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CHOKED Life & Breath in the Age of Air Pollution

  • 04/22/2021
  • 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
  • Virtual - Zoom link will be provided


  • As a member of CLI you can enjoy the Storyteller Series for FREE
  • As a law student, CLI is offering FREE registration
  • Registration for non-members of CLI is $35 per Storyteller Session


Join CLI for a conversation with Beth Gardiner, author of CHOKED. The talk will be about environmental racism, a form of systemic racism whereby communities of colour are disproportionately burdened with health hazards through policies and practices that force them to live in proximity to sources of toxic waste such as sewage works, mines, landfills, power stations, major roads and emitters of airborne particulate matter. As a result, these communities suffer greater rates of health problems attendant on hazardous pollutants.. Sara Scott, CLI’s CEO will be moderating.

About Beth:

Beth Gardiner is an American journalist based in London. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Time, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Yale Environment 360. These days, she focuses mainly on stories about environment, health and sustainability, but she’s written about everything from politics, education and feminism to food and the arts.

Beth spent 10 years as a reporter for the Associated Press, based first in New York and then in London. Her AP assignments included traveling to Aceh, Indonesia, days after the tsunami there to cover its aftermath, flying on Tony Blair’s plane to write about prime ministerial trips to China, India and Washington, and reporting from the Middle East during a flare-up of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Beth has discussed her work on NPR's All Things Considered, WNYC's Brian Lehrer show, and the BBC's World at One, as well as on MSNBC, CBC in Canada, Sky News, ITN, LBC radio, and Al Jazeera English. She was a speaker at TEDx London at the Royal Festival Hall.

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Society of Environmental Journalists both awarded grants to support Beth’s work on Choked, which is her first book.

About the Book:

Air pollution prematurely kills seven million people every year, including more than one hundred thousand Americans. It is strongly linked to strokes, heart attacks, many kinds of cancer, dementia, and premature birth, among other ailments. In Choked, Beth Gardiner travels the world to tell the story of this modern-day plague, taking readers from the halls of power in Washington and the diesel-fogged London streets she walks with her daughter to Poland’s coal heartland and India’s gasping capital. In a gripping narrative that’s alive with powerful voices and personalities, she exposes the political decisions and economic forces that have kept so many of us breathing dirty air. This is a moving, up-close look at the human toll, where we meet the scientists who have transformed our understanding of pollution’s effects on the body and the ordinary people fighting for a cleaner future.

In the United States, air is far cleaner than it once was. But progress has failed to keep up with the science, which tells us that even today’s lower pollution levels are doing real damage. And as the Trump administration rips up the regulations that have brought us where we are, decades of gains are now at risk. Elsewhere, the problem is far worse, and choking nations like China are scrambling to replicate the achievements of an American agency—the EPA—that until recently was the envy of the world.

Clean air feels like a birthright. But it can disappear in a puff of smoke if the rules that protect it are unraveled. At home and around the world, it’s never been more important to understand how progress happened and what dangers might still be in store.  Choked shows us that we hold the power to build a cleaner, healthier future: one in which breathing, life’s most basic function, no longer carries a hidden danger.

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