Environmental Health News

What's Working

  • Garden Mosaics projects promote science education while connecting young and old people as they work together in local gardens.
  • Hope Meadows is a planned inter-generational community containing foster and adoptive parents, children, and senior citizens
  • In August 2002, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board voted to ban soft drinks from all of the district’s schools

#869 -- Our Growing Footprint, 24-Aug-2006

.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Rachel's Democracy & Health News #869

"Environment, health, jobs and justice--Who gets to decide?"

Thursday, August 24, 2006...............Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Featured stories in this issue...

Business as Usual, Part 2
  If everyone lived at the standard of the industrialized countries,
  it would take two planets comparable to the planet Earth to support
  them, three more if the population should double, and, if worldwide
  standards of living should double over the next 40 years, twelve
  additional "Earths." ...We have been obsessed by thinking, hoping,
  deluding ourselves that we can somehow go on forever with business as
  usual, but [we] simply cannot. --Peter H. Raven
Need for Water Could Double in 50 Years, U.N. Study Finds
  "At the worst, a deepening water crisis would fuel violent
  conflicts, dry up rivers and increase groundwater pollution, the
  report says. It would also force the rural poor to clear ever more
  grasslands and forests to grow food and leave many more people
  hungry."
The Cruel Irony of the Thirsty Rich
  There's a cruel irony in a new report just out from the World
  Wildlife Fund: Water crises, long seen as a problem of only the
  poorest, are increasingly affecting some of the world's wealthiest
  nations.
U.S. Rice Supply Contaminated with Genes from Bacteria
  The U.S. rice supply has become contaminated with a bacterial gene
  not approved for human consumption. The contaminant is intended to
  make rice resistant to chemical weed killers.
Historian of Nazi Germany Warns of Christian Right's Rise
  The comparison between the propagandistic manipulation and uses of
  Christianity during the Nazi era and now is hidden in plain sight. No
  one will talk about it. No one wants to look at it.
Job Available: Anti-incinerator U.S. Campaign Coordinator
  GAIA seeks an energetic and experienced organizer to work
  collaboratively with allies on urgent and exciting work on a national
  level, including working with a coalition of community groups, NGOs,
  and recyclers preventing incentives for new incinerators; supporting
  local campaigns across the country to stop the new plague of
  incinerator proposals; and strategically promoting zero waste
  strategies, environmental justice, social justice, and a toxics-free
  future.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #868, Aug. 16, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

BUSINESS AS USUAL, PART 2

By Peter Montague

[Here we continue summarizing two important articles by biologist
Peter H. Raven, who was president of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science (AAAS) during 2002: his presidential address
to the AAAS in 2002, and a companion piece.

In part 1 of this series, Dr. Raven pointed out that the human
population was 2.5 billion in 1950 and is expected to reach 9 billion
by 2050. It is roughly 6.3 billion today. As humans expand their
domination of the earth, other species are being squeezed out. Dr.
Raven cites projections that 2/3rds of all species will disappear from
the earth during this century.

In some instances we have changed the order of presentation of facts
from Dr. Raven's essays. Text inside square brackets is our editorial
comment.--P.M.]

The Present Human Standard of Living

About a quarter of humanity lives in what the World Bank defines as
absolute poverty, on less than $1 per day. Depending on the criteria
used, between an eighth and a half of the world's people are
malnourished, with about 700 million of us literally starving. Some 14
million babies and young children under the age of four starve to
death each year, at the rate of 35,000 per day.

In the world's poorest societies, women and children are literally
disenfranchised, having to spend most of their time foraging for
firewood or water, and unable to gain the benefits of education, which
would enable them to contribute to the progress of their societies, or
our own. Such relationships are inevitable in a world in which 20
percent of us control 80 percent of the total resources, and 80
percent of us have to make do with the rest.

