Posts Tagged ‘extinction’

Immortal Technique

Immortal Technique


The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉


Posted 27 September 2011, by OccupyWallSt, Occupy Wall Street,

Please click on the link below for a video of Immortal Technique talking with the Occupy Wall Street protesters:

Rare whales surface in Robson Bight

 Threatened fin whales showing up near Island in increasing numbers

One of the two fin whales that paid a rare visit to Robson Bight this week. Fin whales, the second biggest species, are listed as threatened and are more usually seen in the open ocean. Photograph by: JARED TOWERS, DFO


Posted 20 September 2011, by Judtih Lavoie, The Victoria Times Colonist,


The sound of lengthy whale blows echoing through the fog in Robson Bight caught whale researcher Marie Fournier’s attention Monday as she kept watch at an OrcaLab outpost.

Then, out of the fog, swam two massive fin whales — something never previously documented in Robson Bight, located off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.

Fin whales, the second largest animal after blue whales, are starting to return to B.C. waters after being almost wiped out by decades of whaling, but they usually prefer the open ocean. Recent sightings have been several kilometres offshore.

“I was completely surprised. I had to do three or four double takes to make sure what I was seeing,” Fournier said.

The identity giveaway was the size of the animals, estimated at about 22 metres, and their huge blows, reaching five metres into the air, said Fournier, who called Jared Towers, a Fisheries and Oceans research technician.

When Towers arrived to take identification photographs, he discovered that he photographed one of the whales in Hecate Strait last summer.

“Just by luck it turned out to be the same animal,” Towers said.

It is hoped that the growing catalogue of photos will give some idea of the size of the fin whale population off Canada’s west coast, he said.

Fin whales are listed as threatened under the Species at Risk Act.

John Ford, a marine mammal specialist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Pacific Biological Station who is conducting fin whale research, said the animals have previously been seen about 10 kilometres away around Malcolm Island, but not around Robson Bight.

“Something like this is very unusual. It’s the first time,” he said.

This year, about 50 fin whales were seen around Langara Island. In previous years, it was considered unusual to see five or 10, so it appears the population is probably increasing, although there is not yet a good estimate of the abundance, Ford said.

“Thousands of them were killed off before the last coastal whaling station closed down in 1967,” he said.

“They have likely been recovering over the last 45 years, and we may now be seeing a steep curve of population growth.”

Scientists in areas such as Alaska have also reported a return of fins, Ford said.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


Surviving the Warmth of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum


Surviving the Warmth of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum


Posted 21 September 2011, by Staff, CO2 Science (Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change),


McInerney, F.A. and Wing, S.L. 2011. The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum: A perturbation of carbon cycle, climate, and biosphere with implications for the future. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 39: 489-516.

During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, of some 56 million years ago, it is believed that large amounts of carbon were released to the ocean-atmosphere system and that global temperatures may have risen by 5-8°C. Thus, the authors write that study of the PETM may provide “valuable insights into the carbon cycle, climate system and biotic responses to environmental change that are relevant to long-term future global changes.”

What was done
McInerney and Wing reviewed much of the scientific literature pertaining to the insights being sought by biologists concerned about potential species extinctions due to CO2-induced global warming; and they give their assessment of the current status of the grand enterprise in which many scientists have been involved since the early 1990s, when the PETM and its significance first began to be recognized (Kennett and Stott, 1991; Koch et al., 1992).

What was learned
In summarizing their findings, the two researchers write that although there was a major extinction of benthic foraminifera in the world’s oceans, “most groups of organisms did not suffer mass extinction.” In fact, they say “it is surprising that cool-adapted species already living at higher latitudes before the onset of the PETM are not known to have experienced major extinctions,” and they remark that “this absence of significant extinction in most groups is particularly interesting in light of the predictions of substantial future extinction with anthropogenic global warming.” In addition, they note that “low levels of extinction in the face of rapid environmental change during the Quaternary pose a similar challenge to modeled extinctions under future greenhouse warming,” citing Botkin et al. (2007). And, last of all, they indicate that “rapid morphological change occurred in both marine and terrestrial lineages, suggesting that organisms adjusted to climate change through evolution as well as dispersal.”

What it means
McInerney and Wing wrap up their review by noting that “research on the PETM and other intervals of rapid global change has been driven by the idea that they provide geological parallels to future anthropogenic warming.” And in this regard, the many research results they review seem to suggest that earth’s plants and animals, both on land and in the sea, may be much better equipped to deal with the environmental changes that climate alarmists claim are occurring in response to anthropogenic CO2 emissions than what many students of the subject have long believed to be possible.

