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: "We the American people are the most generous landowners in the world. We sell gold mines for $5 per acre. We pay people to take from our national forests 800-year-old trees worth $5000 each. And we subsidize ranchers to overgraze our rangelands....If you'd like fair, rational, sustainable, and economic land management -- you and I have the immediate job of stopping the works of people like Hansen and Domenici and stiffening the rubbery backbones of Babbitt and Clinton. Then we have the long-term job of electing managers who aren't so eager to give our resources away to whoever waves the biggest gun or biggest check.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

"Why do we pay so little to the farmers who feed us? How can they survive with their demeaning wages? And why do they put up with it and keep feeding us?"

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "I keep running into scary Y2K discussions. I suppose that's because they're happening more frequently and will continue to do so right up to December 31, 1999, when the year 2000 (Y2K) computer bug will kick in and End The World As We Know It."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "Nearly everyone who has been to the solar village Gaviotas, east of the Andes in Colombia, calls it a utopia. But it isn't, says Paolo Lugari, its founder. That word means in Greek 'no place.' Gaviotas has existed, however improbably, for more than 30 years now. Lugari says it's a 'topia' -- simply a place."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes: "Well, folks, now we know. Nature is worth $33 trillion dollars a year. That's a medium estimate. The real value could be as low as $16 trillion or as high as $54 trillion. To put those numbers in perspective, the value of the entire output of the world economy each year is $18 trillion. That comes to $3,000 a year, on average, for each human on the planet. Nature provides goods and services worth somewhere between $2,600 and $9,000 per person per year. The calculation was made by a team of ecologists, economists, and geographers from twelve prestigious universities and laboratories in three countries. It was published this week in the journal Nature."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Donella Meadows explains why corporations should not help fund our national parks. She writes, "Generations of Americans poorer than we are somehow managed to maintain the parks, commonly owned, commonly supported."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Back a decade or two ago when we weren't paying much attention, the advertising industry took over American politics, reducing debates to soundbites, using polls to tell politicians what to say, polishing image while banishing ideas. Worst of all, advertisers taught government leaders their central trick. Say any fool thing over and over and over, and it will start sounding plausible, or at least comfortably familiar. Repetition eats into peoples' brains. "You deserve a break today. No new taxes. Progress is our most important product. We stand for family values.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Many people, including the New York Times, are deriding the book, Our Stolen Future, which is fast becoming known as the book on sperm. However, opponents of the book are missing the authors' main point: That chemicals in our environment are possibly having a negative effect on our health. Meadows writes, "It would be amazing if those chemicals, individually or acting together, do no harm. Therefore the important questions are not about scientific doubt but about risk and ethics. Given some sobering evidence here, while we do more studies, while we argue about sperm, while we malign the authors of Our Stolen Future, should we, or should we not, go on releasing hormone-mimicking chemicals with abandon into our environment?"

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

"A congressional rider is a small parasite hooked onto a big bill. It would never pass on its own, but maybe, if no one notices, if the president wants the money badly enough, if there's a back-room deal, maybe it can ride through on a must-pass funding measure."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "Gas station counters are always littered with strange products. I wouldn't have given this one a second thought, if I hadn't just been talking about the carrying capacity of the earth. 'Can you give a lecture to my students on the carrying capacity of the earth?' my colleague had asked. 'You know that topic so well, you won't even have to think about it.' Right."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Donella Meadows looks at how the popular concept of the "American Dream Home" has mutated over the years. The purpose of articles like "The New American Dream Home" in the Sunday magazine section of Meadow's daily newspaper is, of course, to practice the great American art of making us dissatisfied with what we've got. This particular piece even tells us, without the slightest hesitation, what we want.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes, "You have to be well trained by a forestry school or well paid by a lumber company to see beauty in a clearcut. If you haven't been so trained or paid, if you're just an ordinary bloke looking at an expanse of slashed, rutted ground where recently a forest stood, you feel slightly sick. You know violence has been done. Whatever your logical mind tells you about jobs and profits and cheap wood, your conscience whispers that this is no way to treat a forest."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

The title of David Korten's new book -- When Corporations Rule the World -- does not refer to some theoretical future state. Korten's point is that corporations already rule much of the world, and that the consequences aren't good, not even for corporations. Donella Meadows lists some of Korten's measures to keep corporate activity in its place. She writes, "I have heard people warn him never to put out the whole list at once, because any single item is shocking, and all together are simply unthinkable."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Suppose we all woke up one fine morning and decided, as a nation, to solve our problems instead of beating each other up over them. Suppose we quit twisting ourselves into knots trying to put all blame on one party and all credit on the other. What if we chose instead to move forward together?

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

"The United Nations decided to pick an arbitrary date -- October 12 -- and declare it the Day of Six Billion, when the Earth's population hit that astounding number. But what kind of event should this be? A day of repentance? A celebration?"

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "In 1949 a small book was published shortly after its author, Aldo Leopold, died of a heart attack while fighting a forest fire near his homestead in rural Wisconsin. The book was a collection of his nature writings, crotchety writings, lyrical writings, praise for nature and manifestos for people from a man who spent his life in some of the wildest parts of America."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "The growing number of endangered species, the fires burning out of control in Indonesia and 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, "David Orr, head of the environmental studies program at Oberlin College, understands that young people learn from everything they do and everything around them. Even buildings. So he started thinking about the structure in which he conducts his classes ... David Orr decided that he wanted to teach in a building that did not undo his curriculum. His students worked with a dozen architects, visited all kinds of buildings, read the literature, considered retrofitting an old building and finally drew up design criteria for a new one."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes, "I believe there is a real moral majority in this country that is alarmed by the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The moral majority is silenced by the politicians, the corporate leaders, the loud and savvy, who have developed many clever ways to scoff at the compassionate. Magnified by microphones and satellite beams, they perpetuate new scriptures, which assert that the rich deserve every penny they accumulate and the poor deserve despair."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

TV-Free America held its first National TV-Turnoff Week last year. Organizer Henry Labalme expected the idea of life without television to be met with resistance. Instead he found himself riding a wave of enthusiasm. "I can't believe you exist," people told him. "We thought we were the only ones who were disgusted by TV." This year TV-Turnoff Week is April 24-30. Donella Meadows writes, "TV-Turnoff Week gives us a chance to step away from our addiction -- or fail to and thus realize how badly addicted we are. Hundreds of studies have linked TV watching to 1) violence, 2) diminished brain development in children, 3) obesity and other eating disorders, 4) lack of physical fitness, 5) breakdown of community, 6) materialism, 7) excess consumer debt and 8) negative social norms, gender roles and patterns of conflict resolution. Many of us are angry with ourselves for watching too much and for letting our children watch too much. But, like addicts, we don't stop. So here's a chance to stop, just for a week."

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