Tag Archives: environmentalism

Contact Your Reps Now!

By Dominique Browning of the Moms Clean Air Force

MomsCleanAirForce

I don’t want to nag, though we all know moms are great at that. But I’m going to remind everyone that as of Monday, August 1, we have only FOUR MORE DAYS to write to the EPA  in support of their NEW Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. This regulation will cut down the poisonous emissions from coal-fired electric plants. Fetuses, infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxic coal pollution.

Pro-polluters have been working overtime to cut funding for the EPA and block anti-pollution regulations. They’re spending millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions–to protect their right to pollute!

Motherhood is powerful too.  We have to make our voices heard.

Someday your children will thank you. Right now, you have to fight for them. My A Number One Reason will always be the same: my two beloved sons, for whom I will always fight like a mama bear, Alex and Theo. I’ll bet you feel the same way about yours.

Here is a GREAT REASON to write to the EPA now.

1.  YOUR VOICE MATTERS. No politician wants to make a mom mad. The EPA needs to hear that you want it to protect your right to clean air. Sometimes being a great mom means being an active citizen.

2.  WE’VE MADE IT EASY–AND YOU CAN FIND THE TIME. It is faster to write to the EPA than it is to change a diaper. Sometimes being a great mom means being an active citizen. Make your voice heard!

3.   POLLUTION CONTROL MEANS MORE JOBS. Green jobs are rising dramatically. Retrofitting coal stacks with scrubbers means more jobs for people in the industry–and a stronger industry overall.

4.   HOW DARE THEY HARM OUR BABIES! Fetuses, infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxic pollution. Childhood cancers are on the rise. So are asthma attacks.  Pregnant women are warned against eating tuna fish because it is full of mercury. And polluters keep on fighting for their right to pollute.

1 Comment

Filed under parenting

Calling All Green Moms!

Cross-posted at Moms Clean Air Force

Are you a green mom? Have you taken steps towards reducing your environmental impact? Have you educated yourself on environmental problems? Have you contacted your representatives, the EPA, or written letters to the editor about environmental legislation? Do you blog about your efforts to go green? Do you consider yourself to be an expert environmentalist?

If you answered “Of course!” to any (or all) of those questions, then the Moms Clean Air Force would love to invite you to participate in our online chat on Wednesday, June 1, from 2:00 to 3:00pm EST.  We want to get more moms involved in our movement in support of clean air, and I know that most of my posts at Farmer’s Daughter are “preaching to the choir” or perhaps to the “experts”! I’m counting on you to come share your experiences and ideas in our online chat.  We want to brainstorm about ways to get other moms involved in the fight for clean air! Some more details…

Politicians in Congress, influenced by profit-driven corporations and lobbyists, are trying to gut the Clean Air Act and dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency. We have to rally moms to counter pro-pollution forces for the sake of our kids’ health and their future. If moms don’t fight for clean air, who will?

But moms are busy and may not know how to get involved. How do we get their attention? How do we get them to speak up? How do we recruit them for the Moms Clean Air Force?

 The chat will take place on Facebook, so be sure to “Like” Moms Clean Air Force, then click on the “smiley face” chat tab on the left hand side of the page.  You can RSVP/register here.

To get your gears turning, here’s the first discussion question:

What, for YOU, is the most powerful motivation to be involved in this campaign?

My motivation to preserve, protect and defend the environment is for the benefit of future generations.  I cared about the environment long before I became a mom, since I love spending time in nature, but having a child brings the future into  reality instead of an abstract concept.  When I look down at that little perfect face, I know how important it is to act!  Who better to defend my son’s health and future than his Mommy?

Since I won’t be home from work in time for the chat, I plan to check it out later and join the conversation as I can.  I hope my green friends can help to fill my place!

1 Comment

Filed under parenting, Sustainable Living

What’s Your Number?

Cross-posted at Moms Clean Air Force

How many premature deaths due to air pollution are acceptable?  American Electric Power (AEP) says 34,000 in two years ia A-okay.  AEP is a huge polluter and they’re spending a ton of money to try to limit clean air standards.  They’ve even drafted legislation that would allow them to continue polluting.

Why does AEP think they can change the laws to allow them to continue polluting? Ordinary citizens, mothers and fathers and children, have the right to stand up to AEP and tell them to stop polluting.  We have the duty to tell our representatives to protect our families’ health.  Why should we allow AEP to continue to pollute? Why should we AGREE to let an estimated 34,000 people die due to air pollution?

Let’s ask AEP: How many lives are you willing to sacrifice with your assault on clean air standards?  #WhatsYourNumber?

Send AEP an email, then spread the word with these tweets:

34k premature deaths from @AEPnews’s dirty air bill. How many deaths are ok? #WhatsYourNumber #CleanAir http://goo.gl/34syA Tweet this!

