Dragonfly Review

How Greenpeace Got Its Name

Editor's Note: The following is excerpted from "Greenpeace: How a Group of Ecologists, Journalists and Visionaries Changed the World, by Rex Weyler (Rodale, $26).

Greenpeace was founded as much by happenstance as by design. In October 1969, the United States detonated a one-megaton nuclear bomb on remote Amchitka Island, 2,400 miles northwest of Vancouver, B.C., in the Aleutian Islands. The blast created a Richter 6.9 shockwave around the world. Newspaper columnist Bob Hunter, recalling the 1964 tsunami that had caused $1.4 million in damage to a town on the west coast of Vancouver Island, wrote, "There is a distinct danger that the tests might set in motion earthquakes and tidal waves which could sweep from one end of the Pacific to the other." For a disarmament rally in front of the American consulate, Hunter came up with the slogan "Don't Make a Wave." When the U.S. announced another test, five times more powerful, for the fall of 1971, local antiwar and environmental activists rose to stop it. American Quaker Irving Stowe phoned Hunter, Ben Metcalfe from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, expatriate Americans Jim and Marie Bohlen, local members of the Sierra Club, and others. They formed the group that came to be known as the "Don't Make a Wave Committee."

On Sunday morning, Feb. 8, 1970, Jim and Marie Bohlen drank coffee in their Vancouver kitchen. From the typically overcast winter sky, a diffused light filtered through the chestnut trees and into the large window. Marie, a nature illustrator, watched busy juncos and chickadees in the damp morning foliage. Jim said he was frustrated with the Sierra Club for its failure to take up the nuclear weapons issue, and with the Don't Make a Wave Committee for its inability to arrive at a strategy.

Marie sipped her coffee and watched the birds. Jim seethed as he read the newspaper. He got a second cup of coffee. Finally, somewhat casually, Marie said, "Why not sail a boat up there and confront the bomb?"

Most of the disarmament crowd knew of the Golden Rule, which had attempted to sail into the Enewetak test zone in 1958; the Phoenix, which had actually made it; and the Everyman, whose crew was arrested en route. Bob Hunter and lawyer Hamish Bruce had launched a tiny fishing boat to stage ecology actions, but it had sunk at dockside. Rod Marining and others had discussed the idea of procuring a ship, but Marie's suggestion was pure inspiration, detached from the practicalities. It just seemed to her like the right thing to do.

Jim and Marie were contemplating this when the phone rang. A local reporter, making a routine call and looking for a story, asked what the Sierra Club was planning. The synchronicity caught Bohlen off guard. Out of frustration, he took the plunge.

"We hope to sail a boat to Amchitka to confront the bomb," he explained. To Bohlen, this may have been a hypothetical idea, but to the reporter, it was a scoop. Before Bohlen knew it, he was describing how they would sail inside the 12-mile limit. "If the Americans want to go ahead with the test, they'll have to tow us out," he said. "Something must be done to stop their insane ecological vandalism."

Next day's headline proclaimed: SIERRA CLUB PLANS N-BLAST BLOCKADE.

What happened next would be later disputed in people's memories and clouded by myth, but over the next week the Don't Make a Wave Committee devised a plan to sail a boat to Amchitka Island and gave the boat a name, although no such boat had been committed to the cause. That week the committee held an emergency meeting at a local church. Light entered the unadorned room from two tall, thin windows in the west wall. Wooden and grey metal chairs had been pulled out, facing a table where Irving Stowe presided. The throng pulsated with anticipation. Although Marie's idea and Jim's pronouncement to the media had bypassed the consensus process, no one opposed the plan for a boat. On the contrary, it had given the group some direction.

Terry Simmons had set up the B.C. Sierra Club chapter with the blessings of the Seattle group but had not received official sanction from headquarters in San Francisco. He made it clear that the group might have nothing to do with the plan. Although Don't Make a Wave had originally been a committee of the Sierra Club, it now assumed ad hoc status. Members unanimously ratified the action, although they had neither a boat, nor the money to charter one, nor any legal standing other than the democratic right of citizens to assemble and challenge their governments.

