Monthly Archives: August 2013

Detox Your Cleaning Supplies

lego-568039_640You use cleaning supplies on a regular basis, hopefully, so it’s worthwhile to think about both the health and sustainability of your cleaning products. What about making your own? Right off the bat, it’s pretty obvious that you could be sending a lot less material to the landfill. Instead of using a spray-bottle once, throwing it out and buying a new one, you can reuse the same one for as long as it lasts.

It’s also a lot cheaper, pennies on the dollar, even taking into account things like essential oils (tea tree oil is a common ingredient in sustainable cleaning supplies because it’s antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial) which can feel expensive at the initial purchase, but you use them relatively slowly.

Most importantly, manufactured cleaning supplies are typically loaded with chemicals that are surprisingly damaging to human health, for something that’s meant to be used in our homes on a daily basis. Your house could have as many as 60 toxic chemicals, most of which don’t cause an immediate acute reaction, but chronic exposure, especially in unstudied combinations, can be a very different story. Your home should be an oasis and a safe-haven, not a toxic soup. Here’s a quick list of some of the most concerning chemicals that we find in our household cleaners and why you don’t want them in your home:

Phthalates – These are not required to be listed on labels, and often show up as “fragrance.” You can be exposed to them via inhalation or skin contact, and they’re found in cosmetics, soaps, air fresheners, even toilet paper and vinyl shower curtains. The danger of this is that it’s an endocrine disruptor, which can cause abnormal growth of genitalia and hormone levels during sexual development of boys whose mothers have high exposure to phthalates during pregnancy.

Perchloroethylene (perc) – This is found in carpet and upholstery cleaners, dry-cleaning solutions, and spot removers. It’s a neurotoxin, which means it causes damage to your brain; initial symptoms include (but certainly aren’t limited to) dizziness and loss of coordination. Exposure is through inhalation: that particular smell your clothes have when you get them back from the dry-cleaner. Perc is also classified by the EPA as a possible carcinogen.

soap-41212_640Triclosan – Most hand and dish soaps that are labeled antibacterial have triclosan in them. It’s a probable carcinogen, according to the EPA, and may also be an endocrine disruptor. The most dangerous part is that it promotes the growth of resistant bacteria, not just to triclosan itself, but also to antibiotics. It’s been found in rivers and streams, and must be in oceans as well as it’s been found in dolphins. It’s possible that triclosan is contributing to the deaths of some animals from bacterial infections.

Quarternary ammonium compounds (quats) – Common in both liquid and sheet fabric softeners, as well as items labeled antibacterial, these guys, like triclosan, promote the growth of resistant bacteria. They are also a leading cause of skin irritation, and are highly suspected in respiratory problems.

2-Butoxyethanol – A glycol ether, this stuff is typically found in general-purpose cleaners, kitchen cleaners and glass cleaners. It’s not required to be listed on labels, but the EPA has workplace safety standard levels for it. If you’re cleaning at home, though, you could easily end up with levels that are higher than the safety standards, especially if you’re using these products in an enclosed space. If you inhale a little you can get a sore throat, but too much of it and you can end up with kidney and liver damage, narcosis (i.e., you pass out), or pulmonary edema.

Ammonia – Very bad to breath, ammonia is an ingredient in metal polish and glass cleaner. Also highly dangerous toxic fumes result when mixed with bleach.

Chlorine – You’re exposed to chlorine through inhalation and skin exposure when you use products like toilet bowl cleaner, mildew remover, scouring powder and some laundry whiteners. It’s a possible thyroid disruptor, and can cause acute and chronic respiratory problems.

