Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis

Image of Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis (A Merloyd Lawrence Book)
Release Date: 
April 22, 2013
Da Capo Press
Reviewed by: 

Sandra Steingraber is an internationally known ecologist and environmental educator. She has lectured and spoken publically on the environmental dangers and challenges facing our country in the past and well into the future. While she carries academic titles and rewards of renown, such as the Rachel Carson Leadership Award, perhaps her most treasured title is that of mother to her two children, Elijah and Faith. Raising Elijah is one part memoir and one part educational treatise, and thoroughly informative and entertaining.

Ms. Graber discusses the ongoing environmental crises our nation faces, but does so in a way that makes it understandable to the layperson. She alerts readers to the dangers in their daily environment and how it can affect the must vulnerable citizens: our precious children.

Things that we never think of during our daily meanderings are rife with danger: the playground equipment, your child’s plastic raincoat. Playground equipment is often made of pressure-treated wood. The wood is treated with pesticides, including arsenic, a carcinogenic. It leeches out of the equipment; it leeches out into the soil. Your children put their hands in their mouths . . . you fill in the blanks. The same issues apply to many backyard decks. Ever take a whiff of your child’s plastic raincoat or your shower curtain? The fumes have questionable effects on the human body.

Issues in the environment that affect psyche, such as the new levels of terror may people feel since the 9/11 attacks, affect milk production in breastfeeding moms. Even the declining age of puberty of American girls, calls into question how environmental factors may weigh in.

The author alerts the reader to the social, economic, and political forces that influence and impact the world around us and ultimately our very health and life. What is a real eye-opener is how many of the dangers are known by corporate America and those charged with protecting the public good—yet are allowed to continue to proliferate.

Ms. Stengraber writes through the eyes of a scientist whose intellectual knowledge base is tempered and refined through her mission as a mother. She shows us how our choices as parents can affect our immediate environment and the greater world around us. She makes it clear that working as individuals and collectively, we can make a difference in our personal lives and for the common good.

Sandra Steingraber has taken a work that could have been a dry and didactic expository and turned it into a fluid, intimate narrative—sometimes funny, always entertaining and definitely illuminating. It’s a book that everyone—parents and otherwise—should avail themselves of for the good of those they care about.