Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

26 June 2012

EarthTalk Tuesday: What are sustainable communities?

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: The term “sustainable communities” gets bantered around quite a bit today. Could you define it for me? -- Holly Parker, Mechanicsburg, PA

Kaid Benfield, Sustainable Communities program director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), uses the term “sustainable communities” to describe places “where use of resources and emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants are going down, not up; where the air and waterways are accessible and clean; where land is used efficiently and shared parks and public spaces are plentiful and easily visited; where people of different ages, income levels and cultural backgrounds share equally in environmental, social and cultural benefits; where many needs of daily life can be met within a 20-minute walk and all may be met within a 20-minute transit ride; where industry and economic opportunity emphasize healthy, environmentally sound practices.”

In his March 2011 NRDC ‘Switchboard’ blog post entitled “A Trip to Sustainaville,” Benfield lays out his vision for what a model of sustainable communities could look like, with neighborhoods sporting healthy amounts of green space and shared vegetable gardens; mass transit, biking and walking replacing the majority of automobile traffic; and mixed use communities where schools, residences and commercial spaces are near each other and are powered by solar panels, geothermal heat pumps or windmills.

According to the Vermont-based Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), sustainable communities are “economically, environmentally and socially healthy and resilient” and meet “challenges through integrated solutions rather than through fragmented approaches.” And perhaps more important: Sustainable communities take a long-term perspective, focusing on “both the present and future, well beyond the next budget or election cycle” so that the needs of the current as well as future generations are met with adequate resources. ISC adds that the success of a community’s efforts to be sustainable depends on its members’ commitment and involvement as well as leadership that is inspiring, effective and responsive.

Some of the ways ISC has worked to further its goals include helping teach leaders from low income U.S. communities along the Gulf of Mexico how energy efficiency and ecological restoration can revitalize their otherwise struggling economies; developing community sustainability initiatives throughout
war-ravaged parts of Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia; installing green roofs on residences in the Chinese city of Shenzen as a pilot project to show how such “technologies” can yield significant carbon sequestration and other environmental benefits, and many more.

Key to any consideration of what makes a community sustainable is the acknowledgement that there is no such thing as perfection. “Sustainability is a process of continuous improvement so communities constantly evolve and make changes to accomplish their goals,” reports Sustainable Communities Online, a web-based information and networking clearinghouse started in the 1990s by a broad coalition of sustainability-oriented organizations and managed by the Washington, DC-based non-profit CONCERN Inc. Those looking to learn more about sustainable communities and what makes them tick should be sure to check out sustainable.org, Sustainable Communities Online’s information-packed website.

CONTACTS: NRDC Sustainable Communities, www.nrdc.org/sustainable-communities/; Institute for Sustainable Communities, www.iscvt.org; Sustainable Communities Online, www.sustainable.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

De los Redactores de E/La Revista Ecológica

Querido DiálogoEcológico: El término “comunidades sostenibles” se usa bastante hoy. ¿Lo podrían definir para mí? -- Holly Parker, Mechanicsburg, PA

Kaid Benfield, director de programa para Comunidades Sostenibles del Consejo de Defensa de Recursos Naturales (NRDC), utiliza el término "comunidades sostenibles" para describir lugares "donde el uso de recursos y emisiones de gases invernaderos y otros contaminantes está en descenso, no en expansión; donde el aire y vías navegables son accesibles y limpios; donde la tierra es utilizada eficientemente y donde abundan parques y espacios públicos compartidos y fácilmente frecuentados; donde personas de edades, niveles de ingresos y trasfondos culturales comparten igualmente beneficios ambientales, sociales y culturales; donde muchas necesidades de la vida cotidiana pueden ser satisfechas a pie en 20 minutos y todo puede encontrarse con un viajecito por auto dentro de 20 minutos; y donde la industria y oportunidad económica acentúan prácticas sanas en concordancia con el ambiente".

En su posteo de marzo 2011 para su blog "Switchboard" de NRDC titulado "Un Viaje a Sustainaville,"* Benfield aclara su visión para lo que podría entederse como un modelo de comunidades sostenibles, con vecindarios que ostentan cantidades respetables de espacio verde y jardines compartidos de verduras; transporte público, bicicletas y peatones reemplazando la mayoría del tráfico automotriz; y con comunidades de uso "mixto" donde espacios educacionales, residenciales y comerciales están cerca unos de otros y todos son conectados a electricidad por paneles solares, bombas geotérmicas o molinos de viento.