Sodium hydroxide (lye) – Oven and drain cleaners both use lye, which is another one you’re exposed to both by inhalation and skin contact. If it so much as touches your skin it can cause burns, and breathing it in can give you a sore throat for days.

baking-soda-768950_640The good news is there are loads of recipes out there for natural cleaners that can help you stay healthy and live more sustainably. Here are some great places to look:

How to make a non-toxic cleaning kit

Homemade alternatives to harmful household chemicals (photos)

67 homemade, all-natural cleaning recipes

David Suzuki’s Queen of Green column

 

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The Rising Danger of Genetically Modified Trees

“Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. No useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.” ~ Woodrow Wilson

GM TreesAn outrageous notion, perhaps, but one which Monsanto certainly abides by as it works tirelessly to batter down the doors not only of new markets, but of new products which they know will do further damage to the environment and encounter increasing opposition from citizens around the world.

There are genetically engineered trees that have been designed for two purposes – fruit trees for food and trees for the paper industry. There are currently test fields, around the globe, of genetically modified trees. Most of the test plots in the US are in the southeast, and the areas around them have already seen adverse effects from being contaminated by the pollen from GE trees whose ‘terminator gene’ wasn’t effective.

These trees are engineered, like all the other GMO crops, so that they kill insects by producing the BT toxin, and to be Round-up ready, as well as being supposedly sterile. The trees being designed for the paper industry are also engineered to be low in lignin because it’s difficult and expensive for the industry to remove. There are so many dangers, huge issues, about which we need to engage in public discussion. More people need to be aware of these threats, and more people need to join in the fight against this mad science experiment. Here’s why:

GM trees

Sterility

We’re looking at massive disruption of our vital forest ecosystems through contamination. The inventors of the terminator gene have explicitly stated that it will not be effective 100% of the time. So, Monsanto and others who are creating these GMOs know full well that anytime GMOs are grown, there will almost certainly be contamination of nearby organisms. The threat of this is greatly increased with trees, as they have the ability to spread their pollen over huge areas, up to hundreds of miles. They don’t care because they only stand to gain by it. Monsanto has been given the right to claim ownership of contaminated crops. If they contaminate forests on public lands, we have to ask what the result of that will be. Monsanto has not shown itself to be capable of any kind of self-restraint whatsoever and it’s completely rational to believe that they will have no qualms about cutting everything down. Even if the sterility gene isn’t effective in a particular plant, it can still pass that gene on. So, if our forests become contaminated, it’s also likely that a larger number of trees in native forests will be sterile.

BT toxin

desert-1196987_640We’ve already begun to see the drastic effects that the BT toxin, produced by GE plants to kill insects, has on the surrounding environment. It kills good insects as well as bad, insects that we depend on to pollinate our natural crops and make them viable. Also, if you kill all the insects that other animals, like birds, depend on for food, one thing leads to another and you’ve soon destroyed the entire ecosystem.

Another problem with the BT toxin is that it isn’t limited to the plant itself. It’s also produced in the root of the plant, which means it gets into the ground. This leads to two very damaging environmental effects. First, the toxin leaches into the groundwater, contaminating nearby streams and rivers – sources of drinking water for humans and animals alike. Second, the soil is full of insects which are a necessary part of the ability of natural soil to renew itself. They add nutrients that plants need to grow, through both life and decomposition after death. GE crops also grow faster, requiring more water and nutrients, so while they take more out, they simultaneously make it impossible for the soil to renew itself. Follow this to its natural conclusion and we find that, every few years, more native forests would have to be cleared to make way for the GE trees because the previous plot is now an arid wasteland that can’t support life. Seems like a bad plan, right?

Round-up

Monsanto’s herbicide Round-up has sundry severely damaging effects on human beings, and it’s been found in blood and urine samples, at high levels, of huge numbers of people across the globe. It’s being banned in city after city and country after country as more information continues to come to light about the damage that it does. Read this article about the 10 most important things to know about glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-up. It’s in our drinking water for the same reason BT toxin is, and it gets absorbed by crops during their growth because they constantly doused with the stuff, so it’s also in a lot of the food that we eat in trace amounts – and that’s all it takes. Weeds become resistant to it over time, so more and more is used, and a new round of GMOs are being designed to withstand 2,4-D, one of the chemicals in Agent Orange that was responsible for making it so dangerous.

Make it stop.

