Stories by Donella H. Meadows

is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College. subscribe to Donella H. Meadows's feed

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Donella Meadows writes, "I've stopped listening to what people in power say about labor. I think they knowingly use "jobs" as a code word, meaning 'money for me, but I'm pretending it's money for you.' I suspect that they haven't any idea how to put to use the energy and talents of the people of America so we can produce work we can be proud of, while earning enough to support ourselves and our families."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

At stake in Washington as the President and Congress go to the mat is more than the deficit, more than Medicare, more than shut-downs of "non-essential" parts of the government. Large chunks of the nation's natural wealth are also hanging in the balance. So, perhaps, is the disgusting practice of legislative riders.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Picture a city, with skyscrapers, roads, cars, towers, lights all jammed together. Now picture a huge, bare human foot reaching down from the city, stepping on the earth, crushing daisies. That's the image William Rees, professor of planning at the University of British Columbia, instills in the minds of his students. He calls it the Ecological Footprint, the amount of land the city actually uses, considering where its food is grown, where its water and energy and materials come from and where its wastes flow. Rees writes, "Acknowledging that nature has a finite capacity is not pessimistic. Just realistic. It makes room for wise decisions.... Ecological Footprint analysis starts from the premise that humanity must live within global carrying capacity. It also maintains that if we choose wisely it might even be possible to increase our quality of life."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

This is time of year when it is decided how your and my tax dollars get spent, supposedly for our public welfare, but far too often for the private welfare of a few powerful people and corporations who are not only raiding the public treasury, but, worse, eating into the nation's environmental and natural wealth.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "Here's one small thing anyone can do to make the world better: don't buy Coke. Don't buy soft drinks, period. How would that improve the world? Let me count the ways...."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "Well here's a howdy-do. TV station in Florida prepares hard-hitting series questioning safety of grocery-store milk. Large biotech company threatens station with libel suit. Station cancels broadcast, orders reporters to rewrite series. Reporters refuse. Station fires reporters. Reporters sue station."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes on the turnaround of a destroyed floodplain. "... With the partnership of the city and the utility, that kind of thinking -- let's turn waste into resources -- has been moving steadily down the Intervale, turning it from a dump to a source of beauty, recreation, food and jobs."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes, "It's tempting to refuse to dignify the polluted game of modern politics with either our attention or our vote. 'Don't vote, it just encourages them,' some folks say, and more and more of us follow that advice. But I can't bring myself to do it. I rarely get to vote for someone I really admire or something I deeply believe in, but my vote and yours still does make a difference too important to walk away from, especially in the arenas they're not talking about."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

There are four question to ask about any new tax proposal. Will it be simple? Will it be fair? Will it raise enough money for the government? Will it be good for the economy? The flat tax promoted by presidential candidate Steve Forbes fails on all four counts. But so does our present tax system. Forbes's contribution is not his specific proposal, but his general call to rethink the tax system entirely. People who are bold enough to do that are coming up with three alternatives -- the flat tax, the VAT (value-added) tax, and what, for purposes of alliteration, we might call the splat tax, to be levied on pollution and resource consumption. Let's look at all three in terms of "the four questions."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows critiques the criticisms of her book The Limits to Growth. "Why do people repeat, decades later, fables about things we never said? The problem can't be plain bad scholarship. There's a bias at work here...The myths live on, because we don't care whether they're true. We WANT them to be true."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

"The power brokers of the World Trade Organization are scared, and they should be. If the media makes any serious effort to transmit the views of the myriad demonstrators who will confront the WTO in Seattle, those power brokers will gain no public support."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

How could we make our cities more like Oslo, Norway and less like land-gulping, energy-intensive, half-empty St. Louis? There is a long list of things we could do. Eben Fodor, in his new book "Better Not Bigger" (the most useful piece of writing on sprawl control I've seen) organizes them under two categories: taking the foot off the accelerator and applying the brake.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "The instability of Nigeria, the bankruptcy of Indonesia ... the growing number of endangered species, the fires burning out of control in Indonesia, Mexico and Florida, the changing climate. Population growth is not the single cause of any of these happenings. But it is an inexorable driving factor behind all of them."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes: "Listening to climate change talk in the U.S. and in Europe, I have to wonder whether we're all living on the same planet. Several European governments have detailed plans for cutting their economies' 1990 fossil fuel use (hence emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide) by 15 or 20 percent by the year 2005. Meanwhile the U.S. president has generously offered to get U.S. emissions back down to their 1990 level -- twice as high per capita as the European level -- by the year 2008 or 2010 or maybe 2012."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes about case of human suffering induced by government stupidity. The sufferers in this case are Sid and Ruth Lowry of Marshfield, Vermont. The stupidity is in Vermont's fuel assistance program. She writes, "There are plenty of people who want to help other people. In the long run a program based on humanity and creativity would save money. On the neighborly scale of Vermont, just over half a million people, one can imagine it working. With a little less bureaucratic rigidity and a little more funding, it's close to working now. And what about the rest of the country, 260 million people? Well, that's nothing more than 520 groups of half a million each."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Donella Meadows doesn't know how any parent could stand to send his or her child off to a crumbling, dirty school with underpaid teachers and hostile, possibly armed, classmates. She writes, "If it were my kid, rather than do that, I'd exert some "school choice," whether the government sanctioned it or not. That's why the push toward state-supported school choice is so insidious. The 'choice' it gives every parent -- do what's best for society in the long term or for my kid right now -- can only be made one way. My kid right now. But school choice promoters don't realize they're creating that dilemma."Ê This practice an example of the trend of "success to the successful" and it can destroy the educational system, lesson market competition and even hinder the democratic process.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Donella Meadows doesn't think anyone in a corporate office sets out to be counterproductive or destructive. Businessmen don't sit around plotting how to poison rivers or subvert democracy. They don't conspire to locate polluting plants in poor communities, emit greenhouse gases, or whittle down employees' compensation while raising their own to obscene levels. But these things happen so regularly, so massively, that we can't dismiss them as accidents. They're systematic.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

"When the Hungarian news announced that fish were mysteriously dying all along the river on their eastern border from a wave of cyanide from an Australian gold mine, the word 'inevitable' leaped out of me. To those on the short end of the stick, globalization really means carelessness, unaccountability, greed and destruction."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

"Aha! We knew it!" a number of conservative columnists have been crowing lately. "Greenhouse, schmeenhouse, go right on driving those sports utility vehicles." The cause of their excitement is an article published in Science magazine, one of the most prestigious places a scientific article can be published, claiming that the North American continent is a huge carbon sink.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "I've known about the Tongass National Forest for years. To anyone who follows environmental news, it's legendary. America's last temperate rainforest. Eagles and wolves and grizzlies. Massive clearcuts, crooked deals with pulp companies. The federal forest that loses more taxpayer money than any other."

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