As the meeting wound down, they discussed what kind of boat they needed and who would find it. Some people drifted into the church grounds and others milled around inside and talked in small groups. When Stowe left the meeting, he flashed the "V" sign, as was his custom, and said, "Peace." Bill Darnell, a quiet ecology activist who rarely spoke at the meetings, said modestly, in the same offhanded manner that Marie Bohlen had suggested the boat, "Make it a green peace."

The assembly went silent for a moment. Darnell was not aware that anyone took notice, yet everyone heard the magic in the two words. Others in the group had discussed the confluence of disarmament and ecology, and Hunter and Metcalfe had written about the idea, yet no one had quite articulated the fusion so succinctly. The indelible conjugate lodged in people's minds. A green peace.

A few days later, Stowe confided to Darnell that he could not stop thinking about the words. Hunter believed the expression fused the two most urgent movements in human affairs. Metcalfe said, "Yeah, well, it fits better in a headline than the Don't Make A Wave Committee." Over the next few days, people talked about the hypothetical boat as if it already existed, and some called it "the Green Peace."

Putting Corporations on the Couch

In 1838, when a man named John Sanford assaulted the wife and children of a man named Dred Scott, Scott sought help from the courts.

But Scott was black and Sanford was white. Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney explained the difference with cold, pedantic clarity, writing that Scott and his family were "beings" rather than legal persons, since "they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." In short, before the eyes of the law, their existence was no more compelling than that of a teacup or a canary.

No corporation has ever suffered such an indignity. From the thump of a bureaucrat's stamp that brings it into existence, every corporation by definition enjoys the status of legal personhood that Dred Scott could only dream of. As one T-shirt slogan puts it, "Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. The corporation is the legal fiction that property is a person."

Corporate personhood traces back to the invention of corporations in Britain in the 1500s. What's new in the past century is that courts have extended the idea of "personhood" considerably further than mere legal recognition, adding various Bill of Rights protections such as freedom of speech (thus thwarting campaign finance reform laws), the right to privacy (frustrating government safety inspectors), and so on.

Having bulked up on legal steroids, corporations are now capable of feats no mortal can match. They can shape-shift, morphing into new entities at will. They're immortal, outliving generations of humans. They can teleport, dissolving in one country only to reappear in another.

None of these powers is inherent in the corporate form; each is the result of specific legal victories by corporate attorneys. Critics decry the steady encroachment of corporate power on democracy, yet the advance continues as global trade agreements define still more corporate rights and create institutional mechanisms to implement them.

In The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (Free Press, $25), which formed the basis of the research and writing for the film The Corporation (co-created with Mark Achbar), legal theorist Joel Bakan adds a new twist to the debate over corporate personhood. Rather than taking us through the labyrinths of corporate legal personification, Bakan instead poses a simple question: OK, so a corporation is person. But what kind of person?

Bakan suggests that society answer this question by giving the corporation the same sort of routine quiz employers use to spot potentially good workers and avoid hiring nut cases. His aim isn't to pump the bottom line or to put any particular corporation on the couch. It's the corporation as an institution that he's intent on scrutinizing, using a book found on the desks of psychoanalysts everywhere -- The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM. First published in 1952, the DSM is now in its fourth edition, with 382 distinct diagnoses. Of course, none of these entries was conceived as a way of diagnosing an institution. But Bakan finds a trait-by-trait match between the standard actions of corporations and the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath.

Like the classic psychopath, corporations are singularly self-interested, driven solely by the profit motive. They're manipulative, even toward children. And they're shallow in their relationships, laying off workers and wasting communities, incapable of remorse or empathy toward those they hurt. When breaking laws such as pollution controls appears to cost less than obeying such laws, they routinely break the laws.

But wait. Isn't Bakan being a bit too harsh? What about the symphonies and libraries funded by corporations? The scholarships, homeless shelters, public radio shows?