Botkin, D.B., Saxe, H., Araujo, M.B., Betts, R, Bradshaw, R.H.W., Cedhagen, T., Chesson, P., Dawson, T.P., Etterson, J.R., Faith, D.P., Ferrier, S., Guisan, A., Skjoldborg-Hansen, A., Hilbert, D.W., Loehle, C., Margules, C., New, M., Sobel, M.J. and Stockwell, D.R.B. 2007. Forecasting the effects of global warming on biodiversity. BioScience 57: 227-236.

Kennett, J.P. and Stott, L.D. 1991. Abrupt deep-sea warming, palaeoceanographic changes and benthic extinctions at the end of the Palaeocene. Nature 353: 225-229.

Koch, P.L., Zachos, J.C. and Gingerich, P.D. 1992. Correlation between isotope records in marine and continental carbon reservoirs near the Paleocene/Eocene boundary. Nature 358: 319-322.




Living with oil spill in Ogoniland

Living with oil spill in Ogoniland


Posted 18 September 2011, by George Onah,Vanguard Media,

As the convoy of cars from Bodo town conveying journalists veered into the road leading to Goi community, the air became fetid. The  air was so offensive that two members of the entourage made to throw up. The air had been poisoned by the smell of crude oil that had enveloped the river serving the five communities of Goi.

The deeper the convoy rolled along the tarred road towards the river, the stronger the smell of the deadly spill. The stench, it was learnt, is worse at night when the ebbing river returns. As the vehicles brushed through the grasses that have grown into the road, few youths and elders stared at the group with gloomy faces. The road had obviously not been in full use because the spill had emptied the clan of its population.

None of the onlookers offered a smile. While mothers clutched their naked pale-looking babies, the old people and youths stood akimbo wearing long faces. The appearance of the rural folks reflected the extreme trauma the oil spill had programmed their lives. Minutes later, many deserted houses came into view. As we approaches the inner part of Goi, we beheld a community under siege by a demonic crude oil. Most of the buildings were in a state of disrepair.

The occupants have since fled  because of the massive spill. Goi, said to be the oldest in the area, and with a population of nearly 60,000, is tucked on a quiet hill in Gokana Local Government  Area of Rivers State.  The Goi River, which  has its source as Bonny River, flows through Opobo Channel and Bodo West, with tributaries scattered around the villages of the clan.

While examining the volume of destruction, it was observed that an area of the river, where spring water was gushing, had been covered by a  mass of oil. The thick oil stretched all around the edges of the water which overlooks the swamp in the far end of the river. It was the community’s source of drinking water. Clearly, aquatic life in the river had gone extinct. Paramount ruler of the clan, Mene Livinus Kobani, said the spring water used to accommodate crocodiles and boa, which the community embraced as its deities.

According to him, “Mudskippers and periwinkles, which sprinkled along the shores of the river and welcomed visitors to the water, are all gone. With what has happened here, no one can fish in the next 50 years”. Scores of carcases of fishing canoes and other seafaring materials littered the shores of the river. Even all the farmland, where the waterfront slopes in the clan, had been made infertile.

The exposed roots of coconut and palm trees whose leaves flutter as the ebbing water returns had started dying from the roots to the fronds. Spokesman of the land Alhaji Muhammad M. Kobani said four villages and scores of canoes in the clan were razed by a mystery fire when the spill spread round the area.

The fire and the spill have, according to him, rendered over 30,000 of the communities inhabitants homeless. “Those who refused to move out are daily inflicted by various ailments. Because the people do not have any choice of drinking water now, they scoop whatever they can find including water polluted with benzene. As at last count, we have lost 15 people in one month. What is happening here is a gradual extinction of our people by oil spill”.

When Sunday Vanguard visited Bodo General Hospital, the medical doctor in charge refused to comment on the effect of the spill on the people. He said he would need authorisation of the state government to speak. But some patients, including pregnant women, old people and youths said they started experiencing pain and nausea as soon as the spill was noticed in their river, three years ago (2008).

Many pregnant women were said to be miscarrying at an alarming rate. Mr. Barinua, a resident, said he had spent all his life savings catering for his sick family since the spill was noticed in the community. “We spend so much money on drinking water. If you have to spend so much on water alone, what about food, school fees, hospital bills and others? This oil spill has scattered the community and many families”.

