Why it’s great: Earthlings exposes the human race’s reliance on other living beings as pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. It illustrates the disrespect people show for “non-human” providers and conveys the strong message that all living things on earth are not separate, rather we are all earthlings.
Who’s watching it: Vegetarians Alicia Silverstone, Forest Whitaker, Natalie Portman, Clint Eastwood, Casey Affleck, and people who want to know what is really happening behind the scenes, as the human race continues to rely on animals for profit.
What you’ll learn: How meat makes it to the table, the cruelty administered at puppy mills and animal shelters, factory farms as well as the bloodbath of the leather and fur trades.
Want to know more? See www.earthlings.com
As mothers everywhere anticipate a day of pampering this Sunday (May 10), Mother’s Day is also for those who want to remember the remarkable women they once had in their lives.
The Green Dove is a fan of Remembering Mom, a US-based organization that “utilizes the memories and life lessons learned from our mothers to become better women”. Regina Franklin-Basye founded the organization to allow other women to commemorate and celebrate the memory of their mother, specifically around Mother’s Day, in spite of grieving their loss.
Your state of mind and beliefs can help you find opportunity where others believe there is none. The Green Dove asked best-selling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, JACK CANFIELD, how to stay positive while much of the world retreats into scarcity mode.
Environmentalists call for an end to the age of coal-one of the dirtiest and most common of all the fossil fuels we now use-took on new urgency this past December when some 525 million gallons of wet coal ash, enough toxic slurry to flood more than 3,000 acres of nearby land, spilled into the nearby Tennessee River and surrounding areas when a retaining wall at a power plant in the town of Harriman gave way.
The sludge destroyed 12 homes, though no one was directly injured. However, an unprecedented fish kill occurred in the Tennessee River and area tributaries in the aftermath of the spill. According to John Moulton, a spokesman for the Tennessee Valley Authority which owns the plant, a test of river water near the spill site found elevated levels of lead and thallium, both of which have been linked to birth defects and nervous and reproductive system disorders. He reassured locals that, although these substances exceeded safety limits for drinking water, they would be filtered out by normal water treatment processes.
But some area residents arent so sure that they are safe from the effects of the spill, which is estimated to have been over 40 times bigger by volume than the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. Calling it an “environmental disaster of epic proportions,” Carol Kimmons, a local resident who works at the non-profit Sequatchie Valley Institute, told reporters that the nasty black ash flowed into “the water supply for Chattanooga and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.” She added that the spill was 70 percent bigger than a similar one in Kentucky in October 2000 (306 million gallons) that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) referred to at the time as “one of the worst environmental disasters in the Southeastern United States.”
More than a year after that Kentucky spill, researchers found levels of lead downstream from where the spill took place that were 400 times higher than the EPAs safe limit. And levels of Beryllium were 160 times higher than acceptable EPA levels.
“Coal contains huge amounts of heavy metals, and when coal is burned, the organic matter burns off, but many of the nasty chemicals stick around, in higher concentrations,” said Kimmons. “Also, coal is ‘washed’ using some really nasty chemicals, which are also left over in coal slurry.” The bottom line, she concluded, is that “coal slurry is really, really toxic stuff.”
Ironically, on the very same day as the huge Tennessee spill, a coalition of 39 non-profit groups delivered a letter to then President-elect Barack Obama asking him to overturn a pending Bush administration rule change that would ease regulations on coal waste disposal. The groups contend that coal ash has already polluted 23 states and that the proposed new rule would only allow more pollution and more risks to human health and the environment. Now-President Obama has pledged to undertake a comprehensive inventory of liquid coal ash waste and propose new regulations to ensure its safe disposal.
“This disaster proves that regulations around coal slurry impoundments need to be tightened, and not loosened,” says Kimmons. Only time will tell if verbal commitments from Washington materialize into help on the ground.
CONTACTS: Sequatchie Valley Institute, svionline.org; Tennessee Valley Authority, tva.gov.
Dear EarthTalk: I run a sorting machine at the post office, and am worried about all the paper dust swirling around the building. I asked both management and our union if this was a health or safety problem and both said no, but Im not sure they really know. Can you set the record straight? — J.G. Eddins, Phoenix, AZ
One of the drawbacks to the increasing mechanization of postal facilities is the increase in paper dust. The machines doing the grunt work loosen the dust and send it airborne where workers can breathe it in copiously. Contrary to what management and the union may say, paper dust can be a hazard to postal workers, causing and exacerbating respiratory problems. Sorting machines could also theoretically disperse contaminants (such as anthrax) intentionally sent through the mail into postal facilities, further adding to the risk of the job.
“Theres no federal safety standard on it, so its a real problem,” reports Bob Williamson, president of the San Francisco chapter of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU). “Weve had people who have developed occupational asthma from breathing the fine dust.” Other reported problems include bronchitis, allergic reactions, migraines, bacterial infections, conjunctivitis and sore throats.
