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, "Congress is in recess till after Labor Day so our representatives can attend conventions and take a break from the muggy Washington summer. It's a good time to collar them at home and tell them what we think of their assault on our natural resources. After negative public reaction last year, the politicians are talking nice and green. But their actions are as dirty and brown as ever."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

The holiday shopping season has gotten off to a bad start, they say. They don't say it, actually, they moan it, as if no worse tragedy can be imagined. The problem is, they say, that too many of us have maxed out our credit cards. The solution is to send out more credit cards. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that a description of mass insanity? We take a holiday that celebrates the birth of one of the gentlest spirits ever known, one who told us to store up treasure not on earth but in heaven, and we turn the occasion into an orgy of eating, drinking, and buying gifts people don't need with money we don't have.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

The folks who bring us gene-spliced soybeans, corn, potatoes, and other foods like to make a point of the U.S. government's approval of their products. The feds OK'd it. That must mean biotech foods are safe, right?

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "We know perfectly well what has gone wrong with our government: politicians no longer believe they are beholden to the people; they are beholden to people with money."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "On average, 65 cents out of every dollar you spend for food at the supermarket go for packaging, delivery and marketing. Thirty cents go to chemical companies that make fertilizers, pesticides and genetically altered organisms. That leaves five cents for the farmer. If you wonder why farms are failing (over 20,000 a year go under in the U.S.), that's why."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes, "You would think that if any publication would NOT receive letters enflamed with political opinion, it would be 'Hemmings Motor News.' But there, in last December's issue, is a letter that sounds like a replay from the Rush Limbaugh show. 'From what I've read, the theory of ozone depletion is a hoax,' it starts. 'When the US signed the so-called Montreal Accord, pop science won out over common sense.'"

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes, "I've recently read John Wargo's book, Our Children's Toxic Legacy, and I'm worried about what pesticides may be doing to people. The book says that of the 325 pesticides that are legally allowed to remain as residues in food, one-third are suspected of causing cancer. One-third are known to disrupt the nervous system. A bunch [are] under investigation for disrupting hormonal signals that guide the development of fetuses, the growth of children, and the ability to reproduce. The damage they do may not show up until the next generation."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Over the past two generations sperm counts in many parts of the world have fallen by half, and a higher percent of sperm are deformed and unfunctional. Testicular cancer is on the rise, as are birth defects such as undescended testicles. Many kinds of animals are suffering from hormone derangements that produce -- how could the media resist this one? -- masculinized females and feminized males. These unsettling phenomena are caused by chemicals we throw into the environment, quite a few different kinds of them, which happen, so it seems, to behave like hormones.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Donella Meadows shares some thoughts of life on her farm: "In the month of June on this organic farm where we try to work with the forces of nature, we expend all the energy and cleverness we can summon, trying to keep things from eating things. And nature laughs."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Whether we grow our own or buy them in a shop, should we care whether our flowers carry pesticide residues or genetically modified DNA? Does it make sense to buy or grow organic flowers?

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

"Don't believe the myth that all growth is good. Instead, ask the hard questions. Since we can't grow forever, where should we stop?"

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "So now I'm taking Y2K seriously. I don't plan to spend December 1999 panicking and hoarding (which, if everyone did it, would create a Y2K problem even if the computers work fine). I'm just going to plant more potatoes and squash and dry beans than usual and lay in extra firewood."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes: "My Dutch friend Wouter Biesiot (pronounced "Vowter Beesio") was diagnosed with colon cancer in December 1993. He was operated upon, he endured a year of chemotherapy, and for two years thereafter we hoped for the best. Then last spring they found a tumor near his liver, and the doctors told him he is beyond medical help. What can one do, when a friend receives a sentence like that? Wouter is only 46 years old."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes, "The first commandment of economics is: grow. Grow forever. Companies must get bigger. National economies need to swell by a certain percent each year. People should want more -- make more, earn more, spend more, ever more. The first commandment of the Earth is: enough. Just so much and no more. Just so much soil. Just so much water. Just so much sunshine. Everything born of the earth grows to its appropriate size and then stops."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Human ingenuity produces a thousand or so new molecules of commercial value every year. Companies that hope to profit from them say, essentially, "Let us make them by the ton. We've tested them. They're OK. Trust us." We should not trust them, because neither they nor we can predict the fates or effects of their products. Planet Earth carries on enormously complex chemistry of its own. Dump strange substances into the mix, or increase the rate at which old ones move around, and the real surprise would be NOT to experience a continuous stream of surprises, as we turn nature and ourselves into guinea pigs for thousands of experiments running all at once.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

An endangered species story that does not show a mindless bureaucracy squashing an honest entrepreneur just to save some slimy creature no one ever heard of. In this case the creature is a cuddly squirrel. It is threatened not by a greedy developer but by a public university. What gets squashed is the Endangered Species Act.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

"Campaign reform is number one on McCain's list and on mine. In fact it's the only item on my list, because everything else depends on it. Without it the will of the people means nothing. Without it we have no democracy; we have a plutocracy, a nation ruled by those with money."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

"Carl Safina takes you out in the boats with commercial fleets. He takes you to Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market, where a large fraction of the world's catch ends up. He takes you to national and international meetings, where your jaw drops at the utter ineptness of fishing regulatory bodies. Best of all, Safina takes you into the astounding life of the fish."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: " What would it have meant if President Clinton had, as he was urged to do, "taken responsibility" for slavery while he was in Africa. What does it mean when a crazed Northern Ireland splinter group eagerly "takes responsibility" for blowing innocent civilians to smithereens? What does the president mean when he says he takes responsibility for lying repeatedly about a mindless sexual dalliance?"

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes: "The CO2 in the air has been going down and down and down, with a lot of short-term variation. During the last few hundreds of thousands of years it's been as low as 180 ppm in ice ages and as high as 280 ppm in warm spells ... Then, just a couple hundred years ago, an eyeblink by my reckoning, the big-brainers figured out how to burn oil and coal and gas."

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