July 2, 2002

The Green Holocaust Files #6: It's The Environment, Stupid!

Hello everyone

The American ecological footprint is growing larger with each passing day under the Bush White House...

This is a MUST read and share!

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator

"A failure to rein in humanity's overuse of natural resources could send the planet into ecological bankruptcy."

- Taken from #3 below


1. Energy Scandals and Climate Tragedies
2. How Hot Is Too Hot?
3. Earth can't meet human demand for resources, says study
4. Environmental Sustainability: Major New Internet Portal Launched
5. Globalization and Sustainable Development: Is Ethics the Missing Link

See also:

"Independence Day - Celebrate A New American Dream"
As life support systems crumble, hundreds of species become extinct every day, and people everywhere are dying from environmentally induced illnesses, can we really say we have learned anything in the last 226 years since independence was declared? Celebrate this 4th of July, but celebrate values that are your own creation, not those of the wealthy trying to protect profit. Celebrate the value of all life, human and non-human, the sacredness of the earth, air and water, and independence from racism, classism, and human and animal suffering. Create your own declaration of independence, independence from greed, hunger, hatred, and selfishness. Now that would be something to celebrate.

The Sky Is Falling! Get Used To It! Bush Admits Dangers Of Pollution -- And Refuses Action

Big Business on the Road to Perdition http://www.observer.co.uk/magazine/story/0,11913,738196,00.html


From: http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=13450

Energy Scandals and Climate Tragedies

Michel Gelobter

June 24

The controversy over the recent release of the 2002 Climate Action Report by the Environmental Protection Agency is just the latest in a series of environmental controversies to hit the Bush Administration.

Before people were left to try solving the riddle of President Bush's actual climate change position, they witnessed a series of energy-related scandals that dogged Washington. Whether it was Enron, the California energy crisis, or the deliberations into the Bush-Cheney Energy Plan, troubling signals emanate from the White House with disturbing frequency.

Take, for example, the release of documents tying Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to meetings with donors, whose campaign contributions to both parties since 1999 topped $29 million. The payoff from those meetings was almost a thousandfold: legislation embodying $27 billion in subsidies.

Believe it or not, this rich harvest is dwarfed by a decision the Bush Administration has already implemented: the U.S. withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. Had the U.S. respected our commitment to action on this critical issue, recent studies, including our own, have shown that the net cost to American fossil fuel industries could have been more than $45 billion a year. By contrast, estimates of the benefits of good climate policy to the economy as a whole range as high as $120 billion a year by 2020. While our economy took the hit, the energy industry walked away from the President's policy with its biggest payday ever.

So while the fossil fuel industry cashes in on our climate reversal, who pays? First, the vast majority of American businesses. If the U.S. adopted a policy to internalize the climate-related costs of energy use, it would spawn a vast "double dividend." Redirected investments would spur employment and send new investments where they belong, in companies fueled by workers and innovation instead of dependence on foreign oil.

Furthermore, the reversal of American climate policy devalues other industry groups relative to fossil fuel. Because fossil fuel use is subsidized by bad climate policy, we use more of it than we should. Energy industries artificially appear to be better investments than they really are and attract capital investment that could be used more productively in the rest of the economy.

A second victim of the energy industry's climate subsidy is our national security. Adopting the Kyoto Protocol could reduce by 2020 our dependence on oil by over 25%. There may not be a linear relationship between this number and the geo-political risks created by our dependence on oil-producing states, but we sorely need the flexibility that independence would allow.

Because global warming is, after all, global, its effects threaten our security in the long-run as well. The U.S., which represents 4% of the world population, emits 25% of the carbon dioxide from fossil fuel, and we are historically responsible for over 35% of greenhouse gasses presently trapped in the atmosphere. As the impacts of our emissions become more clear with time, our reputation may grow from pariah on climate policy to responsible party for the natural disasters that climate change will entrain. Barring rapid action on our part, events like the submersion of 57% of Bangladesh in 1998 or last month's rapid breakup of Antarctic ice may increasingly be linked to American energy policy, whether or not these events are directly connected to climate change.