Según el Instituto para Comunidades Sostenibles (ISC), basado en Vermont, las comunidades sostenibles son "económicamente, ambientalmente y socialmente sanas y fuertes" y cumplen con "los desafíos mediante soluciones integradas en vez de enfoques fragmentados". Y quizás más importante: Las comunidades sostenibles usan una perspectiva a largo plazo, centrándose en "tanto el presente como el futuro, bien más allá del próximo ciclo de presupuesto o elección" para que las necesidades de la generación actual y futuras sean satisfechas con recursos adecuados. ISC agrega que el éxito de los esfuerzos de una comunidad para ser sostenible depende del cometido de sus miembros y su participación así como un liderazgo que inspira, y que es efectivo y responde bien a las peticiones del público.

Algunos de las maneras en que ISC se ha movido para promover sus objetivos incluye ayudar a enseñar a líderes de comunidades pobres estadounidenses del Golfo de México cómo la eficiencia de energía y restauración ecológica pueden revitalizar sus economías que de otro modo andarían en apuros; desarrollar iniciativas comunitarias de sostenibilidad a través de partes devastadas por la guerra de Kosovo, Serbia y Macedonia; instalar techos verdes en residencias de la ciudad china de Shenzen como un proyecto piloto para mostrar cómo tales "tecnologías" pueden rendir un secuestro significativo de carbón y otros beneficios ambientales, y muchos más.

Clave para cualquier consideración de lo que hace a una comunidad sostenible es el reconocimiento que no existe la perfección. "La sostenibilidad es un proceso de mejora continua de modo que las comunidades evolucionan constantemente y hacen cambios para lograr sus objetivos," informa Sustainable Communities Online, un banco de información e interconexión en línea creado en los años noventa por una coalición amplia de organizaciones orientadas a la sostenibilidad y manejadas por el grupo no comercial CONCERN Inc., basado en Washington. Los que buscan aprender más acerca de comunidades sostenibles y lo que las motiva deben estudiar sustainable.org, una página web en línea repleta de información.

CONTACTOS: NRDC Communities,www.nrdc.org/sustainable-communities/; Institute for Sustainable Communities, www.iscvt.org; Sustainable Communities Online, www.sustainable.org.

EarthTalk® (DiálogoEcológico) es escrito y editado por Roddy Scheer y Doug Moss y es una marca registrada de E - La Revista Ecológica (www.emagazine.com). Traducción española de Patrice Greanville. Sírvase enviar sus preguntas a: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Suscripción: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Pida un número gratis: www.emagazine.com/trial.

24 June 2012

Do You Eat Ethically?

With our busy schedules, we eat out a lot. We aren't foodies, so we stick to the casual fast-food circuit and neighborhood eateries. When we eat out, we tip around 20%. Neither of us have worked as servers in a formal restaurant. My experience with food service came working the deep fryer at Santa's Village making fries and pizza puffs. Then there was my stint at the movie theater concession stand (you can survive on free popcorn & nachos). Both of those jobs, that I held in the 1990s, paid more than most restaurant workers earn today -- $2.13.

Do you know what $2.13 buys you? Well it doesn't buy the workers much in terms of health care, so you get sick people making your food from the deli on the corner to the fancy restaurant that requires an act of God to get a reservation.

I was excited to learn about Behind the Kitchen Door, which is an upcoming new book written by Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director of ROC United. You really need to watch the book trailer:

Then click over to the book site to keep up to date on its progress!

There's much more to do than just getting these workers a pay raise. We need to see our food as more than just what is on our plate, but see the people who get it there. 

22 June 2012

EVENT and Second GIVEAWAY: 8th Annual Summer, Sex & Spirits (NYC)

The 8th Annual Summer, Sex & Spirits hosted by the Planned Parenthood NYC Activist Council, will be on Tuesday, June 26 at Hudson Terrace:


Open bar all night

Visit the event page to see a list of fabulous silent auction & raffle prizes!

VLF is happy to be giving away another general admission ticket to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment by Sunday, June 24th at 9 PM EST and I'll select a random winner. You can earn an extra entry by liking Viva la Feminista at Facebook (just leave another comment to alert me of this fact). Those who entered before are automatically entered in this giveaway.

