I was recently interviewed by Michael Charles Tobias from Forbes. We covered a lot of ground including the future, some of my recent travels with the Turner Foundation, as well as, reproductive rights.
Michael Tobias: Laura, like your dad, Ted Turner, whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for nearly a quarter-century, you fluently manage a vast ecological portfolio of convictions, commitments, and philanthropy. Georgia, your home state, appears to play a key part in that, as does clean air and water, robust river environments, LEED-standard housing, environmental education for youth, and collaborations with corporations, as well as a strong fellowship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. At the same time, you’ve mentioned to me your commitments to family health in parts of West Africa, and the Captain Planet Foundation. You’re everywhere. Most recently, you were at the Rio+20 Summit, and then in Scotland for the TEDGlobal 2012 event. With so much positive energy flowing your way, what are you most worried about?
Laura Seydel: There are three main areas that I worry about the most. I’m worried about world population and the pressure we are putting on natural systems that support all life like our food, water, air, and other species. I am very concerned about how we have affected the world’s thermostat for global warming and that it looks like we cannot reverse the situation. The most we can do at this point is try to mitigate the damages while we still can. The other main area is trying to protect our most precious resource — our children. Our children are getting sicker with toxic pollution and unhealthy eating and exercise habits, so we better get smarter about how we treat our kids.
Michael Tobias: Where do you see great ecological strides — both in terms of public opinion and the growing sway of lawmakers — that should give rise to optimism, moving forward?
Laura Seydel: I can tell you that the current leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives gives us no reason for optimism going forward. This last session of the U.S. House was the most anti-environmental Congress ever. Fortunately, we had the Senate as a firewall to stop most of the harmful bills trying to gut the EPA and the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.
One thing I do is encourage everyone to pick up a copy of the LCV 2011 scorecard, which covers the most important environmental votes in the past Congress, to see how your representative or senator voted. We have to get involved in the upcoming election to support elected officials who are willing to protect our environment and the health of our communities.
Michael Tobias: What are your key priorities amid the broad spectrum of your environmental imperatives?
Laura Seydel: I want to aim for projects that I consider easier to actually achieve and start making an immediate difference. One example is getting toxins and chemicals out of our food and personal care products. Did you know that there is lead in 60 percent of women’s red lipstick and harmful chemicals in our shampoo, lotions and fragrances?Several years ago my father, son and I participated in the first intergenerational toxic body burden test. What I found out is that each of us had high levels of toxins present in all of our systems for seemingly one reason or another. I am working with The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to help educate consumers and lobby Washington to get rid of harmful chemicals. Johnson & Johnson just announced a groundbreaking new initiative to reformulate many of its personal care products, including baby shampoos and lotions, to remove chemicals of concern to consumers.
I have also been working with Environmental Working Group (EWG), focusing on two key pieces of legislation, The Safe Cosmetics Act and The Safe Chemicals Act. Both of these acts focus on banning a number of known toxic chemicals in items we use every day. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to visit the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to check out the rankings of the products they use.
Michael Tobias: What are the environmental issues you are most concerned might be absent, or dumbed down, in the crucial dialogue leading up to the November 4th U.S. presidential election?
Laura Seydel: One of my biggest concerns about candidates is the attack on the EPA, which is in charge of enforcing the clean air and clean water legislation. Lisa Jackson is doing a great job as administrator. She has a background as a chemical engineer and is basing her efforts on scientific studies. To hear some candidates talk about closing EPA is like giving a blank check to polluters — and we can’t stand for that.
Read the full article at Forbes.com