Posting in Environment
The environmental activist, filled with vigor and moxie, is still exposing pollution and contamination evils around the globe.
Who doesn’t know Erin Brockovich? Or at least we all think we know her, through the role that Julia Roberts played in the 2000 movie that bears her name. We remember Brockovich, the single mother and legal clerk who was instrumental in constructing a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California. The case, which led to one of the biggest class action lawsuits in American history, alleged contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium in the California town of Hinkley.
Thankfully, Brockovich hasn’t stopped her crusade. I talked to her recently and learned that whether it’s for clean air, water or land, Brockovich carries on her good fight.
It’s been a decade since Julia Roberts played you in Erin Brockovich. What questions do you still get about the movie?
People want to know if I married the biker dude (no); if I really dressed like that (yes, but not so much anymore--I’ll be 50 in June); and whether I really talked like that (yes, but I do try to control the potty mouth). It was accurate, really dead-on. I give so much credit to [director] Steven Soderbergh for that. It was a great story, and it all turned really well for everyone, especially the victims. It doesn’t always—or usually--turn out that well.
The movie brought a lot of attention to the contamination problems happening in our own backyards. Have things changed as much as you thought they would?
When the movie came out, I said, “Ask me in 10 years.” Now I say, “Ask me in 20.” I was hopeful that through the initial case and through the movie that industry and corporations would be much more conscientious of what they were going. When we uncovered the Hinkley case, there were so many other cases like it, and they’re just catching up. And we’re just starting to see the damage. I was hoping by now there would be more transparency and less defeat and cover-up. I haven’t seen much of that change.
So what message did get across?
People left the theater—single moms, environmentalists—and realized that could be us drinking poison water. Since then, there’s been much greater awareness. Awareness is key. In the absence of information, none of us know what is happening and what could be jeopardizing our health, our water supply and our planet.
What are you concerned about today?
I’m still dealing with some of the same things today—like hexavalent chromium contamination in Riverside, Calif., and Midland, Texas. Another thing that worries me is that as we are moving forward technologically, and coming up with better ways to run our businesses, we’re not cleaning up the 1,200 Superfund sites that exist today, because the agencies are broke. I’m concerned that we don’t address the water pollution problems in other countries. If we move forward and don’t clean up the messes of the past, they’ll just get swept under the rug.
What kind of work are you doing?
I have never moved away from my mainstay—trying to address all the environmental issues that come to me. I consult with law firms in the U.S., Australia, the U.K., Italy, Greece and India, to begin to address environmental disasters. I do motivational speaking. I give people permission they feel they need—and they don’t need permission from anyone—to start asking questions. While none of us can wake up tomorrow and save the world, it will all start with us as individuals. I’m working on another book and working on TV and radio projects. I wish I weren’t as busy with environmental issues.
In your motivational speaking, what are your messages?
I talk about power of choice and perception a lot. Choose to ask a question. Choose to say this isn’t right for me and my family. I have people say all the time, “You’re not an attorney, so why should you know?” or “You’re not a scientist, so how do you know?” I’m like, it’s real simple—I believe the people. I want them to know they have a gift. We all have a gift that we’ve been given--we either forget about it, or we’re taught not to use it--and that’s common sense. I use it every day in my work, and I can’t tell you how many times it’s saved my butt. Common sense tells you a poison is a poison, and you don’t drink it. Every one of these cases I get involved with starts with an angry mom. When your children are sick and wildlife is dying, you can connect the dots. You don’t have to have a Masters degree. You know--at your cellular level--when something is wrong. I also talk about how hard it is to find our motivation every day, so take time for self-renewal.
What’s your mechanism for self-renewal?
I find it in the environment. I like being out in a boat on Lake Mead. Most people, when asked to close their eyes and relax, find themselves outside—in the sun, at the beach, birds chirping, smelling a rose. All those things we take for granted are such an integral part of who we are and how we relax. We get busy and forget to do that. Can you imagine if that were all gone and all we could do is step into a concrete jungle?