Global warming is happening right here, right now, and there is no shortage of impacts on our own people. The elderly trapped in unprecedented urban heat waves, America's arctic populations facing dwindling fish catches, and farmers in the South and Southwest dependent on an increasingly volatile climate are all paying the price of our delay and inaction. All told, the United Nations Environment Program calculates the worldwide cost of inaction at $300 billion per year, as coastal property disappears, buildings are damaged, and species' habitats are irrevocably altered. These are costs we will now pass on to our children, our children's children, and the world for generations to come. The President's reversal on climate is the gift to the fossil fuel industry that keeps on taking from the rest of us.

It is a testament to our democracy that, despite their millions in contributions, the energy industry still faces significant legal and political hurdles to getting their way on many other fronts. With its inaction on climate change the Bush administration has scored a windfall for an industry with enormous clout. Unfortunately, it has also laid the groundwork for a human and environmental tragedy of unprecedented proportion.

Michel Gelobter is the Executive Director of Redefining Progress, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit that works to ensure a more sustainable and socially equitable world.


From: http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/06.25F.herbert.hot.htm

How Hot Is Too Hot?

By Bob Herbert - New York Times

24 June

One of the more startling stories in The Times recently was Timothy Egan's article on the climate in Alaska, where the average temperature has risen seven degrees in the last 30 years and mosquitoes have shown up in normally frigid Barrow, the northernmost town in North America. Large portions of Alaska are melting and other strange things are happening. Just a few hours' drive from Anchorage, a four-million-acre spruce forest has been killed by beetles, a development that is both astonishing and depressing. It is believed to be the largest loss of trees to insects ever recorded in North America.

"Government scientists," wrote Mr. Egan, "tied the event to rising temperatures, which allow the beetles to reproduce at twice their normal rate."

Meanwhile, enormous wildfires have been raging in bone-dry regions of the West and Southwest. Fires whipped by high winds in the mountains of eastern Arizona have driven thousands of residents from their homes. One local official, Jim Paxon, said: "The forest is burning like you're pouring gasoline on it. And the wind is like taking a blow torch to it."

In Colorado, which is enduring its worst drought in decades, residents have been trying to cope with at least five major fires, including the so-called Hayman fire, the largest in the state's history. Investigators believe it was deliberately set by a U.S. Forest Service worker. The long drought and continuing hot weather provided the conditions that enabled this apparent act of arson to explode into an unprecedented conflagration.

Big fires are becoming the rule. By late last week authorities reported that in the first six months of this year, nearly two million acres have burned or are currently burning in the United States, which is almost twice the average of the last 10 years.

Strange, indeed. Mosquitoes in northernmost Alaska. Much of the West and Southwest ablaze. Extended droughts. Extreme heat waves. Can you say global warming?

The year 2001 was, globally, the second hottest on record. The hottest was 1998. Now imagine that just a few more years go by and the world becomes hotter still, which will almost certainly be the case. What then? Do you think, maybe, we should be paying more attention to this? What is missing in most conversations in the U.S. about global warming is a sense of urgency. A Bush administration report earlier this month acknowledged that human activity - the burning of fossil fuels that send heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere - was the primary cause of the recent warming of the planet, and that the warming will result in some extremely serious consequences in the U.S.

President Bush (who has distanced himself from his own administration's report) wants to rely mostly on voluntary - not mandatory - efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the president's strategy, it's estimated that emissions will actually increase over the next decade. We're speeding toward a wall and the president is not only refusing to step on the brake, he's accelerating.

Ten years is too long to wait to do something real about this problem. Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton who is an expert on climate change, has studied the imminent threat that planetary warming poses to the world's coral reefs. These are ecosystems so abundant in animal and plant life that they are sometimes called the rain forests of the oceans.

Dr. Oppenheimer noted that one of the essential questions of the global warming debate is, "How warm is too warm?"