The empowerment of women is one of the most critical needs for
building a sustainable world for the future -- it simply cannot be
postponed further, says Dr. Raven

In our country, where only about 4.5 percent of the world's people
live, we control about 25 percent of the world's wealth, and produce
25-30 percent of the world's pollution. Clearly, we are dependent on
the stability and productivity of nations all over the world to
maintain our level of affluence: the time has long passed when we
could act on our own, and rely on our own resources to maintain our
standard of living. In the face of these relationships, it is
remarkable that the United States, the richest nation that has ever
existed on the face of the Earth, is the lowest donor of international
development assistance on a per capita basis of any industrialized
country. [All sources of U.S. aid combined, including federal,
corporate, church, foundation, and individual total $60 billion, or
$200 per person per year.]

The Human Footprint

"In the world as a whole, human beings are estimated to be using,
wasting, or diverting nearly half of the total products of
photosynthesis, which is essentially the sole source of nutrition not
only for humans, but for all of the other organisms on Earth. Thus we,
one of an estimated 10 million or more species, appropriate for
ourselves half of the total biological productivity of our planet,
while our numbers, our increasing levels of affluence (consumption),
and our use of inappropriate technologies all increase our share of
the total with every passing year," says Dr. Raven.

When it had become definite that India would attain independence, a
British journalist interviewing Gandhi asked whether India would now
follow the British pattern of development. Gandhi replied immediately
"It took Britain half the resources of the planet to achieve this
prosperity. How many planets will a country like India require?"

Ecological Footprint Analysis

A population's EF [ecological footprint] is the total area of
productive land or sea required to produce all the crops, meat,
seafood, wood and fiber that it consumes, to sustain its energy
consumption and to provide space for its infrastructure. Viewed in
these terms, the Earth has about 11.4 billion hectares of productive
land and sea space. Divided by the current world population of 6.3
billion people, this amounts to about 1.8 hectares per person. [One
hectare = 2.47 acres.]

The actual Ecological Footprint of an individual, however, is very
unequal around the world: 1.3 hectares per person in Africa or Asia,
about 5.0 hectares in Western Europe, and about 9.6 hectares in North
America. The world consumer's average EF in 1999 was 2.3 hectares per
person, so that we are about 22% beyond the planet's capacity to
support us on a sustainable basis. We support ourselves, in a world in
which 800 million people receive so little food that their brains
cannot develop normally and their bodies are literally wasting away;
three billion people are malnourished; and 1.2 billion people live on
less than $1 per day, by means of a gigantic and continuing overdraft
on the world's capital stocks of water, fossil energy, topsoil,
forests, fisheries and overall productivity. We use the world, its
soils, waters, and atmosphere as a gigantic dumping ground for
pollutants, including the pollutants that render much surface water
unusable, the carbon dioxide that is contributing directly to global
warming and the atmospheric pollution that kills millions of people
around the world annually.

It is estimated that the world's Ecological Footprint was about 70% of
the planet's biological capacity in 1970, reaching 120% by 1999. And
our population growth, demand for increased consumption, and continued
use of inappropriate technologies are rapidly driving the ratio
upward, indicating that we are already managing our planet's resources
in an unsustainable way, much as if we used 30% of the funds available
in our bank account each year with the expectation that they would
somehow be replenished, or because we just didn't care.

We continue to assume that developing countries will somehow reach the
level of the industrialized ones currently, while our good senses
should tell us that that cannot be the case without making
extraordinary changes in our assumptions and in the ways that we
live.

In fact, Wackernagel and Rees have estimated that if everyone lived
at the standard (rate of consumption, equivalent technologies) of the
industrialized countries, it would take two planets comparable to the
planet Earth to support them, three more if the population should
double, and, if worldwide standards of living should double over the
next 40 years, twelve additional "Earths."

Aspirations to such a standard of living everywhere are clearly
unattainable, and yet advertising continues to reassure us that it is
both appropriate and achievable, Dr. Raven says.

