Monthly Archives: March 2010

Peaches not so Peachie – New Report Ranks Pesticides in Produce

News of this new “Shoppers Guide to Pesticides” came to me via Mother Jones this morning. It’s worth a look. It ranks 47 different types of fruit and veggies by the amount of pesticide residue contain.

iband.com imageWe should all care because eating a bunch a pesticides along with your daily portion of produce is known to effect your nervous and hormone systems. Pesticides are toxins with carcinogenic qualities. Coming in contact with them can also irritate your eyes, skin and lungs, according to the report, which cites a slew of scientific studies.

It also offers tips on how to minimize your exposure but they are pretty limited; The authors suggest go organic. They also put in a plug for pressing lawmakers to demand full-disclosure of pesticides used in growing the food we innocently purchase in the supermarkets. And, once we knew, demand those toxins are limited or eliminated altogether.

Good information but pretty lame advice which has been doled out on this subject for some years now with little movement toward full disclosure by the agribusiness giants in this country and abroad that produce so much of our food supply. Luckily, farmers’ market season is approaching. I am, however, sometimes worried that the small farmers who sell at our neighborhood market in Takoma Park might be using the same old pesticides and simply coasting on their “family farm” looks. What guarantee do we have that farmers market sellers are adhering to better practices and using fewer chemical inputs?

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Seeing the Forest for the Trees

"Tree of Life No. 3" by Alberto Roblest

Climate scientists say we need to keep the world’s remaining forests vertical to help reign in global warming before things get out of hand. But exactly how trees drink in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is a complex question. Trees don’t sequester the same amount of warming-inducing gases at all times throughout their lifespan. Here’s a report that gives a detailed explanation of how it actually works.

Bird Populations Driven toward Extinction by Global Warming

Climate change is threatening the habitat and feeding grounds of dozens of North American bird species such as albatrosses, frigate birds and puffins, pushing them toward extinction, according to a new report by the Interior Department. While this confirms what scientists have independently been saying for years now, it’s still a sobering reminder that despite the recent resurgence of denial, global warming is real. It’s here now and only going to get worse unless we act.

Here’s the full report. And a Scientific American story on it.

Democracy Now Show Today on Big Greens Standing in the Way of Climate Progress

The buzz created by Johann Hari’s hard-hitting article, The Wrong Kind of Green,  in The Nation magazine is finally generating some much needed attention for the outrageous behavior of some of our leading environmental groups. This morning, Amy Goodman of Democracy now interviewed Johann and me about Big Green groups such as Conservation International, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, and The Nature Conservancy – that are endorsing the climate policies sponsored by their corporate donors and allies in Washington. There is just no getting around the fact that the proposals backed by these groups will do little to head off runaway climate change. As Hari pointed out this morning, some of these policies will actually encourage more logging in tropical rainforests, despite ample evidence that we need those trees standing to sop up climate changing greenhouse gases.

Hari was very effective exposing these false solutions but left things on an optimistic note by mentioning the creative nonviolence campaigns climate activists have unfurled in the UK. I wish there had been more time so that I could have mentioned that the real grassroots of US enviornmentalism – not the big national groups that have been coopted by Washington’s deal making mentality and corporate donations – are also experiencing an encouraging growth spirt.

In doing some research for a magazine article and possibly a new book, I’ve been talking to activists all over the country in the last few weeks.  Julia “Judy” Bonds, who has been fighting mountaintop removal coal mining in her Appalachian community for a dozen years, says “you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.” In the last five years, she says a movement has begun to take shape and it’s just a matter of time before it sparks change. She likened the tense standoff between coal miners and mountaintop removal foes like herself to the bloody civil rights struggle started in Selma, Alabama in 1963 that  was widely credited with helping pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Author Bill McKibbon is calling for people to take to the streets and join the 350.org civil disobedience campaign he launched. Tim DeChristopher, the guy who threw a wrench in the Dec. 2008 Bureau of Land Management auction of oil and gas leases on public lands, says we have to throw ourselves into the machine that’s threatening our existence.  McKibbon, DeChristopher, Julia “Butterfly” Hill, Mike Rosselle and many other activists have set up small radical groups that are all advocating that people – the average citizens like you and me – take to the streets to demand that President Obama and other lawmakers address global warming.

Considering how little we protest today, it’s hard to image the country will rise up and demand environmental sustainability. But they are doing it in the United Kingdom, so why not here? And if we don’t, who will? Bonds says her activism has shown her that politicians don’t lead, they merely follow the will of the people. It’s time for the people to take their fate into their own hands, she says.

The Nation Exposes Greenwashing by Big Green Groups

Check out this passionate piece in The Nation by British journalist Johann Hari. Perhaps I’m biased since I wrote an entire book on this subject and Hari quotes me in his story, but I think he argues persuasively that the large mainstream environmental groups in this country have sold out to their corporate sponsors and, when it comes to climate change, are selling us down the river (…or the seas as they rise!)

He certainly doesn’t mince words! He calls Conservation International and the Nature Conservancy “polluter-funded leeches sucking on the flesh of environmentalism, leaving it weaker and depleted.”

But it’s not all bleak and depressing. Hari concludes that:

Already, shining alternatives are starting to rise up across America. In just a year, the brilliant 350.org has formed a huge network of enthusiastic activists who are demanding our politicians heed the real scientific advice–not the parody of it offered by the impostors. They have to displace the corrupt conservationists as the voice of American environmentalism, fast.