“What the hell is the rush to apply these ideas?…The rush to apply these ideas is absolutely dangerous because we don’t have a clue what the long-term impact of our manipulations is going to be.” ~ Dr. David Suzuki, geneticist

If you’re not fighting Monsanto, with your knowledge, your time, and your wallet, now is the time to start! Buy from small farmers who use sustainable practices, buy organic, have conversations with people who don’t know the truth.

No Fracking Way

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Short for hydraulic fracturing, fracking is fast becoming recognized as one of the most dangerous and damaging activities that mankind has ever engaged in, and is yet another example of the extremely unfortunate Randian spirit of this age. Did you know that fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, and state water-use regulations? It’s called the Halliburton Loophole. Consider that while perusing this list of chemicals used in the initial drilling and then the fracking processes.

Fracking is a triple threat. It severely damages air and water quality and leads to earthquakes and sinkholes, while marching us right off the Gangplank to a Warm Future. None of these issues are confined to the areas directly involved in fracking, either. They spread out through whole landscapes, as air and water do.

Air

Mead, CO

Both the preliminary drilling process and the process of hydraulic fracturing have serious effects on air quality that every US resident should be incredibly wary of, as fracking is allowed to continue in close proximity to people’s homes and on public lands. During the drilling phase, before the actual fracking even begins, non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are released into the air. These are subsets of what are known as volatile organic compound (VOCs) and they have serious effects on human health in tiny quantities with chronic exposure (parts per trillion, for which there is no federal safety standard) because they are endocrine disruptors. Most discussions about the dangers of fracking do not include this information because it isn’t part of the fracking process, but the drilling. NMHCs and PAHs are compounds that are released from the earth during drilling, which would never have made it into the air otherwise.

The endocrine system is basically the system of hormones that controls many aspects of physiology, including tissue function, growth and development, metabolism, mood regulation, sexual functions and reproductive processes. It influences nearly every cell and organ in our bodies, so things like NMHCs and PAHs can wreak havoc, including causing delayed development and lower IQ scores in prenatally exposed children at far lower concentrations than what are found around fracking sites. “Endocrine disruptors have become an integral part of our economy and modern lifestyle, while at the same time are insidiously depleting the pool of healthy and intelligent individuals on a global scale.” Read more here.

Waste water carrying the many hazardous chemicals used for fracking is pumped into open-air pits for evaporation, releasing many chemicals into the air, including more of the VOCs, leading to smog, acid rain, spreading air contamination, and resulting in unforeseen compounds of toxic chemicals.

Water

fracking_waterEach fracking job requires anywhere between 1 – 8 million gallons of water and some 40,000 gallons of chemicals. For the wells that currently exist throughout the US (about 500,000), if we assume the maximum amount of water and the largest number of times a well can typically be fracked (18) that leaves us with 72 trillion gallons of water that’s been polluted with 360 billion gallons of extremely toxic chemicals. Even if we took the minimum estimates, the numbers would be no less disturbing.

We need to be extremely concerned about where all this water is coming from, and where the chemical-laden “produced water,” as the industry calls it, is going. As mentioned, some of it is recovered and goes into various forms of pits and containers, but a lot of it isn’t recovered; as much as 50-70% of it stays in the ground. This information, combined with even the most rudimentary knowledge of where humans get drinking water from makes it absolutely inconceivable that companies involved in fracking continually deny responsibility for the contamination and toxification of nearby rivers, streams and residential wells.

The companies engaging in fracking say it’s not possible for the fracking process to create that contamination. Well, they must think we’re really stupid. Methane gas and toxic chemicals definitely leach out from this system and contaminate nearby groundwater. Studies have shown that levels of methane in nearby wells that are used for drinking water have methane concentration levels 17% higher than normal. There have been over 1000 documented cases of contaminated drinking water, as well as many people who have experienced respiratory, sensory and neurological damage from drinking this polluted water. There are even stories of children coming out of the shower with chemical burns in areas that have experienced more extreme levels of contamination. These people can light their tap water on fire. It’s horrifying.

