PRAIRIE SEAWEED?

The national Activist Network of the Sierra Club will be sending a Kansas representative to the 3rd annual Blue Vision Summit in Washington, D.C.  this May.  At the meeting, the Blue Frontier Campaign will host a broad network of grassroots organizations and individuals, referred to as “Seaweed Rebels,” to disseminate information about global marine issues.

The Summit will include two days of panels and informational workshops focusing on “Lessons from the Gulf” and President Obama’s new National Ocean Policy.  A third day will be devoted to meeting with elected officials on the Hill.

The Sierra Club’s Marine Action Team (MAT) recently held a contest to recruit activists from across the country, including the Heartland.  The goals of the competition were to expand the MAT’s geographic coverage and leadership pool and to produce real world outcomes on specific projects or issues.  Up to six winners are being sent to the Summit, all expenses paid.

Elaine Giessel, ExCom member of the Kanza Group and long-time Marine Chair of the Kansas Chapter, was selected as one of the Sierra Club’s representatives at the Summit.  Originally from the Texas Gulf Coast, Giessel is a trained marine biologist and environmental educator who is committed to helping Kansans learn about the many connections between the Midwest and the vast World Ocean.  She will receive training in leadership and lobbying, will meet with Sierra Club D.C. staff working on federal issues, and will lobby members of Congress and their staff members.

So, why send someone from Kansas to a Summit on marine issues?  Because everything is connected.

  • Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides on Midwest fields and lawns, as well as city and farm wastes, enter the Mississippi watershed and pollute Gulf waters, creating a “Dead Zone.”
  • Gasoline burned in Kansas vehicles contributes to the demand for oil exploration around the planet and is responsible, in part, for the recent BP disaster in the Gulf and the current pressure to drill in the Arctic.
  • The oceans respond to our fossil fuel consumption by absorbing excess CO2 and becoming more acidic.  If the tiny floating plants and animals at the base of the ocean food chains fail to thrive, unable to build their limestone shells in the acid seawater, entire marine ecosystems may be lost.  The fisheries which feed over half the world’s population will fail.
  • Wyoming coal burned in Kansas is impacting marine ecosystems in many ways: ocean waters are warming; coral reefs around the world (and the tourism dollars they provide) are dying; mercury-contamination in fish is triggering public health advisories; coastal seafood “nurseries” are drowning as glaciers melt; and sea ice in the Arctic, critical for wildlife, is disappearing.

The evidence is clear.  The health of the oceans is dependent, in part, on what we do in the Heartland.  Our actions can make a difference.

To contact Elaine Giessel about working on marine issues, email sealaine@yahoo.com.

Sierra Club Activist Network: http://connect.sierraclub.org/ActivistNetwork/home

Marine Action Team: http://connect.sierraclub.org/Team/Marine_Action_Team.

Kansas Chapter to be Represented at Blue Vision Summit in D.C.

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