Oil Spill

Another resident, Mrs. Barigboma Williams, said she had lost three pregnancies in a row due to the “bad water, smell of oil every day and the general hardship” occasioned by the spill. “We cannot even relocate because of the financial implications. I used to farm and trade while my husband fished to sustain the family. But we have lost our sources of livelihood because of the spill”.

Sources of Spill
Narrating the sources of their woes, Alhaji Kobani said the first spill in the area was in 2004 and was ignored by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, because they said it was sabotage. He said the spill of 2008, which has remained till date, was accepted by SPDC as system failure at Bomu Manifold – Trans Niger Pipeline. The spokesman explained that Goi  has “always been at the receiving end of system failure and pipeline sabotage as claimed by Shell”.

The paramount ruler of the place, Mene Livinus Kobani, said he was taken aback that the UNEP report on the oil spill in Ogoniland did not mention Goi. Kobani said he was also surprised that the community has also not been involved in the distribution of drinking water by the Rivers State government.

Mene Kobani said, “Presently, there is no government or Shell presence in the community” and, for life to return to the area, they require a  health centre. My people want to return to the river to fish as well as to the land to farm. So, Shell should clean up the area and carry out remediation. We want adequate compensation from Shell and we want the company to build schools here.  Rivers State government should help us by supplying drinking water to this community”.

The lack of drinking water, he said, has contributed to the people leaving the area in droves. “The five sources of drinking water have been badly polluted. You see, only those who experience things would know the extent of pain. We are undergoing severe hardship in this community and the entire clan as a result of the oil spill here”.


Kishanganga hydel power project threatens an ancient culture

Kishanganga hydel power project threatens an ancient culture


Posted 17 September 2011, by Iftikhar Gilani, Tehelka (Anant Media Pvt. Ltd.),



The Dard Shin tribe of Gurez, speakers of the Shina language, are to be uprooted to Srinagar. But what is a pastoral hill community to do in the city, asks Iftikhar Gilani

Imagine the kind of uproar civil society and rights groups would have created had the Centre decided to shift the indigenous Jarawas from their native Andaman and Nicobar Islands to New Delhi. However, no such noise has been made so far even as the Dard-Shina tribe, said to be the last of the original Aryans living in the remote Gurez region is being robbed of its hearth and home. The tribal community will be relocated to Srinagar, making way for the 330-MW Kishanganga hydro-electric project in Kashmir. Away from the high-profile land acquisition cases of Bhatta Prasaul and Nandigram, this scenic place on the north-western tip of the Valley has hardly had anyone crying foul after the Centre announced relocation plans.

Since there is no land in this heavily militarised region close to Line of Control (LoC), the Government has decided to rehabilitate the tribals to Srinagar. Hyder Ali Samoon, a sub-inspector, a resident of Badwan village looks at his ancestral house with a sense of foreboding. The water from the dam will submerge what has been home to him and his ancestors. Pointing towards a nearby graveyard, where his ancestors lay buried, Samoon tells his sons and grandsons to engrave and store images of the house and the picturesque beauty of the village in their minds so that they can, at least, pass on their heritage to the future generations.

Nearly 300 families belonging to three villages of Badwan, Wanpora and Khopri are being relocated to Srinagar city. Against their peers across the Kanzalwan mountains in Bandipora, these villagers are getting a compensation of Rs 5.75 lakh per kanal (a unit of area). The farmers in Bandipora, on the other hand, with more fertile lands are being paid only Rs 2.25 lakh per kanal. Why this difference? Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir Asghar Samoon, who incidentally was touring the area, told TEHELKA that Gurez tribes are being paid more because they are not only losing land but also their culture, civilisation, and will probably become extinct over the next few decades, thanks to the hustle and bustle of Srinagar.

The controversial Kishanganga project, which envisages diverting water from the Kishanganga river through tunnels to the Wullar Lake in Bandipora district of Kashmir Valley has not only come to focus due to Pakistan’s opposition invoking the clauses of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) to complain against India to the World Bank but the project has drawn enough attention to itself for being ambiguous about its nature. What is intriguing is that the National Hydel Power Company (NHPC) officials have kept the voluminous environmental assessment report of Kishanganga undertaken by the Centre, for Inter-disciplinary Studies of Mountain and Hill Environment, close to its chest. Not only has it refused to share it with the state government, but it also did not accede to the request of former Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, when as a minister he wanted to see the report, before it went to the Cabinet.

Ed Note: Please visit the original site for a photo gallery associated with this article. Click on the image above to go to the original site.

The Rs 3642.04-crore power project will displace 362 families and consume a total of 4280 kanals (535 acres) of land. The Centre and the NHPC’s move to relocate the displaced families outside Gurez Valley were influenced by several factors. For instance, land in the mountainous valley is very limited. Some 27 revenue villages, inhabiting the region with a population of 31,900 (latest census) houses around 26,000 troops. Total land under Army occupation is 2802 kanal, out of which 918 kanals are unauthorised. Out of 1883 authorised occupation, the Army provides rent for 1140 kanals. The LoC fencing has consumed 339 kanals.

The local magistrate of Gurez Mohammad Ashraf Hakak said that the only land that was available on the foothills of mountains was prone to avalanches. Therefore, the Government, with the help of the NHPC, decided to shift the affected families to Mirgund, around 16 km from Srinagar.

At the core of this rehabilitation exercise stands the Dard Shin tribe of Gurez. Speakers of the Shina language, the rare tribals will be cut off from their culture, livelihood and roots if moved to Srinagar. Many historians and anthropologists claim that the Dard Shin people are pure Aryans.

For more than six months Gurez remains cut off from the rest of the world. Until Jammu and Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan, Gurez was part of the Gilgit state.

“Relocating people outside Gurez is an attempt to divide and rule the people of Gurez,” said the chairman of J&K Dard-Shin tribal minorities, Mir Hamidullah. Unhappy with the plan, he said that in order to preserve their culture and language, the people of Gurez should be provided land and rehabilitated in Gurez itself. “Shina language is the mother of Sanskrit. We are a people with our own history and relocating our people outside Gurez will hurt the community,” said Mir.

The price of development:

Apart from jeopardising their cultural identity, the move to rehabilitate them will also risk the state of cultivable land in the area, which will be shrunk further by the dam. “This project will affect whatever little agricultural land is left in our village,” said Abdul Khaliq Ganie of Tarbal, the last village near LoC, about 20 kms from Gurez town. “We have been losing our cattle to the minefield areas every year, and now this project has added to our worries as this village remains cut off from the Kashmir Valley for most part of the year,” he added.

Known for its scenic beauty, Gurez is separated from the Valley by the north Kashmir mountain range that runs west of Zojila Pass. For more than six months Gurez remains cut off from the rest of the world. Until Jammu and Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan, Gurez was part of the Gilgit state. The taxes would be paid at Drass, which happens to be the only area on this side of the LoC that shares its language, culture and customs with Gurez.

The compensation being offered to the people for their homes and land, the locals say, is too little. “They are giving me one lakh rupees for one kanal of land, but how am I going to survive on this little amount along with my nine children,” rued a resident of one of the affected villages in Gurez.

According to civilian officials, the NHPC has promised (under the new relief and rehabilitation plan) to pay Rs 5.57 lakh to the families whose houses will be affected by the project and construct a new house per household outside Gurez. The powerhouse will be located in Kralpora village of Bandipora. Waters from a fast flowing Kishanganga—from Teetwal to Gurez—would be stored at Gurez and diverted to the Bandipora power station. The water will then go into the Bonar Madhumati and eventually flow into the Wullar Lake.

“Shina language is the mother of Sanskrit. We are a people with our own history and relocating our people outside Gurez will hurt the community,” Slug: Kashmir

Pakistan has raised objections over the water diversion part of the project as it believes the inter-tributary transfer amounts to a violation of the IWT of 1960. Pakistan is worried that the diversion of the river will leave thousands of acres of its rice fields, fed by Neelum (that’s what Kishanganga is known as in Pakistan) dry, and impact Mangla Dam and the viability of its upcoming Neelam-Jhelum power project.

Environmental experts say that the rise in water level of Kishanganga will adversely affect the ecology of Gurez, submerging substantial plantation and leaving an impact on its agricultural land and wildlife. The dam will also affect the breeding cycle of trout fish, found in Kishanganga. “There will be no breeding of trout fish because of this dam as they need fast running water to breed,” said an official from the fisheries department. The dam will also lead to an extreme winter in Gurez, which already has a long winter, as the river will freeze because of the dam, some experts said. “There is a danger of floods too as the water level increases and this will affect other adjoining villages as well,” revealed a government official.

Work flows, unhindered:

However, despite many pitfalls, work on the power project continues on both sides of Gurez and Bandipora. The Hindustan Construction Corporation (HCC) has been allotted the EPA contract by NHPC for implementing the project. An amount of Rs 269.96 crore has been spent until March 2010, sources said.

Conceived in 1996, the work on the project began in 2007. HCC is constructing a 37m-high rock-filled dam, and a 23.50 km headrace tunnel to take water to three turbines (110 MW each) for generating 1,350 million units of energy a year. The HCC, last winter, spent a crore on the helicopter service to reach the dam site in Gurez.

In addition to the various problems associated with the project, the HCC has been accused of discriminating against Kashmiri engineers and employees. The HCC authorities, locals alleged, are forcing families in the affected villages to vacate their houses and land even before providing them with compensation.

“The affected families are asking the HCC authorities to give compensation before they vacate their lands,” said a Kashmiri engineer working for the HCC site in Bandipora. “People of Kralpora, which is the most affected village, were recently beaten up by the HCC authorities for protesting and demanding land compensation,” he added. The HCC and NHPC officials, however, refused comment.

Local labourers alleged that they are paid less than the outsiders. “NHPC did not employ the people from the villages that will be submerged because of the dam. They should have been given preference, but the project authorities brought employees from outside the valley,” a government official said.

Minefield of historical wealth:

The region with its unique history is littered with gems of archaeological interest. Archaeologists believe that there are many sites in Gurez, which have inscriptions in Kharoshthi, Brahmi, Hebrew and Tibetan. Experts are of the opinion that an archaeological investigation of Gurez valley will give further insight into the history of the Dard Shin people and about Kashmir in general.

Incidentally, Gurez valley falls along the section of the ancient Silk Route, which connected Kashmir valley with Gilgit and Kashgar. Archaeological surveys in valleys north of Gurez along the Silk Route, particularly in Chilas, have uncovered hundreds of inscriptions recorded in stone. The Kishanganga project will also affect this route, which has traditionally been crucial for trade in Central Asia. One of the three villages that will also be affected by the project is Kanzalwan, which is believed to be an archaeological site of historic importance. The last council of Buddhism is said to have been held in this village, and further down the stream, the ruins of ancient Sharada University lie preserved along the Neelum.

The toll the project is going to take on the local population is heavy. It will mostly hit people who are entirely dependent on agriculture and allied activities for their livelihood. “Those families whose livelihood is entirely dependent on agriculture will be affected more as they have to look for other avenues of employment after their land compensation is exhausted,” said a government official in Gurez.

Iftikhar Gilani is Special Correspondent with 


“Global Dismemberment: Through the Shaman’s Eye” on September 20 “Why Shamanism Now?” Radio Show

“Global Dismemberment: Through the Shaman’s Eye” on September 20 “Why Shamanism Now?” Radio Show

On “Why Shamanism Now? A Practical Path to Authenticity”, Christina Pratt welcomes author and shaman Richard Whiteley to the show, where they talk about all the challenges taking place in the world today from a shamanic perspective.


Posted 13 September 2011, by Linda Woznicki, 24-7 PressRelease,


JERSEY CITY, NJ, September 13, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ — Streaming live on the Co-Creator Radio Network on Tuesday, September 20, at 11 a.m. Pacific time/2 p.m. Eastern time, on her show “Why Shamanism Now?: A Practical Path to Authenticity,” shaman and founder of the Last Mask Center for Shamanic Healing Christina Pratt asks the question so very many are asking these days: What is happening around us? We see severe weather, colossal oil spills, and species dying off. We see illness, obesity, and rising incidents of mental illness and coping disorders. We see corruption and an unfathomable void of ethics in banking, politics, and religions around the world. We see riots, anger, and hopelessness in our communities. According to Pratt, what the shaman sees in this is “dismemberment”: the experience of being pulled apart, eaten, or stripped layer by layer, down to the bare bones on a global scale. “In a shamanic dismemberment,” explains Pratt, “the individual, unaware that the experience is occurring in an altered state, dies the little death, which is the surrender of the ego that allows for a shift of awareness and transformation of consciousness.”

In this episode of “Why Shamanism Now?” titled “Global Dismemberment: Through the Shaman’s Eye,” Pratt talks to award-winning author, teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, successful businessman, and urban shaman, Richard Whiteley who explains what is going on out there from a shamanic perspective. And perhaps more importantly, he shares why he feels there is reason to be hopeful and how we can participate with spirit in the Remembering so that the world we co-create is different than before.

Whiteley talks to Pratt as part of a series of “Why Shamanism Now?” episodes sponsored by the Society of Shamanic Practitioners (SSP). Throughout this series, Pratt explores how contemporary shamans are meeting the challenge of their world where the relations of things—the living and the dead, the humans and nature, and the technological world and the spirit world—are profoundly out of balance. It is the ancient role of the shaman in all cultures to tend the balance of things, and the question is asked: how are these shamans meeting this extraordinary need today?

Christina Pratt is an authentic, non-traditional contemporary shaman. In practice since 1990, she specializes in mending the soul and transforming the parts of life that feel impossible. A teacher of exceptional clarity, humor, and inspiration, Pratt brings the power of shamanism into the practical grasp of anyone willing to take responsibility for improving the quality of their life. Her well-received book, An Encyclopedia of Shamanism (Rosen), is an 800-page, two-volume set with over 750 in-depth entries that clearly discuss the basic concepts of shamanism, methods, and traditions of over 50 different shamanic peoples. Pratt is the founder of the Last Mask Center for Shamanic Healing in Portland, OR, and New York, NY, creator of the original Foundations of Shamanism and Shamanic Healing course at the University of Minnesota, and a frequent and honored speaker for the American Holistic Medical Association.

Richard Whiteley, author of The Corporate Shaman, (2002) was awarded five top honors shared among his three business books on customer-centered business and finding joy in your work. He is “a Harvard Business School educated, best-selling author and management consultant who moonlights as an urban shaman,” says Business Week. Whiteley co-founded The Forum Corporation, a large, global business training and consulting firm, teaches at business schools across the country, and currently offers his expertise at The Whiteley Group. Whiteley is an award-winning leader and consultant and a dynamic presenter. He earned a BA from Wesleyan University, an MBA from Harvard, served in the United States Navy for 3½ years, and studied with medicine people for the past 18 years. Whitely has a healing practice in Boston that is based on his study and practice of shamanism. His work has included power animal retrievals and soul retrieval for individuals and organizations. He has recently performed as a percussionist and vocalist on a new CD entitled “Shamanheart“. With his three sons, he has also created a drumming CD for assistance in shamanic journeying.

Why Shamanism Now? A Practical Path to Authenticity“, a live internet talk radio with host Christina Pratt, airs Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Pacific time/2 p.m. Eastern time Each week host Christina Pratt and guests explore the practical application of shamanic skills in our contemporary lives to create robust well-being, strong and clear community connections, and life enriching spiritual maturity. Listeners can ask questions by calling 512-772-1938 or via Skype. Prior episodes from “Why Shamanism Now” can be downloaded for free from the iTunes library. Pratt also talks about Shamanic Healing on YouTube.

For more information on Christina Pratt, the Last Mask Center for Shamanic Healing, and workshops and classes with Pratt, or to order An Encyclopedia of Shamanism at a special discounted rate, visit Upcoming classes with Pratt include a new Cycle of Transformation Four Year training starting October 7; advanced shamanism trainings for experienced practitioners starting with “Outlaw Shamanism: Creating Ritual and Ceremony That Works” on November 11-13, 2011; “The Basics of Living Well” series open to all starting in January 2012; as well as Shamanic Journey Circles the third Tuesday of every month; Wisdom of the Shaman talks every third Friday; and Qigong classes every Wednesday, all in Portland, Oregon. For additional information or to arrange an interview with Pratt, please contact Linda Woznicki, 845-417-8811,

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Court Approves Historic Agreement to Speed Endangered Species Act Protection for 757 Imperiled Species

Court Approves Historic Agreement to Speed Endangered Species Act Protection for 757 Imperiled Species

Walrus, Wolverine, Albatross, Fisher, Mexican Gray Wolf, Sage Grouse,
Golden Trout Among Those Fast-tracked for Protection


Posted 09 September 2011, by Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity,


For Immediate Release, September 9, 2011

Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495



TUCSON, Ariz.— A federal judge today approved a landmark legal agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requiring the agency to make initial or final decisions on whether to add hundreds of imperiled plants and animals to the federal endangered species list by 2018. The court also approved an agreement with another conservation group that it had previously blocked based on legal opposition from the Center.

“The court’s approval today will allow this historic agreement to move forward, speeding protection for as many as 757 of America’s most imperiled species,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “The historic agreement gives species like the Pacific walrus, American wolverine and California golden trout a shot at survival.”

The Center wrote scientific listing petitions and/or filed lawsuits to protect the 757 species as part of its decade-long campaign to safeguard 1,000 of America’s most imperiled, least protected species. Spanning every taxonomic group, the species protected by the agreement include 26 birds, 31 mammals, 67 fish, 22 reptiles, 33 amphibians, 197 plants and 381 invertebrates.

“With approval of the agreement, species from across the nation will be protected,” said Greenwald. “Habitat destruction, climate change, invasive species and other factors are pushing species toward extinction in all 50 states, and this agreement will help turn the tide.”