Why is fracking exempt from the acts that have been specifically designed to protect us from things like fracking? (Hint: former vice president Dick Cheney had a lot to do with it.) It’s very literally destroying people’s lives, and we have to do something about it.

Earthquakes & Sinkholes

What happens when you forcefully inject millions of gallons of chemical soup miles into the ground? There are a couple of pieces to this puzzle – there’s how the water interacts with the layers of the earth that it’s injected into, and the fact that the known deposits of natural gas lay on the edges of tectonic plates.

Florida

Fracking stands for hydraulic fracturing. So what is being fractured? The ground beneath your feet. Natural gas is contained in layers of shale deep underground. High-pressure injection of water mixed with massive amounts of chemicals is used to break up the shale and release the natural gas. These layers are part of the foundation of solid ground, just like you have a foundation for your house that prevents the whole thing from shifting and sinking. These foundations also contain a distributed pressure, helping to hold up everything above. If you break up that foundation and release that pressure, as fracking does, you get sinkholes. Some of the most notable examples of these are in Louisiana and Ohio.

Fracking also disrupts the edges of tectonic plates, which is why there has been a 600% increase in minor earthquakes in and around fracking areas. For the moment, the damage is limited, but it’s entirely possible that we will do enough damage to the edges of the plates to eventually cause major earthquakes which will result in massive losses. We don’t yet have a strong understanding of how all these forces interplay. If we’re not careful, we could find out in the worst way possible.

Global Warming

There are plenty of natural gas advertisements stating that it’s a cleaner source of energy, that it respects the earth, that it’s safe and abides by “rigorous” safety standards. It’s all bogus, of course, but none of it’s as big a lie as the part about being a clean source of energy. Aside from being incredibly environmentally damaging in the ways discussed above, it’s making major contributions to global warming.

Let’s start with the transportation of water and chemicals. I made the point earlier that trillions of gallons of water and billions of gallons of chemicals are required for this process. They are transported to and fro by tanker trucks, helping the total to reach many millions of metric tons worth of carbon footprint. Even worse, massive amounts of methane, a more harmful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, escapes during the fracking process. Methane traps much more heat than CO2, unless it’s burned. If it’s burned it turns into CO2, still a greenhouse gas, just slightly less bad. So, it’s burned off where it can be, slightly decreasing the risks, but it also often escapes directly into the atmosphere, not to mention drinking water.

There are so many good reasons to stop fracking, to work hard to increase the number of states and countries who are at least declaring a moratorium on fracking. If we allow corporations and governments to continue on this destructive path, we condemn the next generation – our own children – to an unlivable world.

Free Trade Agreements & GMOs

Globally, nobody really wants GMOs. American lobbyists and politicians call it a “technical barrier for trade.” Another way to say that might be ‘the will of the people getting in the way of corporate imperialism.’

There’s a new trade agreement in the works between the US and the EU, called TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. It will be the largest trade agreement in the world. Trade between the EU and the US is already at some $2 billion per day, but regulations in the EU prevent some imports from the US and operations of certain US companies because they don’t abide by the relatively strict non-GMO and other food safety standards that the EU has adopted because of overwhelming public opinion, and because they prefer the ‘better safe than sorry’ approach when it comes to public health. I think most of us have figured out by now that most of the actions taken by our federal government at this point in time are designed to benefit corporations, not people, so it’s important to take a look at things like TTIP through that lens.

One of the tasks TTIP seeks to accomplish is a convergence of the differences in technical regulations, standards and certifications. It would be nice to assume that this convergence would take place at the highest standards, but I’m afraid we can’t make that assumption. I’ve read articles about this changing of standards being scary for Americans because, if this convergence follows the lowest common denominator, as it’s supposed that it will, we won’t be able to trust imported food. Very funny! It’s the rest of the world that’s scared, because allowing GMOs and a list of some 3000 additives in our food supply makes our products the ones that can’t be trusted in terms of safety. Look at how unhealthy we are as a nation. Other people are not exactly clamoring to have what we’re having.

