Posts from the ‘rant’ Category
Today is Earth Day. Forgive me if I don’t feel like celebrating. I might sound a little snarky, but I find too much of the current Earth Day celebrating to be nothing but a bunch of marketing hype, Earth Day-branded discounts, and various corporate greenwashing tactics – all aimed at wasteful consumerism. “Go GREEN – buy this (useless-crap-you-don’t-need-that-will-end-up-in-the-landfill) and enter EARTH at checkout to receive your 15% Earth Day discount!” Throw in a few token speeches, a ceremonial planting of a tree, an elementary school poster contest, and you’ve got Earth Day 2010.
As the great Walter Cronkite reported on his CBS news special “Earth Day 1970’’, on April 22, 1970, “The hoopla of (the first) Earth Day is over. The problems remain.’’
And so they do.
Today’s ride was to points along “our river” – the Hiwassee River that runs near our house. The river that now, thanks to the wonderful folks at Olin Chlor-Alkali corporation, is so contaminated with their mercury discharge that the few remaining fish that survive outside of the “dead zones”, namely bass, have been found to contain mercury levels 25% above EPA limits. The last documented EPA Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) indicated mercury discharge rates in tons – both airborne and “discharge to receiving streams and/or water bodies”. The warning signs are posted at nearly every put-in and boat dock, yet I am continually stunned to see people fishing here – and keeping their catch. Today was no exception.
I stopped at the put-in closest to our house when I saw some people down fishing. Decided to be brave and talk with them, to see if they would let me photograph them. After their initial wariness, they were very friendly and obliging. I asked them if they kept their catch – and they said they did. I also asked if they were concerned at all about the posted warnings, or knew about the mercury issue. I got an answer I had heard before, “Oh, we’ve been fishing here for a long time … ain’t never had any problems with it.”
I stopped again near the boat ramp/marina – a location closer to the Olin plant and their discharge sites. I’d been on the water just upstream from here near the plant (by boat) and you can visually see – in the water – a line of demarcation where there are “dead zones” from the pollutants. Two gentlemen were out on the small dock fishing. And catching a few bass. I stopped and talked to them too. They told me they kept what they caught, as well – “They’s some good eatin’!” When I asked if they were concerned at all about the mercury discharge from Olin, one of them told me that he knew someone who worked there, and he knew it was “real bad” – but figured if the fish were out swimming, they were probably ok.
In both cases, I just didn’t know what to say? “Are you out of your minds?!” I couldn’t say anything, but just thanked them for letting me photograph.
On my way back was probably the most disturbing encounter I had today. It’s were I spotted the little boy, Brady (5 yrs old), out fishing with his dad near the bridge. Again, I stopped, talked to them and asked if they would mind if I took a few pictures. Sure, no problem. This time, I only asked if they kept their catch. They said yes. It honestly nearly broke my heart. How could they ignore the warnings? With no concern for possible cancer, reproductive, or brain development issues that can be caused by mercury consumption? I had to leave.
I’ve had my rants about Olin in the past, and I will try not to repeat myself, but these are the facts:
- Olin is on record, and has known of the impending need to convert their plant to mercury-free technology – yet has repeated chosen to ignore their responsibility, and they are now crying foul. With the threat of pending legislation which would require them to convert their plant within 2 years, they are now attempting everything possible to stop passage of the bill. And they are being facilitated by indulgent (and well-lobbied) politicians – namely Senator Bob Corker (R) and Representative Zach Wamp (R).
- Olin has successfully converted other plants – including McIntosh, AL, Niagra Falls, NY, and St. Gabriel, LA – and yet continue their exuse-making when it comes to the Charleston, TN, plant. Because they have been allowed to get away with it. Because they know the political will to protect the health and well-being of the river and local citizenry doesn’t exist – it is the hallmark of every environmental disaster brought about by abusive corporations and the political power they purchase. Coupled with the recent decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn restrictions on corporate spending in elections, it can only get worse.
Olin bases their refusal to convert the Charleston plant on expense and jobs “lost” – which they know is complete fiction. Over 100 other plants have demonstrated that the conversion to mercury-free technology can be completed within 18-24 months, with minimal production downtime. The converted plants not only provide safer working environments for their employees and surrounding residents/neighborhoods, but also save energy and increase production capacity. A similar conversion by PPG provided jobs for over 250 additional workers. Olin, your excuses just don’t fly!