Individual species included in the agreement include the walrus, wolverine, Mexican gray wolf, New England cottontail rabbit, three species of sage grouse, scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper (‘i‘iwi), California golden trout and Rio Grande cutthroat trout — as well as 403 southeastern river-dependent species, 42 Great Basin springsnails and 32 Pacific Northwest mollusks.

The agreement, formalized today with the judge’s approval, was signed by the Center and the Fish and Wildlife Service on July 12. Already dozens of species have been proposed for listing, including the Miami blue butterfly, one of the rarest butterflies in the United States.

While the agreement encompasses nearly all the species on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s official list of “candidates” for Endangered Species Act protection, two-thirds of the species in the agreement (499) are not on the list. This corresponds with the conclusion of numerous scientists and scientific societies that the extinction crisis is vastly greater than existing federal priority systems and budgets.

“The Endangered Species Act specifically allows scientists, conservationists and others to submit petitions to protect species,” said Greenwald. “These petitions play a critical role in identifying species in need and help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the ever-expanding task of protecting species threatened with extinction.”

The species in the agreement occur in all 50 states and several Pacific island territories. The top three states in the agreement are Alabama, Georgia and Florida, with 149, 121 and 115 species respectively. Hawaii has 70, Nevada 54, California 51, Washington 36, Arizona 31, Oregon 24, Texas 22 and New Mexico 18.

An interactive map and a full list of the 757 species broken down by state, taxonomy, name and schedule of protection are available here.

Highlighted species are below.

Species Highlights

American wolverine: A bear-like carnivore, the American wolverine is the largest member of the weasel family. It lives in mountainous areas of the West, where it depends on late-spring snowpacks for denning. The primary threats to its existence are shrinking snowpacks related to global warming, excessive trapping and harassment by snowmobiles.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned to list the wolverine as an endangered species in 1994. It was placed on the candidate list in 2010. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2013 and finalize the decision in 2014 if warranted.

Pacific walrus: A large, ice-loving, tusk-bearing pinniped, the Pacific walrus plays a major role in the culture and religion of many northern peoples. Like the polar bear, it is threatened by the rapid and accelerating loss of Arctic sea ice and oil drilling.

The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 2007. It was placed on the candidate list in 2011. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2017 and finalize the decision in 2018 if warranted.

Mexican gray wolf: Exterminated from, then reintroduced to the Southwest, the Mexican gray wolf lives in remote forests and mountains along the Arizona-New Mexico border. It is threatened by legal and illegal killing, which has hampered the federal recovery program, keeping the species down to 50 wild animals.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned to list it as an endangered species separate from other wolves in 2009. It is not on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2012 and finalize the decision in 2013 if warranted.

Black-footed albatross: A large, dark-plumed seabird that lives in northwestern Hawaii, the black-footed albatross is threatened by longline swordfish fisheries, which kill it as bycatch.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned to list this albatross as an endangered species in 2004. It is not on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection, determine it does not qualify, or find that it is warranted but precluded for protection in 2011.

Rio Grande cutthroat trout: Characterized by deep crimson slashes on its throat — hence the name “cutthroat” — the Rio Grande cutthroat is New Mexico’s state fish. It formerly occurred throughout high-elevation streams in the Rio Grande Basin of New Mexico and southern Colorado. Logging, road building, grazing, pollution and exotic species have pushed it to the brink of extinction.

The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 1998. It was placed on the candidate list in 2008. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2014 and finalize the decision in 2015 if warranted.

403 Southeast aquatic species: The southeastern United States contains the richest aquatic biodiversity in the nation, harboring 62 percent of the country’s fish species (493 species), 91 percent of its mussels (269 species) and 48 percent of its dragonflies and damselflies (241 species). Unfortunately the wholesale destruction, diversion, pollution and development of the Southeast’s rivers have made the region America’s aquatic extinction capital.

In 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity completed a 1,145-page, peer-reviewed petition to list 403 Southeast aquatic species as endangered, including the Florida sandhill crane, MacGillivray’s seaside sparrow, Alabama map turtle, Oklahoma salamander, West Virginia spring salamander, Tennessee cave salamander, Black Warrior waterdog, Cape Sable orchid, clam-shell orchid, Florida bog frog, Lower Florida Keys striped mud turtle, eastern black rail and streamside salamander.

Only 18 of Southeast aquatic species are on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will issue initial listing decisions on all 403 plants and animals in 2011.