"Even those of us who live in rich countries continually strive to
seek to increase their standards of living by increasing their levels
of consumption," Dr. Raven observes.

"The paradox presented by these relationships can be solved only by
achieving a stable population, finding a sustainable level of
consumption globally, accepting social justice as the norm for global
development, and developing improved technologies and practices to
make sustainable development possible," says Dr. Raven.

The world view that so many of us share seems an unsuitable one for
building a sustainable world, Dr. Raven says.

"In essence, we have been obsessed by thinking, hoping, deluding
ourselves that we can somehow go on forever with business as usual,
but [we] simply cannot," Dr. Raven concludes.

Then he shifts gears somewhat:

January 6, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, addressing
Congress: "In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look
forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The
first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way --
everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want, which,
translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will
secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants --
everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear, which,
translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments
to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be
in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any
neighbor -- anywhere in the world."

For reasons that are starkly obvious, we are now focusing our
attention massively on terrorism and the problems associated with
terrorism. As the months go by, the real challenge facing us, however,
will be whether we will come to regard the events of September 11 as
specific and short-term, or whether we build on the events in
analyzing their underlying causes and learning how to deal with those
causes. Many of us agree with Leon Fuerth, who eloquently stated on
the occasion of a recent forum in Washington, "A world in which the
fate of poor and hungry people is of no interest to us is not a world
in which we will ever be safe."

"[S]imply appropriating as much as possible of the world's goods and
processing them as efficiently as possible can never be a recipe for
long-term success, and ignorance of environmental principles can never
assist us to lay proper foundations for a sound future. Perhaps if we
had fully accepted the vision presented to us sixty years ago by
President Roosevelt, and truly worked to make it a reality, we would
now be on the way to achieving a peaceful and sustainable world. But
it is not too late to accept that vision now," Dr. Raven says.

Ultimately, as those who have been considering the matter carefully
over the past several months have come to realize, there is often no
way to deter a committed terrorist, regardless of how clever and
vigilant we may be. Consequently, the only way to build a secure world
is to change both that world and our way of thinking about it.

[W]e can clearly find our way to a sustainable future only by
achieving a sustainable population, finding a sustainable level of
consumption globally, accepting social justice as the norm for global
development, and finding the improved technologies and practices that
will help us make sustainable development possible, Dr. Raven
concludes.

[Continued next week.]

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: New York Times, Aug. 22, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

NEED FOR WATER COULD DOUBLE IN 50 YEARS, U.N. STUDY FINDS

By Celia W. Dugger

More than two billion people already live in regions facing a scarcity
of water, and unless the world changes its ways over the next 50
years, the amount of water needed for a rapidly growing population
will double, scientists warned in a study released yesterday.

At the worst, a deepening water crisis would fuel violent conflicts,
dry up rivers and increase groundwater pollution, their report says.
It would also force the rural poor to clear ever more grasslands and
forests to grow food and leave many more people hungry.

The report, which draws on the research of more than 400 hydrologists,
agronomists and other scientists, was sponsored by the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization and the Consultative Group on
International Agricultural Research, the world's premier network of
agricultural research centers, among others.

The authors of the report, "Water for Good, Water for Life: Insights
from the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture,"
concluded that countries confronting severe water shortages cannot
simply employ the same strategies for increasing food production that
have had dramatic success over the past half-century.

Since 1950, the acreage of land under irrigation -- a driving factor
behind the Green Revolution that helped Asia feed itself -- has
tripled. But some parts of the world, including the breadbaskets of
India and China, the cotton belt of Central Asia and swaths of the
Middle East, are reaching the physical limits of their water supplies.

Sub-Saharan Africa, the world's poorest region, has lacked the
financial wherewithal to build dams and irrigation systems to get
water to farms and homes in rural areas where most people live.

"We have to learn how to grow more food with less water," said David
Molden, the principal researcher at the International Water Management
Institute in Sri Lanka and the coordinator of the study. "That's
imperative. We can't just keep expanding the land used."