Easy, huh?

So hurry up and comment!

All proceeds go to benefit PPNYC's healthcare services, education programs, and legislative work.

Please contact activists@ppnyc.org with all event related questions.

Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Time: 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM
621 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036

21 June 2012

Summer of Feminista: El poder de nuestra voz

We kick off Summer of Feminista en Espanol! Gracias a
Alejandra Ramírez-LaBonte.

Este es un año electoral en varios países como México, Venezuela, Republica Dominicana y Estados Unidos, cada uno se encuentra en la lucha por quizás tener un nuevo presidente que los represente y los haga tener la esperanza de una mejoría en la política de sus respectivas naciones, también puede darse el caso como sucede en EUA, de que el actual presidente resulte nuevamente ganador, esto por el momento no lo sabremos, pero creo que existen grandes probabilidades, ya que en los últimos días el primer mandatario ha subido su popularidad al adoptar medidas que favorecen a los latinos, que en su mayoría prefieren no darse su paseíto por las urnas, y… ¿A que se deberá esto? Pues tal vez a la falta de fe en los candidatos, a la falta de motivación, falta de dinero para aplicar para la ciudadanía, falta de interés o al estatus migratorio.

Uno de los tópicos que más me llama la atención y donde me gustaría ver resultados, a pesar de saber que es casi imposible, es la inmigración ilegal, y no quiero decir con esto que crea que el país deba acoger y aceptar a todo el que sin estatus, pues cada país se reserva el derecho de admisión a su territorio, me refiero a las deportaciones masivas que cada día se llevan a cabo y por las cuales resultan miles y miles de niños separados de sus padres, que no por ser deportados son delincuentes y donde en la mayoría de ocasiones pierden total contacto y no se vuelven a reunir como familia por la falta de recursos que presentan o por la mala comunicación entre las mismas instituciones del estado que toman decisiones burocráticas que ponen de lado el bienestar emocional de los afectador.

Como mujer, latina e inmigrante que soy de este país, creo que es sumamente indignante que niños sean puestos en adopción cuando sus padres los aman y los quieren junto a ellos, sobretodo cuando el departamento de migración se basa en la premisa de “MANTENER LA UNIDAD FAMILIAR”, unidad que dejan echan a un lado en estas circunstancias. Entiendo que el estado tiene que proteger a sus ciudadanos, especialmente a los menores de edad, pero a la vez estoy convencida de que cada hijo necesita a sus padres y cada padre a sus hijos, en especial si dichos padres luchan contra el gran gigante para que les devuelvan a sus hijos.

No es justo, que por una ley que se traduce a un simple papel exista tanto sufrimiento y tanta falta de humanidad. Este es solo uno de los motivos por el que como mujeres y latinas residentes de EUA debemos votar, siempre y cuando sea posible, a la vez que incitemos a nuestros hijos, esposos, demás familiares, vecinos y amigos a que acudan en masa a las mesas electorales. En Estados Unidos las mujeres tenemos ese derecho desde 1920 y debemos ejercerlo, aunque suene a cliché “No podemos dejar que otros tomen decisiones por nosotros”. Y es que a todos los partidos políticos les importa mucho la opinión de nosotras las mujeres, ya que en cuanto a población somos más, somos más las mujeres cabeza de familias que los hombres, la mayoría de las decisiones importantes en nuestros hogares las tomamos nosotras y el voto latino decidirá quien será el ganador. Si nos unimos lograremos importantes cambios donde nos tomen más en cuenta como comunidad y si esa es la única opción que como individuos tenemos para cambiar los designios de este país, pues adelante ¡vamos a votar!

Por nuestras familias, por nuestros hijos, por nosotras ¡Votemos!

Summer of Feminista 2012 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts about Election 2012. Viewpoints can be liberal, moderate or conservative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

20 June 2012

Book Review: A Little F'd Up by Julie Zeilinger

A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word by Julie Zeilinger is a valiant attempt to claim the crown of “the” young feminist. While still in high school, Zeilinger launched the well-respected blog, “f-bomb.” She has certainly helped to bring feminism to a new and younger generation.