When you consider that the increased warming is already threatening to decimate the world's coral reefs, and that we're already seeing the melting of the tundra in Alaska, and that alpine ecosystems are already being squeezed off the tops of mountains, it's not too difficult to reach the conclusion that "too warm," in Dr. Oppenheimer's words, "isn't awfully far from where we already are."

Closing our eyes and pumping another decade's worth of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the current very dangerous rate would not seem to be a very bright idea. The gases remain in the atmosphere for centuries, and in some cases millenniums, which means the damage cannot quickly be undone.

What a miserable legacy for this generation to leave to its children and grandchildren.

NOTE FROM JEAN: Here is a relevant excerpt from a comment by Jim Grapek <JimGrapek@associatedproducers.com> on item #6 in Miscellaneous Subjects #147: "Whereas last year Bush pulled out of Kyoto because they still didn't recognize the problem was serious enough, now the administration is saying that the problem is SO HUGE that nothing can be done, and massive damage will be wreaked on every continent of our planet. At the same time, the administration wants to ease up pollution restrictions and fuel economy laws. Now their reasoning is that things are so bad it won't matter anyway!"


Sent by "Mark Graffis" <mgraffis@vitelcom.net>

Earth can't meet human demand for resources, says study

June 25

By Christopher Doering, Reuters

WASHINGTON -- The consumption of forests, energy, and land by humans is exceeding the rate at which Earth can replenish itself, according to research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, conducted by California-based Redefining Progress, a nonprofit group concerned with environmental conservation and its economics, warned that a failure to rein in humanity's overuse of natural resources could send the planet into "ecological bankruptcy."

Earth's resources "are like a pile of money anyone can grab while they all close their eyes, but then it's gone," said Mathis Wackernagel, lead author of the study and a program director at Redefining Progress.

Scientists said humanity's demand for resources had soared during the past 40 years to a level where it would take the planet 1.2 years to regenerate what people remove each year. The impact by humans on the environment had inched higher since 1961 when public demand was 70 percent of the planet's regenerative capacity, the study showed. "If we don't live within the budget of nature, sustainability becomes futile," Wackernagel said.

The study, which details the population's impact on the Earth with a quantitative number, measured the "ecological footprint" of human activities such as marine fishing, harvesting timber, building infrastructure, and burning fossil fuel that emits carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Researchers then used government data and various estimates to determine how much land would be required to meet human demand for those actions.

For example, Wackernagel and his team found that in 1999, each person consumed an average of 5.7 acres. The global average was significantly lower than industrialized countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, where 24 acres and 13.3 acres, respectively, were consumed per person.


In order to develop a formula that measured humanity's consumption with the Earth's regenerative capacity, the researchers were forced to reach several assumptions and omit the use of some resources because of insufficient data. The results, for example, excluded the impact of local freshwater use and the release of solid, liquid, or gaseous pollutants other than CO2 into the environment.

Even though the findings revealed that human use of resources was far outstripping Earth's supply, it stopped short of determining how long the process could continue without detrimental consequences.

"Like any responsible business that keeps track of spending and income to protect financial assets, we need ecological accounts to protect our natural assets," Wackernagel said. "And if we don't ... we will prepare for ecological bankruptcy."

Wackernagel said the study's results could be used to gauge the impact of new technologies and how they affect the environment. The use of an alternative technology, such as one that produces renewable energy or replaces natural biological processes, could allow society to live better without increasing consumption, he said.

Governments could also determine the impact consumers and businesses were having on depleting area resources and evaluate potential ways to reduce consumption, Wackernagel said.


