Television Ad Celebrates Obama's Mercury Protections
The Sierra Club released a television ad Dec. 22 that will run in high saturation starting this weekend in the Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio media markets, celebrating President Obama's recent roll-out of life-saving protections from toxic mercury, a potent brain poison that poses a particular threat to prenatal babies and young children.
Exposure in the bloodstreams of pregnant and nursing women can result in birth defects like learning disabilities, lowered IQ, deafness, blindness and cerebral palsy. Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury pollution in the U.S., pumping more than 33 tons of this dangerous toxin into our air each year.
Once in the air, mercury rains down and accumulates in fish and shellfish that are then eaten by people. The new protections announced by the Obama administration will slash mercury pollution from power plants by more than 90 percent and improve air quality for millions of Americans.
The Sierra Club's ad will be broadcast with high saturation in the Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio markets during the winter holidays to inform women in particular of how the president's new mercury protections will improve their health and the health of their families.
"Each year, more than 300,000 American babies are born exposed to dangerous levels of mercury, and now, after decades of delay, we have the first-ever nationwide protections against this toxic pollutant," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "We want to ensure that women and families in Ohio understand what this new protection will mean for keeping their children and loved ones safe and healthy."
"Ohio has the second highest rate of toxic mercury pollution in the nation, after Texas, meaning the families of Ohio will see the benefits of this new protection in their own families, backyards and communities," said Rashay Layman, associate organizing representative for the Sierra Club in Columbus. "The Sierra Club applauds the president and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for their courage and resolve in protecting American families—particularly women and children—from this dangerous toxin and for standing up to polluters' attempts to weaken this life-saving protection," Brune said.
At the three hearings that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held on this issue, Americans showed their overwhelming support for protecting children from mercury. More than 800,000 supportive public comments—a record—were filed in support of the measure.
The full text of the ad:
"When this little girl grows up her world will have significantly less mercury pollution because President Obama and the EPA stood up against polluters and established the first-ever clean air standards.
This action means that our air, water, and food will be safer from mercury pollution and heavy metals generated by coal-fired power plants.
Like you, President Obama understands that reducing toxic mercury pollution increases the possibilities to dream big."
For more information, click here.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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