In Africa, where having an adequate food supply is still a life-and-
death issue, the scholars say governments and donors should focus on
relatively inexpensive, small-scale methods for irrigating small,
often widely scattered plots of land.

For example, farmers could use small tanks to store rainwater and
apply it to crops through simple drip irrigation during dry spells.
Farmers could also operate treadle pumps to tap into groundwater. Such
pumps work like a stair stepper in the gym, cost only $50 to $100 each
and are powered by the farmer's own labor, not costly fuels.

"A lot more people could benefit from these small-scale technologies
in Africa than from a large dam," said Mr. Molden, a hydrologist. "You
can buy a treadle pump and install it immediately. You have to wait 5
or 10 years for a dam to be built."

But the authors of the study, released in Stockholm at an
international conference on water, also note that while these
technologies may be simple, installing them on a national scale and
maintaining their use would be no easy matter. For example, a country
like Ethiopia, with very low rural literacy levels, would need to
train people to carry out such a plan.

Water alone would not be enough. Farmers need credit, crop insurance
and roads to get their products to market. They need AIDS treatment,
and they need fertilizers to nourish their land. A major study
released in March found that three-quarters of sub-Saharan Africa's
farmland is severely depleted of basic nutrients to grow crops.

The report also raised the specter of global climate change, and its
potential to alter patterns of rainfall, especially in the poor
countries near the Equator.

The more rapid glacial melt in the Himalayas is now increasing the
water flowing into India, Nepal, Pakistan and China, but it may mean
much less water in future years, the report said.

"To me, that's quite frightening," Mr. Molden said.

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: WorldChanging.com, Aug. 23, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

THE CRUEL IRONY OF THE THIRSTY RICH

By Joel Makower

There's a cruel irony in a new report just out from the World Wildlife
Fund: Water crises, long seen as a problem of only the poorest, are
increasingly affecting some of the world's wealthiest nations.

That's a far cry from the usual water-related enviro-screed, which
typically cites U.N. data pointing to the 1.1 billion people around
the world who lack access to improved water supplies and the 2.6
billion who lack access to improved sanitation. It's become chic to
say that, "In the 21st century, water will be the new oil."

All true, of course. But as the WWF report, Rich Countries, Poor Water
(2.6 Mbyte PDF), points out, a combination of climate change,
drought, and loss of wetlands that store water, along with poorly
thought out water infrastructure and resource mismanagement, will lead
to increasing water problems in countries such as Australia, Japan,
the U.K., and the U.S.

In Europe, countries on the Atlantic are suffering recurring droughts,
while water-intensive tourism and irrigated agriculture are
endangering water resources in the Mediterranean. In Australia, the
world's driest continent, salinity is a major threat to a large
proportion of its key agricultural areas. Despite high rainfall in
Japan, contamination of water supplies is an extremely serious issue
in many areas. In the United States, large areas are already using
substantially more water than can be naturally replenished. This
situation will only be exacerbated as climate change brings lower
rainfall, increased evaporation, and changed snowmelt patterns.

Says WWF:

"Some of the world's thirstiest cities, such as Houston and Sydney,
are using more water than can be replenished. In London, leakage and
loss is estimated at 300 Olympic-size swimming pools daily due to
ageing water mains. It is however notable that cities with less severe
water issues such as New York tend to have a longer tradition of
conserving catchment areas and expansive green areas within their
boundaries."

The implications for companies doing business in the industrialized
world are implicit if not explicit: access to water could easily
become a constraint to operations. In some cases, water-related
problems could lead to decreases in water allotments, more stringent
water-quality regulations, growing community activism, and increased
public scrutiny of water-related corporate activities. These may
impact site selection, license to operate, productivity, costs,
revenues, and, ultimately, profits and corporate viability. As the
Pacific Institute put it in a 2004 report detailing risks to the
private sector from inadequate freshwater resources: "Water-related
risks now pose a potential multi-billion-dollar threat to a wide
variety of businesses and investors."