Sent by "Phyllis von Miller" <violetvisions@surf1.ws>

Environmental Sustainability: Major New Internet Portal Launched http://www.EnvironmentalSustainability.info/

June 21, 2002

Contact: Glen Barry, Ecological Enterprises, Inc., gbarry@forests.org, +1 608 288 0697

The world's first true Internet search engine and portal dedicated exclusively to global environmental sustainability has been unveiled today. Ecological Enterprises is proud to present the "Eco-Portal - the EnvironmentalSustainability.Info Source" at http://www.EnvironmentalSustainability.info/

The Eco-portal is the Internet's most comprehensive environmental resource ever, linking and providing full text search capabilities for the entire contents of over 3,000 reviewed Internet sites related to environmental sustainability. The site tracks the latest environmental news stories which are updated several times daily.

The Eco-portal is devoted to global ecological sustainability and sustainable development. Ecosystem decline, economic disparities and failure to implement policies to achieve environmental sustainability are the greatest threats ever to human security. The new site takes a holistic, integrative approach - realizing that global ecological sustainability is dependent upon progress in conserving air, land, oceans, water and other ecosystems - while equitably meeting the economic needs of all the Earth's peoples.

Glen Barry, President of Ecological Enterprises, further explains the Eco-portal's rationale. "Noting dramatic declines in the World's forests, fisheries, atmosphere and other ecosystems; it is clear the ecological fabric of being is unraveling. Without a healthy environment, there can be no economy, or even survival. Massive efforts by the World's citizens, governments and corporations are required to establish policies adequate to achieve global environmental sustainability. Such efforts must be based upon equity, justice and sustainable development for all."

The Eco-Portal's unveiling is timed to coincide with the Earth Summit 2 in Johannesburg in late August. The site demonstrates the need to commit to both preserving the environment and to poverty eradication, providing valuable tools and information for doing so.

Ecological Enterprises, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in the application of information technologies to conservation and ecology. The site is presented as a public service in partnership with Forests.org, Inc., a non-profit active in climate and forest conservation advocacy. Their "Forest Conservation Portal" at http://forests.org/ and "Climate-Ark" at http://www.climateark.org/ are the largest, most used and comprehensive forest conservation and climate change portals. The Eco-Portal was partially funded by a grant from the European Commission.

Queries from the media or potential consulting opportunities are welcome.



From: http://www.earthdialogues.org/documents/synthesis.html

Globalization and Sustainable Development: Is Ethics the Missing Link?

Synthesis Report prepared by Green Cross International


The Earth Dialogues were inspired by our belief in the need to generate new energy and impetus to drive the movement to place ethics and human values at the heart of the struggle to harmonize the globalization process with sustainable development. The discovery that this belief is shared by so many experienced and influential representatives of governments, civil society, religion, business and international organizations, and that a growing body of people are ready to take and support action to promote common goals, is the most significant outcome of the first Earth Dialogues. All participants expressed the feeling of emergency; the Earth is in danger, and sustainable solutions must be rapidly found to reduce the world’s soaring poverty rates, address the growing gap between North and South, confront the grossly unequal access to education and medical treatment, and combat global insecurity.

The Earth Dialogues achieved the goal of providing an open and neutral forum where all parties to the globalization and sustainable development debates could share their views and visions and develop solutions together. Five key areas of consensus emerged:

Ethics – There is an urgent need to change our priorities, to correct the forces that promote material wealth over global welfare and justice, and to reinforce the fundamental values that form the basis of human civilization all over the planet – compassion and respect for each other and the natural environment, tolerance and solidarity, and the pursuit of peace. The Earth Charter was welcomed as a peoples’ document providing an ethical framework equally applicable to guiding the choices of individuals, companies and states.

The Rule of Law – These universal values must be translated into appropriate and enforceable legal instruments dedicated to sustainable development. Essential principles, such as the polluter-pays and precautionary principles, should be fully recognized by international and national laws and regulate the activities of all sectors.

Sovereignty – The changing nature of the state, and the increase in influence of the private sector and civil society, is one of the major shifts of recent decades. The political landscape is more complex, with multiple, and often conflicting, power bases which need to be integrated and cooperative. Many of the most serious problems faced today, such as climate change, epidemics and terrorism, have no respect for national borders and their solutions must also be found in the international arena. Sovereignty over our common resources rests with individuals; the decisions they make and the resources they use, and those made and used on their behalf by governments, must take the rest of the world, as well as future generations, into account. The concept of being a Citizen of the World has become a reality, and every person must be aware of their global responsibilities.

