very lifetimes. Indeed, at the time I had felt that perhaps the title of my talk might even have been too dramatic. Upon finishing my training I busied myself with major milestones of life that preoccupy many of us: marriage, building a family, developing my career. Primarily due to insufficient time I had largely put my environmental concerns aside, although I still paid peripheral attention to the latest developments in climate science. My concerns about climate change have resurfaced over the past several years, in part due to the visible activism of Greta Thunberg, 350.org, the Sunrise Movement, and a new generation of activists and politicians who have finally begun to engage with this matter in earnest. …


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Photons captured by the Author (Land of Medicine Buddha, Santa Cruz, CA, December 31, 2020). Author reserves all rights to this photograph.

SANTOSH PANDIPATI, MD

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Photons captured by the Author (unauthorized reproduction prohibited)

IT’S NEW YEARS DAY, 2021. NAIVELY EXCITED ABOUT THE PROSPECTS FOR A MOMENTOUS YEAR — ONE THAT WILL ERASE THE HELL OF 2020 WE ALL JUST ENDURED. AND THEN THIS HAPPENS TO ME JUST NOW:

STANDING IN LINE OUTSIDE OF WHOLE FOODS WAITING TO GET IN. BEHIND A NUTCASE NOT WEARING A MASK AND OPENLY CHATTING ON HER PHONE LOUDLY — WANTING OTHERS TO HEAR HER CONVERSATION — THAT THE LINE REMINDS HER OF NAZI GERMANY. RAILING ABOUT ALL THE PEOPLE WILLING TO STAND IN LINE TO SUPPORT AMAZON (NEVERMIND THAT SHE’S STANDING IN LINE WITH ALL OF US APPARENT FASCISTS). ANYWAY, I DIGRESS. THAT SHE DOESN’T LISTEN TO MAIN STREAM MEDIA. …


Santosh Pandipati, MD

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Photons captured by the author (2020)

Could it be?

Years have rolled by

And many events have unfolded.

At one time I reminisced about a bygone era

While another passed lightly

Beneath my treading feet.

There is no story to tell but that of one’s own.

We are, of course, nature looking back upon itself marveling at what it has thus far achieved, but at the same time despondent at what is yet left to be done.

This whole thing is nuts. We have abandoned rationality utterly completely. We have fabricated mythologies — from religion to economic systems and claim that these mythologies carry more value and truth than scientific discoveries themselves. …


Santosh Pandipati, MD

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Turbulent times lie ahead (photons reflecting off the author’s father and son, captured by the author off the coast of Southern California, 2017 — the author reserves all rights to this photograph)

At the time of this writing the SARS-CoV-2 virus has killed more than 100,000 Americans — a catastrophic and tragic loss of human life having occurred within just a few months’ time. Many who have had severe infections and subsequently recovered do not make it into this count, but are dealing with residual and significant loss of lung, kidney, liver, and other organ function. These are the silent suffering, the walking wounded. …


Santosh Pandipati, MD

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(Photons captured by the author, April 2019 — the author reserves all rights to this photograph)

Our fundamental mission as healthcare providers is to protect the health of our patients. While heroic worldwide efforts are underway to combat COVID-19, the greatest emerging threat to women’s health, indeed to the health of all people, is the global climate crisis (what we previously referred to, rather innocuously, as climate change). The climate crisis remains the proverbial elephant in the room, for the sequelae of this climate catastrophe will likely produce a worldwide public health disaster, the impact of which will be far-reaching and devastating, greatly outweighing the consequences of all our current public health concerns.

About

Santosh Pandipati, MD

Maternal-Fetal Medicine Physician/Subscriber to the Scientific Method and Mindfulness Practice/Perpetually a Beginner at Everything

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