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by Cindy Cooper
June 6, 2011
Dr. Theo Colborn is often compared to Rachel Carson, whose famous book, Silent Spring will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. Colborn, a dedicated environmental researcher, heartily tosses off the association, even as her own scientific insights gain public attention and acknowledgement.
Carson, of course, kicked off the environmental movement with her 1962 book about harms caused by the chemical DDT. But Carson died from breast cancer two years later, only 47 years old at the time.
Colborn, on the other hand, was 58 years old when she earned a
Theo Colborn: Making Her Own Scientific Path
by Cate Owren
May 26, 2011
A major paradigm shift in dealing with climate change has been unfolding in the last few years – largely thanks to concerted efforts by women's human rights advocates. Once a strictly "environmental" or "business" issue, climate change has been increasingly accepted as a gender equality and social justice issue by civil society organizations, UN agencies and governments from around the globe. Despite this, an ongoing struggle is underway to address both climate change and its specific gender impacts.
Until recently, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was something of an anomaly in the sustainable development policy sphere: it has been …
Women's Rights, Human Rights and Climate Change
by Catherine Gropper
May 19, 2011
I still remember when I heard the first story in April 2010 about the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf in April 2010. I was putting the closing scenes on a new play when radio news bulletins began to interrupt with their searing reality of what was happening. Mostly people were angry at BP and outraged that adequate safety caps had not been installed on these huge oil rigs.
Soon attention turned to the birds and fauna. I began to think about the birds, constantly. There were the images of the birds covered in oil and then the advertisements for Dawn soap. Others, of course, like some of my neighbors, were indifferent: they'd say, "Oh, that's …
For the Birds: My Personal Eco Activism2 comment(s)
by Swapna Majumdar
May 12, 2011
In an economically distressed region of India, categorized as "severely food insecure," and prone to recurrent natural disasters like droughts and floods, women have seized the opportunity via self-help groups and watershed committees to pave the way for change.
The self-help groups were developed by the Western Orissa Rural Livelihoods Project (WORLP) in four districts of the impoverished eastern Indian state of Odisha and for ten years were funded by a program from the UK's Department of International Development that supported water related activities. An impact study of the project found a financial turnaround led by women who emerged from the …
Watershed Women: Self Help in India4 comment(s)
by Susan Lehman
May 8, 2011
As the mother of grown children, I have basked in the annual glow of Mother's Day recognition for a long time. Both my family and my community offer me blessings and praise for raising and providing for my children. But one of my most deeply maternal choices, my abortion, does not warrant the same recognition.
Data from the Guttmacher Institute states that one in three women will have an abortion at some point in her life, and that the "reasons [women] give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life." Even more significant as we approach Mother's Day and as we celebrate strong …
Strong Families Love Unconditionally
by Larissa Ruoff
May 3, 2011
One in six women of childbearing age have elevated levels of mercury in her bloodstream, which, if she were to become pregnant, could put her child at risk, reported a January 2011 study, "Dirty Energy's Assault on Our Health: Mercury," by Shelley Vineyard and Lauren Randall of the Environment America Research and Policy Center. One of the major sources of mercury pollution is coal-fired power plants – and the environmental impacts of coal combustion are not limited to mercury and air pollution.
Each year the burning of coal also leads to the creation of over 130 million tons of coal ash, which is a byproduct of the combustion process that …
Clean Up: Shareholder Activism Pushes Companies
by Alexis Greene
April 26, 2011
Every morning the trucks roll out of the garage at Community Environmental Center (CEC), and every morning Ruby Carrasquillo is sitting in one of them, heading to a work site.
Carrasquillo is a weatherization technician at CEC, a Queens-based nonprofit that brings weatherization to low-income homes and apartment buildings in the New York Metro Area. She is also a member of Local 10 of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), and she spends her days blowing cellulose insulation into walls, insulating pipes, weather-stripping doors or caulking windows.
Women in Tyvek: Hope in Nontraditional Green Jobs1 comment(s)
by Marianne Schnall
April 19. 2011
The Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist writer, often talks about the concept of "Inter-Being." He uses the example of how a piece of paper isn't just paper, it has so many non-paper elements to it. The paper comes from a tree, so the tree is in the paper, the tree is in soil, so soil is in the paper, the tree needs the sun to grow, so the sun is in the paper, as are the clouds, and the rain which all nurtures its growth. The men or women who were all part of the paper-making process are also in the paper, as well as the food that …
Webs of Connection: Trees, Women, Activism
by Lu Bailey
April 12, 2011
Several years ago, I attended a workshop about the history of douching. The topic was very intriguing to me. In fact, the young lady who presented the workshop used part of her dissertation as the foundation for her presentation.
She mentioned that she was given a full scholarship to research women and douching. I didn't know what to expect. Would our presenter ask the crowd if we douched today? Would she show those terrible feminine hygiene commercials (where women are cowering in a corner with a hoodie on because they stink) and ask us to respond?
She did none of those things. She simply directed our attention to a table where …
Dirty Down There: The Selling of "Feminine" Products
by Lise Saffran
April 5, 2011
To an American college student, there is nothing more invisible than the infrastructure that supports public health on the environmental level. Except in rare occurrences (a cancer cluster, a catastrophic oil spill, a nuclear disaster) the systems that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we consume are invisible to most students and because they are invisible, they are taken for granted. When no one is burning plastic garbage outside your window, it is easy to forget about the money, political will, engineering know-how, the sheer community effort that went into making that so.
It is in great part to make that invisible …
Infrastructure: Fiction Techniques and Shaping Public Health
by Karen Ethelsdattar
March 29, 2011
With the now-ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan, I was shaken all over again. After the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the Pennsylvania in 1979 during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, I was moved to write a poem about it.
Many of the details were related to me by my-then lover, Stephen, who learned them from his friend, John, a sculptor and dairy farmer in Pennsylvania. Now with the terrible news from Japan, there still exists the possibility that a tragedy of these proportions could happen here. We have lived with this nightmare and attendant guilt and fear, conscious and unconscious, ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Poetry: Reliving the Nuclear Nightmare5 comment(s)
by Sarah Flint Erdreich
March 22, 2011
The best Hanukkah gift I ever gave my mother was four canvas bags. My sister and I ordered them from the Seventh Generation catalog, and when the box arrived we took out the plain, off-white totes, ironed them, and then carefully wrapped the bags. My mother was delighted; over twenty years later, those bags have hauled countless books to the library, groceries home from the store, and gym clothes to and from the locker room.
Yet it never occurred to me that my mother was concerned with environmental health or any kind of eco-friendly living. She recycled, sure, but she also ate meat and used household cleaners chock-full of toxic chemicals. To my …
Four Bags: My Mother's Gift of Living Simply
by Carolyn Raffensperger
March 16, 2011
I struggle to understand the spiritual and ecological nature of being a living being, a small piece of the incarnation, a bit of the Earth. Growing older has only added to the mystery as my body asserts its own wants and needs in different ways than it did when I was younger. Because I am an environmentalist, I suspect I can only treat my body as I would the Earth. I can only treat the Earth as I would treat my own body.
I offer these fledgling thoughts to you, fellow travelers, to map against your own experience.
1) The body is a gift of the ancestors. Their choices, their ecological context, their human cultures, are present in …
My Body, the Earth: The Earth, My Body