Jan 4, 2010
The superfund sites are not being cleaned up because they have run out of money? The whole truth is the Bushies and congress did their best to defund the program by, what else, eliminating corporate contributions from those who polluted. Go corporate power and ALEC.
I'm probably asking this in the wrong place, but since we are on the topic.....I just bought a 6-acre ranchette that has a pond on it caused by runoff from neighboring crop fields. I have also found out that all these neighboring crop fields are being sprayed by crop dusters. Should I be worried about this? And, what should I do if I should be worried?
Ms. Erin, is marvelous. Loved her story, met her in TN. My kind of gal. Nowdays I wonder if she is still as dedicated. In Kingston, TN. I was there when the ash flooded into the local area. Ms. Erin came down w/what appeared to be high priced Northern lawyers and offered to help. It was for an upfront fee (to the lawyers). Let me tell you here and now. Most of those effected by that superfund site do not have out of pocket money to pay. Bet they are still suffering in Kingston. Don't hear much about that do we...
" I like being out in a boat on Lake Mead" ... Is that a row boat or sail boat or does that boat consume some sort of fossil fuel?
How did this get from Erin Brockovich to global warming? But as long as we're there it seems to bear noting that, 1) No one seems to argue that spewing of C02 into the atmosphere causes changes. 2) Industrial pollution of water is killing people and shouldn't be. 3) While we can't control eruptions of nature, we can control the crap we spew into the atmosphere, and we can control the crap that industries generate, and we should. We can always adapt to the changes we can't control. We shouldn't have to adapt to changes that occur because some of us choose to ignore taking action that would prevent them.
Ms Brokovich...thank you for your work. You are human & I get that so you are no angel & you make choices that not all agree with, but you know what ... if I remember the movie correctly ... while everyone else was turning a blind eye to an issue (which we do here in America, because someone with a dollar or two is willing to pay us fifty cents)..you highlighted the issue and worked to provide some intervention. I wish that more people realized that there are no easy solutions to the choices we have made in this country, either through ignorance, or choice. For all who criticize get it is just deflection, for those who toss stones ... are bored & would prefer you not look at their glass houses. Would love to know more about the work you are doing...but I understand staying out of the spotlight makes life easier, and the target isn't as big. Once again, thank you.
Is Ms. Brockovich still with Standwood - Smith, Attorneys at Law? Wasn't the lawyer she worked with, on the PG&E case, named Clifton Smith? Does she still work with him?
If she is so into environmental issues, then why does she support Tony Strickland in Ventura County? He takes money from developers, health care and oil companies. He sets up supposedly "environmental" companies that don't do anything, and he sits on the California State Assembly in Sacramento where he also doesn't do anything. Now he's running for state controller!
Meanwhile, the new 'energy efficient' litebulbs so many are changing to contain mercury. Anyone see the irony there? I am worried about where that's all gonna go when they toss them.
I love that undressed legacy. Sure we actually have regulations on emissions, dumping, and pollution now...but what about in the 60's? The 50's? The 40's? If you think things are bad in the US today, let me give you a littel example from very close to where I live. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAHmaEs5cYU When are we going to clean up the old messes? Sure the new ones should be stopped, but the old ones are getting worse as the damns and other containment systems are ready to fail.
of a very large picture that includes solar activity regional changes like deforestation that cause micro climate changes and a host of other things. If you look at untainted data from these multiple sources you will see the facts seem to point to we are 10 years into a cooling cycle that correspondes to a cyclical decrease in solar activity. And by studying history and the science of what happened before you will see that the earth has gone through many cooling and warming cycles before mans factories, cars and planes contributed anything to the air. To blame man for any global warming or cooling trend is to underestimate Mother Nature. We can poison the planet, but change its temperature. Not likely. And you miss the opportunity to understand whatever might trigger the next cycle and allow man to be prepared for it. Why do people refuse to look to the past for answers to the future? Because in the end there may be little we can do, but get out of the way.
