I’ll be honest with you. I’m a fourth generation fisherwoman that has been fighting environmental issues on the Texas Gulf Coast for over twenty years but this hunger fast is the first time I’ve did anything on global warming. My environmental activism started after the county where I live, Calhoun County, was ranked No. l in the nation for toxins to the land, according to the 1989 Toxic Release Inventory. That year was the beginning of a skirmish that quickly escalated into a trench-like 20 year war against petrochemical companies that wanted nothing better than to leave their steel-toed shoe imprint on the marshes, rivers, bayous, and bays of Texas.
In twenty years of what I call my baby-like naivety I have seen something that I never expected to see in my lifetime and, in fact, is what is currently spurring my hunger strike. In one lifetime, I have seen the consequence of what unclear thinking, tunnel vision, and short term unsustainable living can inflict on a community, town, fishery, and a bay. WHAM! Fish houses shut down. Boats rotting in the harbor. Business shut down. Oysters stressed out. Bay full of mercury. Crabs full of mercury. Cattle’s DNA mutated. Rampant cancer. I have a houseful of boxed information on everything from dolphin die offs, to political buy- offs, kick-backs, worker deaths, fraudulent reports, exposures, stressed out oysters, mercury superfunds, contaminated seafood, and everything you never wanted to know about super-sized industries hell bent on destruction.
People who don’t live on the Texas Gulf Coast have a hard time believing my story and quite frankly, I have a hard time believing it myself. The story gets stranger and more and more bizarre and after a while I don’t need the incredibility brimming in my listener’s eyes to I stop myself. I just stop myself. You see, usually cause and effect is sooooo much slower. So slow---which gives you time to forget what it was that caused that effect in the first place. Kind of like that Bhopal/Union Carbide/Dow issue. Twenty thousand dead but twenty years of forgetting right there. Then, too, the saying is: death by a thousand cuts. Right? Takes a long time for a thousand cuts. Mighty long time. Several generations, at least. But apparently not in Texas. We get to the hanging much quicker. One time a Washington, DC reporter called me and after talking for awhile he said he sure wished he was down in Texas covering a story because in Washington DC, the footprints were well-muddied and hidden but in Texas the footprints were everywhere and in plain sight.
So you see, when the reports and statistics and the stories come out about global warming and the message is clear that we, as Americans, need to cut our greenhouse emissions by 40 percent, I understand. And I understand because I live with stunted inaction and misinformed disbelieve all the time. It lives and breathes where I live in Texas. We are bringing the roof down over our heads-- but yet, what do we do? We bring in two coal burning power plants, a nuclear power plant, a liquid natural gas terminal the size of three footballs fields that will require dredging up the bay where hundreds of thousands of pounds of mercury that were lost by a malfunctioning Alcoa plant. That is the reality of my home. So I will fast forty days. Maybe more.