September 07, 2011

Raising Elijah

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Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, by Sandra Steingraber, is an acclaimed biologist’s look at the contamination of our planet and of our kids. It presents facts and evidence terrifying to contemplate. So what is a “thoughtful but overwhelmed” parent to do? Read this book, for a start. As grim as the evidence is, Steingraber seeks “to explore systemic solutions to the ongoing chemical contamination of our children and our biosphere.” She argues that our well-meant weeding of plastic sippy cups and chlorine toilet cleaners don’t really make a dent, and shows that the real solutions will call for larger-scale thinking and major political action, including regulatory frameworks and a global weaning from fossil fuels. The biggest revelation about Raising Elijah, however, is how enjoyable it is to read. A guilty pleasure in the truest sense, Steingraber’s lyrical descriptions of everyday family life and its connections to “urgent public health issues” are astonishing.

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