SEHN

Visionary Science, Ethics, Law and Action in the Public Interest

SEHN Summer Networker is Here!

 

SEHN Networker Volume 19 (3) Summer 2014

A Great Place to Start!

SEHN has always been fearless in tackling difficult problems, and our members are fearless too. Supporters like you understand the value of rigorous problem-solving work in service to communities who are fighting for their very existence.

Addressing environmental problems can feel daunting. Where to start when we stand in the center of climate change, toxic chemicals, or a food supply corrupted by corporate agriculture? Sometimes the sheer difficulty of untangling the problems make people give up.

One place to start is to join with SEHN and our supporters. SEHN doesn’t give up, and you don’t either. We are relentless at shining a light on the root of a problem, how it got that way, and how we can craft our way out. Would you join us with a donation of $25, $50 or $100 or more today?

JOIN WITH SEHN TODAY!
 

This issue of the Networker brings an essay on Cumulative Impacts by SEHN Board Member Peter Montague. We know that figuring out how to regulate several environmental harms at once is challenging. It would be much easier to stick with the old model of “how much harm is allowed in water? in air? in food?” But that doesn’t reflect the way we live, exposed to many sources at once. And public health demands that we figure out how to protect people like you, where you actually live.

 

Carolyn Raffensperger shares a recent presentation to the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, explaining the concept of Free, Prior and Informed Consent. The concept can be a mouthful, but it can also save lives. Vibrant communities live in the shadows of mines, chemical and power plants, and other harmful facilities. Communities need tools to help them say no to more harm and yes to a healthy future. The community right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent holds the potential to change the dynamic in these situations.

 

Last, we debut a comprehensive new resource compiled by past SEHN Board Member Sandra Steingraber and colleagues. The Compendium presents scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking for natural gas. Standing up to the fracking industry has taken remarkable bravery and determination by Sandra and her allies.

 

We know you share that fierce dedication to protecting what we love. Support SEHN today with a gift to continue this work.

 

SEHN’s supporters share our cutting-edge approach to environmental problems: digging deep at the causes and innovating solutions. Without you, this work could not happen.

 

Won’t you join our summer campaign today? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by environmental harms, and want to be a part of the movement that is creating solutions, joining with SEHN is a great place to start.

 

In gratitude,

Carolyn Raffensperger

Executive Director

CLICK HERE TO JOIN WITH SEHN!

EVALUATING THE CUMULATIVE IMPACTS OF DECISIONS WE MAKE, BY PETER MONTAGUE

Cumulative Impacts analysis is needed whenever some new disturbance (new project, new process, new technology, etc.) is introduced into any of the three environments (natural, built, or social). But the suggestion to analyze cumulative impacts is met by a groan (or by silence as the whole issue is ignored).

Why is this so hard? I can think of four reasons:

1) We tend to think of events and actions as “one cause, one effect.” In my experience, humans seem hard-wired to think this way. Ask a person who has cancer, What caused it? More often than not, you’ll get an answer that assigns responsibility to a single agent. We don’t naturally ask ourselves about the cumulative effects of many seemingly-insignificant disturbances. Our inclination–like the inclination of “regulators”–is to assume that a seemingly-insignificant disturbance is just that–insignificant.

But we now understand that this perception is wrong. All problems are cumulative impact problems and it’s important that we get used to thinking about them in that way.

FREE, PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT: HOW CAN A LEGAL CONCEPT SAVE LIVES?

Carolyn Raffensperger shares a recent presentation to the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, explaining the concept of Free, Prior and Informed Consent. In her view, communities confronted with proposed dams, mines, drilling, pipelines, fracking, factories, refineries, and clean up (or not) of hazardous facilities are facing scientific uncertainties about the consequences of these activities. These proposed activities are the equivalent of an experiment on the community, and therefore the community should be able to give or withhold its consent.

Read more here.

For further background readings, see: http://healthandenvironment.org/partnership_calls/14352?res

A NEW RESOURCE ON THE RISKS OF FRACKING

Long-term SEHN Board Member Sandra Steingraber and allies have just released a Compendium presenting scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking for natural gas. To read the Compendium, click here.

A GREAT PLACE TO START!
Please make a donation to SEHN!
Our mailing address is:Science & Environmental Health NetworkPO Box 50733

Eugene, OR 97405