May 242010

I no longer work in the visual arts, but I do remember what happens when you mix pink and green–the result isn’t pretty.  And when you mix green-washing with pink-washing, it is even uglier and that is exactly what the so called family values folks are doing with their new The Pill Kills campaign when they argue that the pill is bad for the environment so therefore you shouldn’t take it. Lisa Hymas eloquently explains the problem with that line of reasoning over at Grist so that I don’t have to:

It’s true — studies do show that the Pill has adverse effects on marine life, and that’s also worrying for those of us who drink water. It’s just one of many reasons why we need new and better birth-control options, as I’ve argued before.But what the “Pill Kills” site doesn’t make immediately clear is that the American Life League opposes all contraception of any kind (other than the good ol’ rhythm method). If the group gave a rat’s ass about the environment, it would acknowledge that unplanned pregnancies and resultant unplanned births ultimately lead to umpteen times more environmental degradation than the Pill.

I was going to include some of American Life’s talking points for your edification, but the link to them didn’t work when I tried to take a look-see, so just sit back and enjoy the irony of that, you can probably figure them out on your own anyhow.

Meanwhile, the right’s newest wingnut, Rand Paul, fresh after getting his ass whipped after putting his foot in his racist mouth on The Rachel Maddow Show, stepped in it again,

“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'” Rand said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.”

And the less than six degrees of separation between these two items is this–One of the issues that has barely been discussed as the Gulf oil catastrophe unfolds is the impact on human health, especially on reproductive health and for children whose smaller still developing systems are particularly vulnerable.  Via of all places Fox, based on what we know about the impact of the Exxon Valdez catastrophe,

Will this oil spill affect our health?The short answer is, yes. There are well-documented analyses on the effects of environmental pollution of previous oil spills — some which have occurred inland and certainly the Exxon Valdez spill in the Alaskan waters of the Prince William Sound in 1989. You have to remember that it only takes about a quart of crude oil to pollute 150,000 gallons of water. Crude oil contains substances such as benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that have been proven to cause severe reactions in humans — some mild, such as nausea, vomiting and fatigue. But studies have also linked exposure to these compounds to more serious conditions like leukemia and certain types of cancers.

Another negative health effect that could come from this massive environmental catastrophe is the potential for exposure to heavy metals, such as lead — which we know can be very detrimental to the health of an unborn child — resulting in low birth weight, developmental delays, miscarriage and even stillbirth. So pregnant women are especially vulnerable to these heavy metals.

And marine biologist Dr.Riki Ott reports that,

Fishermen responders who are working BP’s giant uncontrolled slick in the Gulf are reporting bad headaches, hacking coughs, stuffy sinuses, sore throats, and other symptoms. The Material Safety Data Sheets for crude oil and the chemical products being used to disperse and break up the slick — underwater and on the surface — list these very illnesses as symptoms of overexposure to volatile organic carbons (VOCs), hydrogen sulfide, and other chemicals boiling off the slick.

When the fishermen come home, they find their families hacking, snuffling, and complaining of sore throats and headaches, too. There is a good reason for the outbreak of illnesses sweeping across this area.

Last weekend, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted its air quality monitoring data from the greater Venice, Louisiana, area. The data showed federal standards were being exceeded by 100- to 1,000-fold for VOCs, and hydrogen sulfide, among others–and that was on shore. These high levels could certainly explain the illnesses and were certainly a cause for alarm in the coastal communities.

Ott goes on to report that it appears that little is being done to protect residents of the area and fisherman who are helping to clean up the disaster from these dangerous chemicals.

But in Tea Party and Family Values wing-nut land, we should be worrying about the chemical impact of taking the pill and not questioning BP’s right to poison water, air and land or their right to kill off sea life or to damage human health because that is the American way and God’s word all rolled into one.

As has been pointed out on the Feminist Peace Network blog many times, adverse impacts to the environment, regardless of cause have a gendered impact.  We will continue to monitor and share information regarding that impact in regard to this latest assault on the planet by the oil companies.

 May 24, 2010  Posted by on May 24, 2010

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