Why I Risked Getting Arrested For My Child


by Harriet Shugarman,  Climate Mama

What is the connection between the proposed XL Pipeline that would carry Tar Sands Oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas and my children’s health? And why would I risk arrest to stop this pipeline from being built?

My son suffers terribly from seasonal allergies; he is also extremely allergic to poison ivy, something that is prolific in my neighborhood. Doctors are telling us that seasonal allergies are on the rise, and that poison ivy is lasting longer and appearing later in the fall and earlier in the spring. Scientists are noticing too and are looking more closely at the links between climate change and public health.

My son’s allergies require him to take countless allergy medications that mask some but not all of his symptoms. He loves fall soccer and spring lacrosse, but every day he plays, he pays the price for being outside. Also, each fall and spring it seems we take a trip to the doctor for stronger medicine than we can get over the counter to treat his annual and reoccurring reactions to poison ivy. We joke that he is “allergic to New Jersey.” Unfortunately it’s not a joke and we see his suffering and his allergies getting worse and worse every year.

According to studies published by the US National Library of Medicine, the US Department of Agriculture and researchers at Harvard and Duke universities, increases in carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas that in its “manmade” form is the number one contributing factor to climate change — is aggravating allergies and worsening the toxicity levels of poison ivy. High CO2 levels were shown to produce more allergenic forms of urushiol, the toxin in poison ivy that makes you itch.

Also, ragweed, a common cause of seasonal allergies in adults and children, produces “super charged and more potent” pollen with increases of CO2, causing more sneezing and asthma-like symptoms. Studies are also pointing out that this CO2 laden pollen is more allergenic then other forms of pollen.

The USDA found that “jumping from preindustrial atmospheric carbon dioxide levels (280ppm) to 1999 levels (370ppm) doubled the amount of pollen that ragweed produces.” And according to a recent article by Rodale.com, ”Allergies account for about half of asthma attack triggers, meaning skyrocketing pollen counts of fast-growing trees in the spring and ragweed in the fall are landing more people in the hospital for asthma symptoms.”

For my children’s health and for their future I have ”drawn my line in the sand” and will be asking President Obama to stand with me and help fight for my children’s health and for their future. This proposed pipeline is one giant “nail in the coffin” perpetuating our dependence on fossil fuels and slowing down our move to a carbon-free energy future — a necessity to ensure cleaner air for my children to breath.

For information and many ways you too can fight for clean air for our children’s health, JOIN MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE.


Related Stories:

Three (More) Reasons to Oppose the XL Pipeline

Ozone Threats: 5 Things You Need To Know

“Eye Of The Future” Gives Children Clean Air Hope


Photo Credit: Tar Sands Action Creative Commons/Flickr


Brian M.
Past Member 6 years ago

Resistance is never futile. Stay strong. Stand your ground. No retreat.

Harriet Shugarman

Thanks for all your thoughtful comments. Join me on November 6th when we circle the White House in DC and let President Obama know we stand with him and are counting on him to stand with us as "the generation" he spoke about, when he said:

“Let this be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil.”

For more info on the November 6th Action, go to www.tarsandsaction.org


Bill K.
Bill K6 years ago

Tom - "the thought that humanity's CO2 emissions is in remission" ??? - only among people who don't believe in science.

Rolland Nadjiwon
Rolland Nadjiwon6 years ago

...clean!!! my god, you call this society clean...what have I been missing????

Velmapearl Hawkins
Velma Hawkins6 years ago

crazy to arrest people for speaking out.....

Tom Y.
Tom Y6 years ago

No fly. Fossil fuel use is not drying up. But that still leaves us with a choice of suppliers: Canada's ethical oil on one hand, or the Middle East's torture regimes on the other. One is provided by a friendly neighbor, the other by a collection of despots who fund violent Islamic revolutionaries against us. It's no surprise they too hate the XL Pipeline -- enough to meddle with a Canadian advertiser who produces "Ethical versus Conflict Oil" ads, and harangue the Canadian government. Expect the gloves to really come off when the Pipeline build gets under way! It'll show the true nature of Wahhabism and its inability to deal with some real competition.

In the realm of ideas, the thought that climate change is driven by humanity's CO2 emissions is now in remission. The argument against the Keystone XL Pipeline can't be won on that front either.

Carol C.
Carol Cox6 years ago

Allergies and air pollution are on the rise.. so yes. March against the KXL... and refineries and support alternative fuel sources.. if the oil industry invested as much in alternative fuel as they do to STOP it, it would already be on the market at affordable prices...

Shelby Hooyenga

Keep fighting!

Gail Lopez
Gail Lopez6 years ago

99% needs to stop this pipeline.

Cynthia Blais
cynthia l6 years ago

Stand tall keep fighting!!