Category Archives: Children

Fracking IS Poisoning Children

At the 2012 Shale Gas Outrage rally in Philadelphia, people whose water has been contaminated by fracking came up on stage to speak of their experiences.  Carol French, a dairy farmer from Pennsylvania, was one of them.  As she spoke of the serious health ramifications that befell her daughter, deep sadness arose with her words.  Her daughter was being poisoned by the nearby fracking wells, as are so many others people in her county.  This assault on our children, on our citizens for the sake of cheap natural gas is not acceptable.  No one deserves to be sacrificed for this country’s energy needs.  No one.

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Calling All “Moms-In-Chief”: The Mothers Project and the Fight to End Fracking

I wasn’t able to listen to the First Lady’s speech the night she delivered it at the Democratic National Convention.  My 8-year-old daughter Claire is a night owl who loves to be read to sleep, so we lay in bed together reading Katie Kazoo Switcheroo as Michelle Obama spoke from her heart about the man she married and the country she so loves.

The next day I watched the speech on YouTube.  Toward the end, Michelle spoke about who she was first and foremost amidst the many roles in her life.  It was the only noticeable moment where tears filled her eyes.

“And I say all of this tonight not just as First Lady and not just as a wife. You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still ‘mom-in-chief.’ My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.”

As I listened to her, my eyes filled with tears, knowing that I, too, am first and foremost a mom-in-chief to a daughter I love more than words could ever convey.  I was moved to tears by that extraordinary love and a future my daughter and all children will be inheriting – a future that I’m not feeling very good about.

Granted the future has always and will always carry with it burdens and responsibilities that the next generation must take on when they have grown.  But when it comes to poisoning water and air, the adults in this world right now have a responsibility to stop that poisoning.  And right now fracking is at the top of the culprit list.

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Is Cheap Natural Gas Worth Poisoning Children?

Is cheap natural gas worth poisoning children?  It’s a question we all need to answer truthfully.  Especially when it comes from the mouths of children themselves.

I met Devon Haas at the Stop the Frack Attack rally in Washington, DC.  She is a beautiful eight-year-old-girl who was out in the blazing heat with her sign, fully present to do her part to stop the insanity of fracking.  She lives in Pennsylvania, where fracking is taking over at lightening speed.   Accidents and spills abound, contaminating water and air.  The gas industry will not own the contamination they are causing, but they do own the governor and the Department of Environmental Protection.

Devon makes clear the obligation we have as a society to stop the destruction of the planet and get serious about renewable energy.  How can we do otherwise? How can we not do our part to make sure the water she drinks and the air she breathes are safe?  We are the caretakers of their future, and the future is now.

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Devon is currently involved in Kids of the Gulf, a documentary film in progress that features two kids – Devon and Devin – who are determined to have a positive impact in the Gulf coast region in the aftermath of the BP oil spill by telling the stories of the children affected by the spill.  She is also the founder of Kids Army Worldwide
, which connects tens of thousands of kids around the world together for environmental and social justice issues that matter most to kids today.

The Calm After the Storm: Reflections on the Gift of Electricity

Friday, June 29th, 10:50 pm.  I was lying in bed with my daughter Claire reading her to sleep when the wind started picking up.  Claire does not like storms, and her body was alert and tense like a cat.  I kept gently saying, “It’s only wind. It’s only rain,” and would go back to reading.  Then I heard the wind as I had never heard it before – the derecho wind.  It rolled with ferocity against the window, in and out, in and out.  Claire was doing her best to pretend that it was just the wind and rain I spoke of, but we both were quickly coming to a different conclusion.

Then the lights went out.

Claire is not a fan of the dark either.

Aided by a battery-powered lantern, Claire finally fell asleep after the storm had subsided – well past midnight.  As I left her bed for my own, I noticed how truly silent the house was.  No AC running, no ceiling fans, no humidifier, no refrigerator, no currents at all.  Just silence so quiet it seemed loud.  Having lived in cities or suburbs my whole life, I’m not used to such silence.  It felt eerie to me, as if the whole world had shut down – a kind of stillness through which whispers the deep mysteries of life and death.

It was dark, too.  No street lamps that usually keep the house slightly lit at night.  As I slipped between the sheets, a bit of light made itself known by way of the moon, Earth’s first night light.  I found myself palpably reflecting on what life before electricity was like, but my thoughts only went so far before sleep thankfully overtook me.

In the morning, the first thing on my mind was the fridge.  I tend to have more than a week’s worth of food in there, and now it stood the chance of spoiling.  Our house phones were dead, and we hadn’t charged the cell phones.  The Internet was down.  The air was warm and unmoving.

Claire’s anxiety continued to grow, as she prayed with all her heart that the electricity would come on before night came again.  We went out for most of the day to shift her focus and seek cooler air.  When we got home, the house was pitch black, but Claire was so tired from the night before, sleep came more easily.  Thank God.

At 5:00am, I was awakened by the sound of electricity returning.  The silence was replaced with humming and whooshing, as the air started flowing back into the house.  Claire woke up early in utter exaltation and celebration, like Christmas morning, and we went about our Sunday, so very grateful for the gift of electricity.  Every time I opened the refrigerator and felt the cool air, I felt gratitude.