The truly concerning part of this is, in fact, already an aspect of other trade agreements, like NAFTA, and would be a matter of course for TTIP – that is the ability of corporations to sue governments if they judge that the policies, regulations, or actions of that government result in a loss of their “right” to profit. An interesting concept, that – right to profit.

For example, three US-based companies – Corn Products International, ADM/Tate & Lyle, and Cargill – sued the Mexican government for refusing to import high-fructose corn syrup under NAFTA. They won the lawsuit and Mexico had to pay the three companies a total of over $169 million. Monsanto has already shown that it’s more than adept at getting what it wants via the legal system. If they can use this tactic in Europe, it will force open a back door to GMOs in the EU. That’s only one concern; there’s a long list of food additives that are approved in the US, but banned in Europe and elsewhere because of serious doubts about their safety, even in limited quantities. Artificial colors are on that list because they’re made from some of the same chemicals you find in gasoline, tar and asphalt.

Guess who gets a seat at the negotiating table. Corporations. It’s expected that they’ll give themselves the ability (as they already have done in the TPP – Trans-Pacific Partnership) to challenge countries’ laws, regulations, even court decisions. This would effectively elevate corporations above the level of nation-states in terms of power and should never be allowed. It probably wouldn’t be if the public in any member country had a say, which is why the talks for both the TPP and TTIP are being kept largely secret. The information we do have is from leaked papers, and it bodes ill for the futures of the people who will be affected by the general lowering of standards. By taking away the ability of a country to regulate its own food supply, these agreements will be taking away any level of food sovereignty from individuals as well, because it erases their ability to effect any kind of change even by voting.

Which brings us back to this idea of the “right” of corporations to profit. A truly screwy concept. Corporations do not have some fundamental right to profit. They have the goal of offering products and services that people want. That is how they profit. If they offer something no one wants they should fail. That’s really the basic ideal of capitalism, albeit very simply put, and there’s really nothing wrong with that, but what we’re working with now isn’t this basic capitalism; it’s crony capitalism and corporate imperialism at their ugliest. That’s really what’s responsible for companies like Monsanto, which are permitted to steamroll everything that stands in the way of any potential profit, regardless of the cost to human and environmental health and safety. This is really the importance of government regulations – if you’re permissive enough in the beginning, pretty soon you’ve created a monster that you have no control over.

And now a quote from Noam Chomsky circa 2003:

“The most powerful state in world history has proclaimed, loud and clear, that it intends to rule the world by force…The empire has also declared, explicitly and precisely, that it will tolerate no competitors, now or in the future. Its leaders believe that the means of violence in their hands are so extraordinary that they can dismiss with contempt anyone that stands in their way.” ~ Noam Chomsky

Learn more about these issues:

Corporate Europe Observatory

Eco-Watch

Noam Chomsky’s talk at the World Social Forum in Brasil.

Why GMOs Don’t & Won’t Help the Hungry

Let’s ask a question that no one asks. Why are we looking for a technological fix to the problem of hunger and nutrition deficiency?

Is it because it’s the best way to solve the problem, or is it because it’s the best way for companies that engage in genetic engineering to make money off rich and poor alike?

Dangers

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I know what you’ve been told, but it’s simply not true. It’s propaganda. GE crops aren’t really meant to save the world from hunger. They’re meant to make money for Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, et al. The seeds have to be purchased anew each year – a ridiculous thing to ask of a small rural farmer in a poor country (or any other farmer, for that matter), so that’s making life harder for them, not better. They have to increase the amount of pesticides they use on the crop, which is both more expensive and leads to exposure to toxic chemicals, causing health problems of all sorts, including lymphatic cancers and leukemia, not to mention the environmental damage caused by the same chemicals. And let’s not forget that GMOs also attack from the inside out, causing intestinal and digestive problems, neurological disorders in children who ingest them or whose mothers ingest them while pregnant, DNA damage and cancers, and the list goes on.

