25 March 2009

oh no they didn't

My jaw dropped and I couldn't stop shaking my head when the commercial came on. It was touting clean coal, and it was featuring President Obama. I don't know what to say other than clean coal is not real. First of all, the technology to make coal "clean" doesn't exist. Secondly, the mining of coal is not only detrimental, it's polluting in and of itself.

To learn more about why coal can never be clean (save a miracle), go to This Is Reality.

brooklyn food conference

More than exercise, nutrition dictates a person's health and fitness level. Unfortunately, there is a frightening amount of inequality in access to healthful food. Here are some (NYC-centric) facts:

  • Residents in the poorest neighborhoods of NYC have higher rates of obesity and mortality compared to those in wealthier areas: >3 times the number of diabetes-related deaths and ~1.5 times the deaths from heart disease[1]
  • In 2001, the life expectancy in NYC’s poorest neighborhoods was 8 years shorter than in its wealthiest neighborhoods[1]
  • Over 70% of adults in Central Brooklyn (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights & Brownsville) are overweight or obese, compared with 53% in Northwest Brooklyn (Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Ft. Greene, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Red Hook)[2]
  • About 91% of New Yorkers do not eat the recommended servings of at least 5 fruits and/or vegetables per day[2]
  • North and Central Brooklyn, the neighborhoods in Brooklyn with the highest proportions of residents who don’t eat at least 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day, also have the highest rates of obesity; between 25% to 34%[3]
  • The Upper East Side/Gramercy neighborhoods, where a high proportion of people eat at least 5 fruits and/or vegetables a day also has the lowest prevalence of obesity; between 8% to 15%[3]
  • Lack of access to fruits and vegetables has been linked to obesity and related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke[3]
The Brooklyn Food Conference, taking place May 2 at PS 321 and John Jay High School in Park Slope, will address this and other food issues. Activists, farmers, educators, citizens, restaurateurs, and other food experts will gather for a day of talks and activities, followed by a dinner prepared by local chefs.

Featured speakers include:
“Never before have there been such compelling reasons to rethink our energy policy, our environmental policy, and our health care system – and we cannot make headway on any of these without addressing food,” said Dan Barber, who will speak at the opening plenary session. (I wonder if he'll also have a hand in preparing the food... I sure hope so!)

The conference is free, the dinner is $20. Register here.

References: 1. Karpati A, Kerker B, Mostashari F, Singh T, Hajat A, Thorpe L, Bassett, M, Henning K, Frieden T. 2. Website of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Physical Activity and Nutrition Program. Available at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/cdp/cdp_pan.shtml. Accessed February 1, 2009. 3. Health Disparities in New York City. New York: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2004. Roberts M, Kerker B, Mostashari F, Van Wye G, Thorpe L. Obesity and Health: Risks and Behaviors. NYC Vital Signs 2005; 4(2): 1-4.

signing petitions and letters pays off

Sometimes I receive an email or letter in response to a petition or letter I've signed stating that said petition helped make something happen. I just wanted to share with you one of these letters, to show that taking the smallest little action -- like typing your name in an online form with a letter to your representatives attached -- pays off.

Dear Liz,

Over the past several weeks more than 17,000 Sierra Club members emailed, called, and wrote letters to Congress. Hundreds of you submitted letters to the editor and encouraged your friends and family to call their representatives. Your calls and emails paid off! The biggest public lands bill in decades cleared its final hurdle today, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass it. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 safeguards millions of acres of new wilderness, protects hundreds of miles of rivers, expands trails, and keeps critical habitat in Wyoming safe from oil and gas leasing.

Today, Congress has helped ensure that we will have a wild legacy to pass on to our children and grandchildren. This bill helps guarantee that future generations will be able to hike in pristine forests from California to West Virginia. The bill ensures that Americans will have a chance to fish untouched rivers and watch antelope migrate in the wild.

The bill protects more than two million acres of wilderness in nine states, including the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Oregon's Mt. Hood, and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. It also shelters over a million acres of key hunting and fishing grounds on the Wyoming Range from oil and gas drilling.

Thank you for taking action!


Greg Haegele
Director of Conservation

it takes a planet: the links between health and environment

When the earth is sick and polluted, human health is impossible.... To heal ourselves we must heal our planet, and to heal our planet we must heal ourselves.
— Bobby McLeod (Koori activist, aboriginal)

Next Thursday, April 2nd, at the American Museum of Natural History there's a free panel discussion on the link between health and the environment. Full details below:

What: It Takes a Planet: Connecting the Health of People and Nature
A conversation about the links between health and the environment, moderated by Julie Burstein of Public Radio International’s Studio 360

When: Thursday, April 2, 7–8:30 pm

Where: American Museum of Natural History, LeFrak Theater, first floor
(Please use the Museum’s West 77th Street entrance between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.)

Who: The interconnectedness of human health and the environment, as well as the ability to respond to crises in both areas, will frame a conversation moderated by WNYC and Public Radio International’s Julie Burstein. Participants include:
  • Peter Daszak, President,Wildlife Trust, and Executive Director, Consortium for Conservation Medicine
  • Peggy M. Shepard, Executive Director and Co-founder of West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT)
  • Walter Mugdan, Director, Region 2, Emergency and Remedial Response Division, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Michael J. Novacek, the Museum Senior Vice President and Provost of Science, will introduce the program
The 2009 Mack Lipkin Man and Nature Series Panel Discussion honors the late physician Mack Lipkin, Sr., who dedicated his life and career to advancing the most humane and caring practice of medicine, and was an inspiration to a generation of medical students and physicians. The discussion is held in conjunction with an annual symposium coordinated by the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation; this year’s symposium is titled Exploring the Dynamic Relationship Between Health and the Environment (http://symposia.cbc.amnh.org/health) and will be held April 2– 3, 2009.

Admission: Free

read 'em and swap

We've all got a pile of books that we've either read or abandoned just collecting dust on the shelf. So why not give them a second life at the Desk Set’s Writer/Reader Mingle and Book Swap at Pacific Standard this Monday at 7pm?
(Pacific Standard: 82 4th Ave, BKLYN)

[illustration by Sara Varon]

While you're at it, you can pick up some new wordy friends to curl up with... for free. That's what this swapping thing is all about.

All unswapped books will go to Books Through Bars, a program that donates books to prisons.

[via Brooklyn Based]