Bakan doesn't deny that most corporations have embraced the practice of doing good works. But he cites two key legal cases to explain what "corporate responsibility" really means.

The first is Ford v. Dodge (1919), in which the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that profit maximization must be considered the sole criterion for corporate actions.

The second is the Hutton decision, a 19th-century British case brought by stingy shareholders who were angry at a railway company for paying for occasional tea parties for its porters. In allowing the practice to continue, the court ruled that acts of charity are permissible if they serve a bottom-line interest such as securing employee loyalty or burnishing a company's public image.

But the wary reader need not fear the occasional foray into legal theory. Bakan is a first-rate storyteller, and his tales are compelling and even hair-raising.

One such story -- well documented but certainly not found in high school textbooks -- concerns the attempt by a group of Wall Street businessmen to organize a fascist takeover of the United States government in 1933. The plot, a reaction to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, collapsed after being exposed by Gen. Smedley Butler, the Marine hero the group had recruited to handle the coup's military aspects.

Turning to the present, Bakan sees an even worse threat in the steady seepage of corporate values into the smallest, most intimate spaces of culture. He describes the "Nag Factor," a marketing strategy based on careful studies of the ways children cajole parents into buying products. There is the "persistent whine," effective with "indulgers." Or the "nag with importance," effective with parents who want a "good reason for buying something for their child."

To some, the fact that highly educated marketing professionals are spending their days crafting ad campaigns that attempt to match the right sort of nag to the right sort of parent may seem more an annoyance than a threat. But to Bakan, such examples of moral autism, multiplied through every relationship and across every level of society, are hollowing out the very core of civilization.

In its closing pages The Corporation offers a different vision. "The best argument against corporate rule," Bakan writes, "is to look at who we really are and to understand how poorly the corporation's tenets reflect us." Quoting scientist and activist Mae-Wan Ho, he goes on, "We are basically organisms of feeling, of empathy." Bakan ends on an optimistic note: "No social and ideological order that represses essential parts of ourselves can last -- a point as true of the corporate order as it was for the fallen Communist one."

In other words, we may be sharing Planet Earth with a psychopath that has gained superhuman powers. But as long as we retain our own humanity, there is still hope.

Love Is the Art of Not Knowing

Reading about love is like watching sex on TV: It just ain't the same as being there.

Nonetheless, U.S. publishers deluge bookstores with relationship advice each February. (And this really is an annoyingly American affliction. British and Canadian publishers behave more like literary lions than Hallmark sheep.) Here are a few of the interesting titles sprinkled within this year's downpour.

Zen and the Art of Falling in Love (Simon & Schuster) is unique. By focusing on love itself -- rather than the predictable ways it manifests in relationships -- author and therapist Brenda Shoshanna has crafted an uncommonly original book.

"The wonderful, ancient practice of Zen is actually the practice of falling in love," Shoshanna writes. "When one focuses on and welcomes all that life brings, each day becomes a good day ... to continually find wonder, kindness, friendship and playfulness."

Among the introductory practices are steps through which one may discover oneself, give up control, and become emotionally available. Later chapters explore how to nourish oneself, be present for others, and deal with the blows that will inevitably come.

The teachings are structured as stories, and each is reinforced by Koan-like exercises such as this: "Look at a person who is close to you right now -- anyone it happens to be. Notice the ways in which you push him away. Stop doing that for a moment. Become aware of what he is offering and what he is not. Allow the two of you to be together in whatever way you are. Just be with it all for a little while and let it be fine the way it is. Do the same thing tomorrow with someone else."

The other bold title in this year's Valentine's Day Avalanche is Peace Between the Sheets: Healing With Sexual Relationships (Frog). Lawyer-turned-relationship-counselor Marnia Robinson argues that many of us are literally addicted to orgasm, stumbling through life from one dopamine hangover to the next.

The first half of Robinson's book makes the case that orgasm unleashes the same sort of chemical assault on the brain as alcohol, nicotine, cocaine or other drugs. She asserts that many couples' relationships eerily resemble the addict-dealer relationship pattern: newfound delight, followed by begrudging contentment, devolving into angry resentment. "We remain at biology's mercy," she writes, "until we begin to make the connection between the great sex we had last week and the disharmony we are experiencing this week."

