Environmental Justice

Hollywood Correspondents Rally Around Climate Change in New Documentary Series



President Barack Obama stated in a recent speech at Georgetown University, “We will be judged as a people, and as a society, and as a country on where we go from here…Those who are already feeling the effects of climate change don’t have time to deny it — they’re busy dealing with it.” Al Gore claimed, “The scientific evidence of how serious this climate crisis is becoming continues to amass week after week after week.” After Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeastern sea board of the United States at the end of 2012 the Bloomberg Businessweek simply stated, “It’s global warming, stupid.”

Now more than ever we understand that we live in a global economy and that environmentally we must take care of our Global Commons. What we do with our lives can not only influence our own community but can also have a profound impact on our world.

In April of 2014 SHOWTIME® will launch a groundbreaking documentary event series called, YEARS of LIVING DANGEROUSLY. The series will explore the affects of climate change on an international level. It will disclose solutions to climate change and will bring together some of Hollywood’s most valuable players and leading national news journalists in the fight to report on the climate challenges we face as a global community. Six to eight one-hour long segments aimed at amassing awareness to the public on climate change affects and the steps on how the public can take action, will make up the innovative docu-series.

Ian Sommerhold

Ian Somerhalder


Maldives revenue allocated to “NEW HOMELAND”?

The small island country of the Maldives, roughly the size of Honolulu, HI or Miami, FL has already considered BUYING a “NEW HOMELAND” due to the unpredictable conditions in climate change. Sri Lanka, India, and Australia have all been looked upon as possible re-locations.  A large portion of the annual, billion dollar tourist revenue has already been set aside. ~ Climatelab.org

Are you hurting the “boys” with grooming products???

Burt's Bees lipbalm

Image by mismisimos via Flickr

With over 1 million views a day the Environmental Working Group is the largest cosmetics  database on the internet. It represents 63,505 products with 7,771 ingredients. As a nonprofit research organization it aims to protect human health and the environment by urging the cosmetics industry to use safer ingredients in their products. As they highlight, “Under federal law, companies can put virtually anything they wish into personal care products, and many of them do. Mercury, lead, and placenta extract — all of these and many other hazardous materials are in products that millions of Americans, including children, use every day…” (EWG)

Specifically some of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, immunotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity. Phthalates and parabens, chemicals that can be traced back to certain grooming products may potentially have an effect on a man’s hormones.

“‘In rat studies, phthalates in higher doses than those found in grooming products have been shown to reduce testosterone during fetal development. Parabens, also in higher doses, have been shown to decrease sperm production in rats,’ says Kenneth Korach, PH.D., director of the environmental and medicine program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.” (Men’s Health November 2010 pg. 33)

Check out Avalon, Aubrey, or Burt’s Bees for more natural products on your body and the environment. If you want to be absolutely certain about the chemicals or ingredients in your grooming products search for them in the EWG database online at cosmeticsdatabase.com

… What about Bisphenol A (BPA)?

The ring-pull tab on an aluminium drinking can.

Image via Wikipedia

I swear I learn something new everyday about the products we consume, the stuff we eat, and the materials we purchase. It all has some weird transparency that leads to our own individual health. In this case I happened to be reading last month’s Men’s Health issue, the one preceding Jake Locker’s feature. It mentioned something about a freaked out reader, on the issues of BPA. I asked, “What the hell is BPA? If someone else is scared maybe I should be concerned too? According to the article we can find BPA (Bisphenol A) in canned foods, polycarbonate containers, aluminum reusable water bottles, and other beverage cans. Many manufacturing companies use BPA to essentially line the insides of these products. “No brainer” there, if its touching my food or my beverage I am probably going to consume some of it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided to delve into the matter because of the potential health risks that may accompany the consumption. Risks may include cancer, which is scary; dysfunction in the nether regions for men, which scares me along with all of my buddies; problems related to the major organ that keeps our blood pumping, I gave my girlfriend my heart a long time ago I would like to make sure it stays intact; and some added weight gain, which always sucks.  Thankfully Men’s Health offers some alternatives so we can try to consume the least amount of BPA as possible. They recommend purchasing fresh or frozen foods, use glass or BPA-free plastic containers, drink from stainless steel water bottles, and consume a beverage like a beer from a bottle.

Now that I am educated on the matters of BPA I can safely enjoy a tuna melt (tuna from a pouch) and hit the gym before work with my stainless steel water bottle.

