Show us the neural damage.
Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune tries melodramatizing his concern for mercury in a Huffington Post commentary, “Mercury Poisoning: A Parent’s Revolt“:
…It started before we even brought our first child home from the hospital. Electrical sockets needed to be covered, cabinet doors secured, knives stowed out of the reach of tiny hands. We live in earthquake country, so we finally got around to bolting our bookshelves to the wall.
Like any parents, we’ll do anything in our power to keep our kids safe. We know that our power has its limits, but that doesn’t stop us from trying.
Getting the house ready was just the beginning. We were also determined to protect our daughter from less-obvious dangers. Well aware of the toxic chemicals that increasingly find their way into our bodies, we shopped for the healthiest foods we could find — and still do.
Of course, not all Americans have the same easy access to fresh, organic, and healthy foods that we do. In lots of neighborhoods it can be hard to find decent produce. But even so, you’d think there’d still be plenty of nutritious alternatives to fast food, like the humble tuna sandwich.
Not anymore. Tuna, like many types of fish, is often contaminated with mercury, a neurotoxin that damages the brain and nervous system, particularly in fetuses and young children. Mercury in the bloodstreams of pregnant and nursing women can result in birth defects like learning disabilities, reduced IQ, and cerebral palsy.
We’ve known about the dangers of mercury for a century. (It’s what made the Mad Hatter mad.) We’ve also known how the fish get contaminated: primarily via coal-fired power plants, whose smokestacks spew almost 50 tons of mercury annually into the air we breathe.
A heavy metal like mercury does not stay in the atmosphere for long. It eventually falls to Earth, inexorably working its way up the food chain until it winds up in the tuna sandwich in some kid’s lunch box — or on the sushi platter ordered by a young woman who’s just become pregnant.
And that’s where we get mad — both as environmentalists and as parents: There is absolutely no reason our kids should be exposed to this poison…
Show us someone who has been harmed by mercury emissions from a U.S. power plant, Michael. Just one, and we shut up.
Is this column about your concern as a parent, or your Sierra Club’s anti-coal jihad which is fueled by a $50 million donation from green New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg?