Thursday, November 25, 2010
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THIS shows a culture that is slowly giving in to a futuristic nightmare ideology of computerized greed and unchecked financial violence. The monster in the foreclosure crisis has no face and no brain. The mortgages that are being foreclosed upon have no real owners. The lawyers bringing the cases to evict the humans have no real clients. It is complete and absolute legal and economic chaos. No single limb of this vast man-eating thing knows what the other is doing, which makes it nearly impossible to combat — and scary as hell to watch.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
November 16, 2010
5 Mining Projects That Could Devastate the Entire Planet
I’m not talking about fossil-digging projects that tell us something about our ecological past or our cultural past. I’m talking about digging for coal and oil. I remember reading somewhere that “the largest profits are made by making and selling products that go up in the air.” Throughout the twentieth century digging for coal and oil, and then burning it to send carbon into the air was enough to ensure astronomical profits for a handful of fossil-fuel corporations.
But I also remember the saying, “What goes up must come down.” For a hundred years, burning all that coal and oil gave us -- the humans -- great comforts, but the carbon we sent up in the air also resulted in the tremendous pain of climate change -- the rapid melting of sea ice and icebergs that is destroying Arctic marine ecology, the ocean acidification and coral deaths that are causing havoc to marine life in the tropical and temperate seas, droughts and beetle infestations that have killed hundreds of millions of trees around the world, intense forest fires and floods -- remember Russia and Pakistan this summer? The list goes on and on ... you know the story. Our planet is also experiencing the greatest rate of biodiversity loss ever and climate change will continue to worsen the ongoing tragedy of species extinction.
Recently, ecophilosopher and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva began her acceptance speech at the Sydney Opera House for the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize with these words: “When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical limits -- limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and economic concentration.”
In terms of calendar years, we stepped into the twenty-first century about ten years ago, but in all other ways we have continued to live the life of the twentieth century, with our ongoing love affair with coal and oil. If you think we are entering the twenty-first century with a wonderful clean energy future that will be healthy for all life on earth, think again! If there is one thing the U.S. midterm election has guaranteed, it is this: Oil and coal lobbies and their climate denier supporters in Congress are ready to force us farther into the new century with another one hundred years of fossil-digging in North America. Right now they’re probably eating gourmet steak flown in from Argentina to gather strength and drinking fine Italian wine to gather passion to unleash an unprecedented fossil-digging campaign after the 112th Congress is sworn in come January.
The process has already begun. Last week Shell Oil launched a massive ad campaign to pressure the Obama administration into allowing them to begin drilling in the Beaufort Sea of Arctic Alaska during 2011. The New York Times reported, “The company (Shell) is placing ads for the rest of the month in national newspapers, liberal and conservative political magazines and media focused on Congress.” In late May, as the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was unfolding in front of our eyes (a long-forgotten event for our amnesiac culture), I wrote a story titled “BPing the Arctic?” that pointed to the dangers if President Obama allows Shell to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of the Arctic Ocean. I also wrote about Shell’s “Let’s Go” ad campaign in September. If you read these pieces and understand what’s now unfolding, you’ll know Shell isn’t kidding around: They’re spending a lot of money that will go far toward their plan to drill in the icy Arctic Ocean. President Obama ought not to cave under the pressure of Shell’s ad campaign and must not issue the permit for 2011 Beaufort Sea drilling, and also Chukchi Sea drilling if they later ask for it.
How Much Fossil Fuel Are We Talking About?
It’s worth taking a quick look at some of the numbers from five massive fossil-digging projects that the fossil-fuel lobby will be pushing hard during the 112th Congress.
Oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas
By current estimates, there are some 30 billion barrels of oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of Arctic Alaska. Let’s put that number in perspective. In the U. S. each year we consume a little over 7.5 billion barrels of oil, so those 30 billion barrels only amounts to 4 years of U. S. consumption. Not that long, right? But that’s not how it works. We don’t eat dinner with just a big hunk of steak only -- we may eat a salad before, plus a bit of steamed veggies, maybe even a baked potato, add a glass or two of wine or margarita, then maybe some desert, and even a cup of decaf coffee. Add all that up, and a 15-minute act is extended to an hour and a half. It’s the same way with America’s energy consumption, with oil coming from elsewhere and also coal, gas, and tar sands contributing to the energy needs. Shell could potentially keep drilling in the Arctic Ocean for the next twenty or thirty years. In the process, they’ll create massive dead zones in a cold, slow-growing habitat that will take centuries to heal, unlike the warm Gulf of Mexico, where things grow relatively fast. We must fight to stop Shell from drilling in America’s Arctic Seas.
Oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
For the past ten years, much of my work has focused on the ecological and human rights issues in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the most biologically diverse conservation area in the Arctic. I have worked closely with human rights organization Gwich’in Steering Committee in Fairbanks, Alaska and with activist environmental organization Alaska Wilderness League in Washington, D.C.
BP’s oil-and-methane spill in the Gulf of Mexico prompted Alaska Native peoples of the Gwich’in Nation to gather in late July in Fort Yukon, Alaska at the confluence of the Yukon and Porcupine Rivers. They created a magnificent human aerial-art PROTECT with images of caribou antler and salmon, two species the Gwich’in communities critically depend on for subsistence food, and both these species are threatened by climate change and potential oil-and-gas development. I’d urge you to visit the Gwich’in Steering Committee website to learn about the human-rights implications of drilling in the Arctic Refuge and the important work they have been doing since 1988 for the protection of the Arctic Refuge coastal plain from oil-and-gas drilling.
So how much oil is there in the Arctic Refuge? Best estimates go from about 7 billion to 16 billion barrels, meaning 1 to 2.5 years of U. S. annual oil consumption. Again, with some help from other energy sources, oil companies could potentially keep drilling in the Arctic Refuge for ten years or more. In the process, they’ll turn one of the most important ecocultural regions in the entire Arctic into an industrial wasteland and then leave.
As it happens, the 50th anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is on December 6. Photographer Jeff Jones and writer Laurie Hoyle has just published a magnificent photo-essay book Arctic Sanctuary: Images of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that you can check out. And conservation organizations have a proposal in front of President Obama to once-and-for-all designate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a National Monument, which the President ought to do before the start of the 112th Congress.
Coal in the Utukok River Upland, Arctic Alaska
I doubt you’ve heard of the Utukok River Upland in northwest Arctic Alaska, or the projection that it contains the largest coal deposit in North America -- an estimated 3.5 trillion tons of bituminous coal, which is nearly 10% of world’s known coal reserves. Let’s put that number in perspective. The annual coal consumption in the U.S. is about 1 billion ton, which means at the current rate of consumption we could potentially burn the Arctic coal for the next 3,500 years. No, that’s not a typo -- 3,500 years! Burning coal for the past couple of centuries has brought our planet earth down to her knees with toxicity and now climate change. Can you even imagine what it would mean for life-on-earth if we burn all that coal for the next 3,500 years?
Much of that Arctic coal sits atop the core calving area of the Western Arctic caribou herd, the largest caribou herd in Alaska, estimated at some 377,000 animals that nearly 40 indigenous communities from three tribes -- Inupiat, Yupik, and Athabascan -- rely on for subsistence food, as well as cultural and spiritual identities. That coal is also on or near the surface of the land, meaning the development will be mountaintop removal, not unlike the devastation that has been taking place in the Appalachian coal belts of the American Southeast.
I first went to the Utukok River Upland in June 2006 with writer Peter Matthiessen and other colleagues. We witnessed caribous with newborn calves, wolves that seemed to have never seen a human before, grizzlies that ran away at catching our scent, birds that were nesting on the tundra and on the cliffs of riverbanks, and so much more. We came away with a great appreciation for the ecological fecundity of this magnificent and remote region. If you’re curious, you can read Peter’s essay on the experience, which appeared in The New York Review of Books, and my essay, which appeared in the anthology Alaska Native Reader: History, Culture, Politics.
While no coal development permit has yet been given in the Utukok River Uplands inside the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA), but in 2006 the Canadian mining company BHP Billiton began exploration just outside, in the land owned by the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, where the Western Arctic caribou herd with their newborn calves gather in massive numbers, up to 250,000 animals during their post-calving aggregation. We must make sure no permit for coal is ever given in the NPRA federal lands.
Tar Sands and Shale Oil in Alberta, the Rocky Mountains, and the Great Plains
In a powerful recent piece in Yale Environment 360, Keith Schneider points out some disturbing numbers: “The tar sands region of northern Alberta, Canada contains recoverable oil reserves conservatively estimated at 175 billion barrels, and with new technology could reach 400 billion barrels”; and “Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming hold oil shale reserves estimated to contain 1.2 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil.” Schneider continues, “If current projections turn out to be accurate, there would be enough oil and gas to power the United States for at least another century.”
There is one serious catch. Tar sands and shale oil are the dirtiest forms of energy and are the most environmentally destructive in its recovery and production. They produce far more greenhouse gas than conventional oil and gas, meaning more accelerated climate change, and require huge amounts of water for their production. It takes 2.5 to 6.5 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of tar sands oil. You can do the math -- this is certainly not sustainable. At a time when the American West is already suffering from massive droughts and high temperatures due to climate change, these unconventional fossil-digging projects will undoubtedly spark great wars over oil-or-water.
Coal in Appalachia
In late September, leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen and more than 100 activists from Appalachia Rising were arrested in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., for protesting mountaintop removal coal mining in the Appalachia. Jeff Biggers reported, “Appalachian residents are calling on the EPA to halt any new permit on the upcoming decision over the massive Spruce mountaintop removal mine.” The Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, West Virginia, would be a gigantic mountaintop removal mine that would bring great devastation to the region by destroying thousands of acres of forests, burying 7 miles of streams, and ending the way of life of many Appalachian families.
So how much coal is in the Appalachia? The Energy Information Administration has estimated that there are about 53 billion tons of coal reserves in the Appalachian Basin. Potentially we could be digging for that coal for the rest of this century. But that coal will come to us with great devastation. If you’d like to know more about the great social and environmental costs of mountaintop coal mining, you can check out this article, “Coal Controversy in Appalachia,” published in NASA’s Earth Observatory website.
On October 15, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson recommended the withdrawal of the Spruce No.1 mining permit. With climate deniers firmly placed in the 112th Congress, we can surmise safely that this fight is far from over.
To understand why Hansen is willing to risk his government job and his scientific credibility by getting arrested time and again, you simply have to take a look at the title of his article in late August in the Guardian: “Am I an activist for caring about my grandchildren’s future? I guess I am.”
We Must End Coal and Oil to Start Clean Energy
As I think about our inability so far to end our fossil-fuel based economy and start a clean-energy future, I think about the following words by T. S. Eliot from his poem, Little Gidding, which is part of his masterpiece Four Quartet:
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
The beginning of coal and oil has been the beginning of the end of sustainable living on earth; to make an end for coal and oil would ensure a beginning for clean energy. But unless we make such an end, there’ll be no beginning for clean energy to take us back to sustainable living on earth.
Next year the First Family will be taking showers with water warmed by the mighty sun falling on the solar panels that will be installed on the roof of the White House. But such small symbolic action and other clean-energy initiatives will be meaningless if the five fossil fuel projects I mentioned take off happily during the 112th Congress.
We’ve burned coal and oil for more than hundred years that has resulted in the human-made climate change we’re dealing with right now. We cannot allow one more hundred years of the same. So we must stand up and STOP any maniacal plan that would set us on a path to ‘another one hundred years of fossil-digging in North America.’
Fighting these mega-scale projects may seem overwhelming for any individual, but here are a few things you can do this month:
Art -- Find out about 350 EARTH (November 20-28), the largest human aerial-art installation ever to fight climate change, and see how you can get involved.
Letter -- Write a letter for the ‘Million Letter March: The Write Way to Stop Climate Change’ campaign.
Petition -- Sign the Alaska Wilderness League ‘Keeping it Wild’ petition and urge President Obama to designate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a National Monument.
LTE -- Write ‘Letter to the Editor’ opposing Shell’s 2011 drilling plan in the Beaufort Sea.
Posters -- Work with artists and writers in your community and create posters on all of the five projects I mentioned and distribute them throughout your town to educate your community members. Being informed about these fossil-digging projects is the first step toward engagement that may lead to action.
For our part, we’ll regularly present stories on this series at ClimateStoryTellers.org.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
There is a new “product” on the market that is absolutely free to you and is giving drug companies a run for their money. It’s called the placebo effect … and it often works better than top pharmaceutical drugs.
As Wired Magazine reported:
“From 2001 to 2006, the percentage of new products cut from development after Phase II clinical trials, when drugs are first tested against placebo, rose by 20 percent. The failure rate in more extensive Phase III trials increased by 11 percent, mainly due to surprisingly poor showings against placebo.
Despite historic levels of industry investment in R&D, the US Food and Drug Administration approved only 19 first-of-their-kind remedies in 2007—the fewest since 1983—and just 24 in 2008. Half of all drugs that fail in late-stage trials drop out of the pipeline due to their inability to beat sugar pills.”
“Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late '90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them.
It's not that the old meds are getting weaker, drug developers say. It's as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger.
The fact that an increasing number of medications are unable to beat sugar pills has thrown the industry into crisis.”
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Is it really possible to feel better simply by taking a sugar pill or receiving fake acupuncture, shamsurgery or another non active treatment? If you believe it is, then absolutely, yes.
The placebo effect has been demonstrated in countless studies published in prestigious medical journals, and much to the drug companies’ chagrin, placebos often work better than expensive and side-effect ridden drugs and surgeries.
How can this be?
How Does the Placebo Effect Work?
The science of epigenetics is now beginning to explain scenarios like placebo effect and spontaneous healing, which lacked a scientific basis until now.
Epigenetics literally means "above the genes." And what is above the genes?
One of the scientists on the forefront of mind-body biology is Bruce Lipton. Thanks to Dr. Lipton and other leading voices, the power of your mind is finally gaining the attention it deserves.
Your mind has the power to create or cure disease because your thoughts affect the expression of your genes. Today’s "New Biology" is overlapping with consciousness science and quantum physics, and it’s showing us that we have masterful control over our own lives, including how we feel pain, depression, anxiety and even our ability to overcome diseases like cancer.
Many illnesses, from Parkinson’s disease to irritable bowel syndrome, have been proven to improve after placebo pills and treatments. The jury is still out on whether the practice of taking a sugar pill or simply going through the ritual of treatment is what’s causing the beneficial responses … but either way studies show that if you think you’re receiving a treatment, and you expect that treatment to work, it often does.
As the above article in Scientific American shared:
“In recent decades reports have confirmed the efficacy of various sham treatments in nearly all areas of medicine. Placebos have helped alleviate pain, depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, inflammatory disorders and even cancer.
Placebo effects can arise not only from a conscious belief in a drug but also from subconscious associations between recovery and the experience of being treated—from the pinch of a shot to a doctor’s white coat. Such subliminal conditioning can control bodily processes of which we are unaware, such as immune responses and the release of hormones.”
The Placebo Effect Has Been Working for Decades
That the placebo effect works to relieve symptoms and disease is not new … although it is only recently – due to increasing failed trials among drug companies – that public health agencies are being forced to face this elephant in the room.
But it was nearly 50 years ago, in 1955, that anesthetist Henry Beecher’s paper “The Powerful Placebo” was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. This was the first to bring up the very real fact that simply taking a pill or receiving treatment (even if it was “fake”) could prompt healing changes.
As Wired Magazine reported, it was after this paper was published that the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was amended to require drug trials to use placebo control groups. The “double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial,” which is still used as the gold standard today, was a result of Henry Beecher’s work.
“Today, to win FDA approval, a new medication must beat placebo in at least two authenticated trials,” Wired Magazine reports.
The Antidepressant Scam
Unfortunately, there are many drugs and treatments on the market today that work no better than placebo, yet expose patients to serious side effects. Among the most problematic and blatant are antidepressants. As written in Wired:
“The blockbuster success of mood drugs in the '80s and '90s emboldened Big Pharma to promote remedies for a growing panoply of disorders that are intimately related to higher brain function. By attempting to dominate the central nervous system, Big Pharma gambled its future on treating ailments that have turned out to be particularly susceptible to the placebo effect.”
Every year, 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled, making them one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States. The psychiatric industry itself is a $500 billion industry -- not bad for an enterprise that offers little in the way of cures.
Antidepressant drugs have been proven to be no more effective than sugar pills. Some studies have even found that sugar pills may produce better results than antidepressants!
Personally, I believe the reason for this astounding finding is that both pills work via the placebo effect, but the sugar pills produce far fewer detrimental side effects.
Every time a new study about the efficacy of antidepressants hits the journals, we see antidepressants plunge further into the abyss.
One study that is hot off the press in the January 2010 issue of JAMA concludes that there is little evidence that SSRIs (a popular group of antidepressants that includes Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and others) have any benefit to people with mild to moderate depression, and that they work no better than a placebo.
That means that SSRIs are 33 percent effective, just like a sugar pill.
Similarly, in 2008, a meta-analysis published in PLoS Medicine concluded that the difference between antidepressants and placebo pills is very small -- and that both are ineffective for most depressed patients. Only the most severely depressed showed any response to antidepressants at all, and that response was quite minimal.
The article states:
“Given these results, the researchers conclude that there is little reason to prescribe new-generation antidepressant medications to any but the most severely depressed patients unless alternative treatments have been ineffective.”
Again, these are not new revelations.
Back in 2002, a meta-analysis of published clinical trials indicated that 75 percent of the response to antidepressants could be duplicated by placebo.
Many antidepressants may actually make your “mental illness” worse, because when your body doesn’t feel good, your mood crashes along with it.
Knee Surgery: Another Classic Placebo Effect
Outside of antidepressants, one of the most glaring examples of the power of the placebo effect was published in the classic New England Journal of Medicine knee surgery study.
This was, without question, one of the most amazing studies I have ever seen published, as it definitely proves the power of your mind in healing.
It was published in one of the most well-respected medical journals on the planet and was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial performed at some of the top U.S. hospitals.
What did the results show? That most knee surgery results in a $3-billion hoax in the United States. It is not actually the surgery itself that is responsible for the improvement, but rather is the placebo effect. More precisely, it's the ability of your brain to produce healing.
Research by Ted J. Kaptchuk, a Harvard medical professor, supports this theory, and goes a step further saying that the more extensive a treatment, the greater the placebo effect may be.
“… The bigger and more complicated the ritual, the greater the placebo effect. Surgery and medical devices often produce a bigger placebo effect than a pill because expectations for a cure are higher,” he told Forbes.
How to Use the Placebo Effect in Your Own Life
Folks, the placebo effect is REAL.
And when I say that, I mean that if you believe you will benefit from something, you will. And the more you focus your intention on this, the more you’ll find that you can manifest nearly any result you desire.
But there is one caveat: you must resolve any emotional blocks that are standing in your way first.
For example, this could be disbelief that the pain or illness will go away, resentment that you have the pain, or even an unconscious desire to keep the pain or disease because of the extra attention you gain from it.
“A lot of people use the energy psychology just like a drug. ‘Oh, you’ve got a pain here. If I do this, you can get rid of the pain.’ But here’s the problem. A symptom is not generally the problem. A symptom is a reflection of a problem.”
So the pain or symptoms are not what you should focus on relieving. Instead, you must get to the root of the problem, which started in your mind. If you simply relieve your pain without addressing the related emotional conflict, your body will manifest another ache, pain or illness to tell you that there’s a problem with your system.
This is a new way of thinking about healing for most people. But if you look at it in terms of energy -- pain is energy, and your mind is also energy -- you can see how one directly influences the other.
Emotional Freedom Technique/Meridian Tapping Technique (EFT/MTT) is an extremely powerful tool that you can use to get to the root of your emotional conflicts, and to release them.
EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on your head and chest while you think about your specific problem -- whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. -- and voice positive affirmations.
I highly suggest that you explore this healing modality for yourself, and if you have an especially traumatic, complex or deep-seated emotional challenge to overcome that you find an EFT therapist to guide you.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
- Less Distraction. A cluttered office desk is filled with potential distractions. Sticky-notes, business cards, file folders, and uncompleted projects all clamor for our attention every moment of the day. Removing them allows our mind to better focus on the most important project of the moment: the one you are working on.
- More Freedom. A clear desk grants freedom to pursue the project of your choosing. Your to-do list is not held captive by the folders on your desk. It is determined by you – even if you are getting direction from someone else.
- New Opportunity. A new day brings new opportunity and the potential to accomplish something great. Walking into an office with yesterday's work still visible immediately anchors you to the past, tying yesterday's rope to today's potential. But a clean desk breeds life, encouragement, and endless possibilities. Even if your new day is going to consist of completing yesterday's project, starting again or reopening the file offers new opportunity and a new way to see a problem or accomplish a task.
- Increased Reputation. A clean desk indicates a clean and focused mind. It makes you look efficient, accomplished, thorough, and organized. And while nothing can replace a job well done, a clear desk can only help improve your reputation among your co-workers.
Granted, a clear desk comes more naturally to some than others. But I stand as proof that the principle of a clean desk can be applied to any worker's personality. Here are six steps that I have found particularly helpful in making the transition:
- Reduce your Office Items. The first step in keeping your desk clear is keeping less things on it and around it. Seems simple enough… almost so simple that it often gets overlooked. Take a look around your desk surface. What doesn't absolutely need to be there? Photos, calendars, books, supplies, and food should all be considered. If it's not essential, remove it permanently.
- Use Drawers. Using drawers isn't cheating, it's smart. It keeps your projects, tools, and supplies at your fingertips while still removing them from your line of sight. In my drawers, I store all of my supplies (pens, stapler, etc.) and my current projects. My current projects are stored in labeled folders in my top drawer for easy access. And only the current project that I'm working on gets to be on my actual desk surface.
- Finish Your Projects. One of the biggest enemies of desk clutter is unfinished projects. Sometimes, they lay on our desks for weeks distracting us and taunting us. The mind clutter of an unfinished project can be crippling at times. If the project can be completed in less than 20 minutes, see it through to completion right away. If the project will take longer, find a drawer to store it in until you are ready to pull it out and work on it again.
- Store Things Digitally. A simple Contacts program and Tasks program can probably remove 95-100% of the notes cluttering your workspace (I have always used Microsoft Outlook). Find one and learn to use it. Those sticky-notes will no longer clutter your screen or distract your mind. And you'll never lose one again either. I have found this method to be both liberating and essential.
- Limit Computer Distractions. While your computer can be essential in helping to eliminate the clutter from your desk, it can provide distraction of its own. Help your cause by decluttering your computer desktop along with your physical desk. For starters, find a non-distracting wallpaper image and remove all unnecessary icons.
- Set aside 5 minutes. Take the last 5 minutes of every day to clear the surface of your desk. Rest assured that once you get started with the habit, it'll take far less than 5 minutes. But set that much aside at the beginning. Trust me, your morning you will thank you.
A clear office desk will grant you more focus, peace of mind, and productivity. And that's good for both you and your company.
Monday, November 15, 2010
November 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm by Scott Adelson
Battle Lost, War to Win: (Some) Climate Scientists Fight Back
As the dust (and political garbage) of the election settles, it’s time to take a breath of clean air, regroup and see the fear for what it was. Hyperbole, right? Scare tactics from The Left. Doomsday predictions if polluter-sponsored climate deniers won the day. Yes. It’s going to be fine. Just breathe.
Okay, so it wasn’t hyberbole. What happened in last week’s elections was a serious body blow to the environmental movement and it’s going to be all we can to do to weather the anti-science storm that’s about to go down. Know this: Half of the new congressmen deny climate change. And they’re arriving in D.C. on a wave of cash supplied by some of the world’s most egregious corporate polluters. Tying ourselves to mast isn’t going to cut it. Make no mistake. These people want to turn the environmental protection clock backward.
This is why I got all excited the other day when I read a story in the Los Angeles Times saying that “faced with rising political attacks,” the non-partisan American Geophysical Union (AGU) – the world’s largest, not-for-profit, professional society of Earth and space scientists, with more than 58,000 members in over 135 countries – “plans to announce that 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution.”
Consider the milquetoast approach to taking it to the streets that’s gone down since Al Gore did his heavy lifting back in 2006 (with his powerful documentary, An Inconvenient Truth and subsequent Nobel Peace Prize). And remember the ugliness of the media rollover on Climategate, and then its pitiful and measly coverage of the debunking of the scandal. Left vs. Right aside, the tendency of progressives to make too many assumptions and preach to their own choir has resulted in this electoral cycle’s “mandate” against climate science reality. Non-partisan scientists getting heavily proactive (if it can still be called that) seems critical right now.
So I did a little research on the piece and here’s the thing: The AGU immediately denied the story (which had already been picked up by news outlets and then the blogosphere at large) saying the report of their push-communication effort was bogus. “In contrast to what has been reported in the LA Times and elsewhere, there is no campaign by AGU against climate skeptics or congressional conservatives,” says Christine McEntee, Executive Director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union. “AGU will continue to provide accurate scientific information on Earth and space topics to inform the general public and to support sound public policy development.” What the AGU is instead doing, says its release, is “relaunching” an ask-for-info-and-we’ll-give-it-you Q & A service for journalists to coincide with the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.
This begs the question: What’s the problem here? Haven’t we learned that laying facts on the table and then walking away from them in the hopes that they will be eagerly devoured by a truth-hungry public is just well – milquetoast? I don’t want to jump on scientific groups who, like the AGU, don’t want to be advocates involved in any “commentary” on policy, but when are our specialists going to leave their towers and hit the streets with what they know?
I mean, hey, white coats, your high-profile presence is required! Here’s what was accurately reported in the LA Times story: Now-powerful congressmen such as Darrell Issa of California, Joe L. Barton of Texas and F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin have pledged to “investigate the Environmental Protection Agency‘s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions” and the Climategate scandal.
Oh, and then there’s John Shimkus of Illinois (who wants to head the Energy and Commerce Committee) on why we need not worry about climate change: “God will decide when to end the Earth, not man.”
As near as I can tell, the LA Times story may have been triggered by the activity of John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota, a scientist and climate science advocate who is involved in putting together a “climate rapid response team,” which “includes scientists prepared to go before what they consider potentially hostile audiences on conservative talk radio and television shows.” So far, his effort reportedly has dozens of leading scientists on board to “defend the consensus on global warming in the scientific community.”
Here’s what we need to hear more of: Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York, says “this group feels strongly that science and politics can’t be divorced and that we need to take bold measures to not only communicate science but also to aggressively engage the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists. We are taking the fight to them because we are, tired of taking the hits. The notion that truth will prevail is not working. The truth has been out there for the past two decades, and nothing has changed.”
Abraham wrote about his efforts in the guardian.co.uk (on the same day as the LA Times story), where he also mentioned the (later denied) AGU plan. In the piece, he points out that (wait for it…) “Scientists have not been effective communicators” as while “approximately 97 percent of the top climate scientists believe we have a problem – the general public and members of government are split on this issue.”
Perhaps prescient of the AGU’s shy stance, he adds, “It is a shame that scientists have to take personal and professional risks in order to be good citizens of the planet. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Maybe I just have some post-election blues, but before the dust truly settles here, perhaps we had better kick it up again and maybe – (cough) – we could use some more noise from the folks in white.
Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video
November 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm by Mike Sowden
10 Foods You Didn’t Know Were Processed
In the wake of Unprocessed October, you may have developed a taste for more simply-prepared fare. Problem is, you can’t trust your senses. Think that rolled oats are as untouched as food gets? Think again – and check out the rest of this list of 10 surprisingly processed foods!
1. Oats. Ever tried to squash a groat? It’s an eye-opener into the effort required to roll an oat flat (above left). But that’s not all: the average rolled oat has also been steamed and lightly toasted. If you’re going for the steel-cut variety (above right), you’ll skip the rolling and enjoy extra bran in your diet, but they’re still steamed and then dried to keep them fresh.
2. Dried Pasta. Flour and eggs, mixed and squeezed into a variety of shapes. Sounds a simple process…until you look past the pasta and at the flour it’s made of. Industrial flour-making? Next time you have a few days spare, have a look at all the processing involved, especially when preservatives enter the mix.
3. Ice Cream. Ever fought to run your scoop through a tub of ice-cream fresh from the freezer? If the answer is “I only buy the soft stuff”, you’ll have stabilizers to thank. These compounds (usually polysaccharide gums) stop ice cream hardening and also separating into gritty ice-crystals. And let’s not forget emulsifiers, there to make your ice-cream smooth and whippy.
4. Olive oil. The first sight of an untreated, unprocessed olive can be a shock. This tiny green bullet is an olive? Imagine the energy expended in grinding it into paste, spread out and pressed until the oil squeezes out – at which point this oil is further processed to get the excess water out. (You’re allowed to feel a new respect for ancient farmers here).
5. Tofu. Take a handful of soya beans, compress them – get tofu? Sadly no. You need to coagulate soy milk, and that requires coagulants – gypsum, calcium chloride, or a host of other chemicals used in the process. Then comes the straining and pressing. Lots and lots of it. The firmer the raw tofu, the more processing it’s had.
6. Low Fat or No-fat Milk. In the old days, making low fat milk was as straightforward as skimming of the top layer to remove the cream, leaving the rest of the mix fat-depleted – but now they use centrifugal separators. Those health benefits come with an energy cost. Oh, and since no-fat milk feels watery in the mouth, dairies pop a little of the milk solids back in at the end. Yes, the cream.
7. Corn tortillas. Corn? Flour – and all the processing and additives that entails. Unless you aim for a masa that was made from maiz blanco (field corn) – and even then it can be a lengthy process to go from masa to tortilla.
8. Cheese. What a marvel cheese is. Leave milk until it forms curds and whey, add a lactic starter and watch as it lumps together into cheesy goodness. Well – kinda. That’s cottage cheese, the simplest form. Commercial cheesemaking requires all sorts of enzyme coagulants, bacteria (eg. penicillin for “blue” cheese), washing, pressing, ripening, and all those special ingredients that make each cheese distinct. There’s an awful lot to it all.
9. Bread. Domestic breadmaking is deliciously good fun, making your entire house smell like your local bakery and providing you with bread that tastes like bread. Go on, you know you want to. But if you insist on the commercial variety, know that the processes involves are many. “Quick breads” (those cheaper loaves at the supermarket) are chemically hurried along the leavening cycle, while yeast breads can still be stuffed with bread improvers.
10. Herbal Teas. Alas that our modern tastes demand that commercially-produced herbal teas – by their very nature bitter (but invigorating) brews – need a little adjustment before they hits our palates. Artificial flavors ahoy. Check the label carefully!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
ACTION ALERT: Act by Nov. 17 on Senate Food Safety LegislationNovember 13th, 2010
Call your Senators MONDAY or TUESDAY— Urge their support for the Tester Amendment
The Cornucopia Institute
It now appears that the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) will be voted on in the Senate during the “lame-duck” session as early as Wednesday, Nov. 17.
This bill, as we have noted before, would impose extremely burdensome and unnecessary requirements on the thousands of small farmers and food processors who are producing safe, nutrient-dense foods for their local communities — in fact, it may force some of these producers out of business.
A key amendment sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) would exempt small farmers who direct market more than 50% of their products.
These famers must have gross sales (direct and non-direct combined) of less than $500,000, and sell to consumers, stores, or restaurants that are in-state or within 400 miles. This amendment is especially important for off-farm retail locations such as farmers markets and CSAs.
Please call your Senators today (most offices have voice mail where you can leave a message) and ask them to support the Tester Amendment on the Food Safety bill.
If you are a farmer this is important to protect your livelihood. If you are a consumer, where will you buy your safe and nutritious food if your local farmers are forced out of business?
It’s easy to call. Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code in the box in the upper right hand corner. Click on your Senator’s name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121. Once connected ask to speak to the legislative staff person responsible for agriculture. If they are unavailable leave a voice mail message. Be sure to include your name and phone number.
The message is simple:
“I am a constituent of Senator___________. I ask that he/she support the Tester Amendment to the food safety bill. The Tester Amendment will exempt the safest, small, owner-operator farms and food facilities and farmers who direct market their products to consumers, stores or restaurants. Food safety legislation should not create inappropriate and costly regulatory barriers to family farms and the growing healthy food movement in the drive to crack down on corporate bad actors. Please support the Tester Amendment and market opportunities for small and mid-sized family farms, and small food processing facilities.”
Thank you for your help and support for those producing some of the nation’s safest and most nutritious food!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Posted By Dr. Mercola | November 11 2010 | 30,563 views
Over the past 15 years or so, a collection of five giant biotech corporations -- Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and DuPont -- have bought up more than 200 other companies, allowing them to dominate access to seeds.
The takeover has been so dramatic that it is becoming difficult for farmers to find alternatives. As a result, in the U.S., 90 percent of soybeans are genetically-modified, and many conventional farmers have trouble obtaining non-genetically modified seeds.