F’d Up tries to be the teen feminist guide as well as an explanation to anyone older than 25 as to what “kids these days” think of feminism and other issues. By trying to be both, Zeilinger falls short in both realms. There are places where Zeilinger does a brilliant job and others where it is clear she has bitten off more than she can handle. I read this book as a feminist scholar but will admit that part of my brain remained in “I’m the mom of a tween girl!” mode as well.

As a mom, I appreciated Zeilinger’s laying out how teens today think. Zeilinger shined when she explained how tiring it must be for teens to be constantly performing in person and online as the same time teens are just trying to figure out who the hell they are. It’s as if teens are constantly starring in their own soap opera and no one is yelling “CUT!” Her examination of hook up culture is spot on in how it both empowers girls to embrace their sexuality, but also maintains gender roles. I know it makes some older feminists heads spin...imagine being a 15-year-old trying to live through it.

Zeilinger’s honesty in calling out moms on contributing to teen girls’ body issues is important. Bonding with your daughter by going to Weight Watchers together isn’t all that healthy. I know there are moms today who struggle with how to talk about our bodies without passing on our body image issues, but also want to teach our daughters to live a healthy lifestyle.

Zeilinger also does a bang-up job at deconstructing mean girl behavior. Sadly it doesn’t end once you graduate, but if more teens listened to Zeilinger’s advice perhaps we can nip it in the bud. there are few worse things than having a mean girl coworker when you’re 40.

But where Zeilinger falters is in her grasp of feminist history and a global sense of where the broad range of feminist action is today.

When describing global women’s issues, Zeilinger stays safe by selecting four issues that are fairly non-controversial (sex trafficking, female feticide/infanticide, female genital mutilation and honor crimes). This is super smart for a book wanting to engage teens who may not call themselves feminists. But in her section on so-called honor killings she disappoints. Zeilinger fails to mention activists like Rana Husseini who has been documenting and fighting for harsher penalties for the murder of young women in Jordan. For Zeilinger to state that women in these countries are paralyzed with fear ignores the important work that is currently being done. It erases their work and can not be excused by her inexperience.

It is also disappointing to read Zeilinger’s belief that feminism as it is today is about promoting women as “flawless (p 131)” or wanting “more power” than men. I can only chalk up her passion for men to join the movement and her inability to see decades of women (outside of separatists) trying to bring more men in as a result of her inexperience. While the husbands and male partners of women feminists are not always at the rallies or in leadership positions, their support of feminism is what allows some of us to “do it all.” We also need to recognize the work of men like Michael Kimmel and the men of Men Against Sexual Violence chapters around the country.Yes, we need more feminist men working on feminist issues, but we do have a few great ones.

Zeilinger’s weakness in how to deal with racism and white privilege within feminist history and today’s activists should fade in time. Her attempt to tackle it is equally brave and lacking. In her own statement on white privilege Zeilinger states: 
“I think it's really shitty that I'm not able to do a better job of writing about this element of feminism (being a privileged white girl) better. And I don't want to cop out, bbut if somebody out there thinks they can do better: You should. We need it. (p 84).”  
Many already have. While not exactly privileged white girl responses and also not perfect scholars have have been working on white privilege for years and they are worth directing teens towards. Get teens to look inside their backpack!

The struggle white suffragists found themselves in post-Civil War was glossed over. It is not a pretty or easy conversation, but it's one best had as soon as possible. There’s a lot we, as a movement, still need to learn from how Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass went from allies to being pitted against each other, not to mention their respective communities. As evidence that we haven’t learned from that moment we just need to peek back at the 2008 Democratic primary and how Black women were told to “choose sides.” It's difficult to acknowledge the racism and classism that went into the suffrage movements tactics and thoughts, but we must or we can't truly move forward. For me I'm still working on negotiating that space. Zeilinger will surely figure out where she stands in that space.

Much of F’d Up is a great introduction for teens to feminism. Zeilinger would had been well served to have had a co-author who could guide on feminist history/theory or more hands on editors. I have no idea if the swearing is truly representative of Zeilinger’s voice or an attempt (by the author and/or editors) to pander to teens. Either way, it should had been toned down because reading “bad ass” a zillion times was fucking annoying. (See?)

F’d Up has great points, but it also has a lot of flaws. I can’t recommend it as a whole, but I would certainly recommend her section on teens living life online (especially in light of Facebook trying to figure out how to get tweens on board). I look forward to Zeilinger’s future work. She has a passion that will carry her far. As a blogger, I believe that her growth as a feminist leader will be very public and hopefully that will ensure a new generation of feminists will follow her.