One thing I learned from the derecho storm is that I don’t want to be without electricity.  Having a refrigerator, a phone, a computer with Internet access and some capacity to cool the air are all modern conveniences I would hate to say goodbye to.  But where that electricity comes from, that’s what I’d love to say goodbye to.

Electricity is an extraordinary invention, but we don’t need fossil fuel to generate it.  The extraction, refining and use of fossil fuel is poisoning our water, air and soil – not to mention cooking the planet – yet our government continues to subsidize the fossil fuel industry, despite their obscene profits.  Renewable forms of energy like wind, sun, geothermal and water power are all available to us for the taking and do not threaten the future of life on Earth.  Yet these take a back seat to fossil fuel and its industry that has the money to buy elected officials and keep the dirty engine running.

If we continue to run our society on fossil fuel, the storms, droughts, heat waves, floods and fires will keep coming, with greater and greater frequency, as the planet continues to warm.  This is scientific fact that many would rather push aside in favor of the status quo.  Having been through this latest storm, I wish with all my heart that the people of the United States would wake up and insist we use our innovation and resources to make renewables the foundation of our future.

Claire suffering through two nights of no electricity will be nothing compared to what the future holds for her and all children.  We do have the power to change things, but only if we make the effort to speak up loud and clear, again and again, until our elected officials understand that the health and well being of the people they represent  – not to mention the planet we call home – matters more than the money they receive from the fossil fuel industry.

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Here in Baltimore, I switched to Clean Currents, which allows our home to be 100% powered by wind over coal.  It’s easy to do, still goes through BGE and is no more expensive.  One small step for a better world.  Check it out!

Air

I’m not quite sure when it first began, but somewhere around the time when my daughter Claire was in pre-K we began a ritual of saying good morning to the sky as we drove to school. There’s this overpass we come to that presents a wonderful, wide-open view of the sky. From this viewpoint we can see big white billowy clouds, dark rolling storm clouds, or pure blue. It always speaks to me, this feeling of expanse before the busy day begins. And it seems to speak to Claire, too.

Four years later, though not every morning, we still greet the sky out loud in unison when we arrive at the overpass. This morning’s sky was sunny and blue with no clouds. Yet there seemed to be a brownish haze near the horizon that I found unsettling. Was I imagining that it was brown? Was my environmental-contamination-oriented mind making this up? It seemed too present to be a figment of my imagination. Of course, I kept this observation to myself, allowing Claire to solely indulge in the wonder she so deserves.

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Tending to Things Small and Large

Sam in his habitat.

The day after Hurricane Irene, my husband, daughter and I spent a few days vacationing at the beach.  While there, our daughter Claire campaigned hard to bring home a new member of the family – a hermit crab.  Apprehensive at first, my husband and I concluded it would be an easy enough pet to take of, so we said yes.  Armed with bags of sand from the beach, a 2.5-gallon tank, various shells, a sponge, and a plastic palm tree, we headed home, already fond of the little hermit crab – now affectionately called Sam.

Once home, I looked more extensively at information on how to care for hermit crabs, as the pamphlet that came with Sam seemed inadequate.  It turns out that, though “hermit” is in their name, they are anything but.  Hermit crabs love to hang out with other hermit crabs, ideally in a pack of six to nine, though in their natural habitat they’ll hang out with a hundred of their kin.  I wish they had told us about this at the Sea Shell Shop.

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OMG GMOs

On Mother’s Day of this year my husband took my daughter Claire and me out to dinner, which I was definitely happy about. Cooking dinner day after day is often a trying experience for me, though I honor it as part of my contribution to the family.

We went to the usual Japanese restaurant because it’s the only place Claire truly enjoys eating out. As my husband and I dined on sushi, Claire dove into her favorites – white rice, dumplings, edamame and miso soup. She expressed her enthusiastic delight in the tasty nature of the food, a big smile on her sweet face, which made me very happy – that is until I began my investigation into genetically modified foods the following day.

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Seeds of Greed Part II

I am not a science experiment

I am shocked, outraged and frightened
Now enlightened
About the truth of genetically modified food
Food my child has ingested
Food that hasn’t been long-term tested
To be safe for human consumption
It’s a no-win situation
That is poisoning our nation
And the biotech companies don’t care
Preferring we be unaware

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Seeds of Greed

I am not a science experiment

GMOs are on the rise
Sweeping the planet before our eyes
Causing harm that will arise
In our children
The future’s prize

I say we can stop this mess
Say we won’t allow success
To corporations who choose to poison
The precious lives of girls and boys in
Which the promise of tomorrow
Is all too tainted with unnecessary sorrow

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What the Frack?

Up until a few months ago, I had never heard of fracking. If you had asked me what it is, I would have guessed it’s a substitute for a word that one should not use in the presence of children. As it turns out, that is not what it is, but it still has everything to do with something that should never be used in the presence of children.

Hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. fracking, is an extraction process for natural gas that is currently being conducted in 27 states in the country. Josh Fox, director of the award-winning documentary Gasland, is convinced that fracking is one of the country’s biggest environmental and public health challenges in history. After learning about it myself, I could not agree more.   Continue reading