According to The Ecologist:
"... [O]ne solution to restricting their control would be through banning the practice of granting patents on seeds, plants and genes. A patent gives a company exclusive rights to sell and develop a new invention. In the case of patents on plants and genes it grants them temporary monopolies and bans farmers from saving seeds".
Sources:Grist October 20, 2010
At this point, a mere FIVE companies – biotechnology companies at that -- own the vast majority of all worldwide seeds. The enormous ramifications of this should be fairly obvious.
Genetically modified (GM) seeds, particularly corn and soy, have already taken over in many areas of the world, effectively eliminating the use of conventional and "heirloom" seeds, and along with them, the ancient, sustainable farming practices that produces healthful food.
For example, in the US, as of 2009 genetically modified (GM) soybeans accounted for 91 percent of the soybean market. Eighty-five percent of all corn grown was GM, as well as 88 percent of all cotton.
Many pro-GM crop fanatics argue that genetically engineered (GM) crops are superior in a number of ways, but evidence to the contrary is all around us…
Five Biotech Giants Now Control the Global Seed Market
The illustration below, provided by The Ecologist, shows how five biotech giants have gobbled up seed companies, large and small alike, across the world, with Monsanto clearly leading the pack.
Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetic modification of seeds and has won at least 674 biotechnology patents, more than any other company.
This is not surprising, considering they invest over $2 million a day on research and development!
But Monsanto is not only patenting their own GMO seeds. They have also succeeded in slapping patents on a large number of common crop seeds, in essence patenting life forms for the first time -- without a single vote of the people or Congress.
By doing this, Monsanto has become the sole owner of many of the very seeds necessary to support the world's food supply … an incredibly powerful position that no for-profit company should ever hold.
The other heavyweights are Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, and DuPont.
Combined, they have acquired more than 200 seed companies in the past 15 years. And together, they not only threaten the continuation of sustainable, renewable farming practices, their monopoly over the food supply threatens the health of every single person on the planet.
The Impact of GM Seed Monopoly
Farmers are now increasingly forced to use GM seeds simply because there are so few alternative sources of seeds remaining. The effect of this is that we're losing renewable agriculture – the age-old practice of saving and replanting seeds from one harvest to the next.
As mentioned in The Ecologist, one solution to this growing problem would be to make patenting seeds, plants, and genes illegal. As it stands now, each GM seed is patented and sold under exclusive rights. Therefore, farmers must purchase the GM seeds anew each year, because saving seeds is considered to be patent infringement. Anyone who does save GM seeds must pay a license fee to actually re-sow them.
This, of course, results in higher prices and reduced product options.
Add in the increased need for pesticides and herbicides that GM crops require and the ever rising cost of these products, and what you end up with is a far more expensive crop that has the potential to not only fail more frequently than conventional crops, but that can also be extremely harmful to the animals and humans who eat them.
(For more information about the health hazards involved, please see What You Must Know About Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods.)
Talk about a lose-lose-lose situation.
GM Crops = Higher Costs, Lower Yields, and Far More Dangerous Foods
Two years ago, 400 scientists from around the world created a report that shows how seed and plant patents are increasing, as opposed to reducing, costs as promised. For example, between 1996, when GE seeds were introduced to the market, and 2007, the price for soy and corn seeds doubled.
But the price farmers pay for using GM seeds do not end there.
Heartbreaking proof of the devastating effect of this agricultural change can be seen in the skyrocketing suicide rate in India, where rising debt combined with frequent GM crop failures bring farmers to the brink of despair on a daily basis.
Africa is another nation that has been negatively impacted by GM crops.
SeattleGlobalJustice.org recently reported that "in 2009, Monsanto's genetically modified maize failed to produce kernels and hundreds of farmers were devastated. According to Mariam Mayet, environmental attorney and director of the Africa Centre for Biosafety in Johannesburg, some farmers suffered up to an 80 percent crop failure."
GM crops were brought to market with the promise of higher yields, lower costs, and reduced pesticide use. None of them have turned out to be true…
On the contrary, GM soya has decreased yields by up to 20 percent compared with non-GM soya, for example, and up to 100 percent failures of Bt cotton have been recorded in India.
In the US, studies by scientists from the USDA and the University of Georgia has shown that growing GM cotton can result in a drop in income by up to 40 percent.
As for pesticide use, USDA data shows that GM crops has increased pesticide use by 50 million pounds from 1996 to 2003 in the U.S., and the use of glyphosate went up more than 15-fold between 1994 and 2005, along with increases in other herbicides to cope with rising glyphosate resistant superweeds.
These Roundup tolerant superweeds and Bt resistant pests render the two major GM crop traits completely useless...
Not only that, we now have confirmed transgene contamination in the wild.
Although Monsanto and others denied this possibility, this was long ago predicted and precisely what one would expect.
Scientists have recently confirmed that the genome (whether plant, animal or human) is NOT constant and static, which is the scientific base for genetic engineering of plants and animals. Instead, geneticists have discovered that the genome is remarkably dynamic and changeable, constantly 'conversing' and adapting to the environment.
In reality, GM crops are a scientific experiment based on flawed assumptions, and anything is possible – and I can strongly guarantee you, it isn't good, and it won't get any better.
The report, 'Future of seeds and food', published last year by the international coalition of No Patents on Seeds, calls out for an end to patenting seeds, plants, and animals, and the need to stop the food monopoly created by Big Biotech. And I agree, little could be more important at this point in time.
There are already clear indications that unless the GM seed monopoly is put to an end, our whole ENTIRE food supply will become contaminated, putting everyone's health at risk.
Many conventional and organic livestock farmers alike are now being forced to use GM feed, simply because there are no other options available!
Situation is Actually Worse than We Knew
Not only do we have the problems that have been previously discussed over the years with GM crops but there are some new elements to the equation. For now even those that are convinced of the dangers of GMO crops and want to avoid using them simply are unable to in some cases.
I recently received a personal letter from one such farmer, who runs a small ecological farm in Ohio. Even though she is dedicated to organic farming, she is now finding herself in the unthinkable predicament of being forced to buy Monsanto GM corn feed for her pigs and chickens.
Here is her story:
Be Part of the Solution
In spite of what you have likely heard, a large shift to organic agriculture -- which by definition is non-GM -- could protect and improve both the environment and animal- and human health.
It could even be the solution to world hunger. According to a Danish study presented to the U.N. in 2007, recent models of an organically grown, global food supply shows that a more environmentally friendly approach to agriculture is in fact capable of producing enough food for the world's current population.
What prevents many farmers from making the move to organic is that crop yields could initially drop as much as 50 percent in the very beginning, before evening out over time. However, that problem may be mitigated somewhat, because farmers wouldn't need to dole out precious money for toxic pesticides, the price of which have risen as much as 75 percent already.
