Day 78: UTAH moms for Clean Air and Docs for Healthy Environment and Rachel Carson is crying.

Utah: Ben has been editing with hardly any sleep for 4 dys. Salt Lake City has such acute air pollution problems that there is a website devoted to this issue called Utah Moms for Clean Air. Our 2nd nephew is due to be born any second, and I am thinking, how are we possibly doing enough?

This blog isn’t meant to be depressing or to sound futile. But I did not give up our life just to go on a fun trip around the country – I did it to find out as much as we can and to do something to help raise awareness about the environmental state that we have purchased for ourselves: water that is too polluted to drink and that people are told not to wade in after a storm; air that causes lung disease especially in children; birds and fish that are so concentrated with mercury that people are told not to eat them; food that is so saturated with corn syrup and non-food ingredients that we are becoming malnourished and obese; and rapidly rising rates of cancer. So, in the spirit of this solution-seeking, Your Environmental Road Trip gladly accepted an invitation from Jim Westwater to attend a meeting of the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club in Provo.

YERT rolled in with cameras in hand and joined about 25 other folks in Room 201 of the Provo Public Library. The bland ochre walls did not reflect the profoundly important messages, which transcend politics and party lines and should be available to everyone, in every walk of life, in my opinion. The American people deserve to know what atmospheric pollutions are doing to them, what poisons are being sprayed on their trees, crops, lawns, streams; what is going into our bodies; what are the true environmental and economic costs of the energy we are purchasing to power our homes and cars, and Americans should understand that we have a right to demand that healthy options be made available to us. Global climate change aside, whether or not to recycle aside, Americans are getting more and more unhealthy, due to our own pollution of our environment. We have to speak up. There is no other way for change to happen.

Rebecca Wessman appealed to the gathering for the citizens of Orem, UT, who want to protest pesticide spraying for Japanese Beetles in their community.
First, let me say that I am still reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (which, for anyone who doesn’t already know, she beautifully wrote in 1962 as a scientific dissection and condemnation of the indiscriminate use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides, which were sprayed without outside study for environmental effects and without the public’s knowledge or understanding of the poisons. These petroleum-based solutions may have been deemed “not harmful” in certain ppm but the problem is they don’t go away, they become increasingly harmful as they travel up the food chain and intensify, concentrating in animal tissues as well as in streams and watersheds). Rachel wrote Silent Spring over 45 years ago. One entire chapter is devoted to the futility of spraying for EXACTLY THIS INSECT…spraying that has been proven to be inferior to natural and biological methods (such as natural predators). I am appalled to see that we are still fighting the same fight, almost EXACTLY. Rachel must be rolling over in her grave.

Get this: Residents in the Orem, UT area have been told that once the pesticide spraying has occurred, they cannot eat produce from their gardens, vines or trees for THREE YEARS.
How is this acceptable? Isn’t our government supposed to be protecting us?

The information is out there. Here’s a passage from Landscape America:

When used improperly, insecticides can pose serious hazards to people, wildlife, and the environment. There is also increasing concern about the fate of insecticides in the environment and the potential for pesticide runoff to cause water contamination. Because of these concerns, scientists believe that biological control agents are preferable to pesticides in the suppression of turf insects.
Homeowners who choose biological methods to control Japanese beetle populations can successfully use parasites, nematodes, fungi, or other bio
logically based approaches. Some of these agents are commercially available to homeowners; others are not. While they take a little longer to produce the same results as insecticides, biological control agents last longer in the environment. More importantly, they do not adversely affect non-target insects, or more important, potentially beneficial organisms that live in our landscapes.

Chemical pesticides are incredibly poisonous and kill many other things than the shiny green beetles they target, not to mention they increase in concentration and are even causing sterility in some bird populations. What if people are trying to live off the food in their gardens in order to avoid pesticides and herbicides still lingering on conventionally grown food? Is it possible that we cannot avoid manmade chemical poisons in our daily lives? Is it right? Hello, no.

From Utah Physici
ans for a Healthy Environment (speaker Dr. Brain Moench):
1. The Medical Community does not dispute that that 80% of all Cancer is environmentally caused.
2. There is no safe level of air pollution because there is no safe air pollution. Effects of air pollution on our children’s health (specifically leukemia and lymphoma) are NOT debated.
3. There are no regulations on mercury emissions from coal plants.
4. Coal is the major source of radioactivity on Earth. 1 yr of coal processing = 18 tons of Uranium. People living near coal-fired plants are absorbing more radioactivity than people living near nuclear power plants.

To those in favor of continuing to use chemicals to control unwanted living things, and to those proponents of the coal industry who cite jobs and economy as the reasons for building new coal plants and continuing to burn fossil fuels, let’s ask: WHY NOT USE METHODS THAT HAVE NO HEALTH IMPACTS??? Where is the true cost examination, that takes into account the health impacts, and the health COSTS incurred later on due to increased poisons in our air, water, and soil. Rachel Carson asked, “…by what sort of accounting was the “too expensive” judgment reached? Certainly not by any that assessed the true costs of the total destruction wrought by such programs…”

And so I close with renewed concern, and renewed hope that Americans will start asking questions of their legislators and their neighbors, learning what is happening in their community and then taking the steps needed to help make changes that will only benefit us all in the long run, and all the little people who will be in on it when we are gone. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Of all the questions which can come before this nation…there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.”

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