What Happens Next?

Yesterday, I began my day full of hope. The grassroots organization that I work my tail off at, and love dearly, Moms Clean Air Force, had just unveiled a billboard, and participated in a rally in Denver asking the Presidential Candidates which way they will choose. Will they lead us down a dirty energy path that allows coal, gas and oil polluters to continue their assault on our planet? Or will they lead us into a new era of energy-efficiency and renewables? 

Hopeful, huh?

But then I watched the debate go south. Fast. I could hardly watch. I was thrown off balance by these three words: "I love coal."  

The guy in the photo above is hopeful. But let's face it, no good can come from surf shooting. Could that be a waterproof camera? Was there such a thing in 1969?

How'd the debate look through your lens?

Photo: by John Grannis via The Selvedgeyard

BlogHer ’12: If The Shoe Fits

I cannot tell you how excited I was to meet and talk to so many wonderful women bloggers at the Moms Clean Air Force booth last week at the BlogHer '12 Conference. And when I finally dragged my exhausted body home after three hot days in NYC, and greeted Ted at the train station, he said, “I won’t ask you about BlogHer until you’ve had a shower, a salad, and a glass of wine, but what was the highlight of the conference?”

BlogHer is a BIG conference...4,500+ women bloggers...and there were some mighty BIG shoes to fill in the form of keynote speaker star power. But hands down, the highlight was all the SMALL conversations I had with new and old friends.

Martha’s Shoes

Martha Stewart was Martha. She was asked about the changes she’s encountered in her 40-year career as Martha, and her answer was not surprisingly, all the technological advances. What she found had not changed was the sad fact that only 4% of all the CEO’s in this country were women. When asked what advice she had for the bloggers, Martha said, “I make sure that I learn something new every day.” Good advice from a woman in 6” orange platform heels.

Katie’s Shoes

Katie Couric is launching a new show. Katie’s stilettos were also impossibly high (thanks to Christian Louboutin), and so were her spirits. She exudes warmth. After she plugged her show, the real Katie shone when she discussed her teenage daughters, her husband’s death from colon cancer, and how she honestly felt bad when she interviewed Sarah Palin because Sarah was so uncomfortable answering Katie’s questions. Regardless, Katie pushed on because, as she said, “This women would be a heartbeat away from a man over 70 years old who had multiple melanomas, and the American people needed to know what they would be getting.” Keep going, Katie.

Soledad’s Shoes

Soledad O’Brien seemed to have laced up work boots disguised as sky-high pumps as she moderated a panel called, “Women Influencers as Change Agents” with Christy Turlington Burns and Malaak Compton-Rock. I was looking forward to this panel because I figured it would align nicely with my MCAF work. Christy and Malaak have each launched global campaigns to fight for women and children’s health. They also both have husbands I love to watch on the screen, Ed Burns and Chris Rock. Christy was smart, stunning and in top form in her perfect strappy sandals. After uttering a few words, Malaak developed a lethal case of stage fright. Soledad exhibited what a terrific journalist she truly is, as she coaxed Maleek out of her frozen, deer-in-the-headlights state with amazing grace. I'm not sure another journalist would have been able to fill Soledad’s impressive journalistic shoes.

My Shoes

I could not walk a mile in any of these women’s shoes…and as blogger, Judith Ross commented after two days of standing on our feet, “Our official shoes of BlogHer must be Toms.” And they were (right, my Toms).

New Shoes

Two SMALL conversations spurned BIG revelations for me. The first one came as I was racing around getting ready to leave for BlogHer. When I checked my laptop for the last time (only carried an iPad with me), I noticed the Second Lives Club blog published a humbling profile/interview of me. After reading the piece, it finally sunk in that I really have created a new career. You can check out the profile HERE.

The second revelation arose during a discussion about MCAF’s one-year anniversary (yay, yay, yay) with MCAF’s co-founder, Cynthia Hampton. We were talking about my position as MCAF’s editor and I said, “I wake up every morning so excited to get to work…and I work way into the evening hours…and now that we reached 100,000 members, it’s so gratifying to be making a difference in the lives of women and children.” She said, “Ronnie, you have stepped into the shoes of an activist.”

Photos: blogger and baby photo from my iPhone, BlogHer, Toms

Old King Coal Is A Dirty Old Soul

Coal is filthy. It pollutes our air, generic water and land. If we shut down, abandon or upgrade the most destructive mercury-spewing coal plants, will Dirty Coal CEO’s and their Chicken Little political lobbyists come out in flocks screaming?

“The sky is falling!!“

Sure. They already have.

But as writer, David Roberts from Grist points out:

“It’s helpful to have some historical perspective. Dirty utilities have forecast economic doom and blackouts every time the EPA has ever issued an air or water regulation. Every time! And every single time, they’ve been wrong. As EPA chief Lisa Jackson is fond of pointing out, in its 40-year history, the Clean Air Act has never yet caused an electric reliability problem…The fact is, defenders of clean air have analysis and history on their side…We can stop poisoning people with ancient, filthy coal plants without shivering in the dark.”

