Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Gulf warrior

"I was this conservative little girl from South Alabama," Casi Callaway recalls with a chuckle, "and my father was really horrified when I became interested in ecology and recycling." Photo by Tom Nugent.

Tom Nugent profiles Emory grad Casi Callaway in Emory Magazine. Since 1998, Callaway has served as executive director of Mobile Baykeeper, Alabama’s largest and most active environmental advocacy group. Under her leadership, the group has grown from a few hundred members to more than 4,000, and is currently contending with the oil spill. An excerpt from the article:

“This is a battleground no question,” Callaway says. “We’ve got hundreds of volunteers mobilized to fight the spill, all along the Alabama coast, and there isn’t a moment to lose. If we can’t stop this oil, we’re going to lose all our beaches and bays for at least a generation.”

Spend a few hours patrolling the shoreline with Callaway and you’ll soon discover why environmentalists across the country describe her as “relentless” in her quest to protect the waterways of Alabama. “I think I’m lucky because I seem to have a knack for dealing with pressure,” says Callaway, who was recently honored with a “Lifetime Celebrates Remarkable Women” citation from the Lifetime Television network.

Callaway double-majored in philosophy and ecology at Emory. “In many ways, I actually think it was studying Plato that has helped me the most in this job—because Plato teaches you how to argue,” she says. “After you’ve studied the dialectics of Socrates, you know how to ask the right questions during a debate, so you can make your case in the strongest possible terms. Studying philosophy also taught me how to analyze a situation. I’m not bragging on you . . . but if I have to, I feel like I can take an opponent apart in an argument, thanks to the preparation I got in those philosophy classes.”

But she also notes that her long study of Plato has helped her in another way: it taught her how to look for creative solutions to disputes. “A lot of people are surprised to hear that in the past 12 years, we’ve only filed five or six lawsuits against polluters in South Alabama," she says. "We’re willing to go into the courtroom, of course, and if you keep violating the [1972] Clean Water Act and other environmental laws, we will sue you. But in most situations, the courtroom is a last resort.

“Over the years I’ve learned that you can usually get where you need to go by using the tools of persuasion effectively. The key is the ability to think creatively, to think on your feet—and that’s what you learn when you study philosophy.”

Read the whole article.

Oil spill may reshape environmental law
Gulf oil mess fuels interest in green energy
Both spill and clean-up pose health risks

No comments:

Post a Comment