Sandra Steingraber's latest article for Orion Magazine lands on both the strikingly personal (her cancer, her kids) and the overwhelmingly meta (greenhouse gases, mercury in fish). "3 Bets: On Ecology, Economy and Human Health," weaves together the biggest eco- words of our time — ecology and economy — in pursuit of a new environmental human rights movement.
Diagnosed with bladder cancer (which, like breast cancer, is linked to chemical exposures) at age 20, Dr. Steingraber went on to a career as an ecologist, author (Living Upstream, Having Faith, The Falling Age of Puberty) and mother. It's from this vantage point that she can link polar bears to cancer recurrence, and a mother's faith to the abolition of toxic chemicals in our economy.
If the phrase "environmental human rights movement" sounds too far outside yourself, consider her admission that it "is less an evidence-based prediction than a mother’s fervent hope that my children will never have to fear that the phone ringing on a sunny afternoon will bring bad news from the pathology lab. I’m willing to admit that this bet is a wish that my children will grow up in a world with a functioning Gulf Stream, and some ice caps, and a few coral reefs. And some octopi for my daughter to write her first book about. And some honeybees to help my son the farmer grow apples. It’s a wish that his polar bear Halloween costume not outlast the species."
Let's make it more than a wish. Read the article yourself; what are you going to do differently to prevent cancer and keep the polar bears around?