Unfortunately, while we're waiting for the leaders of the world to catch up and realize the dire straits we're in as a species, we're running out of time. As evidenced by Cappello's story above, our ability to produce organic foods is under constant attack.
So, please, do not wait for some unspecified time in the future.
Instead, do what you can NOW to promote local organic food producers no matter where you live by taking advantage of local sources of organic foods as often as you can.
In addition, please take every measure you can to avoid as many GM foods as you possibly can. Here's a list of tips to help you do just that:
- Reduce or eliminate processed foods. Some 75 percent of processed foods contain GM ingredients.
- Read produce and food labels. When looking at a product label, if any ingredients such as corn flour and meal, dextrin, starch, soy sauce, margarine, and tofu (to name a few) are listed, there's a good chance it has come from GM corn or soy, unless it's listed as organic.
- Buy organic produce. Buying organic is currently the best way to ensure that your food has not been genetically modified.
- Download and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, and share it with your friends and family
Avoid purchasing Monsanto-made pesticides and herbicides for your home
Related Links:Monsanto Under Investigation by Seven U.S. States
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Dental amalgam is a filling material that is 50 percent mercury. The resolution calls on federal and state agencies to eliminate amalgam, and asks dentists in Costa Mesa to switch to non-toxic alternatives.
The resolution does not actually ban amalgam, but it is an important step toward ending a scourge of both health and the environment.
'The watershed Monahan Resolution is the first success for Californians for Green Dentistry, a new project of Consumers for Dental Choice ... At the city council hearing ... dentists, health professionals, injured consumers, scientists, advocates, and even former Californian Dental Board member Dr. Chet Yokoyama... offered poignant testimony calling for a ban on dental mercury.'
Sources:WellSphere October 27, 2010
I have great news!
Over the past year or so this newsletter has featured a number of articles to raise awareness about the devastating role dental mercury plays in your health, and the effort has paid off in spades.
Some of you responded and took action, and as a result, Costa Mesa, CA has set the precedent by becoming the first city in the United States to pass a resolution to immediately ban the use of mercury amalgams in dentistry.
Last year, I actively teamed up with Charlie G. Brown, who is the national counsel for Consumers for Dental Choice and the President of the new World Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry.
Charlie's work focuses on petitioning federal and state agencies to do their duties under the law, and he spearheads the national campaign to expose the deceptive practices of the American Dental Association.
We ran an article in early September, calling for volunteers to get involved to organize a grassroots project, and the result has been nothing short of sensational.
I hope this victory will serve to inspire you to get involved and participate as well. Costa Mesa was just the beginning – the rest of the United States still need to be brought onboard.
Costa Mesa, First US City to Ban Use of Dental Mercury
The two videos above are from the October 19, 2010 Costa Mesa City Council meeting, during which the Monahan Resolution banning the use of dental mercury was enacted.
The first one, created by Kelly Gallagher, poignantly captures both the testimony and the momentum of this watershed event, and one of the most compelling testimonies at this council meeting was in fact offered by a reader of this newsletter who took action and got involved.
This victory is reproducible, and below you'll find out exactly how.
Not only that; the success of this grassroots campaign against mercury amalgam is an excellent case study for others with similar goals for health care reform.
Effective change must start at the local level. Every leader made his or her mark in one community before moving to regional, national, and international leadership; they chose a real issue that directly impacted people's lives.
Historical examples include seamstress Rosa Parks who, joined by new clergyman Martin Luther King, led a bus strike in Montgomery, Alabama. Young lawyer Gandhi organized a strike over the British fingerprinting Indians in South Africa, and dockyard worker Lech Walesa led a strike at the shipyards of Gdansk, Poland.
Here, a trio of Orange County, California activists, led by Anita Vazquez Tibau, worked to find a community willing to fire the first shot across the bow at amalgam -- to eliminate its use entirely.
Anita's track record on this cause goes back to 2001, when she led the successful effort to disband the Dental Board of California for failing to prepare an honest fact sheet on mercury fillings, as required in the Watson law.
Now as director of Californians for Green Dentistry, a project of Consumers for Dental Choice, Anita is joined by dental hygienist Marisa Russo (www.simplyraisingawareness.com) and naturopath Kristy Mills (www.lagunanaturalhealth.com).
This team distributed flyers explaining the hazards of amalgam (unfortunately, most people are still not even aware that "silver fillings" contain mercury!). They allied with health professionals and green businesses for support.
They organized an extensive petition drive, collecting signatures from individuals asking city council to ban amalgam -- both by asking people directly to sign, and by enlisting friendly health professionals and businesspeople to keep the petitions in their front offices.
They surveyed all the city's dentists, and presented certificates to dentists who are mercury-free.
Then, they sought out Councilman Gary Monahan, a courageous Councilman from Costa Mesa who runs an Irish restaurant and understands the risks of mercury firsthand -- he has an autistic son. Councilman Monahan agreed to sponsor a resolution calling on the federal and state governments to "eliminate the use of mercury in dental practices ...immediately," and, at the local level, requesting that every dentist cease using this poisonous material.
On October 19, 2010, they were ready.
Dentists, a dental hygienist, chiropractors, victims of mercury toxicity, businesspeople, a scientist, a Navy veteran, and a lawyer descended on the City Council meeting to testify in favor of the Monahan resolution.
It passed unanimously, and Costa Mesa became the first locality in the United States to call for a ban on mercury fillings – all because of the passionate involvement of these courageous and industrious volunteers.
Join Us! Bring the Movement Against Mercury in Dentistry to Your City
Now it's your turn!
If you live in California, please join Anita, Kristy, Marisa, and the Californians for Green Dentistry team as they take this movement to other cities across the US.
The next step is to find other cities in California willing to follow suit in endorsing an immediate elimination of amalgam. Therefore, volunteers, especially in the L.A. and Orange County area, are being sought.
To volunteer, write firstname.lastname@example.org, and give you home city and county along with your contact information.
As they say, all politics is local!
The Ball is Already Rolling… Let's Keep it Going!
For its national and international impact, the timing of the Monahan resolution could not be better.
In December, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold hearings to reconsider its position on amalgam. The FDA's current stance is that mercury in dentistry is good for the public health. But even though they've long been the world's number one protector of mercury fillings, the FDA is finally starting to realize it has become a pariah in the world by covering up the massive harm being done.
Also, in January, the United Nations begins its second session on a treaty to address all sources of mercury.
And a new coalition called the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, led by Charlie Brown (email@example.com), is leading the charge to phase out amalgam everywhere.
If consumers like you continue to organize and fight against the pro-mercury dental lobby, then the vote in Costa Mesa, CA could become the shot heard round the world!