@AEPnews’s Dirty Air Bill = 240k asthma attacks and 34k premature deaths. Acceptable? #WhatsYourNumber http://goo.gl/34syA Tweet this!

No advanced pollution controls on 40% of @AEPnews’s plants. How many lives is that costing? #WhatsYourNumber http://goo.gl/34syA Tweet this!

@AEPnews #1 polluter spends 0.5% on #energy efficiency. Their legislation would cost 34k lives #WhatsYourNumber http://goo.gl/34syA Tweet this!

@AEPnews #1 polluter dirty air bill = more mercury, more asthma, 34k early deaths. #WhatsYourNumber http://goo.gl/34syA Tweet this!

@AEPnews $1.2 billion in profits and their bill would cause 34k premature deaths. #WhatsYourNumber http://goo.gl/34syA Tweet this!

@AEPnews’s Dirty Air Bill = More kids exposed to toxic mercury, more worry for moms. #WhatsYourNumber http://goo.gl/34syA Tweet this!

3 Comments

Filed under Sustainable Living

Mercury Pollution: What Parents Need to Know

My dad tells a story of his science teacher handing out vials of mercury and allowing students to play with it and watch how it pools.  Those days are gone! (I should know, I’m a science teacher.)  Today, we aren’t even allowed to have mercury thermometers in school, and there are news reports of schools being evacuated due to a broken thermometer.  We now know that mercury is toxic to kids.

Mercury as an atmospheric pollutant comes mostly from power plants, with 72% of it coming from coal-fired power plants.  Once released into the atmosphere, mercury contaminates entire ecosystems: fresh and salt water, soil, the substrate at the bottoms of streams, rivers, lakes and oceans, as well as plants an animals.  Microorganisms in the water convert mercury to the highly toxic methylmercury.  Methylmercury accumulates in the tissues of animals, especially salt water fish like sharks, swordfish and tuna.

Here’s what I think all parents should know about mercury pollution:

  • 1 in 10 American women of childbearing age have potentially dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies.
  • 410,000 US children are exposed to dangerous levels of mercury in the womb each year.
  • 95% of the methylmercury we consume is absorbed through our small intestines and enters our bloodstream, which carries it to the rest of our body.  It will eventually be excreted over a period of weeks to months.
  • Methylmercury easily crosses the placenta and travels into a fetus’s blood and organs, including his or her brain.
  • Methylmercury levels in an unborn child’s blood can accumulate to be higher than the levels in his or her mother’s blood.
  • Mercury in both the form of methylmercury (from seafood) and inorganic mercury (from amalgam fillings) has been found in breast milk in studies around the world. However, the level of mercury in a mother’s blood are about 3 times higher than the level of mercury in her milk, so babies are exposed to much more mercury in utero than through breastfeeding.  Experts say that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of mercury exposure.
  • Infants can be exposed to mercury through formula if it is prepared with water contaminated with methylmercury, so experts recommend breastfeeding over formula-feeding in areas with contaminated water.
  • Methylmercury exposure leads to impaired neurological development in fetuses, infants and children.  It can also delay developmental milestones and cause severe mental disabilities.

The Clean Air Act does not currently have limits on the amount of mercury that can be emitted by power plants, but the EPA would like to set a new Mercury and Air Toxics rule to reduce the amount of mercury and other emissions by 91%.  (Learn more about the proposed rule here).  Won’t you join me in supporting the EPA’s right to limit mercury emissions? Send a comment to the EPA!

Sources:

This post will be cross-posted at Moms Clean Air Force.

6 Comments

Filed under Sustainable Living

Breastfeeding as an Environmental Movement

I’ve been thinking about breastfeeding quite a bit lately.  Perhaps it’s due to the amount of time Joshua spends nursing…  I’ve been writing this post for a while now, about why environmentalists should support breastfeeding and practices that promote breastfeeding.  I’m not going to tout the health or economic benefits, I think we’ve all heard “Breast is Best” and it’s fair to say there’s scientific consensus there.  This is about the environmental benefits of breastfeeding.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

Breastmilk does not need to be made in a factory, nor does it need to be packaged or shipped around the country to consumers.  The mother’s body produces milk through a biological process without the need for fossil fuels.  There’s no need to heat water to sterilize bottles, so that’s another reduction in carbon emissions.  Of course, if a mother chooses to express milk and bottlefeed, for whatever reason, there’s still the energy savings from lack of production, packaging and shipping.

Waste Reduction

Breastfeeding creates no waste for disposal (with the exception of dirty diapers, which is a topic for another time).  This saves energy from collection and transportation of waste, as well as space in a landfill.

Water Issues

With breastfeeding, water consumption is reduced because there’s no industrial manufacturing process, and there are no bottles to wash.  In addition, in disaster areas or the developing world, breastfeeding infants are protected from contaminated water.