Her solution, detailed in the book's second half, is to avoid getting sexually "overheated," abstain from orgasm for pre-agreed cycles, and learn to engage in a calmer form of intimacy. Robinson proposes that "the satisfaction lovers have been looking for lies in a mutual experience in which both partners stop using each other for physical gratification and make nurturing each other their primary focus."

Robinson concedes that many people -- especially women who discovered orgasm late in life -- may be reluctant to embrace such a cure. To these she suggests: "If you are still skeptical, get out a calendar and track it for yourself -- both orgasms and pronounced mood swings over the following two to three weeks. If you are open-minded, you may see the connection between cause and effect for yourself."

Taoism is one of many ancient practices credited by Robinson as a source of inspiration for her "hold it" philosophy. And it is one of the practices reviewed in depth by Georg Feuerstein in Sacred Sexuality: The Erotic Spirit in the World's Great Religions (Inner Traditions). Feuerstein concludes that Christianity, Judaism, goddess worship, Taoism and Hinduism all share a common attitude: Spirituality is erotic, and sexuality is spiritual. (And for those who have no intention of holding back, Destiny Books will soon release Tantric Orgasm for Woman, as well as a Spanish-language version of its successful Tantric Secrets for Men.)

There are two new titles co-authored by couples: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married (New World Library) by Linda and Charlie Bloom, and Working on Your Relationship Doesn't Work, self-published by Ariel and Shya Kane. Both couples are relationship counselors, and both books present their authors' accumulated wisdom in the anecdotes-and-tips style that has become a hallmark of self-help bestsellers. In a similar vein is Linda Marks' Healing the War between the Genders: The Power of the Soul-Centered Relationship (HeartPower).

For those whose relationships just can't be salvaged, there's The Breakup Repair Kit (Conari). This may be one of the first books anywhere printed entirely in pink ink. Co-authors Marni Kamins and Janice MacLeod's heart-mending tips include, "Rediscover what you love to do and take yourself on the date of your life."

And for the tragically hip, there is Ben Stein's How to Ruin Your Love Life (Hay House). The nasal-voiced eye-drop pitchman explains how to ruin one's love life in 44 easy steps, including, "Talk about Yourself Exclusively," "Make Fun of Your Lover's Family," and "Compare Your Lover with Lovers You've Dated in the Past."

"If you're dating someone who has a lot of problems, is generally a mess, and all of your friends dislike him or her," concludes Stein, "get married anyway -- marriage will solve all of your problems."

Monte Paulsen is editor of The Dragonfly Review of Books. He has ruined his own love life many, many, many times.

Making Book With the Candidates

Writing a book has pretty much become a prerequisite for running a presidential campaign, but writing an engaging book certainly has not. Even though some have left the campaign trail, all eight of the Democratic candidates remain in the hunt for royalties, although if amazon.com rankings are any indication Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt, in particular, can call off the dogs. For the moment, at least, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark have bragging rights.

Of course, there's not always a direct correlation between great sales and great prose. And that raises the question: If literary prowess was the yardstick by which voters chose their candidates, which of this group would get the nod? Here's the lowdown, from worst to best.

Al On America, by Al Sharpton (Kensington). The Democrat who launches the most memorable one-liners in presidential debates manages to make 283 pages of written words eminently forgettable. Even a co-author can't rescue this autobiographical exercise from reading like meandering stream of consciousness, the book's clichéd, staccato sentences bouncing like pinballs from one subject to another. Chapters unfold as if they've been arranged in random order, with the only unifying thread Sharpton's titanic ego: I know Jesse, Fidel, James Brown and just about everyone else. Included are prescriptions for America's problems, but they're tacked on almost as afterthoughts.