(I've posted previously on this theme -- see, for example, this and
this.)

What to do? The WWF report suggests that we have to change "our
attitude toward water."

"It is clear that fresh water has long been an under-appreciated and
undervalued resource and the attitudes of developed country
governments, industries, and populations to water need urgent
revision."

Addressing this, says WWF, will involve the proper and equitable
pricing of water and the ecosystem services provided by freshwater
flows; the ending of subsidies that encourage wasteful use; ramping up
water conservation and recycling efforts; maintaining and restoring
aquatic ecosystems; and more.

That's just for starters. WWF says we'll also need to deal "openly and
accountably" with water. That includes accounting for the cumulative
impacts on human and natural water systems, "a factor often ignored in
one-off project impact assessments"; and adopting a precautionary
principle where knowledge of impacts or natural systems is inadequate.

The bottom line: Companies should expect to find water issues rising
to the level of awareness that energy conservation and efficiency has
seen in recent years. The good news is that companies that already
have implemented comprehensive energy efficiency and management
systems will have a jump on those that haven't. Addressing both energy
and water involve extremely similar processes: conducting audits and
establishing a current baseline; identifying cost-effective, low-
hanging fruit for making efficiency improvements; generating
organizational awareness of the issue through effective communication
and training; getting top-level buy-in to tackle the bigger, longer-
term, and more challenging issues, such as water-intensive
manufacturing processes; engaging suppliers, activists, and other
stakeholders; measuring and reporting; and on and on. You know the
drill.

And along the way, some leadership companies will establish themselves
with innovative technologies and practices, smart and effective
partnerships, and new business models and opportunities.

Even before that happens, customers, regulators, and activists will
likely be chiming in, inquiring about what companies are doing to
mitigate the risks of doing business in a world where access to water
is a constraint to productivity and profits.

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: Washington Post (pg. A7), Aug. 19, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

U.S. RICE SUPPLY CONTAMINATED

Genetically Altered Variety Is Found in Long-Grain Rice

By Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced late yesterday that U.S.
commercial supplies of long-grain rice had become inadvertently
contaminated with a genetically engineered variety not approved for
human consumption.

Johanns said the company that made the experimental rice, Bayer
CropScience of Monheim, Germany, had provided information to the
Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration indicating
that the rice poses no threats to human health or the environment.

"Based upon the information we have seen, this product is safe," he
said in a telephone news conference.

Johanns said he did not know where the contaminated rice was found or
how widespread it may be in the U.S. food supply. The agency first
learned about it from the company, he said, after it discovered "trace
amounts" during testing of commercial supplies.

The variety, known as LLRICE 601, is endowed with bacterial DNA that
makes rice plants resistant to a weedkiller made by the agricultural
giant Aventis.

Johanns said Bayer had not finished the process of getting LLRICE 601
approved for marketing before dropping the project years ago. But the
company did complete the process for two other varieties of rice with
the same gene. And although neither of those were marketed, he said,
their approval offers reassurance that 601 is probably safe, too.

Bayer said in a statement it is "cooperating closely" with the
government on the discovery. It added that the protein conferring
herbicide tolerance "is well known to regulators and has been
confirmed safe for food and feed use in a number of crops by
regulators in many countries, including the EU, Japan, Mexico, U.S.
and Canada."

Johanns acknowledged that the discovery could have a significant
impact on rice sales -- especially exports, which are worth close to
$1 billion a year. Many U.S. trading partners have strict policies
forbidding importation of certain genetically engineered foods, even
if they are approved in the United States.

Those restrictions reflect a mix of science-based fears that some
gene-altered foods or seeds may pose health or environmental hazards;
cultural beliefs about food purity; and political wrangling over trade
disparities.