Security – There will never be genuine, lasting security in the world while inequality and injustice are so universally evident. The goals of poverty eradication and protecting our environment must be intrinsically linked with the promotion of peace and security. The tragedy of September 11 demonstrated that every individual’s personal security is at risk, and that no one can afford to ignore the suffering and frustration of others; this realization should fortify our resolve to achieve sustainable development not distract us from it.

Action – We do not have the luxury of time. Action is urgently needed, and to make it possible will require: a strong ethical framework; political courage on the part of world leaders; reform of the current systems of global governance and financial regulation; increased and better targeted official development assistance; and heightened individual awareness and commitment worldwide.

It is our great privilege to herewith present the main challenges and proposals identified during the first Earth Dialogues to the wider international community in this significant year of reflection and preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. This Summit is offering the world an opportunity to make solid commitments to action and reform which it cannot afford to miss.

Finally, we would like to pay tribute and express our warm appreciation to our hosts, Lionel Jospin, Prime Minister of France, Gérard Collomb, Mayor of Lyon and the Citizens of the wonderful city of Lyon, who honoured us with their presence and without whom the Earth Dialogues would not have been possible.

Mikhail Gorbachev - Maurice Strong
Green Cross International
Earth Council Institute


The Earth Dialogues is a public forum initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev and Maurice Strong, which aims to mobilise global public interest and action to promote three important objectives essential to the future of humanity: averting the ecological disasters which threaten our planet; fighting the plague of poverty; and acting to ensure truly sustainable development.

In the presence of Mr. Lionel Jospin, Prime Minister of France, and Gérard Collomb, Mayor of Lyon, 1,300 people attended the first Earth Dialogues Forum in Lyon, France from 21-23 February 2002. 170 speakers participated from around the world: representatives of civil society, government, international organizations, finance, business, religion, media and academia convened to exchange their views on how to reinvigorate the ethics debate within the sustainable development and globalization agendas. Speakers and participants were challenged to identify new ways for humanity to overcome the economic, social and environmental impasse in which it currently finds itself trapped.

The Earth Dialogues addressed, from an ethical perspective, the key questions that will be raised at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg and beyond. It is hoped that proposals arising from these discussions in Lyon will be taken into account by governments, civil society and international organizations in their preparations for the WSSD

The Earth Dialogues Forum was divided into plenary sessions, roundtables and open debates. There was one roundtable dedicated to each of the following sectors: International Economic Institutions, Business and Industry, Media and Communication, Parliamentarians and Government Representatives, International Institutions and Organizations, Religious and Spiritual Leaders, and Non-Governmental Organizations. In addition, a special session of the World Council of Former Foreign Ministers addressed the themes of the Earth Dialogues, with a particular focus on global political and security issues.

Each roundtable consisted of thirteen to sixteen speakers, half of whom were from the sector in question and the other half from the other six sectors, including Civil Society, Trade Unions and Academics. The representatives of the sector under debate were challenged by the other members of the roundtable, in order to ensure that the opinions and views of all members of society were taken into account in the discussions. All Earth Dialogues audience members also had the opportunity to exchange their views and to raise questions with the speakers.


This report outlines the important challenges and proposals identified at the first Earth Dialogues. Additional and more detailed reports are available at http://www.earthdialogues.org.

This synthesis document will be complemented by future work on the Earth Dialogues, including a White Book with deeper coverage of the Roundtable Discussions. For more information on this document contact Green Cross International, Geneva, Switzerland at +41 22 789.16.62

Ethical Challenges in Promoting Sustainable Development


CLIP - Read the whole document at http://www.earthdialogues.org/documents/synthesis.html

















The Role of Ethical Norms in Promoting Sustainable Development


Ethics are the foundation upon which the legal, institutional and other facets of sustainable development should be built. It is absolutely essential to reassert basic ethical principles and values if we are to enjoy a sustainable and equitable world. While certain universal values are already enshrined in national and international law, it is necessary to ensure that all universal values enjoy the same recognition and status, and that universal principles are universally applied.

