Ensler’s hope and goal is for each individual girl to “empower her authentic self.”
Because of “Superstorm” Sandy, a groundswell of support to have a conversation about climate change can no longer be suppressed.
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) states, “I joined the Safe Climate Caucus because climate change is a threat and we must engage Republicans on the science of this issue.
It hasn’t been a great week for moving the American environmental agenda forward. On Thursday, the Republican members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works decided to boycott the vote on Gina McCarthy’s nomination.
However, on a positive note, the Safe Climate Caucus, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), has been actively engaged in raising the consciousness of the American electorate about the threat of global warming.
I reached out to several of the female members of the caucus, on the occasion of Mother’s Day, to get their feedback on the importance of amplifying the dangers of climate change, and the role of mothers, grandmothers, and aunts in being vigilant about protecting the planet.
Below are their responses via e-mail:
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA): “Climate change is real and has been ignored for far too long. Our rapidly changing climate is having visibly profound impacts and will continue to do so unless we act now. As a member of Congress, a mother and a grandmother, I am extremely concerned about the negative health and environmental consequences our inaction will have on current and future generations.
Mothers have a unique perspective and strength that can be channeled to be a voice for these generations, as they witness first-hand the effects these consequences have on their children, and their friends’ children. I am working with my colleagues in Congress to raise awareness and implement responsible policies to address climate change, and I believe that working together it’s not too late to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.”
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD): “I joined the Safe Climate Caucus because climate change is a threat and we must engage Republicans on the science of this issue. As a mother, I am even more concerned with the environment we leave our children. We know children are particularly vulnerable to diseases such as asthma, water born bacteria, and other respiratory illnesses. We are doing them a disservice now and in the future by not addressing climate change. I will continue working with my colleagues in the Caucus to find solutions that reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and [that] invest in green technologies.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA): “Mother’s Day is a perfect reminder about the power of mothers and women in the fight for climate change. Fighting to keep our environment clean and cared for is everyone’s job, but it’s so often mothers who care for their children with asthma and feel the effects so closely. In my district, Oakland has some of the highest rates of asthma in the country. Those mothers know that for communities of color and for the next generation, we’ve got to solve the climate crisis now. There’s no time to waste.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): “All parents care about the world left to our children. Over and over again we see the terrible impact climate change has on our world. We are at the brink—and some say past the brink—of being unable to take action to reverse the effects of climate change, which is why action now is crucial.
Around the world women have a disproportionate role in providing food, water, and energy to their families. These needs are inextricably tied to our climate and environment. That means the recurrence and rapidity of natural disasters can severely disadvantage women and have a terrible impact on women’s day-to-day lives.
I joined the Safe Climate Caucus and signed on to my colleague’s [Rep. Barbara Lee] resolution about Women and Climate Change because this is a critical issue for our country to tackle.
Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to mobilize and raise awareness on the issue.”
This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force.
It’s the kind of story you would expect to see as an episode of Law & Order—not to be a part of. However, in 2008, Cindy Zimmermann’s already crumbling world hit rock bottom when her husband, Paul, was murdered.
Married for twenty-three years and the mother of three children, Zimmermann has told her story in A Woman of Interest. In a phone interview, Zimmermann gave me the background on her life and a marriage gone stale. It would take ten years before she acted on getting a divorce. At that point, a lovely home with seven bedrooms and baths in Scottsdale, Arizona, and life as part of a prominent couple in community affairs, were no longer sufficient reasons to hold on to the façade.
Between 2005-2010, numerous people in Arizona were impacted by the economic downturn. It extended to people even like the Zimmermanns, who were on the affluent end of the scale. Financial issues added to marital discord. By the time Zimmermann moved out and got her own apartment, Paul’s work situation had begun to deteriorate. He had also developed a definitive drinking habit.
Zimmermann anticipated remaining friends with her spouse, and breezing through a simple divorce settlement in a state with fifty-fifty asset distribution laws. Instead, contentious litigation dragged on for eighteen months. Out of the workplace for two decades, Zimmermann realized she had to reconnect with the skill set and moxie that had brought her success in her younger years as a medical sales person. To her surprise, she learned that child support and alimony would not be forthcoming.
On the day that Zimmermann’s divorce was finalized, her husband—who had been missing for five days—was murdered. Overwhelmed by having her family impacted by a violent crime, Zimmermann’s focus was to protect her children. The last thing that occurred to her was that she would become a prime suspect, and later, undergo scrutiny as a potential accessory.
A business associate of Zimmermann’s husband, when questioned by the police, shot himself with what proved to be the same handgun used in the homicide. Yet, Zimmermann remained under a cloud of suspicion from law enforcement, extended family, and the court of public opinion.
It wasn’t an easy recovery process. Zimmermann qualified losing someone from a violent death as “a life long wound.” She explained, “It’s a very different kind of death that comes with its own set of issues.”