If other countries cut off imports, the political and economic impact
could rival or exceed that of the last such major event -- the
discovery in 2000 that the U.S. corn supply had become contaminated
with StarLink corn. StarLink, which was engineered to be insect-
resistant, was approved for use in animal feed but not for humans
because of its potential to trigger allergic reactions.

The StarLink episode led to the recall of hundreds of products and the
destruction of corn crops on hundreds of thousands of acres. There
have been several smaller incidents requiring similar actions since.

Yesterday's announcement quickly prompted a new round of accusations
that the government is failing in its efforts to regulate and contain
the burgeoning field of agricultural biotechnology, in which genes
from various organisms are added to crops and other plants -- usually
to confer resistance to weedkillers or to make the plants produce
their own insecticides.

"How many incidents will it take before the government takes their
oversight of the biotech industry seriously?" asked Gregory Jaffe,
director of the biotechnology project at the District-based Center for
Science in the Public Interest. "It's reassuring that in this instance
there is no safety risk, but I don't think that justifies the
industry's blatant violation of government regulations."

Johanns said Bayer contacted the USDA about the problem on July 31,
but the agency delayed announcing the finding until it had developed a
test it could share with trading partners and others who might want to
check for contamination. That test is now available.

Although Bayer stopped field tests of LLRICE 601 in 2001, the
contamination appeared in the 2005 harvest, Johanns said -- a detail
that Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at
the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, found "alarming."

"It's more evidence to me that all of these things that have been
getting tested ultimately have a route to the food supply," Mellon
said.

Although agency investigations are underway, both Johanns and Robert
Brackett of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
said they do not anticipate recalls, crop destruction or other
regulatory action.

"If we become aware of any new information to suggest that food or
feed is unsafe, we will take action," Johanns said.

Instead, Johanns said, Bayer now plans to resurrect its effort to get
the product approved -- or in government parlance, "deregulated" -- a
move that would make the contamination issue moot in the domestic
market.

Researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 The Washington Post Company

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: New York Times, Jan. 6, 2005
[Printer-friendly version]

WARNING FROM A STUDENT OF DEMOCRACY'S COLLAPSE

By Chris Hedges

Princeton, N.J. -- Fritz Stern, a refugee from Hitler's Germany and a
leading scholar of European history, startled several of his listeners
when he warned in a speech about the danger posed in this country by
the rise of the Christian right. In his address in November, just
after he received a prize presented by the German foreign minister, he
told his audience that Hitler saw himself as "the instrument of
providence" and fused his "racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity."

"Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and
politics," he said of prewar Germany, "but many more were seduced by
it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that
largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas."

Dr. Stern's speech, given during a ceremony at which he got the prize
from the Leo Baeck Institute, a center focused on German Jewish
history, was certainly provocative. The fascism of Nazi Germany
belongs to a world so horrendous it often seems to defy the
possibility of repetition or analogy. But Dr. Stern, 78, the author of
books like "The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of
the Germanic Ideology" and university professor emeritus at Columbia
University, has devoted a lifetime to analyzing how the Nazi barbarity
became possible. He stops short of calling the Christian right fascist
but his decision to draw parallels, especially in the uses of
propaganda, was controversial.

"When I saw the speech my eyes lit up," said John R. MacArthur, whose
book "Second Front" examines wartime propaganda. "The comparison
between the propagandistic manipulation and uses of Christianity, then
and now, is hidden in plain sight. No one will talk about it. No one
wants to look at it."

Dr. Stern was a schoolboy in 1933 when Hitler was appointed the German
chancellor. He ran home from school that January afternoon clutching a
special edition of the newspaper to deliver to his father, a prominent
physician.

"I was young," he said, "but I knew it was very bad news."

The street fighting in his native Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland)
between Communists and Nazis, the collapse of German democracy and the
ruthless suppression of all opposition marked his childhood, and were
images and experiences that would propel him forward as a scholar.