Interesting article on a worthy person. As for Hates Idiots. Hold that thought. I am always impressed when people can feel that looking at mankind surviving in previous ages means that the billions living now are not affecting the planet at all, and in any worsening of the climate there will be little needed for society to continue. Of course pointing at spewing volcanoes as a reason for mankind to do nothing is a very sophisticated argument. I feel absolved of any responsibility for any future disaster. However if climate change leads to the frozen methane beds becoming gas again and it is a marginal temperature that causes it I might feel that I have been misguided by Idiot. Perhaps an ounce of prevention is worth the effort.
40 years of pollution by UTC rocketdyne, pratt & whitney, space propulsion division... on our property. MEK, TCI and hydrogen perchlorate are the primary ingredients. Now United Technology Corp hires consulting attorneys, skews testing results and is playing stonewall until statute of limitations expire. It wasn't enough for them to set us on fire, blow out windows and doors during this period apparently. All the above is fluff for my real point; "These people ARE ******* rocket scientists!" Second point concerns the ongoing activities of pols vis a vis ghfinns comment. To assure their activities are not self serving nor bought we the people should vote on their pensions after term of so called service. Let the options range from current ludicrous amounts to, "the gallows at dawn." Thanks for opportunity to rant :)
To connect thoughts. The unexplained warming period from AD 800 to 1300 is when Greenland was named because it was covered in plant life when the Vikings found it. The Vikings grew vineyards there and they saw no glaciers. Crops thrived in the rich soil and the growing season lasted 10 months with mild winters. During this same period scorching temperatures, droughts and famine ravenged civilizations in Europe, Asia, North and South America. Most of the worlds glaciers everyone is worried about melting did not exist during the Midieval Warming Period just 700 years ago. Some scientists believe that the massive population die offs during the Midieval Warming Period triggered the global cooling of the Little Ice Age that followed as farmland across the world reforested and massive amounts of CO2 were held by the trees. But what triggered the warming back in AD 800 in the first place? Even the global warming scientists do not know.
In the time this thread has been running that volcano in the Pacific has put out more CO2 than Brazil will put out in 2010. Unless the venting stops in the next few weeks it will surpass the annual CO2 output of China. If the venting continues for just a few months, which this volcano has done in the past, the CO2 output from one volcano will surpass the 2010 CO2 output of all mankind. Man's contribution of cooling or greenhouse gases to the air is nothing compared to Mother Nature. Man put out massive amounts of sulfer dioxide during the industrial revolution and well into the 20th century. All that sulfer dioxide from burning coal never triggered global cooling before the western nations started filtering it in the later part of the 20th century to prevent acid rain. The world actually was warming in those years as it came out of the Little Ice age. Yet Mt Pinatubo erupted and in one day dumped millions of tons of sulfer dioxide into the air that caused global cooling for 3 years in the 1990's. Even global warming scientists have no answer to what caused the warming period from 1850 to 1950 that raised global temperatures. They also have no explaination for the Midieval Warming Period from AD 800 to 1300 that preceeded the Little Ice Age. To take the easy way out and blame man for any modern day warming is a copout on trying to find out what happened to trigger the prior warming events. We may be chasing CO2 ghosts while the real cause of global warming comes back to bite us.
for those who have questions about global warming, i would suggest first clearing the antiscientific aspects of your minds and look at the evidence as it is collected.the earth has gone thru a number of heating cooling cycles , but never have we had an increasse of manmade pollutants as we are giving off now. this is forcing a change, and we are responsible for it. try looking around at the poles.
I have yet to have a global warming supporter explain to me how man can impact the temperature of the planet when Mt. Pinatubo released millions of tons of sulfer dioxide in one day and caused global cooling for 3 years. And Mt. St. Helens did the same thing for 2 years when it blew it's top. And yet a volcano right now is sending enough CO2 into the atmosphere every day to equal the monthly CO2 output of Brazil. Even including the Amazon burning. How did the earth go through a warming trend that raised global temperatures to the point Greenland had vineyards during the early Middle Ages without industrialized man causing it? How do you think Greenland got it's name? It was once 100% ice free into the Middle Ages when Vikings saled the seas around it. On the scale of history the glacier on Greenland now is a child of the earth. How did the earth go into the Little Ice Age that ended in the 1700's with out mans industral influence warming the planet? The global warming people don't know the answers to these questions. Mother Nature wins this argument every time.
