Monday, April 18, 2011

Thoughts While Walking to Dyer Pond

Sven and I are fortunate to be able to walk through the woods to Dyer Pond, deep in the National Seashore. The walk only takes a dozen minutes or so. Every time we go, I'm struck by the magnificence of Nature. How almighty she is, how precious. I think of my children, my grandchildren. Why allow pollution? Why destroy the planet? What are Tea Partiers thinking in trying to dismantle the EPA? Since I've been doing a lot of reading prior to Earth Day, I looked at the blue, blue water of Dyer Pond and railed against the world greed has created.

My latest read, Pollution: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment by Benjamin Ross and Steven Amter. The book is not on our blue bookshelf because the text is too darn technical and rather depressing. Pollution recounts the conscious choices made right before, and right after, World War II, ie. how polluters went about ducking regulation and "corrupting democracy," in the words of Robert Kennedy, Jr..

It was Rachel Carson who turned the tide. Then, environmental crises at the end of the 1960s drew the attention of the public, and the EPA was created. I graduated from college in 1969 and remember how eagerly a friend's husband joined after law school. It only took a couple years for him to lament the limited purview of this environmental institution and leave government service.

Earth Day was proclaimed April 22, 1970, one day after my son's birth. I would love to say how far we have come, but we haven't. The chemical industry has us in a stranglehold and has no intention of letting go.

But, but, but, people like you and me can change that.

Yesterday I read an article in Salon about how a young writer's fear of having gotten cancer led him to realize the toxic chemical stew we live in may be making us sick.

I got an email this week from Breast Cancer Action, "the first national breast cancer organization to refuse funding from corporations that contribute to or profit from breast cancer so that our work remains uncompromised." BCA works to:

"Eliminate toxins that permeate our everyday lives and increase breast cancer rates.

Build national collaborations with under-served communities to overcome health inequity.

Put patients’ interests before corporate profits through legal and drug approval processes."

Wait. Read those statements again. BCA is targeting toxic chemicals in the environment and putting our interests ahead of corporate profits. We need more organizations like this one. That's where I will be sending a contribution this Earth Day.

I'm waiting for the tipping point, where people catch on, where toxic chemicals will be acknowledged as one cause of cancer, where politicians are brave enough to stand up to corporate interests.

Do you think that day will ever come?