GMO crops often need more water than their non-GMO counterparts, largely because they’re meant to be high-yield, leading to wasteful water usage which contributes to the severity of droughts and pollutes more water. Since they’re high-yield, they also rapidly deplete the nutrients in the ground, and there’s no crop rotation to let the soil renew itself – you can’t plant anything else in the same spot because of the herbicides that are now in the soil. Malnutrition is, in fact, increased by using GE crops because of the way it causes massive declines in biodiversity, which is important not just for nature, but for our own diets and health.

Take the example of ‘Golden Rice,’ which was genetically modified to include more vitamin A, as well as to be high-yield and pesticide resistant. They said it was going to be the savior of southeast Asia, where there’s high incidence of blindness due to a common lack of vitamin A in the diets of many of the region’s poor, who eat a lot of rice because, well, that’s what they grow a lot of since it’s so cheap. There are a few problems with that plan. For starters, all the problems described in the previous paragraph apply, and there’s an important health risk to consider: if you eat a lot of rice, and not enough of other things, vitamin A isn’t the only thing you’re deficient in, so your problem isn’t really solved. Also, eating large quantities of vitamin A over a long period of time has been shown to lead to vitamin A toxicity.

Now step back and ask yourself how this is saving the world form hunger. Right. It’s not. It’s just not a great solution, to go from eating lots of regular rice to eating lots of vitamin A-fortified, pesticide-laden, environmentally destructive rice.

Alternatives

How about educating communities about nutrition and getting farmers to set aside more land for growing things other than rice, such as dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, pumpkin, mango – these all contain beta-carotene which the body processes into vitamin A, and contain other nutrients as well. Now we can have crop rotation, far less water usage, a balanced diet, more fertile soil, no negative effects on health, and it’s not costing the farmers anything because they don’t need all the toxic chemicals and they can save their seeds, use them for the next growing season, and share them with other farmers. There’s just one major problem with this plan – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta won’t make any money.

Manufactured Climate Change Denial

protest-455717_1280There’s a really interesting phenomenon that’s been happening in the United States. In most countries, if you ask people about climate change – whether it’s happening and whether it’s a man-made problem, you get a resounding yes, to the tune of percentages in the 90’s. Japan and the U.K. are notable exceptions, with 78% and 65%, respectively. When American citizens were polled, we came in last at 58%. This information is from an online opinion poll, carried out from July 5 to August 6 of 2012 by the poll group Ipsos for the insurance firm Axa. Read more about it here.

This is truly outrageous if you consider the fact that the U.S. education system, though in sad decline, is world-renowned for good reason, and that most people can learn anything they want, whenever they want. You have only to get on the computer or go to the library and you can inform yourself by watching documentaries and sifting through articles, from both scientists and journalists, with a discerning eye. Of course, most people have no desire to do that, and allow themselves the luxury of believing that it doesn’t matter.

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Boycott list for Koch Industries
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If we approach it from another perspective, it becomes more comprehensible. Charles and David Koch, which I’ve just discovered is pronounced like ‘coke,’ two of the wealthiest people in the world, have essentially manufactured (and funded with over $67 million) the entire climate change ‘debate.’ Koch Industries is well-diversified and in involved in all sorts of things, from raising cattle in Montana to manufacturing spandex in China, but the vast majority of their wealth comes from petroleum.

They financially support a massive team of highly conservative special interest groups, think tanks and lobbyists, whose jobs are to oppose green energy, fight environmental regulations, ease limits on industrial pollution, and influence public opinion, for example by appearing on news programs as “experts” and questioning the legitimacy of science. You can see a profile of lobbying spending data for Koch Industries at the Center for Responsive Politics website opensecrets.org. They’ve been highly successful in their efforts, because the public has fallen for their lies, and the politicians have fallen for their money and influence.

false-98375_640By having managed to convince people to be extremely dismissive of scientific fact and to frame this issue as a ‘debate’ (which it clearly is not) we have enabled a massive section of society to basically say, “Well, the jury’s still out, and there’s really no sense in taking drastic action until we have a clear answer.” This is an extremely dangerous viewpoint and the adage applies here – All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. ~ Edmund Burke. Make no mistake, this can most definitely be called an evil, because it’s a construction of powers-that-be aiming to look after their own short-term financial interests, and nothing else. It’s not based on good science and it’s not founded on principles that include protecting the welfare of society in general and preserving the life-supporting qualities of the environment.