Source ~ Men’s Health July/August 2010 Issue

Sunscreen and Coral

It is that time of year again when everybody hits the beach, builds a sandcastle, and jumps into the lake. In other words sunscreen is out in full force. While many people are worried about the effects of ultraviolet rays and the potential for skin cancer, the many environmental attractions that draw people outdoors can be at risk as well. A report mentioned in the New York Times from Environmental Health Perspectives stated “We conclude that sunscreens, by promoting viral infection, potentially play an important role in coral bleaching in areas prone to high levels of recreational use by humans. Coral bleaching (i.e., the release of coral symbiotic zooxanthellae) has negative impacts on biodiversity and functioning of reef ecosystems and their production of goods and services. This increasing world-wide phenomenon is associated with temperature anomalies, high irradiance, pollution, and bacterial diseases. Recently, it has been demonstrated that personal care products, including sunscreens, have an impact on aquatic organisms similar to that of other contaminants.” (EHP 2008)
Basically, all natural sunscreens or mineral sunscreens may be the way to go. Grist.org, Seattle’s very own environmental news and commentary source suggests using sunblock containing titanium oxide or zinc oxid. Some great brands to try out, Kiss My Face, Desert Essence, and JASON.
Kiss my Face sunscreen received an Environmental Working Group rating of 2 (Which is good! 1 being the best). It is also 100% biodegradable and contains all natural and organic materials. JASON received an EWG rating of 1! Their sunscreens are 100% paraben free (preservative free), fragrance free, and are not tested on animals. Dessert Essence is paraben free, 100 % vegan, and is also not tested on animals. (Grist.org)

Rio De Janeiro on Fire

Forest Fire ~ Via Treehugger.com

Officials reported this past weekend (June 19th) that a flaming balloon was the cause for igniting a forest fire in one of Rio De Janeiro’s national forests in the downtown former capital of Brazil. The Tijuca Forest is a hand planted rain forest and is one of the largest urban forests in the world, stretching almost 13 miles in diameter. Much of the plant and wildlife that call the habitat home, are threatened by extinction. The city has set a hefty fine on lighting balloons and a reward for anyone that has information on the culprit.

Seattle’s Superfund site: The Final Cut

The Duwamish Community Environmental Health Fair


“Since 2005, DRCC and its agency and NGO partners have produced the Duwamish River Festival at Duwamish Waterway Park. In 2010, as a consortium of groups, we decided to transform the event to reach more families living in the South Park and Georgetown area in advance of the upcoming Superfund public meetings. We hope you will join us for the first Duwamish Community Environmental Health Fair at Concord Elementary, to learn more about how the cleanup and restoration planning will impact human health and the environment.” ~ DRCC

Health Fair Highlights:

Air/Aire: Air toxics sources and health impacts, and agencies’ efforts to improve the air in the Duwamish valley.

Water/Agua: How to protect rivers and streams from pollution, and learn about safe fishing and Duwamish recreation.

Land/Tierra: Learn about upcoming Superfund T-117 toxic cleanup site and upcoming riverwide cleanup, and how land and river mud will be removed to improve human health and environment.

Wildlife/Fauna: What animals and birds live in the Duwamish river valley? How can we make their habitat better? Why are resident fish and shellfish too polluted for humans to eat?

Healthy Communities/Communidades Saludables: Learn how to mprove indoor air quality, reduce house mold, clean hands often, and read labels of products and buy safer alternatives.

Healthy Gardening/Huertos Saludables: Anyone can create backyard habitat for birds and wildlife! How to plant a safe, organic garden, lots of giveaways!

Get Involved!/¡Involúcrese! Big cleanup and restoration projects are coming to your neighborhood, and learn how to get involved!

Community Services/ Información comunitaria: South Park Bridge closure information, Department of Neighborhoods, South Park Action Agenda, and neighborhood organizations.

Presentations  –   Presentaciones: EPA-DRCC present information on T-117 cleanup information, Improve air quality, Chef Robert shows how to safely clean a salmon, “Your River, Your Future,” Organic Gardening, and Walking School Bus to Marra Farm!

Environmental Justice

For the past few months I have had the great pleasure of working on a documentary for the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. The coalition is a non-profit organization gaining momentum in environmental justice a topic emerging under the environmental umbrella. The EPA defines Environmental Justice as such, “Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”

The lower Duwamish River is an interesting site for that it is one of the most toxic Superfund sites in the country. Over the years, chemicals and toxins have found their way into the river through drainage systems and water runoff. The neighborhoods along the river have thus become affected. These include the  South Park and Georgetown communities. It is not only a problem for these disadvantaged neighborhoods, the Duwamish River runs directly into Elliott Bay and out to Puget Sound.

Due to environmental regulation a majority of industry along the river has been cleaned up. But, there is still a lot that needs to be done to transform this Superfund site. Major figure heads in the cleanup have been the DRCC (Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition), the Port of Seattle, the Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Seattle, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

If you would like to contribute please check out the DRCC website for more information: http://www.duwamishcleanup.org/index.html

Quote: ~ EPA

National Wildlife Refuges at Risk

Brown Pelicans at Breton NWR

As of right now there are eight major National Wildlife Refuges at risk or in danger of being affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Pass -A-Loutre is most likely to be hit first by the oil slick, a refuge known for its roost of endangered Brown Pelicans. The second is one of the oldest Wildlife Refuges in United States History, the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. This sanctuary is habitat to over 34,000 birds, various sea turtles, and other wildlife. Around 17,000 pairs of nesting birds call the island home, rearing their chicks. Next on the list is the Gulf Islands National Wildlife Refuge. This habitat hosts approximately 12 different federally listed threatened and endangered species. Other Refuges that are at risk are the Delta, Mississippi Sandhill Crane, Grand Bay, and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuges.