Sierra Club logo
Sierra Main
In This Section
  March/April 1998 Features:
On Top of the World
Just Deserts
Tallying the Taku
Rolling Towards the Moon
The Great Indoors
Field Guide
Ways & Means
Food for Thought
Good Going
Hearth & Home
Lay of the Land
Sierra Club Bulletin
Natural Resources
Last Words

Sierra Magazine


Children are not only victims of our polluted planet—they are a primary cause of our environmental predicament. Your November/December issue not only fails to point this out, but even shows a lovely cover photograph that appears to be a mom and her three children! The three-child family is the largest source of U.S. population growth. Certainly we need to recycle and reduce consumption, but our environmental problems cannot be solved while we are still adding 2.5 million people to our population every year, of which 1.7 million come from natural increase (births minus deaths).
Jerome Shedd
Woodbury, New York

"Class Acts," Club President Adam Werbach's piece about young environmentalists, should be a regular feature. There is no shortage of examples. I keep a file of them to sustain the spark they kindle in me. We are all allies in a war against our own entrenched values. Most of what the movement has accomplished so far requires unremitting holding action against the opposition to keep progress from being undone. It is here, behind the lines, that the experience and plodding of us old hands can be most effective, provided our spark remains. But only our blessed youth have the inspiration and stamina to sustain the charge, breach the line, and bring the big gains.
Charles Thomas
Anacortes, Washington

"Child's Plague" was an alarming synopsis of the detrimental health effects of pollution to which children as well as adults are exposed. Air-quality problems are rampant in my community, Houston, where we have the nation's largest concentration of chemical plants and petroleum refineries. The city is poised to overtake Los Angeles for the most highly polluted air, based on ozone levels, and the surrounding county, Harris, often leads the nation in the amount of hazardous chemicals released into the air.

Luckily, the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter has initiated the Citizens Clean Air Program, involving a coalition of several community groups. The CCAP campaign will include clean-air billboards designed by local artists, notices of ozone and particulate levels on the front page of the Houston Chronicle, and organizing in the most polluted communities.

On the legislative side, we are working to get the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to bring old polluting facilities in compliance with air-quality regulations. It is our sincere hope that CCAP will not only reduce haze in our area, but also significantly improve the health and lives of millions of people. Kel Rynnagh
Houston, Texas

"Child's Plague" touched on the issues that caused Sierra Club California to sponsor one of the first—if not the first—children's environmental-health bills in the nation to be considered by a state legislature. The bill, A.B. 278, was authored by Martha Escutia, a member of the California Assembly from the greater Los Angeles area. It would have improved air-monitoring for polluting facilities near schools and day-care centers. Our office was assisted with the bill by the California League of Conservation Voters and the American Lung Association. The bill was strongly opposed by Governor Pete Wilson and industry, including oil companies, manufacturers, and chemical companies.

Versions of the bill initially passed in both the Assembly and the Senate. It was only because of a last-ditch industry misinformation campaign that the effort to get the Assembly to concur with the Senate version of the bill failed by a very narrow margin. A top priority for Sierra Club California in 1998 is to continue to work on this issue, and I'm hopeful legislators from other states will take notice. William Craven
Sierra Club California
Sacramento, California


Ann Throckmorton's letter in your November/December issue spurred me to action. I wholeheartedly support her opinion that the atmosphere in Sierra is one of gloom and doom. The cover headlines illustrate my view: "Growing Up on a Polluted Planet," and "Kids Who Won't Wait to Agitate." Your tone precisely echoes the sort of doomsday prediction that my generation was fed in elementary school 30 years ago, when we were supposed to protect ourselves from evil Russian atomic attacks by hiding under our desks. Isn't it your duty to fairly present the next generation with both the positives and the negatives out there in our natural world?
Gwen Serrière
Murphys, California

I must disagree with the November/December letter portraying the magazine as a "concerted effort to purvey doom and gloom." I count on Sierra to keep me informed of environmental issues. That this information can be depressing is simply a reflection of the state of affairs. Besides, it can be galvanizing or inspiring, depending upon how you receive it. The world is a glorious place to be celebrated and cherished. But it also needs protection and action from informed people. I don't need or want Sierra to be a palliative.
Michael Orr
Boise, Idaho


During the final hours of the 1997 session of Congress, the Quincy Library Group bill came unnervingly close to passing. In his November/ December "Lay of the Land" article, Reed McManus warned of political fashion statements that place national forests at risk. It's fortunate for our forests that lawmakers will now have time to reconsider how far adrift such legislation has come from the moorings of sound ecosystem management.
B. Delbert Williams
Quincy, California


Bruce Selcraig's otherwise enjoyable piece on Big Bend National Park ("Way to Go," November/December) contains an unfortunate error: it's not true that the Colima warbler is "found nowhere but here." In fact Colima warblers have a considerable breeding range in the mountains of northeast Mexico. Selcraig, perpetuating a U.S. tendency to ignore what goes on south of the border, must have meant they are found nowhere else in the United States. Appreciating artificial political boundaries is important when we discuss land management, but let's not allow them to falsely color our understanding of larger ecological truths.
Peter Friederici
Flagstaff, Arizona

Sierra welcomes letters from readers in response to recently published articles. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Write to us at 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441; fax (415) 977-5794; or you can e-mail us

Up to Top

Sierra Magazine home | Contact Us Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights | Terms and Conditions of Use
Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"®are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © Sierra Club 2019.
The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.