"I saw one of the last public demonstrations against Hitler," he said.
"Men, women and children walked through the street and chanted
'Hunger! Hunger! Hunger!' "

His paternal grandparents had converted to Christianity. His parents
were baptized at birth, as were Mr. Stern and his older sister. But
this did not save the Sterns from persecution. Nazi racial laws still
classified them as Jews.

"It was only Nazi anti-Semitism that made me conscious of my Jewish
heritage," he said. "I had been brought up in a secular Christian
fashion, celebrating Christmas and Easter. My father had to explain it
to me."

His schoolmates were swiftly recruited into Hitler youth groups and he
and other Jews were taunted and excluded from some activities.

"Many of my classmates found the organized party experience, which
included a heavy dose of flag waving and talk of national strength,
very exhilarating," said Dr. Stern, who lost an aunt and an uncle in
the Holocaust. "It was something I never forgot."

His family fled to New York in 1938 when he was 12. He eventually went
to Columbia University intending to study medicine. But his passion
for the past, along with questions about what happened to his
homeland, caused him to switch his focus to history. He wanted to
grasp how democracies disintegrate. He wanted to uncover the warning
signs other democracies should heed. He wanted to write about the
seductiveness of authoritarian movements, which he once described in
an essay, "National Socialism as Temptation."

"There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever
invented," he said. "There was a longing for a new authoritarianism
with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater
communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then
and the mood now, although also significant differences."

HE warns of the danger in an open society of "mass manipulation of
public opinion, often mixed with mendacity and forms of intimidation."
He is a passionate defender of liberalism as "manifested in the spirit
of the Enlightenment and the early years of the American republic."

"The radical right and the radical left see liberalism's appeal to
reason and tolerance as the denial of their uniform ideology," he
said. "Every democracy needs a liberal fundament, a Bill of Rights
enshrined in law and spirit, for this alone gives democracy the chance
for self-correction and reform. Without it, the survival of democracy
is at risk. Every genuine conservative knows this."

Dr. Stern, who has two children from a previous marriage, is married
to Elizabeth Sifton, a book publisher. They live in New York. He is
writing a book called "Five Germanys I Have Known," a combination of
memoirs and reflections that looks at Weimar, Nazi Germany, the
Federal Republic of Germany, East Germany and unified Germany. He is
widely read in Germany and has won its highest literary prize.

"The Jews in Central Europe welcomed the Russian Revolution," he said,
"but it ended badly for them. The tacit alliance between the neo-cons
and the Christian right is less easily understood. I can imagine a
similarly disillusioning outcome."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: GAIA, Aug. 17, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

JOB AVAILABLE: ANTI-INCINERATOR U.S. CAMPAIGN COORDINATOR

GAIA: Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, aka Global Anti-
Incinerator Alliance

Position description

GAIA seeks an energetic and experienced organizer to work
collaboratively with allies on urgent and exciting work on a national
level, including working with a coalition of community groups, NGOs,
and recyclers on this issue; preventing incentives for new
incinerators; supporting local campaigns across the country to stop
the new plague of incinerator proposals; and strategically promoting
zero waste strategies, environmental justice, social justice, and a
toxics-free future.

The position will be based in GAIA's Berkeley, California office, or
possibly another location.

Key Duties/Responsibilities

** Network communities fighting incineration to facilitate information
sharing and strategic discussions, in regions where other GAIA members
are not already doing this

** Conduct effective policy development and legislative advocacy at
local, state, and national levels

** Work with groups to provide technical and strategic advice, going
to communities and speaking at public hearings, helping groups to find
resources, and developing case studies about viable solutions, in
regions where other GAIA members are not already doing this

** Research technologies, companies, proposals and related issues

** Write factsheets, letters, articles, and policy positions

** Network with related issue organizations, including clean
production, climate change, renewable energy, environmental health,
recycling, and others