An Amazing Adventure: Joe and Hadassah's Personal Notes on the 2000 Campaign, by Joe and Hadassah Lieberman (Simon & Schuster). As road trips go, Lieberman's campaign quest of 2000 isn't quite the stuff of a Kerouac novel. In alternating passages written to play like dueling banjos, the senator and his wife serve up unremarkable reminiscences devoid of behind-the-scenes dope. The structure is so repetitive it feels as if the same words were transferred from page to page, then rearranged. Lieberman's views may have changed since that failed run for veep, but you'd never know it from this book.

An Even Better Place: America in the 21st Century, by Richard Gephardt (PublicAffairs). Until I stumbled into my local library, the lone copy of the former House minority leader's book, published in 1999, had never been checked out. Maybe that's because my neighbors are union members who, enamored by Gephardt's organized-labor plaudits, all own copies. Or perhaps it's because my neighbors would rather read something engaging. Accurately described elsewhere as "earnest," this book resonates when Gephardt writes about personal struggles, such as his young son's cancer. But confessional passages are lost amid uninspiring pap about threats to democracy, partisan bickering and well-meaning -- but not well-thought-out -- solutions.

A Call To Service: My Vision for a Better America, by John Kerry (Viking). The senator from Massachusetts may be partial to windsurfing and riding a Harley, but his literary style has the feel of a man who prefers checkers. In fact, this tome is so plodding it reads like a soporific stump speech. But there's more to Kerry than policy pronouncements, and medleys of personalized prose are interwoven throughout his six-part vision for curing the nation's ills. At times, these tales help neutralize that knock of Kerry the imperious. More often, these interludes read like the nonfiction equivalent of Hamburger Helper -- bundles of fluff designed to stretch campaign literature into a book.

A Prayer For America, by Dennis Kucinich (Thunder's Mouth Press). Kucinich doesn't so much write this book as adapt it from speeches that represent his "holistic worldview." And holistic it is: The former mayor of Cleveland addresses issues ranging from the inevitability of world peace to the merger of spirit and matter. He spells out his beliefs with uncommon -- although at times sappy -- candor, his lilting prose and unconventional ideas a genuine departure from traditional campaign-year fare. Whether Democratic voters will buy into this transcendent view of politics is uncertain, but if president isn't in the cards, philosopher may be.

Four Trials, by John Edwards (Simon & Schuster). The North Carolina lawyer-turned-senator takes a novel approach, ushering readers behind the scenes in a quartet of memorable cases. At their best, Edwards and co-author John Auchard turn out well-crafted, even gripping prose that drives the narrative. But the payoff is never really a mystery: After all, what attorney would showcase his losses? Not all of these tales are equally compelling. And except for the intensely personal passages about his son's death, the autobiographical material makes for unsatisfying lead-ins to the lawsuits, the transitions from home life to courtroom as jarring as a jury duty notice.

Winning Back America, by Howard Dean (Simon & Schuster). Dean's book aptly complements his campaign style: Skip the finesse and pummel readers with lines as compact as left jabs. There's no setting of scenes or wasting time on the likes of metaphors or adjectives; instead, Vermont's former governor offers unblemished biography, followed by pages of Why I Want (and Deserve) to be President. He's not Raymond Carver, but Dean's less-is-more approach has its moments: He condenses his feelings about religion into 83 words, and his aversion to buying clothes requires but a single, memorable line: "My suits are like my friends: They're with me for the long haul."

Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire, by Wesley Clark (PublicAffairs). War is hell, but Clark makes reading about it not quite so torturous. Unlike his Democratic rivals, whose books are obvious attempts to shape their election-year images, Clark's sequel to his scribblings about Kosovo is far more subtle: Although he occasionally resorts to the first person, this highly readable examination of the Iraq war and its consequences, including the "war on terrorism," offers a not-so-coincidental subtext: You want a bona fide commander in chief? Generally speaking, I'm your man.

Bottom line: Dean and Edwards have their literary moments, but Clark obviously didn't spend his time as a Rhodes Scholar just drinking warm beer. So if books are any measure, here's the call for '04: Bush vs. Clark.

