Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Every Day is Earth Day

My beloved So. Yarmouth, MA beach. Quote by Sandra Steingraber.

Dear Ocean,

You are my home - 
from newborn to adult, I grew up on your shores.
You are my inspiration - 
as a child I sat in a rock cave on your beach and wrote poems of my joys and sorrows.
You are my lullaby - 
the sound of your waves lulled me to sleep at night, in my bed with sandy sheets.
You are my playground - 
I hula hoop on your sand and do somersaults in your waves.
You are my medicine - 
your salinity cleanses my wounds and eases the soreness in my muscles.
You are my favorite hair stylist - 
I never want to wash the salt and wind out of my wild hair.
You are my god - 
I love the whole world a little bit more every time I'm with you.
You are my gym - 
swimming in your water and running in your sand strengthens my lungs and heart.
You are my best audience - 
I sing songs into the shoreline wind I would never sing for another.
You are my source of nourishment - 
shrimp, dulse, scallops, nori, from your belly to mine.
You are my arts and crafts supplier - 
I fill my home with seaglass, shells, driftwood, and photos of you.
You are my teacher - 
you show me how to be strong and gentle both, stable and yet constantly evolving.
You are my home - 
What can I give to you, for all that you give to me? 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~
What I give to my beloved ocean:
a promise to oppose fracking and the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, every chance I get!  Water, along with air, is our most precious resource.  Fracking, the process of drilling deep into the bedrock and blasting huge amounts of sand, water, and chemicals into it in order to create cracks that release natural gas, is a dangerous activity in many ways.  One of its biggest harms is that it removes millions of gallons of fresh, clean water from the water cycle forever.  Fracking gobbles up millions of gallons of water that becomes so poisoned by hundreds of chemicals that it can never be used again.  Fracking is wrong, and cannot be done safely, and must be stopped.  No amount of money made from fracking could possibly make fracking "worth it."  Money is paper, and money isn't real.  Water is.  Water is life.  We humans do not literally need money to stay alive, but try spending even one day without water.  Then ask yourself, which is more valuable?  Even if someone offered me a million dollars to put a drilling rig in my backyard, I would say no.  NO to the destruction of the Earth and water, and NO to the water in my kitchen sink being so full of chemicals that you can set it on fire as it comes out of the tap.  As Sandra Steingraber explains in her (brilliant, fierce) Earth Day letter from jail, some fracking wastes will be used to make plastics, a large portion of which will eventually add bulk to the already-inexcusably-huge garbage patch in the ocean.  Fracking is the enemy of all water, of all types.

Ocean, Water, I promise you, I love you most of all.  I will do what I can to protect you and urge others to do the same.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~

If you want to oppose fracking, too, here's a starting place - http://apps.toxicstargeting.com/ms_email_template.php
It's a template letter that you can send to Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of NY.  Currently there is a moratorium on fracking in NY to gather more information about it.  Many activists, scientists, health professionals, parents, and concerned citizens are asking Gov. Cuomo to JUST SAY NO to fracking.  If you live in NY, write to Gov. Cuomo and tell him to protect your home!  If you don't live in NY, write anyway!  It's not like toxic chemicals respect state boundaries, you know?  The pollution from fracking in any location could end up in your body or mine, via the air we breathe or the food we eat.

If you first want to learn more about fracking, I recommend the documentary "Gasland," which is available to stream on Netflix, or go to http://www.nyagainstfracking.org.  The latter is a group that Sandra Steingraber helped start.  She won a $100,000 award for the work she has done (as a biologist and writer, educating the public about the environmental links to cancer), and despite the fact that her family really could have used that money, she donated it all to the anti-fracking movement.  Because she knows that ALL of our well-being depends on the Earth's well-being.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sandra Steingraber is my Earth Day Hero!

While many people today are "celebrating" Earth Day by, oh, wearing an organic cotton T-shirt while drinking fair trade coffee, Sandra Steingraber - a hero of mine for years, but now more than ever - is spending Earth Day in jail because of her deep commitment to the environment.

You can read the story here.  (includes video).
And you can read Sandra's writings from jail here.

Sandra, along with 11 other inspiring activists, blocked the path of a truck to prevent it from storing toxic fracking waste under Seneca Lake, which provides drinking water to many people.  She was arrested for this non-violent act of trespassing and sentenced to 15 days in jail.  She is there now.  Fifteen days away from her husband, her children, nature, fresh air, coffee, her work, her home, privacy, and adequate sleep.

Instead of sending her letters of support, Sandra wants people to send letters to the editor and/or letters to Governor Cuomo to say no to fracking.  (There's a template here.)   In solidarity with Sandra, and in gratitude for the personal sacrifices she is making to take a stand for the Earth's health, I'm pledging now to engage in some form of anti-fracking/environmental activism (e.g. blogging, letter-writing, monetary donations) every day for the duration of Sandra's sentence.

To start with, here's my email to Gov. Cuomo, which I sent in the mail to Sandra, too:

Dear Governor Cuomo:

My name is Britta, and I live in Vermont.  I'm writing to you today because I'm deeply concerned about the negative health effects of fracking, and I urge you to be a truly inspiring leader by banning fracking in New York - Vermont already has, and I'm so proud to be a Vermonter.  Why do I write to you, when I live in VT?  Because all across the nation, those of us who care about the health of the Earth - for humans' health is dependent on it - are watching you.  If you are bold enough to say no to fracking, and say YES to health, others will follow suit.

At the VERY least, I request that you maintain New York's Marcellus Shale gas extraction moratorium until your Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner, Dr. Nirav R. Shah, completes a comprehensive Public Health Impact Study of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF).  This study must document:

A: The broad spectrum of toxic and persistent pollutants generated by HVHF activities;
B: The environmental fate and transport mechanisms associated with the toxic and persistent pollutants generated by HVHF activities;
C: Known and potential public exposures to toxic and persistent HVHF pollutants, including: contaminant concentrations; exposure duration; an assessment of all potential public health consequences; and
D: Whether the Draft SGEIS adequately safeguards public health from HVHF toxic pollution threats. 

I write to you in solidarity with biologist Sandra Steingraber, a hero of mine.  Her work to protect the health of the Earth and the health of humans has been inspiring me for years.  She is in jail right now for blocking the path of an Inergy truck that was going to put toxic fracking waste in storage under Seneca Lake.  Her small and non-violent act of trespassing was an attempt to prevent a bigger, more dangerous act of trespass: the trespass of toxic, carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting chemicals into our air, drinking water, and bodies.  Yes, I say "our" even though I live over 250 miles away from Seneca Lake and have never even been there, because toxic chemicals know no boundaries - DDT is found in mothers' breast milk today, despite being banned over 30 years ago.  There is virtually no body of water in the country in which Atrazine cannot be found.  The nuclear disaster in Japan resulted in radioactive milk in New England.  Everything is interconnected; it’s all one Earth.

I have friends and family in New York whose health and well-being I care about, and fracking would put them in danger.  I would like to be able to continue visiting New York, and buy food produced in New York, but I will be hesitant to do so if there is fracking going on, for I’ve already had cancer twice and I’m only 34.  Please keep New York healthy and safe by banning fracking, and by doing so, set an example for the rest of the country.

Thank you,