Tuesday, September 23, 2008

O.K. I'm a liar

Being busy and all anxious-like usually means I don't sleep. So . . . I was just reading Discover Magazine and found this book review from 2006.

A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future, by Roger S. Gottlieb

As I was reading A Greener Faith (Oxford University Press, $29.95) on a train, the woman beside me asked me what it was about. When I told her that the book describes the growing involvement of religious people in the environmental movement, she pulled a battered Bible out of her purse. The Bible, she said, holding up the book, tells us we have dominion over the earth, and that means we should not desecrate nature but should cherish and protect it. Before she was saved, the woman added, she used to litter, but no more.

This sort of "green faith" is springing up everywhere, according to the philosopher Roger S. Gottlieb. Until recently, he notes, religions "typically held favorable attitudes toward the rise of industrial civilization." But now religion is inspiring many people not only to stop littering but also to celebrate Earth Day, to protest logging in the Pacific Northwest, to lobby for more stringent anti-pollution laws, even to object to the march of industrial globalization—what some evangelical Christians call "creation care." This trend involves all the major religions and many minor ones, and it is taking place even in developing countries like Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

A religious environmentalist himself (although he never identifies his denomination), Gottlieb argues that environmental activism is a natural outgrowth of faith. After all, religions urge us to bear witness to what is happening around us and to acknowledge where we fall short, both individually and collectively. They encourage us to accept responsibility for the making the world a better place, and they give us the optimism and fortitude needed to take on such immense challenges. Finally, religious values offer an alternative to the gross consumerism that has fueled our despoliation of the planet. For all these reasons, Gottlieb believes that "religion has profound contributions to make to our collective response to the environmental crisis."

Gottlieb is at his best when he describes specific examples of green faith in action, such as a 2001 protest in Washington, D.C., by a diverse group of religious people opposed to the Bush administration's decision to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. When the demonstrators disobeyed police orders to move away from the front gate of the Department of Energy, they were arrested. One of those detained, Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, an Episcopal priest, exulted later that her civil disobedience made her feel "as defiant as a maple seedling that pushes up through asphalt."

This woman's passion, and Gottlieb's, are appealing. But as Gottlieb acknowledges, religion leads some—notably the man currently occupying the White House—in a quite different direction. Indeed, many Christian fundamentalists welcome the environmental crisis as a harbinger of the apocalypse supposedly predicted in the Bible. For these reasons, I feel as ambivalent about religious environmentalism as I do about religious pacifism. As a green agnostic dove, I am glad that some of the faithful share my desire for conservation and peace. I just wish their beliefs were more rooted more in rationalism than in revelation.

Busy Busy Busy

It's been a pretty busy month and I won't lie the next three months aren't going to get any better around here. So . . . as I prepare for a Saturday community meeting about children's environmental health in Florida I'll leave you with a couple things to look forward to this quarter.

September 23- PANNA released a new study on pesticides and schools in Florida

October 3- Sustainable Schools Summit in Washington DC

October 29- Disney Go Green! National Day of Action

Anytime- Volunteer in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast areas because they still need you

Anytime Your Brain Starts To Feel Mushy- Learn About The Precautionary Principle

This should keep you busy until I return. Don't worry industry peeps I'm not laying in a hammock reading a romance novel, I'm working.


Monday, September 8, 2008

A Visual Example

Port Author, Texas is a town pretty close to Lafayette, if you compare the distance to DC anyway. This is a great article and video on what is happening in Port Author, but the situation can be extrapolated for many towns all over the Gulf Coast.

Check out Hilton and Port Author.

Everybody ready for Ike?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hurricane Season

If you read my little profile on the right side bar, you will learn two interesting facts. I was born in southern Louisiana and nowhere in my genealogy are there signs that indicate I should be doing this type of work.

My family that still live in Louisiana went through Katrina while some of my cousins watched from afar in Iraq. Many of the men and women from Louisiana who were serving in Iraq where shipped back to help with the relief efforts of Katrina. Just two days ago when Hurricane Gustav hit many of those same men and women were deployed to New Orleans just in case.

Southern Louisiana is often called Cancer Alley. There are many many chemical plants and facilities in the area and cancer clusters in surrounding neighborhoods are off the charts. Both my mother and sister had hysterectomies before the age of 34 (my sister only partially) because of the first stages of cervical (my mother) and ovarian (my sister) cancers. My mother also has had thyroid cancer, high blood pressure, suffered a massive stroke at 45 that left her unconscious for several days, and was diagnosed with Addison's Disease when I was 5. My aunt had breast and then stomach cancer, which eventually killed her. And I can keep naming illnesses that family members have suffered and continue to suffer with but I think you get my point.

Louisiana is one hot toxic mess.

I had a near panic this past weekend when I watched and listened to news reports talking about how bad Gustav was suppose to be, those around me saw it. What I continue to think about is climate change and that big hot toxic mess where I was born. The impacts of climate change are just going to get more intense and mixing unregulated chemical facilities with 140 mile an hour winds and declining infrastructure looks to me like Breast Cancer on Amphetamines.

Instituting precautionary approaches to our chemical industry isn't just about me having something to do each week day between 9 and 5, it's about protecting what we have. What happens when you send little girls to a school that is built on a former municipal solid waste incinerator? That little girl might lose her ability to reproduce, because she is drinking contaminated water and playing in contaminated dirt. What happens when a category 5 hurricane hits a chlorine plant? Communities are going to be destroyed.

Superfund sites are also of great concern. Here is the official map of Superfund sites in Louisiana.

So that was all pretty despressing.