Alan Green is senior editor at the Center for Public Integrity. This article originally appeared in The Dragonfly Review of Books, part of Dragonfly Media (www.dragonflymedia.com) .

True Tales of Slavery

I've been teaching African and African American history at various universities for almost 40 years. Invariably, the slave narratives of Frederick Douglass, Linda Brent (Harriet Jacobs), and Olaudah Equiano are required reading. Though powerfully enlightening, those narratives are nonetheless 18th- and 19th-century artifacts, remembrances of when European nations ravaged the African continent.

Two new books provide proof that the slave trade continues. Unlike the Atlantic slave trade, the movement of human cargo in these instances is an internal affair within the Sudan, the exploitation of indigenous people by Arab merchants. That two contemporary narratives from young Sudanese have been published almost simultaneously would seem remarkable, until one reflects that their stories are emblematic of thousands who remain in bondage.

Slave: My True Story (Public Affairs, $25) opens dramatically on a spring night in 1994 when Mende Nazer was abducted. She, her family, and the other Nubians of their small village were asleep when Arab raiders, the mujahadeen, jarred them awake. Generally, after a mujahadeen raid, a compound is devastated, all the men killed, and the women occasionally raped and then carried off with the children to be sold. "I saw the raiders cutting peoples' throats, their curved daggers glinting in the firelight," Nazer writes. "I cannot describe to you all the scenes I saw as we ran through the village. No one should ever have to witness the things I saw that night."

Twelve-year-old Nazer was among the 31 children taken from the burning village and sold at market, where the average price was $150 per slave. She went to a wealthy Arab family in Khartoum, Sudan's capital. Through seven years of captivity, she was sexually and mentally abused, and beaten. Nazer devotes the early chapters of her book, coauthored by British journalist Damien Lewis, to explaining her Nubian childhood. The language, culture and religion of her people all struck a stark contrast to the lifestyle of her Arab masters. Her native language and customs were forbidden. Her Arab mistress was relentless in her domination, destroying every vestige of the young girl's self-esteem. Nazer was forced to sleep in a shed and was fed leftovers, like a dog.

Francis Bok's story is hauntingly similar. Written with Edward Tivnan, Escape From Slavery" (St. Martin's, $25) opens with a chapter on the raid followed by several chapters detailing Bok's life under Arab hegemony. Bok was at a village market when he was abducted by his captors. "I looked around the marketplace for help," he writes, "but all I could see were those bodies of the men, not moving, the blood running from them like water in little rivers going nowhere."

Bok was sold to a Muslim farmer who confined him to tending goats and cows. Repeated escape attempts brought him severe treatment. Like Nazer, Bok was forced to relinquish his Dinka identity. He spoke only Arabic, ate alone, and learned to accept his new status as abeed, which meant both "black person" and "slave."

Bok finally succeeded in escaping when he was about 17. He took the cows to pasture, then ran for hours. When he finally reached a town, the police arrested him. For the next two months, the police were his new masters. He left them the same way: he ran. When he finally stopped running he was in Khartoum. There he naively sought help by telling people about his enslavement, something vehemently denied by the Sudanese government. Someone snitched on him. He remained in custody for another seven months in Khartoum before he was miraculously freed. He made his way to Cairo. After some time there, he found his way on a TWA flight to New York in 1999, with a connecting flight to Fargo, North Dakota.

Nazer escaped with the help of fellow Nubians, and now lives in London. As with earlier slave narratives, Nazer and Bok are effusive in their gratitude to those who assisted them. Two years after her escape, Nazer is so beholden to her adopted country that she is amazed when she hears people openly criticizing the British government.

Nazer and Bok grew up in cultures with strong storytelling traditions, and both enliven their books with descriptive passages and images. This was particularly true in Nazer's case, though she acknowledges that certain scenes were fictionalized. Both books could have benefited from a bit less wide-eyed wonder about the modern world the narrators suddenly found themselves in, which is surprising given that both subjects enlisted the help of professional writers. This, too, is a parallel to African American slave narratives, which were often written with the help of white abolitionists.

