Hurricane Sandy: Nature’s Warning About Our Treatment of the Earth

by Diane, M.P.H, M.S.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was affected by this hurricane

Helping to conserve, preserve, and care for the earth is in everyone’s interest. Global climate change is posing a significant threat to environmental, agricultural, and human health, by contributing to:

  • Melting and receding of glaciers worldwide, as well as, our polar ice caps
  • Unpredictable and often extreme weather patterns
  • Rising ocean levels
  • Risk of coastal and inland flooding
  • Disruption of agricultural practices, crop production and yield
  • Increases in algae, mold, bacterial, and fungal growth
  • Increases in insect populations which transit infectious pathogens

Our politicians, corporations, factories, energy sector including coal/oil/gas/nuclear power, chemical industry, public transportation systems  (e.g., airlines, cargo/tanker/cruise ships, trains, automobiles, buses), and communities all need to do far more to:

  1. Reduce emissions, environmental degradation, pollution, and waste.
  2. Respect and protect nature’s natural flood plains and barrier islands which help to buffer us from the force of storms.
  3. Reduce unnecessary development along the coast and banks of rivers, and protect existing coastal communities.
  4. Protect the quality of our air, soil, water used for drinking and agriculture, oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, and estuaries, in order to protect public health and well-being.
  5. Reduce, reuse, and recycle more.
  6. Provide efficient forms of public transportation in cities, towns, and suburbs, as well as more pedestrian and bicycle paths.
  7. Design communities where residents can safely and easily walk for shopping and work.
  8. Promote safe, clean, renewable forms of energy, such as waste-to-energy, solar, and wind.

The United States could learn much from countries in northern Europe and Scandinavia, such as Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands, who have made environmental and public health a priority:

This region has some of the highest recycling rates in the world, favors safe, clean, renewable energy, and uses 400 state-of-the-art, energy-efficient, waste-to-energy plants that burn only non-recyclable material in their energy-generating incinerators. The incinerators are equipped with modern filters which prevent toxins from entering the air and are relatively inexpensive to build, maintain, and repair. Moreover, they are much safer for environmental and public health than our current coal, nuclear power, oil, and natural gas production techniques in the United States. Europe has greatly surpassed the United States in developing technology to convert residential and industrial trash into heat and electricity, without the release of harmful emissions or environmental degradation.

Waste-to-energy plants have been used successfully for years in Europe and would reduce the need for landfills, as well as, the expense of hauling of urban and residential waste to landfills. New York City alone ships 10,500 tons of residential waste each day to landfills in Ohio and South Carolina.

Please contact your local, state, and federal representatives, as well as, the following organizations by visiting their websites to see what you can do to help make a difference:
  1. Contact elected officials in government (www.USA.gov): Locate e-mail and mailing addresses, phone numbers, and more for your local, state, and federal officials and government agencies.
  2. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (www.nrdc.org/): Works to protect wildlife and wild places and to ensure a healthy environment for all life on earth. Offers guidance regarding green living practices, how to choose seafood healthy for you and the environment, a sustainable seafood guide, effects of mercury contamination and how to reduce the risk, how to read labels on produce and determine what is best nutritionally, chemicals commonly used in everyday products and how to stay safe, etc.
  3. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (www.epa.gov/): “After Sandy: What you can do to protect health and the environment after severe weather and flooding.” Address: 1650 Arch Street, #2, Philadelphia, Pa., 19103. Tel. (215) 814-5000.
  4. Earth Island Institute: Focuses on solutions to environmental problems by promoting citizen action and a diverse network of projects.
  5. National Wildlife Foundation (www.nwf.org): The nation’s largest member-supported conservation group, uniting individuals, organizations, businesses and government to protect wildlife, wild places, and the environment.
  6. Rainforest Action Network: Focuses on protecting the Earth’s rainforests and supports the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action.
  7. Tree People: Mission is to inspire the people of Los Angeles to take personal responsibility for the urban forest – educating, training and supporting them as they plant and care for trees and improve the neighborhoods in which they live, learn, work and play.
  8. Rainforest Foundation: Mission is to support indigenous people and traditional populations of the world’s rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfill their rights by assisting them.
  9. Nature Conservancy: Mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.
  10. Trees Water People: Develops and manages continuing reforestation, preserving local trees, wetlands, watershed protection, appropriate technology, and environmental education programs in Central America, Mexico, and the American West.
  11. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) (www.worldwildlife.org): An international, non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research, and restoration of the environment. It is the world’s largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries, supporting around 1,300 conservation and environmental projects. The group’s mission is to stop degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Much of its work focuses on the conservation of three biomes that contain most of the world’s biodiversity: forests, freshwater ecosystems, and oceans and coasts, as well as, endangered species, pollution, and climate change.
  12. Wilderness Society (www.wilderness.org): Goal is to ensure that future generations will enjoy clean air and water, wildlife, beauty and opportunities for recreation and renewal that pristine forests, rivers, deserts and mountains provide. Address: 1615 M St. Nw, #2, Washington, DC., 20036. Tel. (202) 833-2300 or  1-800-THE-WILD (1-800-843-9453).
  13. Sierra Club (www.sierraclub.org): America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization that helps to protect and save America’s forests, Arctic refuges, lakes, rivers, streams, and national wildlife.
  14. Stop Global Warming (www.stopglobalwarming.org/): A non-political effort to bring all Americans together in one place, proving there is a vast consensus that global warming is here, and our leaders must freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions now.
  15. Earth 911: Recycling centers in the USA for aluminum, plastic, glass, paper, and hazardous waste such as cell phones, computers, motor oil, etc.
  16. Friends of the Earth: Friends of the Earth International is the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 71 diverse national member groups and some 5,000 local activist groups on every continent. This network focuses on today’s most urgent environmental and social issues, challenges the current model of economic and corporate globalization, and promotes solutions that will help to create environmentally sustainable and socially just societies. It’s decentralized and democratic structure allows all member groups to participate in decision-making.
  17. Green Biz: The leading information resource on how to align environmental responsibility with business success. They provide valuable news and resources to large and small businesses through a combination of Web sites, workshops, daily news feeds, electronic newsletters, and briefing papers. Their resources are free to all users.


{ 1 comment }

Marsha November 18, 2012 at 2:08 am

We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive job and our whole community will be thankful to you.

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