Category Archives: Clean Food, Air and Water

Josh Fox Explains How Fracking is Consuming Our America

At the Frack Attack rally, I caught Josh Fox talking on the sidelines.  I am always in awe of his capacity to communicate.  He is articulate, accessible, compelling, funny, genuine and spot on.  The anti-fracking movement is so fortunate to have him as an international spokesperson, though his film Gasland is clearly one of the main reasons the movement exists.

In this clip, he explains how our country is literally getting eaten up by our addiction to fossil fuels.  I’ve known this for a while now, but as he was explaining it, it hit me differently, perhaps because I was at the rally in the front of the Capitol with people from all over this country that have been personally affected by fracking in horrendous ways.  Whatever the reason, I could literally see our country getting eaten up, and it fueled my fire to continue fighting to extinguish the madness.

Clean energy is our only chance for a viable future.  Our only chance.

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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 Sky is Pink: The Truth about Fracking

Josh Fox’s “The Sky Is Pink” is a brilliant, concise and startling short documentary on the truth about fracking and the fate New York awaits.  It is worth 18 minutes of your time. Fracking is NOT safe.  It’s as simple as that.  See for yourself.

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!

Shrimp: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

My husband is very kind when he tells people I’m a good cook.  I would never call myself a good cook, but rather something closer to a satisfactory one.   I choose healthy, whole food and make sure there is flavor to be had, but my repertoire lacks spark.  I have a set number of meals that I put together, and I rarely venture beyond them.  This is because, though I honor my role as the cook of the house, I lack the desire to invest time and energy in acquiring new recipes.  I wish it were otherwise, but, as they say, I’ve got better fish to fry.

Given my chef profile, it makes sense that shrimp are an essential component to my weekly meals.  They are so easy to cook, so versatile and can be successfully brought together with other food I tend to have in the house.  Throw in some pesto or red curry sauce a la Trader Joe’s, and I’m set.  Shrimp are a satisfactory cook’s best friend.

Yet, I have quietly known for some time that shrimp were up there when it comes to seafood that is significantly damaging to both human health and the environment.  I didn’t want to do the research to find out the specifics – didn’t want to face it – but I finally did.  And now it is clear to me that, if I’m going to walk the talk on caring for this living planet we call home, I need to let them go.

Break up with shrimp?  They’ve always been there for me when I’ve needed them.  How can I live without them?  I’m a little freaked out.

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How The Lorax Influenced My Recycled Toilet Paper Dilemma

Recycled toilet paper has been used in the bathrooms of my humble home for many years now. Having read some statistics a while ago on the negative environmental impact virgin fiber toilet paper has on the number of trees that grace this earth, recycled TP seemed a no-brainer.

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.

The truth is we couldn’t exist without trees. Putting aside their lovelier aspects such as providing shade, animal habitat, fruit and beauty,

  • Trees produce oxygen. One mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year.
  • Forests serve as giant filters that clean the air we breath by intercepting and retaining airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.
  • Trees clean the soil, absorbing dangerous chemicals and other pollutants that enter the soil, either storing them or actually changing the pollutants into less harmful forms.
  • To produce its food, a tree absorbs and locks away carbon dioxide in the wood, roots and leaves, taking it out of our atmosphere. With the imminent threat of global warming/climate change looming over our status quo lives, trees are essential to absorbing the carbon created by our current addiction to fossil fuels.

Trees are clearly essential to our lives and need to be protected. Yet recently I was having days here and there where I secretly longed for softer toilet tissue. Recycled toilet paper has come a long way, but it’s smoother than it is soft. I began to wonder what the harm would be in buying a softer brand and occasionally alternating it with 100% recycled. On my next visit to the grocery store I came upon and purchased Scott’s Naturals, which is 40% recycled. I thought this was a reasonable compromise.

Still, it wasn’t sitting easily with me. I had to do more research in order to feel at greater peace with my new TP choice. It may seem silly that I was spending this much time on a basic household product, but the Lorax was on my shoulder, and I’ve always been one to listen to the Lorax.

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Poisoned Water, Poisoned Air and Other Scary Monsters

My daughter Claire says she has a lot of monsters that live under her bed. They include vampires, zombies, giant furry things, etc. They are her friends, and only she is allowed to visit them. One day, after talking about her monster friends, Claire asked what really scares me. I think she was hoping I’d come up with something that has glowing red eyes, long crusty fingernails, green fangs and a hair-raising howl. Pondering her question, I stared out into space, letting all the monsters that haunt me race through my head.

Cancer, cancer, cancer, I thought; that everywhere-you-turn monster that’s consuming humans at a frightening pace. Cancer scares me. What scares me even more is the constant poisoning of our water, air, soil and food. Modern industrial life has brought with it a plethora of toxic chemicals that have saturated our society.

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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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Blue River, Wider Than a Mile: A Personal Look into Blue Jean Manufacturing

I love my jeans.  Weather permitting, I wear jeans most of the time.  What I wear with them will vary, depending on whether I’m going to the grocery store or into the city for the evening.  As the years go by, and I find myself having passed the 50-year-old yard line, I feel like jeans keep me from getting too old too quickly.  An illusion, perhaps, but when I put them on they still feel like me.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop wearing jeans.  If I make it to 90, I’ll still be wearing them.  They provide some continuity to my human existence; a source of comfort in an ever-changing world.  Uh, that is until I came across an article on the manufacturing of blue jeans.

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Plastic Purge

Plastic! Ahhhhh!!

Plastic is everywhere. It is in every room of my house. The kitchen is especially brimming with this non-biodegradable phenomenon. Plastic can be found drying in my dish rack, piled in my pantry, and lined up under my sink. Most purchased food is in plastic. Thick plastic, thin plastic, hard plastic, pliable plastic. I think most people don’t see plastic. It just is, much like air. It is accepted as material essential to our lives.

Stepping away from the home and out into space, I now bring my focus to the Northern Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where an estimated 225 million pounds or 113,000 tons of plastic waste twice the size of Texas is residing. A similar patch of floating plastic debris is found in the Atlantic Ocean.

Because plastic is photodegradable, not biodegradable, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over time which become easily mistaken for plankton. And so, the fish, swimming in their beloved sea, unaware of human life, eat this plastic plankton. Yum! And of course, we eat the fish.

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