Why is it so important at this very moment to talk rationally about coal in a non-partisan, pro-save our children from mercury poisoning kind of way?

Because the new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards are due to be posted at the end of this week. Mercury is a terrible neurotoxin. Fetuses, infants, toddlers and even our pets are especially vulnerable to mercury poisoning, which harms hearts, lungs, and brains. The rule to eliminate this poison has been in the making for 21 years.

You say, “OK, Mother Goose, if Moms are so smart how will I power my world?

Invest in real clean and endless energy—renewable energy. It’s clean, it’s local and it’s inexhaustible. Think this an impossible task to do in our children’s lifetime? It’s not. This infographic from the Rocky Mountain Institute shows us how to light the way with solar, wind and other renewables. Meantime, let’s clean up the coal we are using–and make sure natural gas doesn’t turn into another big polluter.

So, will the sky fall with the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards?

No. Now is the time to send Old King Coal and his no-soul political cronies packing.

Please join me in telling President Obama that you support the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

Let’s put that merry but cynical Old King Coal where he belongs…up on the wall with Humpty Dumpty.

Illustration: Steve Morrison

This post was cross-posted on Moms Clean Air Force.

Why I Keep Fighting

Before I begin discussing a matter that affects us all, I want to thank my Econesting followers for supporting environmental issues.

OK, deep breath...

As many of you know, I'm concerned about pollution. Air, water, land...you name it, I'll fight for it. Clean air is a complicated issue made messier and mushier by politics. It shouldn't have to be that way, but it is.

I get that we need jobs. I get that we need power.

What I also get is that we need healthy people to create the jobs that create the power.

Here's the rub: sacrificing jobs for health is not the issue. We can have jobs and breathe clean air. And history has proven that our politicians can make nice and come together on an environmental issue that the majority of people want...clean air.

The Clean Air Act was signed into effect in 1970 by a bi-partisan Congress. In 1990 President Bush called for the EPA to address mercury and other dangerous air pollutants. The rule to eliminate this poison has been in the making for 21 years. Now the polluter lobby is pressuring the White House to weaken, or add gaping loopholes to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

Mercury is a terrible neurotoxin. Our littlest creatures: infants, toddlers and even our pets are especially vulnerable to mercury poisoning.

Where does the mercury come from? Coal-fired power plants emit half of all toxic mercury pollution in the U.S. and over 386,000 tons of other hazardous air pollution every year.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule is one of the most important clean air regulations to ever come out of the EPA. It would reduce mercury, arsenic, acid gases, and other hazardous air pollution from America’s oldest and most polluting coal-fired power plants. Such a great regulation that uses American engineering, and creates jobs—without harming the economy. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards would prevent 17,000 premature deaths every year.

Why do I keep fighting? Because they are not going to stop...the polluters. A handful of coal utility companies, armed with powerful lobbyists, are urging the clean-up be delayed. They would like to ditch the EPA and weaken clean air standards for the most toxic pollutants.

Can we ask our lawmakers to take off the gloves and not pollute our natural resources? Yes! They must, and we must continue fighting for our children because they deserve a future with clean air, water and land.

Please tell President Obama that you support the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

Photo used with permission: Chris Scott Snyder

Please Don't Pollute Our Nests

I love nests. The original logo for Econesting was a nest. My daughter (a graphic designer) and I went back and forth between a nest or a tree logo. At the time, my life was in flux. I had just left my teaching job, and as my youngest left for college, my nest was empty. The nest seemed so fragile and exposed. My daughter guided me towards the strong, solid tree. We both loved the movement of the tree. But, nests and birds fascinate me. I've written widely about the ones that visit my home, and the birdhouses my community created for a fundraiser.

Canary In A Coal Mine

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect You live your life like a canary in a coal mine You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line Canary in a coal mine ~ Sting

Did you know the refrain from that Police song is the literal interpretation of the expression, “canary in the coal mine" – an old practice used by coal miners? Canaries were sent into coal mines as a warning signal for toxic gases, fumes and other air pollutants. Early mines did not feature ventilation systems, so miners would bring a caged canary into the mine because tiny canaries are especially sensitive to air pollution. If the teeny bird kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. A silent canary signaled immediate evacuation.

Birds are such vulnerable, tiny creatures, so it's no surprise they are highly susceptible to pollutants. Like Thoreau said, "The bluebird carries the sky on his back.”

I recently wrote a Moms Clean Air Force post called, DON’T POLLUTE MY NEST. The piece delves into the fragility of birds in our changing environment.

I can't help but reiterate my strong feelings that if we continue to delay, dismantle, decimate and ditch the Clean Air Act, it's our littlest creatures who will be the next "canaries in a coal mine." Let's not leave our children carrying the weight of the sky on their backs...and in their nests.

Please join me and thousands of parents who are fighting to clean up the air for all the earth’s creatures. Thanks!

Photo: Garden Design