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The Planet

Sierra Club

Club Beat

The Planet, April 1997, Volume 4, number 3

  • Freedom Centers Support 'Ogoni 19'
  • Everett Program Empowers Youth
  • PCB Polluters Pummeled in Badger State

Freedom Centers Support 'Ogoni 19'

"Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues." These were the last words spoken by environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa before being executed, along with eight fellow activists, by the Nigerian government in November 1995. Now 19 more Ogoni activists have been imprisoned and face the same fate as Saro-Wiwa. Continuing to exert pressure on Nigerian leaders and Shell Oil in support of the "Ogoni 19," Anita and Gordon Roddick, founders of The Body Shop skin care stores, opened the Ogoni Freedom Center in Manhattan last November in a joint campaign with the Sierra Club. The next Ogoni Freedom Center will open in April in Boulder, Colo.

The freedom centers are designed to educate visitors about the plight of the 19 activists currently imprisoned and to tell the story of the Ogoni's struggle to protect their homeland against the environmental devastation caused by the oil industry. Since the New York center's inception, thousands of visitors have used free fax and phone lines to contact President Clinton and Shell Oil. Visitors have also written letters of support to the imprisoned Ogoni activists. "We've been able to reach out to a new audience at the freedom centers," says Stephen Mills, director of the Sierra Club's Human Rights and the Environment Campaign. "The response has been tremendous."

"Our task here is to persuade people to show Shell that we will not stand by as it sweeps beneath the carpet its actions in Nigeria," said Anita Roddick in a statement at the center opening.

For more information: Contact Stephen Mills in the Washington, D.C., office at (202) 675-6691; e-mail: <stephen.mills@sierraclub.org>; or visit the Club's Web page at http://www.sierraclub.org/human-rights/

Everett Program Empowers Youth

Longtime Sierra Club members, Edith and Henry Everett are committed to encouraging young people to discover the satisfaction of contributing to society through careers in public service. Thanks to the Everett Summer Internship Program, students have the opportunity to experience first-hand the challenges and rewards of public interest work.

The program -- begun by the Everetts in 1989 -- enables young people to work in a variety of settings including organizations such as Teach for America and Advocates for Children as well as Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Sierra Club. "We feel students should be exposed to working in the public service sector," says Henry Everett, "and organizations benefit by having the brightest, most dynamic and dedicated students working for them." Interns receive a weekly allowance. All Everett interns participate in a variety of educational and social events featuring community leaders. The program has been essential to the Sierra Club's ability to sponsor student internships each summer.

Everett interns work on a variety of programs at the Club, including conservation issues, grassroots activism and media outreach. Their accomplishments are impressive. During the summer 1996 program, intern Kim Mowery learned the grassroots organizing techniques that helped mobilize students to become involved in environmental causes through the Sierra Student Coalition; today she serves as coalition president. Everett intern Jennifer Kurz worked for the global warming and energy team and prepared a public education report on the environmental problems associated with gas-guzzling light trucks.

"Interns acquire knowledge as well as the tools they need to help protect the environment by educating the public about the activist role of citizens," says program manager Annette Henkin.

The program has expanded each year to include more students and a growing list of public service organizations. Its success is reflected in the reports of students who describe their internship experiences as "substantive," "motivating" and "enlightening."

For more information: Contact Annette Henkin in the Washington, D.C., office at (202) 675-7905; e-mail: <annette.henkin@sierraclub.org>

PCB Polluters Pummeled in Badger State

In a big victory over polluters, the John Muir Chapter and the Clean Water Action Council were instrumental in forcing area paper companies along Wisconsin's Fox River to clean up their act. In late January, after pressure from environmentalists to enforce a damage assessment process, Gov. Tommy Thompson(R) and Attorney General James Doyle announced a $10 million fine against six paper companies for polluting the river with dangerous levels of PCBs.

"This settlement is just a down payment on the actual cleanup," says Brett Hulsey, Sierra Club Great Lakes Program director. "Over the last seven years, U.S. taxpayers have spent more than $10 million studying the Fox River pollution problem. The total cleanup will cost over $100 million."

The Sierra Club and Clean Water Action Council have called on the governor, the attorney general and the polluting paper companies to begin the cleanup immediately and start a major public education campaign to warn anglers of the risks associated with eating Fox River fish. The coalition also demands that paper processes be changed to eliminate any additional air or water pollution and that the natural resource damage assessment conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service be continued to determine what the cleanup costs will amount to in dollars and in the impact on public health.

For more information: Contact Great Lakes specialist Emily Green at the Midwest office at (608) 257-4994; e-mail: <emily.green@sierraclub.org>

If You Care About Children, You Should Care About Global Warming

President Clinton said "a greenhouse is no place to nurture our children" during a trip to Australia last November. He was right. He also gave global warming activists a new opportunity to raise public -- and presidential -- awareness. The Sierra Club is coordinating a new grassroots campaign urging parents to send President Clinton photos of their children along with letters in support of tougher fuel efficiency standards. The goal is to urge the president to act on his rhetoric and protect our children's future.

Raising fuel efficiency standards on vehicles to reduce the carbon dioxide pollution generated by cars and trucks -- a primary source of global warming -- is the single biggest step we can take to curb global warming.

If global warming continues, our kids will pay a terrible price. Scientists predict that as global warming worsens, our children will face a world with a higher incidence of infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever. A warming climate will mean more abnormal storms and deadly flooding. Rising temperatures will push many endangered species over the edge and devastate entire ecosystems. "Our kids deserve a clean, safe future," says Steve Pedery at the Club's Washington, D.C., office. "Don't let global warming jeopardize the world we leave them." Send a message to the president by sending him a photo of your kids with a note urging tougher fuel efficiency standards. Remind him that "a greenhouse is no place to nurture our children." Mail your photos and letters to President Clinton at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500.

For more information: Contact Steve Pedery at (202) 675-6278; e-mail: <steve.pedery@sierraclub.org>; or visit the Club's Web page at http://www.sierraclub.org/globalwarming/


Back to The Planet (April 1997)

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