[Re: Environment, “Uneasy Breathing,” Jan. 8-14] As a member of the City-County Environmental Justice Task Force, I am dismayed with the Air Quality Control Board's response to the recommendations that our task force prepared. We met for a number of months in 2007-2008 and after careful study and deliberation concluded that there are very important actions the city and county can take to address the environmental injustices that are usually swept under the rug in this community.
Unfortunately, the board has effectively swept our recommendations under the rug, and it is business as usual at City Hall. They say they don't have the authority to implement our recommendations and must defer to the state Legislature and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
This is the same game public officials play all over the country when they don't have the political will to make changes to the status quo. I challenge them to explain specifically what authority needs to be delegated to implement the recommendations from the Environmental Justice Task Force.
And I challenge the public (and myself) to attend the meetings of the Air Quality Control Board to shine some light on the work of this obdurate body.
The members of the Air Quality Control Board and the staff should be leading the charge to the Roundhouse this session to advocate for the authority they say they need to protect the public's health. And our green Mayor Chavez should lead the team.
Build Green, Build Illegal?
As happy as I am to have been a part of the biggest voter turnout since 1908, I'm afraid these changes won't be enough to stanch the terminal bleeding of the planet's ecological balance. I would like nothing more than to jump off the handbasket to hell of cornucopian resource consumption and carbon-spewing business as usual, because I find it difficult to contemplate the future without a sense of overwhelming despair. I'm more than willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to ensure that I, at least, do not contribute to the problem. Now here's the catch ... just try to come up with a zero-waste, zero-carbon-emission home that makes no lasting impact on the Earth, and you will discover two things:
1) It is not only possible, cheap and easy, but examples abound of such structures in cultures all over the world (be they ever so humble), and ...
2) You are not allowed to build these structures anywhere in this country where any sort of building codes exist. However, if you wish to squander the resources equivalent to that of a small nation to build and heat a castle like the one Gertrude Zachary built as a testament to her capitalistic talents, you can expect the red-carpet treatment from those with vested interests in Keeping Things As They Are. The planet is at this very moment in the throes of a terminal fever caused by just this sort of deadly cultural virus, and I'm feeling very lonely sitting at the bedside, hoping the fever will break and wondering where all the concerned relatives are.
As far as water is concerned, composting toilets are still illegal for now, and current wisdom has convinced us that using fresh potable water to flush everybody's feces into vast underground rivers of crap placed directly over our artesian water supplies is really the best plan. If we can't manage to waken ourselves from these mass delusions at this eleventh hour, then there's really no point anymore in raising children.
Let me get this straight. American taxpayers gave Goldman Sachs $10 billion to rescue them from financial collapse. Goldman Sachs gave $11 billion in bonuses to their employees. AIG received a $150 billion bailout and paid $100 billion in bonuses. This does not include billions in salaries, perks and bonuses for chief executives, and they are not the only "bailees" doing this.
The people who have lost jobs, homes and medical care and are spending the season cold, hungry and sick just gave huge holiday presents to the people who are responsible for their losses!
Eat Your Vegetables
Last year was not a good year for the meat, dairy and egg industries.
It began in February, with USDA’s largest-ever recall of ground beef produced by California’s Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing Company.
In April, Archives of Internal Medicine published a 25-year study of 88,000 women finding that those who ate lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains were 24 and 18 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack and stroke, respectively, than women addicted to more typical American diets. A review of dietary habits in 52 countries in the October issue of Circulation reached similar conclusions.
In May, the American Institute for Cancer Research warned consumers that grilling meat or fish raises the risk of colon cancer. A National Cancer Institute study in the November Proceedings of the National Academy of Science confirmed that consumption of meat and dairy products elevates the risk of cancer.
Last spring, the prestigious Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins University called for a phase-out of factory farming. In November, 63 percent of California voters agreed by requiring that animals raised for food have space to turn around and spread their wings, possibly wiping out the state’s egg industry.
Let’s make 2009 a really good year for ourselves by exploring the rich variety of veggie burgers, dogs, deli slices, heat-and-eat dinners and soy-based milks, cheeses and ice creams in our local supermarket. This is one new year’s resolution that’s easy and fun to keep.
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