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

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.

Are We Even On Your List Of Priorities?

I once had a lovely student named Annick who wrote a manual for grown-ups. It was mostly a colorful how-to book that stacked all the cards in the kids favor. Her book advocated for abolishing bedtimes, and not learning about dead presidents. I recall it was published around Election Day, and we were discussing the importance of voting for a president who would represent the needs of the people. I wrote this quote from JFK on the blackboard:

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”

I said, “See, here’s a president who loved children.”

Another student raised his hand, “I think you need to read Annick’s book because most grown-ups don’t really listen to children.”

I was teaching second grade.

When I wrote about Severn Suzuki, the 9 year old who started the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other children about environmental issues, it dawned on me that children are our most valuable resource and they deserve input on the fate of their future. ECO raised enough money to send Severn, then 12, to the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. She proceeded to tell a global group of decision-makers how their actions, or inactions would ultimately affect children. Severn silenced the Summit when she asked:

“Are We Even On Your List Of Priorities?”

Let's find a way on this upcoming Election Day, to vote with our parental hearts and figure out this mess for our children: WATCH SEVERN SUZUKI HERE.

Photo: Ted Fink

The TRAIN Act Is On The Wrong Track

The most current misguided effort in the war on our children’s right to breathe clean, pills healthy air is the TRAIN Act of 2011, order spearheaded by Majority Leader Cantor. This train wreck of a bill will block the EPA’s proposed standards to control mercury and power plant pollution.

The House votes at the end of the week on Bill (HR 1705), or The TRAIN Act. This bill is designed to gut Clean Air Act regulations, and leave the Environmental Protection Agency crippled.

What can you do about it? Help get the word out that we will fight to keep our families healthy, we can tell our representatives in Washington that we will not elect them if they don’t protect us from the ravages of pollution - to stop putting politics over people, we can start looking for politicians that honor their words and value all human lives, and we can stand strong with the Moms Clean Air Force because moms know what’s best for their children: Clean Air.


Photo Credit: Polyvore

Playing Politics With Irene

She came…She went… In my neck of the woods, she ushered in a wet basement and a few hours without power. Can we say Good Night, Irene? My family may have been spared, but many in neighboring towns were not so lucky. Along with suffering from the aftermath of the hurricane, they are enduring the type of political storm that arrives when the Tea Party comes to town.

Politics and disasters are strange bedfellows…they separate the humane from the monsters. Please bear with me as I wade into the local political realm and tell you about two Republicans who left an impression in the wake of Irene.

The first one was Mayor Bloomberg of New York City. Given the reports and the facts - the odds of Irene wiping out parts of the city were high. Bloomberg made the right call. He evacuated low-lying areas and shut down the transit system. While the storm didn't hit as directly or devastatingly as expected, that doesn't change the levelheaded choices the Mayor made for his people. Bravo Bloomberg.

On the other end of the GOP spectrum, and a few miles north of NYC, days after Irene ripped through neighboring areas of Orange, Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester Counties, Rep. Nan Hayworth is threatening to withhold disaster money if lawmakers don't cut additional spending from the federal budget. Yes, this is the same Nan Hayworth who outspent and won the election out from under the fabulous Rep. John Hall…and yes, Hayworth was a Tea Party candidate.

Hayworth is saying she would only vote to replenish the federal disaster fund if new spending is offset by budget cuts. According to her, those cuts should come from "non-defense discretionary spending." Hayworth likened her position on bringing more pain and suffering to those affected by Irene, to “a family skipping vacation if it was overwhelmed by bills.”

"We're facing a natural disaster in the middle of an economic disaster. Certainly, the challenges we face with the national budget have not changed."

No they haven’t, but people's lives have changed.

It makes me sick to think an elected official would hold its constituents hostage. It's almost a week after the storm, and as I drive around the area, the devastation is horrifying...so many are left with flooded homes, crumbling roads, no water and no power. What are they supposed to do? These folks have been paying taxes just for an emergency such as this. Will they lose their homes while Hayworth positions the politics in her favor? Disgusting.

If you can stomach more of this type of nonsense, read today's NYTimes op-ed from Paul Krugman, Eric and Irene.

OK, I’ll stop now because you may have just checked in to see my latest, greatest eco-finds. Those are coming, I promise. But, Irene has been on my mind, and it inspired a few non-political posts from me that you may want to check out. This one over on Moms Clean Air Force site, and this one at Care2 discuss the after effects of hurricanes on wildlife, pollution and our stuff. Of course, in both posts I couldn’t repress my deep feeling that climate change is at the root of many of these latest natural disasters. That’s not politics. That’s reality.

Credits: Charles Krupa/AP for New York Times, Charles Dharapak/AP for Guardian