On the other hand, yes I'm conflicted about this book, if Zeilinger is the voice of the next generation of feminism, F'd Up is a must read because it's important for those of us older than 25 to know how they view feminism, how we have been dealing with issues and how important it is to have women's history taught in high school.

To get a copy for yourself, head over to Powells or Indiebooks.

Disclaimer:  I was asked to review this book and was happy to oblige, even if it turned out to be one of the hardest reviews to write.

* Book links are affiliate links. If you buy your book here I could make a very small amount of money that goes towards this blog by helping me purchase books for school. Thanks! 

18 June 2012

CFP: Mothers and Motherhood in the Spanish-Speaking World

Demeter Press
is seeking submissions for an edited collection
Mothers and Motherhood in the Spanish-Speaking World

Editors: Marina Bettaglio and Cándida Elizabeth Vivero Marín
Publication Date: 2015
Traditional representations of motherhood in Spanish-speaking countries have favoured the image of the selfless, abnegated mother, totally devoted to her children. As a woman whose entire life was at the service of others, she was supposed to find fulfillment in caring for and supporting her family.   Modelled after the Virgin Mary, this idealized maternal role dominated, with regional differences, the Spanish and Latin American imaginary for centuries. Marianismo, the cultural expression of this ideological position, demonstrates the pervasiveness of the Marian cult in Latin America, where the dichotomy Virgin/Whore described by Octavio Paz has played a key role in imposing normative maternal values. Nonetheless, during the last two decades new maternal configurations have emerged in literature, comics, cinema, music, and art. This collection seeks to examine counter-hegemonic discourses that stand in stark or seeming opposition to traditional representations. The editors seek article-length contributions from scholars from a variety of disciplines, including literature, cinema, music and popular culture in general.

Articles may examine (but are not limited to) the following topics:
Non-traditional mothers, step-mothers, lesbian mothers, immigrant mothers, minority mothers, professional mothers, writing mothers, artist mothers, new stay-at-home mothers, supermommies, sexually desiring mothers, celebrity mothers, yummy mommies/mummies, deviant mothers, perverse mothers, criminal mothers, drug-addicted mothers, or incarcerated mothers.
 Submission Guidelines:
Please submit abstracts of 250 words and include your 50 word bio and citizenship
Deadline for Abstracts is February 1, 2013

Please send submissions and inquiries directly to: 
 Marina Bettaglio and Cándida Elizabeth Vivero Marín

Demeter Press
140 Holland St. West, PO 13022
Bradford, ON L3Z 2Y5 Tel: (905) 775-9089

Disclosure: I am getting a complementary membership to MIRCI and subscription to the journal in return for posting these updates. It is, however, something I would have agreed to do for free because I think their work is so wonderful.

15 June 2012

EVENT and GIVEAWAY: 8th Annual Summer, Sex & Spirits (NYC)

I can't be there, but New York friends, I hope you will represent VLF at the 8th Annual Summer, Sex & Spirits hosted by the Planned Parenthood NYC Activist Council, Tuesday, June 26 at Hudson Terrace:


Open bar all night

Visit the event page to see a list of fabulous silent auction & raffle prizes!

VLF is happy to be a sponsor of the event! And to celebrate, we're giving away a general admission ticket to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment by Monday, June 18th at 9 PM EST and I'll select a random winner. You can earn an extra entry by liking Viva la Feminista at Facebook (just leave another comment to alert me of this fact).

Easy, huh?

So hurry up and comment!

All proceeds go to benefit PPNYC's healthcare services, education programs, and legislative work.

Please contact activists@ppnyc.org with all event related questions.

Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Time: 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM
621 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036

06 June 2012

Game Review: PopCaps

I know summer is coming up and we want our kids to be outside playing. But chances are that there will be rainy days and nothings worse than a bored kid on summer vacation on a rainy day. I present to you four pretty fun options for the kids (and you!) from PopCap Games in order of addiction:

1. Peggle

It's part pinball and part Plinko from The Price is Right. You launch a ball into a maze of pegs. Each time you hit one, they disappear. The goal for the standard game is to hit all the orange pegs. The harder this game gets, the more addicting it is. Once you conquer the standard game, you can hit the challenge levels where you move up to hitting certain point totals, clearing the board or, toughest of all, beating the computer. Winner: 2011 National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval

2. Bookworm Adventures

My eight-almost-nine-year-old loves this game. It's a cross between Boggle and well, a Harry Potter challenge. You have to spell words using letters that are connected to each other. But watch out for fire words! A great way to help kids learn to think quick and spell.