These emotionally searing narratives are personal accounts of a much larger tragedy -- one that threatens the annihilation of a people. Both Nazer and Bok remain determined to help the countless other slaves escape. (Bok in particular has been unstinting in his work with the American Anti-Slavery Group.)

"I have learned that no one gives a people oppressed for generations their freedom and equality without a struggle," writes Bok, at the close of his narrative. "You have to fight for it."

His words echo Frederick Douglass, whose powerful anti-slavery speeches of the 1840s stirred the American conscience. It is incredible to realize that, 160 years later, abolitionists still have work to do.

Herb Boyd's articles have appeared in a number of African-American and alternative newspapers since the 1960s. His most recent book is "The Harlem Reader" (Three Rivers, 2003). This piece was written for Dragonfly Review, which appears in Dragonfly magazines.

The Paper Chase

My office is piled high with books. Dozens more arrive each week. Many are thoughtful treatises on topics such as health, justice or the environment. What's surprising is that nearly all of them are printed on toxic, chlorine-bleached paper made from virgin timber -- much of which was harvested from North America's few surviving ancient forests.

Ninety-five percent of the paper on which U.S. books are printed is made from virgin fiber. That added up to almost a million tons of paper in 2001, according to the American Forest and Paper Association.

That's about 19 million trees.

"Publishers are progressive. They help to spread creativity, information, and new ideas," said Tyson Miller, who directs the Green Press Initiative. "What isn't progressive is harming endangered forests to print books."

This shameful story brightened just a bit during 2003, when one edition of "Harry Potter and the Order Of the Phoenix" was released on recycled paper. British author J.K. Rowling asked that her bestselling novels be produced on recycled paper. Her American publisher, Scholastic Inc., ignored her request. (Apparently, Scholastic's mission to "educate, entertain and motivate children" does not include enlightening them about real-world woodlands.) But Rowling's Canadian publisher behaved like a wizard. Vancouver-based Raincoast Books released "Order of the Phoenix" on 100-percent post-consumer recycled paper.

Post-consumer means the paper has been remanufactured from office and household waste, such as that collected through neighborhood recycling programs. By using post-consumer waste -- rather than the mill trimmings from which many deceptively labeled "recycled" papers are made -- Raincoast closed the loop from producer to consumer and back. "Order of the Phoenix" became the first high-volume title ever released on post-consumer paper. With an initial pressrun of 935,000 copies, the first printing alone spared an estimated 30,000 trees.

A gaggle of other authors likewise nudged their books onto recycled paper in 2003. Alice Walker's "Absolute Trust In The Goodness Of The Earth" (Random House), Barbara Kingsolver's "Small Wonder" (Perennial), and Julia Butterfly Hill's "One Makes The Difference" (HarperSanFrancisco) were each printed on post-consumer paper. And Eckhart Tolle's "Stillness Speaks" (New World Library) was printed on partially recycled paper. Other authors who have committed to releasing future books on post-consumer paper include Fritjof Capra, Paul Hawken and Andrew Weil.

Publishing houses hold far more power over printing than authors, however. About 50 small and mid-size U.S. publishers have promised to convert their lines to post-consumer paper during the next five years. Leading signatories to the Green Press Initiative include Berrett-Koehler, Chelsea Green, Island Press, New World Library, Seven Stories, Sierra Club Books, South End, Snow Lion and Wisdom.

Those publishers deserve our support. Unfortunately, their production represents but a sliver of the million-ton industry total. No major U.S. publisher has joined them. Said Tyson Miller: "Despite the same fiscal considerations, it's the small and mid-size publishers that are innovating their industry and helping to reduce pressure on endangered forests."

Monte Paulsen edits book sections for Dragonfly Media magazines (www.dragonflymedia.com).

The Age of Oil Is Over

What would you do differently if you knew you would run out of oil in your lifetime?

