Monday, October 10, 2016

Elections 2016: Why so indifferent to the natural world?

I have been writing about the importance of the natural world for nearly as long as I remember. To me its obvious we cannot ignore the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat or the breeze bathing us each time we bike or walk or stay motionless under a tree. Then there are those gorgeous landscapes I embrace in my walks up Johnston's pasture, a mountain at the northern borders of Claremont. But even in my backyard where I do my writing I occasionally see the Monarch butterfly landing on the green leaves and red flowers of the milkweeds. This insect alone makes my day. Its large diaphanous colorful wings open and close like a dream.

But, of course, the natural world includes animals, plants, rivers, mountains, oceans, most of the Earth is natural world. So why our politicians fail to get it? You cannot be healthy if the natural world is unhealthy. That's simple. Or is it not?

I heard practically nothing about the natural world in these past "debates" between Trump and Clinton. These candidates have other things in mind.

But I wanted my candidate, Hillary Clinton, to at least think about the unsaid in the debates. So I wrote her a letter:

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Seeds of Life

Seeds are life. I knew that from childhood. I observed my father at harvest saving wheat, barley and lentils for sowing later in the year. Saving seeds is still alive but it is under stress. Agricultural industrialization includes the industrialization of seeds. Now, in the US, we have this unbelievable reality where pesticide companies are becoming seed companies!

This mechanization of almost everything is causing chaos in rural America and seed protection. Experts say crop genetic diversity is in hard times, which puts agriculture also in hard times.

I reviewed two books on seeds:

Both books, one by the Japanese civil-society organization, Shumei International, and the Indian Navdanya, and the other written by an American agronomist, Cary Fowler, warn we better mend our ways or we are for a likely massive hunger, perhaps unimaginable catastrophes.

The Japanese-Indian book urges all of us to find a way to reconcile our differences with the natural world and learn how to live in peace and harmony with nature. The other book is about protecting a good sample of unmodified seeds from calamities, even nuclear war.

Time has come to rethink our failed agricultural policies and rebuild rural America. These two books are an inspiration to action.  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The failures of the US EPA are American failures

It's disheartening to be bombarded by election political talk that abstains from raising issues of life and death affecting America and the world.

In this "Truthout" article of 29 September 2016, I focus on the failures of the US Environmental Protection Agency that mirror broader political and social forces at work.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Interview with the Center for Environmental Health, Oakland, CA

This interview gave me a chance to range widely, from writing my first book, "Fear in the Countryside" (1976) to explaining my dramatic experience at the US Environmental Protection Agency from 1979 to 2004. The story is complicated, exceedingly personal, and public:

My hope is that all thinking Americans, and especially those considering themselves as environmentalists, would read "Poison Spring" and then ACT to bring to an end the misuse of science and the corruption of public institutions like the EPA. But, above all, Americans must rethink all that goes under business as usual. We need to rebuild this country to reflect our knowledge of the natural world and public health.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Read "Poison Spring"

I spoke recently to Tony Mitra, a Canadian journalist, about the danger of pesticides. The danger is twofold: pesticides are toxic petrochemicals and governments approve them with scant if any evidence of safety. Add the uncertainty of the industry testing its own products and the mixture becomes hazardous. I urge you to inform yourself by listening to the interview (below) and, above all, read my book: "Poison Spring."