Winner: 2011 National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval

3. Bejeweled 3

A classic addicting game! Perhaps because it is a classic it's not as addicting for me. Plus OMG, Peggle! But it's still a great game to play when you need to forget about everything else. It's also an excellent game for our grandparents who need to keep their brains active.

4. Plants vs. Zombies

I'm totally on the zombie wagon. I love Walking Dead. LOVE IT! But I didn't love this game. It was fun, but it doesn't call to me. But maybe it will to you because you're thinking, "Peggle? Really. BORING!" You get to make your own zombie avatar!

Disclaimer: This review is super late! But most of all, I was provided codes for a free download of each of these games. 

05 June 2012

EarthTalk Tuesday:

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I understand there is good news about the recovery of bird species like the Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle and others owed to the 1972 ban on DDT. Can you explain?
-- Mildred Eastover, Bath, ME

Rachel Carson’s seminal 1962 book, Silent Spring, told the real-life story of how bird populations across the country were suffering as a result of the widespread application of the synthetic pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), which was being used widely to control mosquitoes and others insects. Carson reported that birds ingesting DDT tended to lay thin-shelled eggs which would in turn break prematurely in the nest, resulting in marked population declines. The problem drove bald eagles, our national symbol, not to mention peregrine falcons and other bird populations, to the brink of extinction, with populations plummeting more than 80 percent.

Luckily for the birds, Silent Spring caused a stir, and many credit it with launching the modern environmental movement. Indeed, one of the world’s leading environmental non-profits, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), initially formed in 1967 in reaction to the DDT problem. The group’s first order of business included filing lawsuits in New York, Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington DC to force a ban on DDT. EDF enlisted the help of dozens of scientific experts—ornithologists, ecologists, toxicologists, carcinogenesis experts, and insect control specialists—to testify at multi-month hearings to prove its point in regard to the dangers of DDT. In 1972 environmentalists' prayers were answered—and their hard work vindicated—with the federal government finally banning DDT.

But with lots of the pesticide already dispersed through ecosystems far and wide, not to mention myriad other threats to bird habitats and the environment in general, no one could be sure whether populations of eagles, falcons and other predatory and fish-eating birds would come back from the brink. While the federal Endangered Species Act went a long way to protect these at-risk species and some of their habitat, non-profits also played a key role in helping specific species recover. To wit, the Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 by a leading Cornell ornithologist to help nurse peregrine falcon populations hit hard by DDT back to their once abundant numbers. Researchers with the group pioneered methods of breeding peregrines in captivity and releasing them into the wild; such techniques have since been adopted widely by biologists trying to bring other wildlife species back from the brink of extinction. Thanks to a combination of factors and the hard work of bird lovers and scientists, peregrine falcons are once again common across the U.S., graduating off the national endangered species list as of 1999.

The bald eagle’s recovery is perhaps the best known example of how our environmental laws worked to restore not just a resource but our very national symbol. In the mid-1960s fewer than 500 nesting pairs of bald eagles existed in the continental U.S.; today, thanks to the DDT ban and other conservation efforts, some 10,000 pairs of bald eagles inhabit the Lower 48—that’s a 20-fold population increase in just four decades! In 2007 the federal government removed the bald eagle from the Endangered Species List. Without the 1972 ban on DDT and ensuing protections, the bald eagle, let alone dozens of other bird species, would likely be gone now in the continental U.S. And without the song of the birds, the spring would be a very silent time indeed.

