Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Victories....and then some leftovers

Some good things to be thankful for on the environmental front:

The US President put off the Tar Sands and the Keystone Pipeline XL decision--which Bill McKibben thinks will effectively kill the plan.  Thanks to the thousands who have worked tirelessly on this issue at and with, a major victory was won.  Thank you, in particular, to the leader on this one-- Bill McKibben (author of The End of Nature and Eaarth)--and thank you to all the activists!

The vote in Trenton, NJ, set to take place by the Delaware River Basin Commission on November 21, 2011, to allow for Fracking in the Delaware river region was postponed indefinitely-- thanks to the Delaware Governor Markell's letter of opposition to the commission stating that he would not vote in favor of the drilling.  New York was opposed as well.

For this amazing action--a huge thanks goes to to Josh Fox -- the brilliant filmmaker of Gasland and tireless activist, for alerting the American public to the dangers of hydraulic fracking and spearheading "fractavisim"!  Gasland is quite possibly the most important environmental film ever made--it has woken our nation up to the horrors of gas drilling and will save millions of lives.  Thanks, also, to all the impassioned activists who have joined this battle--including the actor Mark Ruffalo, writer and biologist Sandra Steingraber, Bill McKibben, and the thousands of other activists who worked and work to save the water and lives in our region!  The fight is not over yet, but we're on our way...

Fall, 2011, my Stony Brook students and all of us have experienced revolution in action--Occupy--energizing the environmental movement and changing the status quo.  Many of my students went to the rallies for Tar Sands, Anti-Nuclear power and weapons, Occupy and Fracking, and they have written letters to the politicians, called and protested, and spread the environmental word in a myriad of ways. In all my years of teaching, I have never seen such positive action...  It is so heartening to be teaching environmental literature and film at this time in history.

Marches, teach ins, sit ins in New York City and many cities throughout the U.S. have seen the revolution come alive. What the Occupy movement makes so clear: the sinking of our economy and the middle class, the growing rise in poverty, homelessness and hunger, the demise of our educational programs, the high cost and inaccessibility of medical benefits for so many, the destruction of our environment, and the lack of "community and connection"-- throughout the US, are systemic and interconnected crises.  Capitalism benefits the 1% and too many of the 99% are in desperate straits, including planet earth.  We've become nation of shoppers-- not creators, doers, thinkers, lovers, or good citizens.  All that is changing now.  Thank you to all the Occupiers who are working so hard, so joyously, and with love to build a more unified, healthy, and safe world and way of thinking for all!  Unfortunately, and very sadly, police and University officials in some rallies (such as NYC, U.C. Davis and Penn State, among others) have responded with violence.  This is horrific and unacceptable.

Fukushima and Nuclear Power/Radiation: the suffering and much denial continues in Japan by Tepco and the Japanese Government, and many Americans are clueless--we have 23 of the same nuclear plants here.  GE MARK 1.  Whistle blowers (engineers who worked for GE) Dale Bridenbaugh et al warned GE about the design flaws of the GE Mark 1 in the 1980s.  Just a few google searches and I learned this easily.  Why isn't the New York Times broadcasting this?   What are we waiting for?  Another accident here or elsewhere?   Why don't Americans know this?  Why are we not afraid right here in the U.S.A?

Notice how high cancer rates are since the 1950s.  What changed post WWII?  Two major industries were born and have taken root with a vengeance: chemical and nuclear. Since the mid-twentieth century, these industries have been producing and polluting a lethal combination of toxic materials.  Our government does not control them, they control our government.  Our bodies and planet are filled with this lethal combination of contamination and it continues to get worse.  No wonder we're all so sick.

The nuclear industry will tell you there is no factual basis for linking 'much' cancer to low level exposures to nuclear leaks, etc, but this is because they don't want you to connect the obvious dots.... of course lower level radiation causes cancer.   That is why we stopped giving x-rays except when they are absolutely necessary.  That is why we don't x-ray fetuses.  Epidemiologists, doctors, and scientists know this and have known this since the 1950s.  Read the seminal work and studies of Dr. Alice Stewart, Dr. Rosalie Bertel, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Barry Commoners, Linus Pauling, Joe Mangano, among many others.  The nuclear industry downplays the dangers of radiation leaks and exposures, double-speaks it, and creates doubt.  Doubt, as in the climate change debate, causes Americans to get very sleepy and confused--which is precisely what the nuclear industry wants.  Don't worry be happy.  'Clean nuclear energy', as in 'clean coal' is baloney.  Neither are clean!  Exactly how much radiation causes cancer, in whom, and when--is hard to prove, because scientists can't put people (or babies, children or pregnant women--who are the most vulnerable) in a laboratory and test them over the long term for low level exposures--so we don't have nice and neat peer reviewed studies on the subject to show the precise links.  Just because we don't have exact numbers, however, does NOT make nuclear safe.

The people in Fukushima and many areas of Japan right now are, therefore, guinea pigs. 

So, along with one of my heroes, Sandra Steingraber (author of Living Downstream), I'd rather that our children live in safety and precaution.  I'd rather be safe than sorry.  Animals can smell/sense danger--they don't need a data set or computer chart to prove to them their children are not safe.  Mothers and fathers smell it right now in Japan.  We need to heed this horrific event in Fukushima, take warning, and take action all over the world.

Stay tuned with the Safe Chemicals Act 2011, set to overhaul our chemical safety regulations in the US.  Legislation was introduced in April and November.  We'll see what the outcome is.  To learn more and lend your voice, read about the bill introduced by Senators Lautenberg, Schumer, Boxer, Klobucher, here.

My students did projects on food just before Thanksgiving.... timely, but now, how to eat or buy anything. I forked out $80 for a local turkey and I was told it walked around outside, ate healthy food, and had a somewhat acceptable life for a turkey while it lived.  Laugh, but watch a few movies on factory farming and you'll never feel the same way about eating meat again!  I think it is time to go back to being a vegetarian.

Noticing it is way too warm outside this holiday.  I like warm weather, but  New York at 70 degrees in  on Thanksgiving?   As the nun says in the Madeleine stories when she senses mischief is afoot, "something is not right."   Until last year, Thanksgiving was always frigid.  Climate Change.  Not good.

Tomorrow great environmental rally in NYC with all the big names speaking--Fox, McKibben, and Greg Palast....

Climate Day Rally. November 27 @NYC Washington Square, 2pm-5pm  
Followed by a march to Liberty Square
Investigative journalist Greg Palast will prosecute BP for ecocide.
Day will also feature speakers Josh Fox and Bill McKibben, founder of

I'll be there...

Time to go for a hike!


Gail Payne said...

Loved this post, especially the part about the cancer epidemic and it's clear connection to the concurrent swamping of our environment with chemicals and nuclear radiation. See you in NYC later!

Valkano said...

Heidi, this is Steve Valk with Citizens Climate Lobby. Thanks for liking our intro call event for Dec. 7. Will you be joining the call? Mark, our director, is launching new chapters in the Northeast in January. You interested?

My email is


.Ecofeminist and Mothering Ruminations said...

Steve, feel free to write to me and we can speak further: I will try to make that call. Can you send me the information again? Thanks so much.