While the majority of society sits back and waits rather than taking action, the real scientists who look at climate change are seeing a growing list of reasons to be very concerned, and are now starting to realize that even the more radical estimates of the changes that we’re going to be experiencing may have been too conservative, in part because greenhouse gas emissions have risen precipitously, which wasn’t expected.

The earth won’t blow up or anything, but complex life is actually quite fragile, and it’s easy to suppose that most of it will not survive drastic changes. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that we’re already well into the beginning of this process, and as fossil fuel extraction and consumption increases (which it is doing), and as we continue to manufacture and spread more and more chemicals which appear in our earth, water, air, food supply and our own bodies, as well as those of many different species of animals, the effects will also increase, becoming more rapid and more drastic. You need only point to the many massive die-offs that we’ve seen in recent years, including fish, dolphins, bees, coral reefs, and certain birds, among others.

It’s notable that there’s far more recognition of the basic truths of this issue in poorer countries. As floods and droughts, etc increase, these are the people who have been effected first and harshest. They have a higher stake in being a part of the solution, while the inventors and perpetuators of the myths of the climate change ‘debate’ are exactly those that stand to lose the least, and have the higher stake in being part of the problem because they have enough money to do whatever is necessary to protect themselves. Most of us don’t have any options in that regard.

We need to work harder to educate everyone about the truth. As long as half our population is being lulled into complacency, meaningful changes can’t takes place, and they desperately need to. Spread this information any way you possibly can, and help fight against the Koch brothers’ multi-million dollar machinations. They’re spending so much of that money on one thing – disseminating information. In this case, we CAN fight fire with fire, without spending much at all outside of time.

Tragedy of the Commons – Noam Chomsky

The following is the final portion of a speech given by Noam Chomsky in Bonn, Germany, whose transcript was recently released. Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he can be considered one of the founding fathers of modern linguistic theory, and he’s widely known for his political activism as well. The full transcript can be read here.

“The last comment I’d like to make goes in a somewhat different direction. I mentioned the Magna Carta. That’s the foundations of modern law. We will soon be commemorating the 800th anniversary. We won’t be celebrating it – more likely interring what little is left of its bones after the flesh has been picked off by Bush and Obama and their colleagues in Europe. And Europe is involved clearly.

occupy_everywhereBut there is another part of Magna Carta which has been forgotten. It had two components. The one is the Charter of Liberties which is being dismantled. The other was called the Charter of the Forests. That called for protection of the commons from the depredations of authority. This is England of course. The commons were the traditional source of sustenance, of food and fuel and welfare as well. They were nurtured and sustained for centuries by traditional societies collectively. They have been steadily dismantled under the capitalist principle that everything has to be privately owned, which brought with it the perverse doctrine of – what is called the tragedy of the commons – a doctrine which holds that collective possessions will be despoiled so therefore everything has to be privately owned. The merest glance at the world shows that the opposite is true. It’s privatization that is destroying the commons. That’s why the indigenous populations of the world are in the lead in trying to save Magna Carta from final destruction by its inheritors. And they’re joined by others. Take say the demonstrators in Gezi Park in trying to block the bulldozers in Taksim Square. They’re trying to save the last part of the commons in Istanbul from the wrecking ball of commercial destruction. This is a kind of a microcosm of the general defense of the commons. It’s one part of a global uprising against the violent neo-liberal assault on the population of the world. Europe is suffering severely from it right now. The uprisings have registered some major successes. The most dramatic are Latin America. In this millennium it has largely freed itself from the lethal grip of Western domination for the first time in 500 years. Other things are happening too. The general picture is pretty grim, I think. But there are shafts of light. As always through history, there are two trajectories. One leads towards oppression and destruction. The other leads towards freedom and justice. And as always – to adapt Martin Luther King’s famous phrase – there are ways to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice and freedom – and by now even towards survival.”

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