Other Resources

With breastfeeding, there’s no need to use metals or paper to make packages.  There’s no need for coupons or junk mail advertisement.

Overpopulation

Population seems to be an issue that many environmentalists ignore; the so-called “elephant in the room.”  While not a 100% effective form of birth control (though I think there’s a lot to be said about the biology of the lactational amenorrhea method), breastfeeding reduces a woman’s fertility.  This increases the time between pregnancies and ultimately reduces family size.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the reasons why my sleep-deprived mommy brain thinks the environmental movement should be in support of breastfeeding and practices and legislation that promote breastfeeding.  What do you think?

24 Comments

Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, parenting, Sustainable Living

Catching More Flies

In the last few days I’ve been involved in a conversation over here.  You can go read it if you want, since I’m not going to re-hash the whole thing.  I made some snarky comments, which I shouldn’t have, since they detracted from the message I was trying to convey.

As a side note, I think I never would have been involved in the conversation if I wasn’t on maternity leave, with time to spare reading blogs and going through the comments more than one time while I nurse my baby.  You can get a little cabin feverish when you’re used to going to work and being with people all day and then suddenly you’re at home while all your friends are at work, with nothing but internet to connect you to the outside world.  At least that seems to be how it has worked for me.  But I digress…

Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking about how we as environmentalists convey our message of sustainability.  For those of us looking to live more sustainable lifestyles, it’s important to realize that we’re not all at the same point on our journey.  To use the “green” terminology, we’re all different shades of green, for a variety of reasons.  As an environmentalist and as an environmental educator, I feel a responsibility to encourage people to care for the planet.

It’s tough to not be judgemental when we encounter people who might be better compared to “brown” than “green.”  But I think it’s important to step back, away from being judgemental, and realize that we are all different.  Even if it seems clear that someone will never choose to care for the Earth, I think it’s important to keep the lines of communication open.  I’ve always thought we can “catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” and I’ve written before about how I think it’s important for environmentalists to be role models and how our actions can speak louder than words.  I have lots of friends and family members who aren’t as eco-conscious as I am, but I’m not going to cut ties or start arguments with them.  And I wouldn’t refuse a new friendship based on someone’s shade of green (or brown).  How would I be able to spread my sustainable message if I refused to speak to someone?  And not to mention, nobody’s perfect.  Certainly not me! But that’s a post for another day.

What do you think? Am I less of an environmentalist if I associate with people who don’t care about the environment? Or is that an important part of being an environmentalist in the first place?

20 Comments

Filed under Sustainable Living

Capping our Future?

The American Farm Bureau Federation has a new campain: “Don’t Cap our Future.”  In opposition to a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases, the AFBF is encouraging members to sign a cap across the bill and deliver it to their Congressman

The AFBF is concerned that a cap-and-trade system will lead to higher fuel, energy and fertlizer costs, and also the conversion of farmland to woodland to sequester carbon.  This translates into loss of farms, increase in food costs, and a decrease in the productivity of farms.  According to the AFBF:

Already, the economic situation in some sectors of agriculture is dire… For many, sheer determination is what keeps them in business.  Those who are persevering are doing so with a brighter future in mind.  They are also driven by the goal of being able to pass the farm or ranch on to the next generation when they retire or perhaps farming with their children as they grow into adulthood.

I personally am not a huge fan of cap-and-trade, since I think it’s a system that allows polluters to continue on polluting while paying for credits or often choosing to pay the fines for going over their limit since that’s less expensive than actually reducing their emissions.  One of the amazing concepts that I took away from my environmental law course was that it’s all about the money: businesses will do what’s right for them financially, not what’s right for the environment, and they’re able to continue polluting because a cap-and-trade system allows it, as long as they pay a fine or buy credits. 

However, I think that action is important, and I think cap-and-trade is better than nothing.  The real problem here, from my point of view, is that family farmers are not the big time polluters.  We know that industrial agribusiness is where the majority of the pollution takes place, but they’ve got the money to pay the lobbyists and lawyers, buy credits, and pay fines, while all farmers deal with the increase in fuel, energy and fertilizer prices.  Who will be hit harder by the increase in costs, agribusiness or small, family farmers? And who will lose their farms?

I’m categorically opposed to legislation that puts an unfair burden on family farms.  It’s a deeply emotional issue for me, since I think about MY family and OUR farm, and it breaks my heart to see families lose their farms.  However, I think that the American Farm Bureau Federation needs to take steps to work with legislators to reduce the unfair burden on small family farms, while still taking strides to reduce pollution and carbon emissions. 

For now, I’m taking a wait and see approach.  I won’t be signing and delivering a cap, but I also won’t be asking my legislators to support this bill.  What I will do is continue to support my local family farms.

5 Comments

Filed under Local Agriculture, Sustainable Living