It is no secret that mainstream media coverage of environmental issues is slow-moving, and many stories go un-reported in the press. Climate change deniers spout their ideology with reckless abandon. Enter my guest this week, Andrew Nikiforuk, an award winning environmental writer based in Calgary, Canada, who has written a new book about the hydraulic fracturing industry entitled Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry. The book traces the saga of Jessica Ernst, and the path she takes to hold Encana Oil and Canada’s environmental government agencies, responsible for secretly fracking hundreds of gas wells around her home, in a rural area northeast of Calgary. A cover-up ensues, which leads Ms. Ernst to take legal action against the various parties for their role in contaminating land, water and air in her community. For more information andrewnikiforuk.com and to amazon.com to check out his new and older works.
This weeks episode takes us to the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action at the UN, sponsored by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN). This event was attended by women from over 50 countries. To have such a collection of amazing women in one place, who presented stories of courage and resilience in combating climate change was deeply touching. Women play a key role in adapting solutions to climate change, and it was an honor to speak with WECAN founder Osprey Lake, environmentalist visionary Sally Ranney, as well as Neha Misra founder of Solar Sister, Harriet Shugarman Executive Director of ClimateMama, Executive Director of CELF Katie Ginsberg and student Coreena, and Patricia Gualinga-Montalvo, Indigenous Leader of Ecuador, whose interview was translated by Amazon Watch’s Executive Director Leila Salazar-López. For more information visit wecaninternational.org
By Susan Lutz
Forests are dying. Polar bears starving, ice caps shrinking. The list grows. We’ve spent a lifetime stomping on the planet and now world leaders gather in the hopes of finding a solution before we hit the tipping point. Can we pull back? Can we save ourselves?
I read positive stories: a community garden in Haiti becomes a center of growth and revitalization; the price of solar power is dropping fast and becoming an extremely viable alternative energy source; climate adapted strategies are manifesting and working to stabilize wildlife. Around towns, I see trees being planted, youth conversing about important issues. This is great. And there are many more examples of success and ideas which are moving us forward.
Yet, I read bad news, too: the UK starts to cut millions of dollars from its renewable resources; the threat of disease increases due to insects gaining the ability to live longer and travel farther; the sea level is rising; and of course, we’ve all seen the pictures of the polar bears starving. Some days, it’s hard to read the news. Some days it does seem like we’re just going to tip over and sink.
I recently heard a lecture on the cause and effect of our actions and the impact our choices have on climate change. The most interesting, and most powerful, I thought, was this: What are we willing to give up? In this country, the majority of cars during rush hour consist of single drivers. Bottled water and soda fill our vending machines, and we don’t give a second thought to the short pleasure we get versus the amount of toxins in each bottle. We like our stuff. We like our creams, cars, deals online, new phones, and processed, over-packaged foods.
The summit on climate change brings together world leaders. The model of coming together to talk; understanding our differences; taking note of those suffering the most; and, moving forward with dialogue. Regardless of how difficult the task is, it is one we must implement from the highest of offices to the grass-roots level.
We wait too long to act. We wait to change gun laws until terror steps into our cafes (if even then). We wait to ban trophy hunting and poaching and watch as species become threatened and face habitat loss and even become extinct. We’re slowly melting under the take-the-money-and-run philosophy of getting what we need, now, and forgetting how it will hurt us in the future.
When my son picked up an acorn the other day, he thought it was the grandest of discoveries. I held it up and told him it was amazing. We carried it with us as if it were a piece of gold. Our food supply, our land, our water – they truly are gold. We must realize this now, or we will watch as the world melts and slowly slips away.
“Between its celebrations of privilege, and the angst of its reckonings, human life gathers unto itself a chaos of contradictions… If we are ceaseless tamperers, we are also from time to time unobtrusive, Though we shout, so may we whisper.” (Michael Charles Tobias, quote from his work, After Eden: History, Ecology and Conscience) My guest this week is Michael C. Tobias, President of Dancing Star Foundation, who is a global ecologist, humanitarian, explorer, author, filmmaker, educator and animal rights activist. 195 nations are set to converge in Paris, a city recently struck by incomprehensible acts of terrorism, for the COP 21 (Conference of Parties), with the hopes of reaching an agreement to to set limits on carbon emissions to reduce the detrimental effects of global warming. Rich and poor nations must gather to form partnerships to be agents of change, rather than agents of destruction. Negative ideology has to be redirected, and ethics, compassion and morality, along with science and technology must lead the way to solutions. For more information go to www.dancingstarfoundation.org
Can we feed the world without wrecking it? Are we farming ourselves out of food? My guest, Joel K. Bourne Jr. and I delve into those questions on this week’s show. Joel’s new book, THE END OF PLENTY: The Race to Feed a Crowded World, discusses the world food crisis, as it relates to population increase and environmental concerns. Farm land is becoming decimated, as water shortages are spreading globally, thus reducing growth of crops needed to feed the populace. Political unrest and revolutions have occurred in various hot spots around the world, as wheat crops have failed, which has lead to tightening grain supplies. Lives are lost as fights break out over bread. Will 3D printing of food save us? Probably not, but there is hope, as farmers are using innovations in food irrigation, as well as conservation methods to solve some of the problems. A new land ethic must be put into place to feed the world. For more information go to joelkbournejr.com and amazon.com for his book, THE END OF PLENTY.
