Sierra Club Home Page   Environmental Update  
chapter button
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Click here to visit the Member Center.         
Take Action
Get Outdoors
Join or Give
Inside Sierra Club
Press Room
Politics & Issues
Sierra Magazine
Sierra Club Books
Apparel and Other Merchandise
Contact Us

Join the Sierra ClubWhy become a member?
  Sierra Magazine
  January/February 2004
Table of Contents
A Neighborhood Named Desire
A Fine Balance
Circling Back to the Sierra
Interview: William Greider
Old Europe’s New Ideas
Ways & Means
Let's Talk
One Small Step
Lay of the Land
Food for Thought
Good Going
The Sierra Club Bulletin
Grassroots Update
Sierra Archives
About Sierra
Internships at Sierra
Advertising Information
Current Advertisers
Click here for more information

Sierra Magazine

Printer-friendly format
click here to tell a friend

One Small Step

Little Lobbyist Makes a Case for Clean Air

"I’ve had asthma since I was eight years old. I’m on soccer and basketball teams, but when I exercise or when there is a lot of exhaust in the air, I have trouble breathing and my chest hurts. I use my inhaler before I play sports, which isn’t very fun. It tastes bad, too. Some days are worse than others; it’s not that bad when I’m not doing anything, but even then sometimes when I breathe in a lot of car fumes, my chest will really start to hurt. We live pretty close to a highway that the government wants to widen. That’s one reason I went to Washington, D.C., to say I didn’t like that idea.

"I’d never been to Washington before. I went with my mom. She has a friend who’s in the Sierra Club and who knew about my asthma. Last year, her friend asked me to be on a postcard for the Club. [The postcard, addressed to Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle, quoted Samantha about her condition and thanked him for using $500 million earmarked for highways to fund schools, firefighters, police, and local governments instead.] That’s when I started learning about the connection between air pollution and asthma.

"We went to the offices of Wisconsin senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold and I talked to their assistants. I told them how hard it is to breathe when the air is bad. I was hoping they’d pay more attention to pollution and stop widening highways around where I live. I mean, if it’s wider, there’s more cars and more exhaust. I was kind of nervous at first but then I got used to it. I’d never done anything like this before. I think they listened. I hope so."
—interview by Marilyn Berlin Snell 

Take a deep breath: Atlanta, Georgia, prepared for the 1996 summer Olympics by upgrading its public transportation system. A 2001 study by the Centers for Disease Control showed the city’s winning results: During the games, traffic congestion dropped by 22 percent, air pollution by 28 percent, and asthma attacks by 44 percent.

For more information, visit or

Up to Top

HOME | Email Signup | About Us | Contact Us | Terms of Use | © 2008 Sierra Club