Today, I offer one more reason that we need to be working our buts off there. Forbes magazine has released (as of 2/28/2011) a study that lists the 10 most toxic cities in the United States. Anyone who has really experienced life in the Central Valley would not be surprised to learn that there are two CA cities in the top 5. Bakersfield and Fresno are listed as numbers 2 and 3 respectively. In both cities, poor air quality was a major factor.
Another study, released in 2006 from CSU-Fullerton put the cost of poor air quality in the San Joaquin Valley at $3 Billion. That was when the economy was good and there could have been some revenue to fix things. Now, the only fix might be to organize, because all solution are political and never more so the the current Republican attacks on the EPA.
This is what CSU-Fullerton study team found:
According to the study, the cost of air pollution averages $1,000 per person per year, and represents the following:
* 460 premature deaths among those age 30 and older
* 23,300 asthma attacks
* 188,000 days of school absences
* 3,230 cases of acute bronchitis in children
* 3,000 lost work days
* 325 new cases of chronic bronchitis
* 188,400 days of reduced activity in adults
* 260 hospital admissions
* More than 17,000 days of respiratory symptoms in children
Greens are always sensitive to ethnic issue, so we should not be surprised to learn that…
The report indicates that some communities, including those with high populations of Latinos/Hispanics and African-Americans, are harder hit than others, due to the varying concentrations of dirty air around the region.
This seems to define the mileau in which the vision of a new Green future would win many adherents, but sadly this has not been the case. Kern County, where Bakersfield is located, has only 0.2% of the registered voters. Fresno County is better, with around 0.4% but neither of these is really more than embarrassment to mention.
I believe that this is not due to the fact that our message is wrong, but rather that we have never even gotten our message out. If the current politics of the San Joaquin Valley is such that it allows two of it's most important cities to become so toxic, then it is time to change the politics.
Greens can not wait for some group of like minded public citizens to decide to form a local and then come to the GPCA for support. We need to be organizing the organizing. We need to look to the history of the unions for the model. They did not gain strength by workers rallying around to join them, but rather they sent out organizers to make sure things happened. Fresno needs to understand that we are there, we are not going away and we intend to change things. Bakersfield needs to understand that we will not allow, as some have reported, workers to lose their jobs by registering Green, but rather that registering Green in the only way to make sure that they get off the toxic cities list.
What I would like to happen is for the GPCA to set aside $5,000 for radio & TV campaign in those two markets and let them all know we are there as long as it is need. Then to follow that up with large scale registration drives in each city, even if we have to bus in volunteers. And, I think that the effort should be approved at the next General Assembly.
None of this will happen if we don't raise the money to make it happen. This week, I donated $150 by clicking on the Donate Button on the GPCA web site. They set a really low goal on $7000 by May 1 (plenary...). It will only take 42 more similar donations to make the $7K. Who will join me?