This disgusting quality of air shouldn't be par for the course, and fresh, clean air shouldn't be the stuff of dreams. Change needs to happen. Luckily, several Modern Pioneers are leading the efforts, including Dr. Brian Moench of Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment, Cherise Udell of Utah Moms for Clean Air and Erin Mendenhall of Breathe Utah. Should the inversion be afraid? We'd like to think so.
Cherise Udell epitomizes the quintessential archetype of a mother fighting for the health of her children. Her fight, however, is against unhealthy air and her means are with the activist organization that she founded and is currently the president of, Utah Moms for Clean Air. Utilizing "Mom Power," the organization petitions the government, helps organize rallies, and, in general, promotes behaviors that reduce pollution. "Our intent is simple: to ensure that our children, whose lives are entrusted to us, have a healthy environment in which to grow and flourish. Cooping them up indoors to avoid toxic air outside is not the solution."
Udell, a mother of two children, was horrified by the red air days during the winter of 2007, so she wrote a letter. She sent the heartfelt note to about 100 moms asking them to join her to help make Utah's air better for their children, and by extension, everyone. The response was overwhelming, and Utah Moms has been working hard to kick the inversion's butt ever since.
For more information and to get involved, visit Utah Moms for Clean Air's website
Read: The Inversion
Dr. Brian Moench knew that the air along the Wasatch Front during the winter inversion was bad, but when he started doing research, he was appalled at what he found. There is convincing (overwhelming, even) evidence in medical literature about the ill effects of air pollution and particulates especially. So in March 2007, Dr. Moench and several colleagues formed Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment, a civic organization dedicated to "protecting the health and well-being of the citizens of Utah by promoting science-based health education and interventions that result in progressive, measurable improvements to the environment." Science is awesome.
UPHE is now the largest civic organization of health care professionals in Utah, with more than 230 members, primarily physicians. The list of accomplishments that Dr. Moench, now the UPHE president, and his colleagues have seen through in just six years is astounding--read about them here. And add this to the list: on January 25, UPHE, along with many other advocacy organizations and concerned individuals, will gather at noon on the steps of the Capitol building for the "Clean Air, No Excuses" rally. Sign the petition here.
For more information and to get involved with the organization, visit Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment's website.
Erin Mendenhall works with policy to change the air quality in Utah. Mendenhall, a city council member and the interim executive director of Breathe Utah, seeks to improve the air by creating partnerships among state and local agencies, schools, which will help foster Breathe Utah's three-tiered focus: education outreach, multi-stakeholder programs and policy change.
Breathe Utah--a group of citizens and professionals with experience and expertise in scientific, medical, legal and communications aspects of air quality in Utah--fights for real, tangible solutions. According to the group's website, Breathe Utah "talks to legislators and other office holders about air quality, we sit on boards and participate in negotiations, and we talk to people like ourselves about the everyday actions we all need to take to address Utah's air pollution issues." Currently, the organization is pushing for a ban on wood-burning stoves along the Wasatch Front. Breathe Utah also does an excellent job tracking legislation and communicating updates to the public.
Photographer and award-winning journalist Austen Diamond specializes in creative portraiture, commercial photography and editorial photojournalism. For booking inquiries and to view his portfolio, go to www.AustenDiamond.com.