That's the chilling question posed by two recent books, both of which flow from the work of geophysicist Marion King Hubbert. Born in the Texas oil patch and educated at the University of Chicago, Hubbert observed that the production histories of most oilfields follow a similar pattern. Output climbs slowly after discovery, rises steeply once the reservoir is mapped, slows during the peak-production years, and then declines steeply once the easy-to-get oil is gone. When plotted on a graph, this looks like a bell curve.

Hubbert poured his own most productive years into directing research for Shell Oil, where he knew that the discovery of new U.S. oilfields had peaked in the 1930s. Hubbert factored this data into his bell-curve model, and predicted in 1956 that production of crude oil in the contiguous 48 states would peak sometime between 1966 and 1972. The oil industry dismissed his prediction and discredited his work.

U.S. crude oil production peaked in 1970, and has fallen steeply ever since.

Hubbert became a legend, and his prediction became known as "Hubbert's Peak." In the past decade -- as the rate of discovery of worldwide oil reserves has slowed to a trickle -- a flood of Hubbert followers have tackled the obvious question: When will global production peak?

In The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies (New Society Publishers, $18), author Richard Heinberg drills into the work of Hubbert disciples, such as Colin Campbell, as well as detractors including Peter Huber and Bjorn Lomborg. Heinberg rousts a consensus that global production peak between 2006 and 2015.

Kenneth S. Deffeyes was also born in the oil patch, and worked as a geologist for Hubbert at the Shell lab in Houston. And his Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage (Princeton University Press, $20) predicts a peak between 2004 and 2009, though he notes that it won't be until several years afterward that we will know when the peak actually occurred. Deffeyes' book is reverent where Heinberg's is shrill. His anecdotes about Hubbert and his detailed passages about where oil deposits are found echo the style of John McPhee, with whom he worked at Princeton.

Ironically, neither book startles as much as one line in the preface to the revised edition of Hubbert's Peak, which states: "The year 2000 very likely will stand as the year of greatest oil production."

Production fell in '01 and '02, and looks likely to fall again in '03. In other words, the zenith of the Oil Age may have already passed.

Which brings us back to that thorny question. Here in North America -- where most of us consume more than our own body weight in crude oil each week -- what drastic measures would you deem reasonable if you were certain that every last drop of crude has been found, that half of it is already gone, and that at the current rate of consumption the other half won't last 50 years?

Develop alternative sources of power? Both books propose immediately investing billions of dollars in alternatives such as wind and solar. But at present, fossil fuels provide about 85 percent of our energy. It will be a horserace to see whether alternative power can be brought to market before oil runs out. "The Party's Over" concludes we'd need to immediately begin building 20,000 wind turbines a year just to tap the wind power slice of the alternative power solution. That's five times greater than the total now standing. Deffeyes is even more sanguine: "...no initiative put in place starting today can have a substantial impact on the peak production year... no renewable energy projects can be brought on at a sufficient rate do avoid a bidding war for the remaining oil. At least, let's hope that the war is waged with cash instead of with nuclear warheads."

Go after new types of fossil fuels? The U.S. government recently reclassified Alberta's frozen tar sands as "recoverable" oil, instantly transforming Canada into the world's second most oil-rich nation (behind Saudi Arabia). But because it takes an estimated two barrels worth of energy to scrape one barrel of usable crude from tar sand, Canada's gooey treasure will not fill the global gap. And since tar sand is scraped out of open pit mines then washed with water, its extraction threatens to transform northern Alberta into one of the world's largest environmental disaster zones.

Or perhaps you would be willing to seize what's left before someone else does? If you knew about Hubbert's Peak a decade ago -- as oilmen Bush and Cheney surely did -- perhaps you would regard occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq as an ugly but necessary price to pay in order to secure sufficient time for the U.S. economy to convert?

Invading Iraq, writes Heinberg, "was more understandable -- if no less morally and tactically questionable -- when viewed in light of a single piece of information to which the administration was privy, but which was obscure to the vast majority of the world's population. That crucial fact was that the rate of global production was about to peak."

Monte Paulsen is editor of The Dragonfly Review of Books. He rides his bicycle to work.


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