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Kayaktivists rally against Shell Oil and Arctic drilling in the Port of Seattle.

Last week brought bad news for the Arctic Ocean. On Monday, the Department of the Interior conditionally approved Shell Oil’s multi-year plan to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea. While Shell still needs to clear some hurdles before it can drill, Monday’s approval essentially gives it the green light to sink its wells in search of the next big oil field in one of the worst places on Earth to search for oil—the pristine and fragile Arctic ocean ecosystem. 

The drilling could start as early as July of this year.

Fiona helps prepare a sign that reads "I am 3 years old and I have asthma. Protect my lungs."

Three years ago, Gretchen Dahlkemper had to rush to the emergency room with her 11-month-old daughter, Fiona, who was struggling to breathe. “Her lips turned blue and she was making a funny noise—at first I thought it was a child’s toy I was hearing.”

It turns out asthma was the cause of Fiona’s breathing problems.

“You can’t imagine the terror you feel when you have a tiny baby who can’t catch her breath,” Dahlkemper said, adding, “You rush to the hospital and hope you can get there in time.”

This mural in Brooklyn, NY raises asthma awareness.

A couple of weeks ago President Obama connected climate change and the pollution that causes it to the asthma that his daughter, Malia, suffered from as a young child.

“What I can relate to is the fear a parent has, when your 4-year-old daughter comes up to you and says, ‘Daddy, I’m having trouble breathing,’ Obama said in an interview broadcast on ABC. “The fright you feel is terrible.”

"We are confronted on a daily basis with a Fast and Furious gang tasked with thwarting any practical and bi-partisan effort to solve, or even acknowledge, climate change."

For me, spring brings an overwhelming desire to wear flip-flops and a deepening resentment of weather that just won't warm fast enough. If my office is any indicator, spring also brings relatives, lots of them, to gawk at cherry blossoms and clog our streets and sidewalks.

Recently, my parents visited the area. Of course, I took them to see the normal DC sites, but what my dad really wanted to see was the IMAX/3-D theater that I had been bragging about for months. As luck would have it, one of his favorite movie franchises -- Fast and Furious -- was playing.

The humpback whale is one species that migrates along the California coast.

Just a couple of miles offshore in Monterey Bay on a grey November day, the ocean surface behind our whale watching boat started to boil with anchovies. As we watched, astonished, a cloud of them shimmered out of the water, followed by the lunging head of a humpback whale. Its enormous throat billowed as it swallowed the unsuccessfully fleeing anchovies. Even our guide exclaimed at the sight. But that exclamation was followed by a note of worry: “You see those buoys right near the whales—those are for crab gear.


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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.