Pubdate: Sat, 14 Dec 2002
Source: Pantagraph, The  (IL)
Copyright: 2002 The Pantagraph
Author: Gregg Brown
Bookmark: (Hemp)


Over the last week or so I read the book "Love Canal: The Story Continues" 
by Lois Marie Gibbs

Love Canal is a neighborhood in the community of Niagara Falls, N.Y., which 
in 1978 came to the stunning realization that its homes and school had been 
built over a chemical waste site that contained 20,000 tons of toxic 
chemicals. Many people suffered horribly from their exposure to the poisons.

The neighborhood banded together, fought for and eventually won government 
assistance in relocating out of the area. It is a moving story of corporate 
criminality, the complicity of government and the health care 
establishment, and of the courage and tenacity of the citizen-activists.

The story has many lessons for our current situation. Today there are 
between 30,000 and 50,000 sites in this country.

Because of the globalization and so-called free-trade agreements, the 
U.S.-Mexican border has been turned into a "3,400-kilometer Love Canal. The 
Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington state is a toxic site 
equivalent to "a thousand times Love Canal."

Our economy puts out over 100 billion pounds of toxic chemicals every year. 
The business people would say that doing that is economically necessary. 
But biologists would tell you that it is biologically unbearable. That is 
our dilemma.

As a result, there are pesticides in mother's milk, radioactive isotope 
stontium-90 in baby's bones and teeth and plasticizers in our reproductive 

The good news is that scientists are offering solutions to our 
environmental problems, if we as a society are willing to commit to them in 

In other words, we can have our economy and still have our future. We just 
can't have this economy and still have our future.

What are the alternatives that can turn us away from the course we are on? 
Most important among them are wind power, solar power and hemp -- the 
planet's greatest annually renewable natural resource.

The offer is on the table. Are we up to the challenge?

Our answer will determine our fate.

Gregg Brown, Bloomington
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