Do the electric slide into an EV (electric vehicle), and plug into a greener way to travel. My guest this week, Seth Leitman, a/k/a Green Living Guy, brings his expertise on vehicles that are electrifying the roadways. From Ford Fusion to Mitsubishi to Tesla, we learn about how the car industry is heading towards a more electric future. Seth’s Green Guru Guides and soon to be videos, are great tools to help you become a more sustainable Earthling. For more information go to greenlivingguy.com
By Susan Lutz
In 2005, my second child was born with Down syndrome. He underwent surgery on the third day of his life to untangle a defective digestive tract. Without the surgery, he would not live. I knew organic food and lots of exercise would have to be the huge part of his recovery, growth, and development. To believe in this principle was one thing – to implement quite another.
After discovering the benefits of breast-feeding with my first child, I pumped breast milk for my son, freezing the colostrum and bringing fresh bottles to the hospital every day. He received the milk from a drip in the NICU until he was able to eat on his own. After a few weeks in intensive care, an ultrasound exposed two cysts on his bile ducts. Left untreated, the doctor said, the cysts most likely would turn cancerous. As the surgeon drew me a picture what and where bile ducts were, she apologized and said, “I’m sorry, but he’ll need surgery again.” All I heard was a voice in my head that said, No he will not.
Through the years, I traveled between different paths in search of a healthier life. I figured I could get by with a “pretty-good-kind-of” healthy life. There was always room for beer and chocolate and if in small enough quantities, just about every other unhealthy food choice. My first child changed all that. Not long after her teeth came in, I noticed brown spots: rapid, fast-growing tooth decay. I took her to acupuncture. In our sessions, the acupuncturist talked about diets. It was the first time I’d ever heard of the terms alkaline, acid, and ash in the context of our bodies. He said if my daughter’s body changed to alkaline, the carries couldn’t survive.
I went and bought my first juicer – determined to make a difference without the invasive use of surgery. I doubled the amount of organic greens and found creative ways to hide celery, parsley, and kale in smoothies. After a few years, my daughter’s adult teeth came in straight, white, and free of cavities.
Believing my son’s cysts were going to go away amounted to nothing unless I took action. I searched for an alternative doctor, especially one that would implement diet as part of healing. I located a naturopathic doctor more than seven hours from my home. We set up a consultation on the phone. He gave me a list of vitamins and other things that might help. Then, he said one thing, as the acupuncturist did, that made the most sense of all: if the body is in balance, no cyst can live. I got the juicer out again.
At nine months, I took my son to check on the cyst in an ultrasound. If the cyst grew, there would be reason for concern. If the cyst had stayed the same size or, was smaller, we’d have reason to know something was going right. Since I couldn’t make heads or tails out of an ultrasound, I watched the doctor’s face instead. I held down my son’s tiny penis down with rough, brown paper towels. It was quiet. My son was calm. The doctor had a very blank look on her face. She moved the wand back and forth across his belly. “They’re not there,” she said.
“What?” I said.
“I can’t find the cysts,” she said. “They’re gone.”
Books and information about Down syndrome listed very matter-of-factly what limitations he could have: speech deficiencies, slow to walk, heart problems, digestive difficulties, fine and gross motor skills challenges, crooked teeth, physical abnormalities, lagging in emotional development, to name a few. Although he seemed to have high level of cognitive development, his walking and gross motor skills were very slow to develop. He struggled with a lot of mucus. Smaller nose and ear tubes made it even harder to breathe. At a young age he contracted a case of bronchitis, which put him in the hospital. Balancing the lists of “what ifs” with the reality of the child in front of me is a constant battle in raising my son.
Each health challenge raised the bar. What more could I do? What more could my son do? I installed therapy machines in my garage and converted my living room to an all-out gymnasium. I measured every step as a tiny victory, every green vegetable eaten a step in the right direction. Several times a day, we worked his lungs through laughing, respiratory therapy, (even crying worked out his lungs!) extracted phlegm and pushed his lungs to work harder.
Deciding what is best for me is one thing because I feel the effects when I make questionable food choices or slack off in exercising. Choosing what to give my children is confounding. Getting all those greens into a child is a daunting task. Yet over many trials, spit ups, tummy aches, and dodging food matter thrown at me, my children and I have settled into a healthy, organic diet that seems to satisfy and push of them to thrive. We eat sprouted lentils, avocados, alfalfa sprouts, celery, parsley, cucumbers and other greens for breakfast; we try to drink another super-green juice for lunch and dinner; and I work hard at limiting the sugar in their diet.
Looking back, I can see what a huge blessing, though uncomfortable, challenging, and painful, all the health challenges were. My children are now thriving. My son climbs, plays soccer, runs track, and plays baseball and basketball. My daughter glows and her smile – white and brilliant – shines. The issue of health care never stops. No diet solves everything; no exercise cures it all; I still indulge on less-than-perfectly-healthy foods. I’m no health guru, just a mom with kids that needed a solution.
I know the miracle was also fueled by of those who care for my children and me: family, coaches, and doctors, even the clerk at the health food store. The combined strength, healthy organic food, community and family support, and the tenacity of my children’s spirit make for a powerful cure.