In the absence of federal policies that are protective of child development and the ecology of the planet on which our children's lives depend, we serve as our own regulatory agencies and departments of interior.... Thoughtful but overwhelmed parents correctly perceive a disconnect between the enormity of the problem and the ability of individual acts of vigilance and self-sacrifice to fix it. Environmental awareness without corresponding political changes leads to paralyzing despair....We feel helpless in our knowledge, and we're not sure we want any more knowledge. You could call this well-informed futility syndrome. And soon enough, we are retreating into silent resignation rather than standing up for abolition now.
from Raising Elijah
"We shouldn't wreck this place down,right, Mom?"
--Elijah, age six, the author's son
Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis
“This could be the most important and inspiring parenting book ever written. Protecting children from the poisons that surround them cannot be left to conscientious mothers and fathers alone. It must instead become our society’s highest collective priority.” —Naomi Klein; author of The Shock Doctrine
Our children face an environment more threatening to their health than any generation in history. Sandra Steingraber confronts this crisis with precise science and a lyrical, witty, moving memoir. Each lively chapter of this unique book focuses on one of the universals of childhood–milk, laundry, pizza, homework, the “Big Talk”–and explores the hidden, social political, and historical forces behind it. Throughout, Steingraber demonstrates how closely the intimate world of parenting connects to the public world of policy-making and how the ongoing environmental crisis is, fundamentally, a crisis of family life.
“Steingraber’s narrative is personal and political, funny and smart. She shows us that feminism and motherhood are not at odds; combined, they make for heroes…Raising Elijah is a call to arms, a cry for the moral solidarity that we must forge to prevent environmental degradation and its assault on children’s health.” —Ms. Magazine review
“Eco-biologist, cancer survivor, activist, mother of two, and author of books about environmental hazards and their effects (including Living Downstream and Having Faith), Steingraber applies her knowledge and philosophy to the challenge of raising children in our toxic, climate-threatened world. She connects many child health issues, including asthma, behavioral problems, intellectual impairments, and pre-term birth to hormone-disrupting, brain-damaging, and otherwise dangerous environmental factors. Chapters tackle weighty problems–diminished fertility; how chemicals infiltrate mothers’ milk; air quality and the ozone hole; neurotoxicology; hydraulic fracturing–and how they affect children and families. Two major themes emerge: first, current environmental policies must change to safeguard and support the health of children and, second, we must end our dependence on toxic fossil fuels. Less a guidebook for conscientious parents than an alarming and sobering human rights polemic, the book’s narrative is nevertheless a persuasive, personal call to action.” —Publisher’s Weekly
Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis.
A Merloyd Lawrence Book.
Da Capo Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group
copyright 2011 by Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D.