Part of her strategy for picking up the pieces of her life was to “give back” by working at the Hospice of the Valley facility in Phoenix. Assigned to work with physician teams as a conduit to patients in the final days of life, she found it very healing.
Zimmermann developed a plan to get her life back on track. At the center of her initiatives was “gratitude,” and recognizing what was positive in her life. She stayed connected to the priorities of friendship and family—while “negating chaos” at all turns. She related, “Some days all you can do is put one foot in front of the other.” Avoiding bitterness, even while others were trying to drive a wedge between her and her children, Zimmermann sought to surround herself with positive energy. Number one on her list was not to “wallow” in the circumstances that had befallen her.
In conjunction with her inside story of the murder-suicide that landed her in a harsh public spotlight, Zimmermann delivers a narrative of how she transcended major trauma. The tone of the book owes a debt to both the mindsets of Oprah and Suze Orman.
In speaking with Zimmermann, it is clear that one of her major take always is that women should never relinquish control of their emotional lives or personal finances—whether in a partnership or a marriage.
Zimmermann has since coached women on financial matters. She often includes in her talks the apocryphal tale of how her husband wanted to take out a second mortgage on their home—to finance a new business. She refused to give her consent, thereby avoiding what could have been a path to bankruptcy. To mothers, Zimmermann dispenses the advice of fulfilling parental obligations, such as preparing wills and medical directives.
On an emotional level, Zimmermann stresses the importance of maintaining personal friendships. She points repeatedly to the support she received from her connections throughout her ordeal, particularly from women. As part of a daily spiritual diet, she names three things that she is grateful for. When Zimmermann compares it to the worst moment of the day, she is able to connect with the triviality of the “negative versus the positive.”
Zimmermann revealed to me that there was a period when she was fixated on ruminating about how her husband had died, and if he had suffered. She finally gathered the strength to question the authorities about the details, and learned that after being shot in the abdomen—a slow bleeding wound—that he had been strangled. Contemplating violence in our popular culture, Zimmermann remarked on the superficial and misleading concept, “People get shot, they die, and it’s done.”
Closing insights from Zimmermann packed a punch. She stated, “We all have three choices in life when we see someone in difficulty. We can look the other way; Kick them when they are down; Extend a helping hand.”
Currently, Zimmermann characterizes her life as “wonderful.” She said, “I’m no longer trying to be the perfect wife and mother.” She added with irony, “Losing the white picket fence was liberating.”
It’s hard to believe that the first federal air pollution legislation was the Air Pollution Act of 1955. Fifty-eight years later, the United States—and the world—are still struggling to come to terms with the importance of preserving the quality of the air we breathe.
Air Quality Awareness Week is on the calendar for April 29 through May 3, with the goal of bringing recognition to this vital concern. The Environmental Protection Agency has devoted a page on its website to resources and information about the topic, breaking different areas down into digestible headings.
Recently, a study in the journal PLOS Medicine featured research that presents findings linking air pollution to hardening of the arteries. It has long been known that ozone (popularly referred to as smog) and particle pollution present major health hazards. Young children, who have developing respiratory systems, are particularly vulnerable—particularly if they have asthma. Middle age adults, as well as the elderly, are already at increased risk for stroke and heart disease. Combined with exposure to ozone and particle pollution, the risk increases. Additionally impacted are people having cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and weight problems.
When air quality is poor, it is essential that these populations be aware of the levels of ozone and fine particulate matter. AIRNow, which has state and local partners, makes it easy to check out the air quality via a national map. Simple graphics describe the AQI with color codes that represent levels from “Hazardous” to “Good.” It’s easy to get hyperlocal with a zip code tool. My favorite feature was the photographic “visibility camera” webcams shots.
Areas of the country that the public believes are pristine are also being affected. It has been reported that the urban industrial pollution in parts of California has been blowing over to national parks territories near Yosemite, as well as the eastern Sierra Nevada locale.
There are numerous examples and lessons to be learned from other countries. In China, the ability to attract and retain foreign talent and international commerce has been challenged by their extremely poor air quality. In South Africa, the eMalahleni region was cited for the elevated levels of air pollution from the area’s coal mining, metal production, and coal-fired power plants. In Cairo, Egypt, the World Health Organization has affirmed that the city’s residents are breathing the equivalent of a daily pack of cigarettes. Even the United Nations has underscored the importance of the dilemma. When it put together its 2030 development goals at the Oslo conference, the Director General of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, Kandeh Yumkella, addressed the fact that air pollution kills more people than both the diseases of AIDS and malaria. He suggested a shift towards cleaner energy sources could decrease these numbers by 50 percent—by the target date of 2030. He referenced a 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) study, which identified that 3.3 million died from outdoor air pollution (3.5 million people die each year from indoor air pollution).
It must be repeated, and has been noted, that the sequester has cut into EPA funding to the tune of millions of dollars. And yes, the effect is being felt.
As individuals, here in America and around the globe, the need to protect the air must be taken seriously.
This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force