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Health organizations across the country are urging President Obama and Congress to recognize the damaging public health effects of climate change and to take measures that will reduce its impacts and the causes of climate change itself.

In a letter signed by many organizations, including the Lung Association and American Medical Assocation, the groups underscored how climate change harms the public:

Rev. Tim Phillips of Seattle's First Baptist Church speaks for a coal-free future in Washington.

Conservation, faith, and public-health organizations held rallies across the state of Washington today calling for the TransAlta coal plant near Centralia to clean up its act by 2015.

“This dirty, old coal plant has polluted the air of our cherished national parks and harmed our health for too long," said Janette Brimmer for Earthjustice. “On this Day of Action, let's redouble efforts to hold TransAlta accountable for its unsafe pollution affecting citizens and their children, and demand that it stop threatening our incredible natural resources.”

Learn more about Earthjustice work to clean up coal-fired power plants here.

It turns out you really can get a free lunch—at least, if you're a great white shark.

A group (or, a shiver, if you prefer a more alliterative group name) of sharks found themselves presented with just such an unexpected buffet earlier this month, when a 36-foot Brydes whale (Balaenoptera edeni) was found drifting off the coast of South Africa.

On the campaign trail, President Obama shared his thoughts about mountaintop removal mining:

We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal than simply blowing the tops off mountains. We're tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our dependence on fossil fuels ... Strip-mining is an environmental disaster ... What I want to do is work with experts here in West Virginia to find out what we need to do to protect the waterways here. That's going to be a primary task of the head of my Environmental Protection Agency.

So, imagine breathing in a substance that not only exacerbates but causes known breathing problems such as asthma. You'd want the Environmental Protection Agency to do something about it, right?

Well, they did: in June the EPA reined in emissions of sulfur dioxide—a nasty chemical—from power plants and other sources. These new standards are expected to prevent thousands of asthma attacks and hundreds of emergency room visits every year.

Great, right? Industry doesn't think so.

In a speech in Oslo on September 6, John Holdren, President Obama's science advisor, suggested that 'global warming' be replaced by 'global climate disruption' as a more accurate expression. As The New York Times reported it, "changes to the climate are rapid when viewed in terms of the capacity of society and ecosystems to adjust; the impact is distributed unevenly; and the outcome will be overwhelmingly negative for most of the globe." Global warming implies slow changes that might even be benign.

Holdren (an old friend of mine and one of the smartest people in the universe) has long been a lightning rod for the right wing climate deniers owing largely to his long association with the population biologist Paul Ehrlich, with whom he wrote several books. Following Dr. Holdren's speech, the right blogosphere immediately accused the administration of playing politics, of trying to "rebrand" the subject preparatory to another push for a climate bill next year. The administration denied there's any rebranding going on.

I'm no expert, but John's suggestion makes good sense to me.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.