** Communicate with GAIA's global coordination team and with GAIA
members around the world

Qualifications

** At least three years successful organizing and advocacy experience

** Demonstrated ability to work well with diverse groups and build
alliances

** Commitment to environmental health and justice

** Self-starter and well organized

** Strong oral and written communication skills, including public
speaking, information materials development for diverse audiences
(i.e., technical and lay audiences), and media outreach

** Project and budget management experience desirable

** A team player who works well with others as well as independently

** Ability to work in a second language desired

** Willingness to travel within the U.S. and likely internationally

Background

In the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. community groups and environmental
organizations stopped proposals for hundreds of municipal waste
incinerators. Waste burners poison our food and bodies, destroy
resources that should be recycled, drain money from local economies
and discourage waste prevention. By the mid-1990's, incineration was
widely viewed as an obsolete, uneconomical and dirty technology in
this country and many cities re-focused their attention on waste
reduction practices. However, after nearly a decade of no incineration
expansion, the incinerator industry is attempting a comeback here. A
recent spate of new proposals now require a coordinated effort to
preserve the progress made against this wasteful technology and to
ensure that real, sustainable approaches gain an even stronger and
effective hold. GAIA works with allied organizations and members such
as Greenaction on opposing these incinerators and advocating for long
term solutions.

About GAIA

The Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance / Global Alliance for Incinerator
Alternatives is a Philippines-based network of over 450 community,
academic, environmental, environmental justice, informal recycling,
and recycling organizations in 77 countries. GAIA's name has two
meanings to reflect the dual nature of our work. GAIA members campaign
against wasteful and polluting incinerators and work for safer
sustainable alternatives. Our network was founded in December 2000,
and has grown steadily ever since.

Collectively, we recognize that our planet's finite resources, fragile
biosphere and the health of people and other living beings are
endangered by polluting and inefficient production practices and
health-threatening disposal methods. We oppose incinerators,
landfills, and other end-of-pipe interventions.

Our ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration.
Our goal is the implementation of clean production, and the creation
of a closed-loop, materials-efficient economy where all products are
reused, repaired or recycled back into the marketplace or nature.

GAIA's Secretariat is in Manila, Philippines with other offices in
Buenos Aires, Argentina and Berkeley, USA. For more information please
visit www.no-burn.org.

Compensation

Depending on experience with generous benefits package.

To Apply:

Submit a statement of interest, recent writing sample, and resume to
fatou @ no-burn.org (delete spaces in address).

No telephone inquiries.

Deadline

Open until filled. The target start date is the end of August 2006, or
as soon as the appropriate candidate is found.

We value diversity and strive to create a workplace which reflects
this value. We especially encourage people of color to apply. EOE/AA.

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  Rachel's Democracy & Health News (formerly Rachel's Environment &
  Health News) highlights the connections between issues that are
  often considered separately or not at all.

  The natural world is deteriorating and human health is declining  
  because those who make the important decisions aren't the ones who
  bear the brunt. Our purpose is to connect the dots between human
  health, the destruction of nature, the decline of community, the
  rise of economic insecurity and inequalities, growing stress among
  workers and families, and the crippling legacies of patriarchy,
  intolerance, and racial injustice that allow us to be divided and
  therefore ruled by the few.  

  In a democracy, there are no more fundamental questions than, "Who
  gets to decide?" And, "How do the few control the many, and what
  might be done about it?"

  As you come across stories that might help people connect the dots,
  please Email them to us at dhn@rachel.org.
  
  Rachel's Democracy & Health News is published as often as
  necessary to provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the
  subject.

  Editors:
  Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
  Tim Montague   -   tim@rachel.org
  
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  To start your own free Email subscription to Rachel's Democracy
  & Health News send a blank Email to: join-rachel@gselist.org.

  In response, you will receive an Email asking you to confirm that
  you want to subscribe.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Environmental Research Foundation
P.O. Box 160, New Brunswick, N.J. 08903
dhn@rachel.org
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::