than greenhouse gases. aside from the ridiculously politically charged "research" that has driven the public to greenhouse gas awareness, there really isn't cause for FURTHER drastic measures. The natural path of concern will guide us to safe CO2 production levels LOOONG before they become an issue. You can do the math your self. A quick glance will tell you that apocalyptic models of rising CO2 levels are manipulated for an intended result. Our "concern" over CO2 has caused a significant adoption of CF lighting that usually contains mercury (I think about half a gram). While methods for proper disposal are probably available in every semi-major city, how many people do you think use them? No one I know does, not even those that take the time to separate their recyclables. Why? I think it's cause everyone "knows" CFs are "good for the environment" and don't really stop to think further than that. Just as with buying a prius (to saaave the world) there is more pollution created in the manufacture of a prius than you'll ever save over the life of the car. Those batteries don't last forever, and their not made in an eco-friendly country. Now, we KNOW that heavy metals cause ill health to people and the surrounding environment. I'm sure there are many other pollutants I am completely unaware of that we need to take care of. But if your TRUELY concerned about the environment, you won't buy a prius (in spite of how cool the technology is), and you won't use CF (because their are MUCH better alternatives), you won't spend rediculous amounts of money on systems that only promote the hype of a fake "green" industry. Instead, be thrify, be thoughtful and for gods sake, quit electing career politicians!
Stop arguing before you have a heart attack...which will kill more people than lead, CO2, or anything else you have argued about.
She appears in an advertisement for a local Australian law firm which could be misleading as she does not state she is a consultant to them, only that she works for them now. Most people would take this as exclusivity to that firm.
to hates idiots i never did undrrestimate the effect of lead and mercury on the human organism. they are toxic. your downplaying of the effects of various gases causing climate change is a bit silly though for we can also see the effects at present, with the most notable the melting of the ice packs in thew arctic and antarctic, the disappearance of many glaciers , and so on. yes, it might take some time before the disasterous effects begin to really effectus worldwide but when that does happen it will have been too late to stop the change and reverse the effects. we are dealing with a slowly developing action and even now we may be starting to pass the point of no return. we just do not know, but we had better do somethinmg now and not stand around and say it is not important. by doing this you are just allowing the inevitable. you may not be here, but your descendents will be, maybe even your own children. we talk a great deal about leaving large debts for our children to pay, but that is just money. what we might be leaving to our children is such a disaster as to cause large loss of life and certainly loss of any kind of living that we now enjoy.
You may be correct about the effects of an overly sterile environment. I read the theory about allergies and it goes something like this, the normal childhood diseases help tune the immune system. A child's immune system is not fully formed until about 4 or 5 years. A lot of the mother's immunity is delivered through breast milk and that helps protect the infant for a few years. Raising a child in a clean and sterile home does not keep the immune system from finding things to attack and this is where allergies are supposed to originate. The body is hyper vigilant with substances and this is the allergic reaction. Studies have shown that allowing children to play in dirt and other things helps keep the immune system from being hypervigialant. Autism is still poorly understood. The biggest cause for the increase in autism is a better understanding of the symptoms. Lead and mercury tend to damage nerves and cause retardation. There are other forms of autism and autism can range from slight to severe. Einstein may have been autistic, he did not speak until he was 4 or 5. If Einstein was autistic then he is also a good hope that other autistic children can contribute to society. I do think that CO2 is a problem that should be addressed. I think of it like doing things to protect your home, you take precautions to prevent fire and pay insurance to deal with a fire if it happens. Even if you don't think your house will ever catch fire, it is better to have made some preparations than none. Cap and trade is not a very good solution as it allows the status quo to continue by "borrowing" carbon credit from someone else who does not produce much CO2. Better solutions would be to find ways to reduce CO2 or find ways to sequester it. Or we can all emulate yeast and pollute ourselves out of existence.