Olin continues to claim that conversion of the plant is “economically unfeasible” … So can they please explain to me how they can justify their recent disclosure of obscene executive pay increases? Joseph Rupp, Chairman/President/CEO of Olin Corp. received 14% pay raise, awarding him annual salary of 5.7 million dollars. John McIntosh, President of the Chlor Alkalai received 12% pay raise, bringing his annual salary to $1.4 million. Please explain to me how a plant conversion is “economically unfeasible” when contrasted with your executive compensation?
So, it’s Earth Day. And Walter Cronkite was quite the visionary. The problems remain. The Mercury Pollution Reduction Act appears to be stalled in the federal bureaucratic black hole. The mercury dumping continues. A little boy is eating toxic fish. The problems remain.
If you didn’t hear this from yesterday’s post – here it is again:
Following up … Upon listening, a number of like-minded friends, both cyclists and non-cyclists, have expressed their outrage over what was advocated on the broadcast. Many tweets have flown around, some have sent emails, written blog posts, written letters, etc., denouncing the station for their reckless promotion of violence toward cyclists. If you care to take action, I’ve listed three ways in which you can act: write a letter, send an email, and/or file a complaint online with the FCC. The FCC has a provision to allow individuals to report a station “Broadcasting threatening or intimidating statements about an individual or group”. Personally, when someone expresses a desire to throw something at my head, or go Grand Theft Auto on me, “intimidating” is how I hear it. It will obviously be up to the FCC to make the final determination, but it could certainly make a point, or at least cause some headaches, if multiple reports were to be filed.
To file a complaint report …
On the FCC complaint page, select: “Broadcast (TV and Radio), Cable, and Satellite Issues”
On the next page select: “Unauthorized, unfair, biased, illegal broadcasts” (this is where the FCC provision against “Broadcasting threatening or intimidating statements about an individual or group” is found)
Fill in your personal information, and on the following page you can enter the details about this particular broadcast, including:Radio Station: WCSX Radio Frequency: 94.7 City: Detroit, MI Program Name: Deminski & Doyle Morning Show Date of Program: 08/05/2009 Time: 8:00am
If you want to write a letter:
Greater Media President & CEO Peter Smyth Greater Media 35 Braintree Hill Park, Suite 300 Braintree, MA 02184
If you would like to send Mr. Smyth an email: email@example.com
If you would like to send the station head(?) an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to send the show’s Executive Producer (my brother-in-law) an email: WCSXJim@aol.com
Finally, if you can, check out this letter sent by LAB President Andy Clarke to the president of Greater Media. Very well done.
** 8/14/09 update: I just found out that League of Michigan Bicyclists has started a petitions drive, you can sign it here: Boycott Greater Media for intolerable remarks against cyclists They have a 1,000 signature goal; we can help them out.
Earlier today I read this post (bikefitness.net) by a fellow cycling advocate and twitter friend. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard similar stuff before, but I found some of the blatant aggressive anti-cyclist language used by these “shock jocks”, Deminski and Doyle, particularly offensive. Cyclists have been called “arrogant”, “jerks” and “idiots” before, but I’ve never heard a public declaration by a “media” person stating “…you’d love to lob something at their heads”, and “… makes you want to go Grand Theft Auto on them, but you can’t” (in reference to the violent video game where characters are beaten to death).
Here’s the actual audio clip by Deminski and Doyle from radio station WCSX in Detroit:
OK, I found it more than sufficiently disturbing and offensive – filled with not only grossly inaccurate stereotypes about cyclists, total lack of knowledge over cycling rights and legislation, and violent and aggressive suggestions for drivers when encountering and passing cyclists. Enough said – I know it’s the game the shock jerks play. As a friend so aptly put it – don’t buy in the shock jock stupidity; it’s exactly the kind of rage they’re trying to elicit.
But the experience became more interesting … I have a brother in-law who is a morning show producer for a Detroit area radio station. Couldn’t recall the name of his station, but decided to email my sister in-law, asking if she or my BIL knew of these guys. Never even mentioned the bike spot in my query.
What came back to me literally knocked me off my chair. Not only does my brother know these shock jerks, he works at the very station – with them! It appears he is the executive producer of the show! And apparently neither my SIL or BIL find anything wrong with what was said. (At the request of, and in respect for, my husband, I have subsequently edited this post – regarding my personal feelings over this particular matter).
I extend apologies to all of my cycling friends and peeps – for this offensive garbage that was facilitated, in part, by members of my extended family.
I just have no words right now. I sent a picture off to brother- and sister-in-law … a picture of their own cycling family members. Next time they condone calling cyclists “jerks” and “idiots” deserving of having things thrown at their heads, I hope they will think of us.