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: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "Science journals report that each of the first five months of 1998 was the warmest in recorded history. Now that's news. But it didn't make the news. The Texas heat wave made the news, but without context. How is it related to those five months of record-breaking temperature, to fossil-fuel burning, to global warming?"

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes, "Windows is taking over the world, not because it's better, just because it's bigger. It started with IBM marketing muscle. Computer users, especially in the business world, adopted it simply because everyone else did. More software was written for DOS, because the market was bigger. Mac users regretfully switched over, needing to be compatible with co-workers. The more they did that, the more others had to do it. The market is full of inferior products that dominate simply because they're first or biggest."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Meadows writes on the implications of becoming part of the "cultural creatives" crowd: "According to anthropologist Paul Ray, who seems to have named us, 'this group has no established leaders, no professed ideology and no cohesive sense of community. Its members loosely adhere to humanistic/spiritual ideals and life-styles that are eco-friendly.' ... Our numbers have grown from less than 5 percent of the population a generation ago to nearly 25 percent now. Well, it's nice to feel part of a crowd. Hard to get used to, though."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Donella H. Meadows heard Don Imus' radio show for the first time in her own back yard. As painters were working on her house, the radio blared for their entertainment. From out of the speakers came a catchy folksy tune, spewing anti-Semitism. She writes, "My jaw dropped. They can't really broadcast stuff like this, can they? Apparently they can," and she's none too happy about it.

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: "There's a small upside to the big downside of the global financial implosion. We get to be amused by theories about why it is happening."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: AlterNet

Meadows writes: "I was in Bangkok in 1994, stuck in a bus in one of that city's classic traffic jams with 20 environmentalists from 12 Asian countries. We could see around us at least 50 huge construction cranes hovering over high-rises on their way up. 'Who is going to occupy all those offices and condos?' we asked our Thai colleagues, who shrugged helplessly. Now Bangkok has $20 billion worth of unsold office towers and residential complexes."

Posted on: Apr 25, 2000, Source: deleted

Though we humans grandly call ourselves Homo sapiens, "man the wise," we also carry on a constant debate about how smart we really are. The argument goes on, because the answer isn't obvious. There's plenty of evidence of our brilliance and of our enduring foolishness. The ultimate intelligence test is coming from the environment. Are we smart enough to stop destroying our own support systems?

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: "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

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?"

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