Neither human rights instruments nor international environmental agreements fully address the interrelation between the environmental and social dimensions of the global ethical imperative. An integrated ethical framework is essential to guide actions towards a greater common good while clarifying and balancing the rights and responsibilities of all actors. It is essential that this framework be incorporated into the basic policies and documentation of schools, organizations, businesses and governments.


A future based on the operationalization of universal values in every aspect of human activity will require the fundamental acceptance by humans that the planet and all its inhabitants share a common destiny dependent on finite resources. The earth’s citizens must forge an integrated vision in which everyone honours the rights of all others and assumes the responsibilities of sharing resources equitably. The widening gap between rich and poor must no longer be tolerated, otherwise the commitments to universal ethics will be revealed as little more than political rhetoric.

The resounding plea to break free from a preoccupation with economic and material prosperity, illustrated by patterns of overproduction and overconsumption, is coupled with the call to centre our interpretation of success on a holistic calculation of economic, social, political, and spiritual fulfilment.

The Earth Charter has been recommended as a code of responsibility to guide the relations and behaviour of all State and non-State actors. The central principles of the Earth Charter are: - Respect and care for the community of life - Ecological integrity - Social and economic justice - Democracy, non-violence and peace.


Ethical values should not be imposed on one group or country by another - there is no one political, economic or social model that should be applied worldwide. It is thus critical that those human values identified as 'universal' express ethical norms that are beyond reproach concerning respect of cultural diversity.

Ethical values applied as the basis for international policies concerning natural resources and development must not provide a pretext for States or trans-national entities to interfere in other regions in pursuit of purely economic or national interests. Above all, universal ethical norms cannot be applied or enforced on an arbitrary basis.

While some assert that ethics are subject to interpretation, universal ethics must be above these machinations. Just as society evolved from a system ruled by individual self-interest by developing national laws, universal ethics can provide the basis to develop international laws to govern a world dominated by national self-interests.

Policy Recommendations and Political Strategies for Advancing Sustainable Development and the Ethics Agenda


- World Trade Organization (WTO) The WTO can no longer impose a symmetric framework on an asymmetric world. Laws and policies must be based upon the principle of positive discrimination, where rules are biased in favour of weaker parties. The WTO’s trade rules and dispute settlement procedures must be clearly redefined towards sustainable development in support of its mandate. For the WTO to retain its status as a democratic and member-driven entity, it must take effective measures to enable the full participation of all its Members.

- Trade law Trade law must respect ethical approaches such as the ‘precautionary principle’ and the ‘polluter pays principle’. It is of primary importance to support policies which increase the level of internalization of costs into pricing and to eliminate perverse subsidies and protectionist trade barriers.

- The Bretton Woods system The WTO, the World Bank and the IMF must be brought under the rubric of the UN system and its rules of international law.

- Economic indicators Economic systems must incorporate holistic means of calculating national development / economic patterns to accurately reflect country performance. This should include indicators of economic growth, health, poverty levels, biological and cultural diversity, and social justice.

- Taxation instruments Implement new international taxation instruments to redistribute wealth, such as a tax on certain transborder currency transactions and an international air travel tax.

- Public goods Public goods, such as water resources, should remain in the hands of the public and should not become the property of private entities. Where it can be demonstrated to improve access and efficiency, essential public service provision and management can be delegated to the private sector within an effective framework of public information and regulation, and broad stakeholder participation.


- Corporate accountability


Read the rest (very interesting!) at http://www.earthdialogues.org/documents/synthesis.html and explore also http://www.earthdialogues.org/index_en.html

This was recommended by Rudolf and Alice Boainain-Schneider <ipsbox@ipsgeneva.com>

See also:

Johannesburg Summit website