stilt21.... There is more science linking mercury and lead poisoning to brain damage than there is proving man generated CO2 is warming the atmosphere. One volcano in the Pacific is pumping more CO'2 in the air today than Brazil does in a month. How can you say man?s contribution has more of an influence on global temperatures than that? What is known is that mercury and lead levels in the air across the globe have increased with the expansion of India and China's use of coal to fuel their economic growth. You may say it is circumstantial, but lead and mercury poisoning of our children by air pollution has a stronger foundation than saying the oceans will rise 20 feet over the next 100 years because of a cow poofing methane in Omaha. We know lead and mercury poisoning kills people and even small amounts harm children. Why do you think lead is no longer in gas? Why do you think the Western world started filtering lead and mercury in the 1970's? It's not pretty and it's old science, but it is a very real problem being ignored because of scientists who their data to support global warming. Lets deal with the proven science that we know will kill people in a few years of exposure instead of icking over wild speculation of what MIGHT happen in 100 years.
How do we fight pollution when the big corporations have the politicians in their hip pocket. Recently there is 'much-to-do' concerning natural gas discovered beneath our feet and the energy companies will do anything and everything to get it. On top of that the state (NY) wants it so they have begun taxing people off their land. Those that remain have to deal with the energy companies pushing the liability of their pollution onto the drilling company that actually does the drilling. Dummy corporations that have no assets to seize. So the residents are left with polluted ground water while energy companies walk off with the wealth and the politicians retire to some warm beach. Want to join the fight BEFORE the pollution?
for hates idiots first know thyself second the increase in autism is not yet proven nor understood because there is no positive diagnosis for autism. it depends greatly on the onlooker. a recent study noted that the number of autistic children appears to be greater in wealthier neighborhoods, with someone postulating that because the wealthier are better educated they are more likely to see the signs in their children. an alternate hypothesis is thet the wealthy might tend to panic more and see what they want to believe is there. further, this study was done in california and in those wealthy neigborhoods it is far less likely the people are drinking water out of the tap , but are drinking only bottled water and so have less exposure to heavy metals. my own theory is that autism and allergies are increasing more or less at the same time that children are being less exposed to toxins that cause antibodies to be developed by their immune systems, mostly because we sterilize everything and do not let our children play in the dirt any more. this would also be more likely to be true in the wealthier neighborhoods. when i was a kid in the 1930s, i can only vaguely remeber that there may have been one other child that i knew that may have had an allergy, but then we did not use chlorox or lysol to sterilize every surface, and we all played in the mud; and we lived in the city. the farm kids peobably developed even better inmmune systems because they also were around farm animals all the time.. in those days i doubt that anyone ever mentioned autism. by the way at least one of my children showed some of the signs of autism, mainly because he was so interested in what he was about , working in his own room, he did not have the time nor inclinatioin to be bothered by other trivial pursuits. at such time as someone develops a true way to diagnose autism, or a test of the disorder, we can then discuss the number of cases. at this time, remember occam's razor, look for the simplest explanation and that might be that we live in a nation that is in a continual state of panic, and fightened of literally everything. the increae in autism might just be one of the diagnostic signs.
we will all be dead from heavy metal pollution before global warming has a chance to raise our oceans by 6 inches. But cap and trade on CO2 emissions must pass..... Yea right...
The interview quotes Brockovich as saying she goes to other countries to consult on environmental problems that are causing health problems. She also states that we should be concerned about polluted water in other countries. Yeast converts sugar into CO2 and alcohol. In the brewing process, the yeast convert enough sugar into alcohol that the yeast dies from its own waste. We are making ourselves sick from our wastes from heavey metals to polluted water and air. I hope that humans can be more intelligent than yeast and take better control of wastes.
It's nice to see someone focused on real problems backed by real science. People are expending so much hot air on CO2 that they are overlooking the mercury, lead and a thousand other things that are known to be killing us daily. Autism rates in our children are rising with the amount of lead and mercury in our air and people like President Obama and Al Gore are more worried about cow poops releasing methane.