In the Fall of 2008, more than 450 current and former postal employees, many in the Chicago area, signed a petition to occupational health officials and postal unions blaming health problems on paper dust fibers inside post offices. Some are seeking health benefits to pay for related medical treatment.
“I do believe that my life is going to be shortened,” Delphine Howard, a former manager at two local post offices, told Chicagos ABC7 News. “I started having severe bronchitis attacks, severe asthma attacks, and severe chest pains.” She worked for the postal service from 1987 until 2005 when her doctor diagnosed her with “a medical condition that is affected by unclean air, dust particles and residue in volumes in her present employment areas.” Several other Chicago area postal workers complained of similar symptoms as a result of ongoing exposure to postal dust.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) studied the issue in 1998 and found no direct link between health and postal dust, but did discover that sorting machines could send potentially carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (such as ink) and other irritants like dust mites, into the air. The USPS told ABC7 News it had “only received two direct complaints of respiratory problems in the last several years.”
Diligent cleaning of the machines can help keep the problem in check. “Vacuum and wipe down the machines every day rather than resorting to the quicker method of blowing the dust off the machines and into the air,” says the APWUs Williamson, adding that workers can also wear masks to minimize breathing in of postal dust and any contaminants in the air with it. He also recommends that post offices rotate their workers around to different duties to avoid perpetual exposure to potentially harmful or aggravating activities. Besides dealing with paper dust, mail sorters frequently suffer from muscular-skeletal problems associated with repetitive motion strain.
From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; email@example.com. EarthTalk is now a book! Details and order information at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalkbook
Each week on The Green Dove, EarthTalk features questions submitted by readers on a wide range of environmental topics — from recycling to rainforests; and from the global village to your backyard.
The Environmental Media Association (EMA) and LA Unified School District (LAUSD), with personal care brand Yes To Inc., has announced an ongoing partnership to support organic gardens and greenery in urban schools across Los Angeles. EMA and Yes To will directly support a number of school gardens through funding and celebrity mentoring from EMAs Young Hollywood Board.
Board members include Amy Smart, Nicole Richie (pictured left at the 18th Annual Environmental Awards), Maroon 5, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rosario Dawson, Maria Menounos, Matthew Rhys, Lance Bass, Emily VanCamp, Anna Getty, Olivia Wilde, Carter Oosterhouse and others. Each member will adopt a school to raise awareness for the program and help kids with environmental education.
As the school gardens grow and evolve, student gardeners learn invaluable life lessons such as team work, problem-solving, service-learning, ecology and patience. The program will launch in early summer with a special event at one of the 25 schools.
Why it’s great: Through Jane Roberts, spiritual teacher Seth explained to the world how humans create their own reality. Life-changing content that will change the way you look at yourself, others and the world you live in.
Who’s reading it: Some of the world’s most known authors, including spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra, You Can Heal Your Life author Louise Hay and anyone who is actively discovering their own path to a new consciousness.
What you’ll learn: The answers to some of life’s most important questions.
Want to know more? Head to www.seth-speaks.com
Why it’s great: This 1959 classic shows us how we can exceed even our biggest aspirations by simply thinking bigger. It also shines a spotlight on the sabotaging habits so many of us employ that only stop us from getting where we are to where we truly want to be.
Who’s reading it: Ask the world’s most successful business people if they’ve read The Magic of Thinking Big and you’ll almost certainly get a resounding yes.
What you’ll learn: How to take the steps towards a more successful anything-life, career or even a particular project. The easy-to-follow steps are all tried and tested, meaning you’ll learn workable approaches to life’s situations that, as it promises, “work like magic.”
Want to know more? Check out www.amazon.com
Eco-expert, author and founder of EarthSmart Certified Sustainable Product Standard, Kim Carlson, shares some simple and fun ways to enjoy the summer heat while being kind to you and the environment
Why it’s great: Spiritual author and teacher Deepak Chopra clearly and simply shows how success really comes from living in harmony with natural laws-seven to be exact, which will set you straight on the path of understanding how smoothly life can really run. A rule book for life!
Who’s reading it: Anyone and everyone who’s interested in stripping away the confusion and understanding the way life is truly intended to be.
What you’ll learn: The secrets of living in harmony with the natural laws of the universe, which, once mastered, will open the way for a sense of well-being, good health, fulfilling relationships, energy and enthusiasm for life as well as material abundance.
Want to know more? See www.chopra.com
Why it’s great: This no-nonsense gem says it exactly like it is: “You cannot keep shoveling the same crap into your mouth every day and expect to lose weight.” Sure, it might sound harsh, but the message Freedman and Barnouin bring to the kitchen table should be heard by everyone and anyone who wants to live a truly vibrant, full life.
Who’s reading it: It’s no surprise to hear PETA President Ingrid Newkirk is a Skinny Bitch fan. It has also gained widespread media attention from the NY Times to Health & Fitness UK.
What you’ll learn: That no matter how much you tell yourself diet pills and potions “might work this time”, getting real and putting down the bacon is the first step to a healthier, happier you.
Want to know more? See www.skinnybitch.net