Pro-mercury dentists, the FDA, and the world need to know that consumers will not tolerate dental mercury - a neurotoxin and a pollutant - any longer. Just like Costa Mesans have made it clear that the use of amalgam is no longer acceptable in their community.
To keep this momentum going, please sign the Californians for Green Dentistry's online petition to ban dental mercury in California, right NOW!
How to Organize a Grassroots Campaign at the Local Level – A First-Hand Account
The director of Californians for Green Dentistry, Anita Vazquez Tibau, recently told me her personal story of what got her started as a local activist in Orange County, CA, about ten years ago:
"In 2000 I discovered I was mercury poisoned by my 13 large mercury dental fillings. After burning the midnight oil, I realized the science and medical research clearly indicated that the mercury from my fillings was the cause of many of the health problems I was suffering from.
I decided almost immediately that this was a problem I could do something about, and that's where my journey started."
Anita graciously provided me with this helpful ten-point guide to organizing at the grassroots level. I hope her success will inspire you to follow in her footsteps, and become an advocate for safe dentistry in your local community. As Anita says:
"What I have learned over the past 10 years working with Consumers for Dental Choice about grassroots organizing can be accomplished by anyone!"
Organizing at the Grass Roots Level -- 10 points for Success
- Be passionate!
The first element for success is unbridled passion for your cause. People get involved with an issue because they or their loved ones have been affected. Do what you love and love what you do.
- Become an expert.
Whoever is chosen to become a spokesperson for the cause must absolutely become an expert on the topic. Anything less could become a detriment to the organization. Know your organization and never stop learning and growing.
- Research – research – research!
Research the cause of the problem; people who are most affected by the issue; and the experts who know and understand the cause. Beware that you must find legal experts as well. Use your contacts and create a database.
Also know who is your opponent –you will not be successful unless you can defeat your opponent.
- Think about who you should target for support on an issue, and how.
Align yourself with other likeminded groups so that you can become a stronger organization. Also remember that people are more likely to support your cause if you present yourself professionally – believe it or not, doors will open faster if you solicit support in business attire.
- Petition – Petition – Petition!
If you are able to describe your cause in a sentence or two, people are more likely to help. You need a sales pitch! This becomes your mantra for the organization and builds brand recognition. For example Charlie Brown coined the term – "Say the "M" Word"…People would then be curious and ask "What is the "M" word?" and we would explain that it's about mercury…
One of the problems your may encounter is where to find a location to gather signatures. Look for locations that may be open to your cause, then contact the manager at the store/location to see if you can set up an information table. Some businesses may not allow petitioning whereas others can be extremely helpful.
Once they say yes, it helps to personally meet the manager and establish a positive working relationship. Again, professionalism is key, and so is appearance.
Another great avenue for spreading the word is through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Non-profits are constantly fund-raising and these avenues are free! Consumers for Dental Choice placed a petition online with tremendous success.
- Plan events to raise awareness.
Once you've built a solid base of support, start planning events to build awareness around your cause. Look to your sphere of influence – people that you have met that can support your cause.
When it is press related – visuals are a must! Signs carry a message, and visuals are powerful.
- Look for win-win situations.
Look for local businesses that can benefit by the exposure of helping you. For example, businesses that will carry your message by letting their clients sign your petition, while getting recognition through your organization in return. In essence they become stakeholders in your cause. Use local platforms as educational tools about your issue.
- Identify allies in city government.
Once you have garnered enough support, research and identify allies in the city government who will be sensitive to your issue.
- Remember common courtesies.
Always thank those who help you, and be sincere. A heartfelt thanks goes a long way, and it is best to say thank you in writing.
- Stay positive!
Remember, when the going gets tough. the tough get going. Never give up hope -- that is all you have, so have faith in what you do. We will always win if we don't quit!
Sign the Petition to Ban Dental Mercury in California
Even if you're not ready to take an active part in this campaign, you can still help keep this momentum going.
Please take a moment right NOW to sign the Californians for Green Dentistry's online petition to ban dental mercury in California by visiting this page, and share it with everyone you know.
For more information and regular updates, please join the Californians for Green Dentistry's Facebook page.
Together, we can WIN, and protect the health of countless children and adults who are still being poisoned by this ancient form of dentistry, every single day in the US.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
In an attempt to help consumers find locally produced Real Milk, we have compiled the following list describing the potential availability and legal situation on a state-by-state and country-by-country basis. We cannot vouch for the accuracy of the following list. If you have corrections or additions, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org . See the "Where" section for a listing of dairies by state and country.
US Summary: As shown in the map from Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund at right (go to http://ftcldf.org/raw_milk_map.htm to see an interactive version and get an emailable PDF):
- Retail sales are legal in 10 states
- On-farm sales are legal in 15 states
- Herd shares are legal in 4 states
- There is no law on herd shares in 6 states
- Pet food sales are legal in 4 states (implying that human consumption is feasible)
Thus, it is possible to purchase raw milk or obtain it from your own animal/herd (herd shares) in 39 out of 50 states. Our goal: Raw milk available to consumers in all 50 states and throughout the world! Write to your government leaders and let your voice be heard. You can find your state representative's contact information here: http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
self-discovery," he told me.
"What do you mean, Mr. Tayer?"
He said—and this is exactly what he said; I was taking notes because I knew I
was in the presence of greatness—"We are being called into metamorphosis, into a
far higher order, and yet we often act only from a tiny portion of ourselves. It
is necessary that we increase that portion. But do not think for one minute,
Jean, that we are alone in making that possible. We are part of a cosmic
evolutionary movement that inspires us to unite with God. This is the lightning
flash for all our potentialities. This is the great originating cause of all our
shifts and changes. Without it there is nothing but struggle and decline."
A Chance Encounter with Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is one of the most influential Evolutionaries of the
twentieth century. His vision for humanity's role in the grand story of
evolution has inspired countless individuals, many of whom have appeared on the
pages of EnlightenNext magazine. One of the most interesting examples is human
potential pioneer Jean Houston, who befriended Teilhard after a chance encounter
in Central Park in 1951 when she was fourteen years old. In the following
excerpt from an EnlightenNext interview, Houston describes an exchange with
"Mr. Tayer," as she called him, in which he shares his spiritual interpretation
To read the full interview with Jean Houston and let us know what you think,
visit the EnlightenNext Editors' Blog.
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Eric R. Weaver
Editorial Assistant, Organization & Environment
College of Business, University of South Florida
Department of Management, BSN 3215
4202 East Fowler Avenue Tampa, Florida 33620
Telephone: 813-974-1757 Fax: 813-905-9964
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. --Margaret Mead--
From: Union of Concerned Scientists [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2010 9:55 AM
To: BSN O&E Journal
Subject: Welcome your freshman class of climate deniers
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The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world.