CONTACTS: EDF, www.edf.org; Peregrine Fund, www.peregrinefund.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

De los Redactores de E/La Revista Ecológica

Querido DiálogoEcológico: Entiendo que hay buenas noticias acerca de la recuperación de especie de pájaro como el Halcón Peregrino, el Aguila de cabeza calva y otros debido a la prohibición del DDT en 1972. ¿Pueden explicar? -- Mildred Eastover, Bath, MI

El libro seminal de Rachel Carson en 1962, Primavera Silenciosa, relató la historia auténtica de cómo poblaciones de aves a través del país sufrían a consecuencia de la aplicación generalizada del pesticida sintético DDT (diclorodifeniltricloroetano), que era utilizado para controlar extensamente mosquitos y otros insectos. Carson informó que los pájaros que ingerían DDT tendían a colocar huevos con concha delgada que a su vez se quebrarían prematuramente en el nido, teniendo como resultado descensos marcados de población. El problema llevó a las águilas de cabeza calva, nuestro símbolo nacional, por no hablar de halcones peregrinos y otras poblaciones de pájaro, al borde de la extinción, con poblaciones cayendo precipitosamente más de un 80 por ciento.

Por suerte para los pájaros, Primavera Silenciosa causó una conmoción, y muchos la acreditan como el punto de origen del movimiento ambiental moderno. En efecto, una de las organizaciones de protección ambiental más prominentes, el Fondo de Defensa Ambiental (EDF por sus siglas en inglés), se creó inicialmente en 1967 como reacción al problema del DDT. La primera orden del día del grupo incluyó entablar pleitos en Nueva York, Michigan, Wisconsin y Washington, DC, para forzar una prohibición del DDT. El EDF reclutó la ayuda de docenas de expertos científicos—ornitólogos, ecólogos, toxicólogos, expertos de en la carcinogénesis, y especialistas en control de insectos—para testificar en sesiones que a veces duraron varios meses para demostrar su punto de vista con respecto a los peligros del DDT. En 1972 las súplicas de los ecologistas fueron oídas—y su duro trabajo reivindicado—cuando el gobierno federal finalmente prohibió el DDT.

Pero con mucho del pesticida ya disperso a través de extensos ecosistemas, a no hablar de muchísimas otras amenazas a los hábitats de pájaros y el ambiente en general, nadie podía estar seguro si las poblaciones de águilas, halcones y otros pájaros depredadores y aves que comen pescados regresarían del borde de la extinción. Aunque la Ley Federal de Especies en Peligro hizo todo lo posible para proteger especies amenazadas y su hábitat, los grupos sin fines lucrativos también jugaron un papel clave en la recuperación de especies específicas. A saber, el Peregrine Fund fue fundado en 1970 por un ornitólogo prominente de Cornell para ayudar a las poblaciones de halcón peregrino duramente azotadas por el DDT a volver a sus números una vez abundantes. Investigadores del grupo fueron los primeros que perfeccionaron los métodos de criar peregrinos en cautiverio y de retornarlos eventualmente a sus hábitats naturales; desde entonces tales técnicas han sido adoptadas extensamente por biólogos interesados en recuperar otras especies de fauna al borde de la extinción. Gracias a una combinación de diversos factores y el trabajo dedicado de los amantes de pájaros y científicos, los halcones peregrinos son una vez más comunes a través de EEUU, graduándose de la lista nacional de especies en peligro de extinción en 1999.

La recuperación del águila calva es quizás el ejemplo mejor conocido de cómo nuestras leyes ambientales trabajaron para restaurar no sólo un recurso sino nuestro símbolo nacional. A mediados de los años sesenta existían menos de 500 pares de águilas calvas en el EEUU continental; hoy, gracias a la prohibición del DDT y otros esfuerzos de conservación, hay unos 10.000 pares de águilas de cabeza calva en los 48 estados más bajos—¡vale decir un aumento de 20 veces en la población en sólo cuatro décadas! En 2007 el gobierno federal eliminó el águila de cabeza calva de la Lista de Especies en Peligro de Extinción. Sin la prohibición del DDT en 1972 y protecciones siguientes, el águila calva y el halcón peregrino (derecha), y, por descontado, docenas de otras especies de pájaros, probablemente habrían ya desaparecido de los EEUU continentales. Y sin la canción de los pájaros, la primavera sería verdaderamente un tiempo muy silencioso.

CONTACTOS: EDF, www.edf.org; Peregrine Fund, www.peregrinefund.org.

EarthTalk® (DiálogoEcológico) es escrito y editado por Roddy Scheer y Doug Moss y es una marca registrada de E - La Revista Ecológica. (www.emagazine.com). Traducción española de Patrice Greanville. Sírvase enviar sus preguntas a: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Suscripción: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Pida un número gratis: www.emagazine.com/trial.

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