Pacific fisher: A cat-like relative of minks and otters, the fisher is the only animal that regularly preys on porcupines. It lives in old-growth forests in California, Oregon and Washington, where it is threatened by logging.

The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list the fisher as an endangered species in 2000. It was placed on the candidate list in 2004. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2014 and finalize the decision in 2015 if warranted.

Cactus ferruginous pygmy owl: A tiny desert raptor, active in the daytime, the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl lives in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. It is threatened by urban sprawl and nearly extirpated from Arizona.

The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 1992. It was protected in 1997, then delisted on technical grounds in 2006. The Center repetitioned to protect it in 2007. It is not on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2011 and finalize the decision in 2012 if warranted.

42 Great Basin springsnails: Living in isolated springs of the Great Basin and Mojave deserts, springsnails play important ecological roles cycling nutrients, filtering water and providing food to other animals. Many are threatened by a Southern Nevada Water Authority plan to pump remote, desert groundwater to Las Vegas.

In 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list 42 springsnails as endangered species, including the duckwater pyrg, Big Warm Spring pyrg and Moapa pebblesnail. None are on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will issue initial listing decisions on all 42 species in 2011.

Scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper (Iiwi): This bright-red bird hovers like a hummingbird and has long been featured in the folklore and songs of native Hawaiians. It is threatened by climate change, which is causing mosquitoes that carry introduced diseases — including avian pox and malaria — to move into the honeycreeper’s higher-elevations refuges. It has been eliminated from low elevations on all islands by these diseases.

The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 2010. It is not on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2016 and finalize the decision in 2017 if warranted.

Ashy storm petrel: A small, soot-colored seabird that lives off coastal waters from California to Baja, Mexico, the ashy storm petrel looks like it’s walking on the ocean surface when it feeds. It is threatened by warming oceans, sea-level rise and ocean acidification.

The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it as an endangered species in 2007. It is not on the candidate list. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2013 and finalize the decision in 2014 if warranted.

Greater and Mono Basin sage grouse: Sage grouse are showy, ground-dwelling birds that perform elaborate mating dances, with males puffing up giant air sacks on their chests. The Mono Basin sage grouse lives in Nevada and California. The greater sage grouse lives throughout much of the Interior West. Both are threatened by oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing, development and off-road vehicles.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned to list the Mono Basin sage grouse as an endangered species in 2005. It was placed on the candidate list in 2010. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2013 and finalize the decision in 2014 if warranted.

The greater sage grouse was petitioned for listing in 2002 and placed on the candidate list in 2010. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2015 and finalize the decision in 2016 if warranted.

Miami blue butterfly: An ethereal beauty native to South Florida and possibly the most endangered insect in the United States, the Miami blue was thought extinct after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 but rediscovered in 1999. It is threatened by habitat loss and pesticide spraying.

It was petitioned for listing as an endangered species in 2000 and placed on the candidate list in 2005. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list it on an emergency basis in 2011. Under the agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was required to propose it for protection (or determine it does not qualify) in 2012 and finalize the decision in 2013 if warranted. In August, the agency protected the butterfly on an emergency basis. 

Oregon spotted frog: The Oregon spotted frog lives in wetlands from southernmost British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to northernmost California. It is threatened by habitat destruction and exotic species.

Read more about the Center’s historic 757-species agreement.



Subversive Environmental History

Subversive Environmental History


Posted 13 September 2011, by Evaggelos Vallianatos, Truthout,


Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm. Cimarron County, Oklahoma, USA, April 1936. (Photo: Arthur Rothstein / Farm Security Administration)

In an original essay Aldo Leopold wrote in volume 31 of the “Journal of Forestry,” in 1933, he connected the survival of America to an abiding respect for nature, especially the integrity of the land.

Leopold was professor at the University of Wisconsin. He was disturbed by America’s misuse of its forests, land and wildlife. He drew an intimate connection between land and civilization, insisting that civilization “is a state of mutual and interdependent cooperation between human animals, other animals, plants and soils, which may be disrupted at any moment by the failure of any of them.”

Disruption on a huge scale did take place in the United States in the 1930s, in Leopold’s time. In his classic, “A Sand County Almanac” (Oxford University Press, 1966), he likened the United States to “a hypochondriac, so obsessed with its own economic health as to have lost the capacity to remain healthy.”

In fact, Leopold saw the American obsession spreading throughout the world. He lamented: “The whole world is so greedy for more bathtubs that it has lost the stability necessary to build them, or even to turn off the tap” (p. xi).

Industrialized farmers “broke” the land causing a dust bowl in the Great Plains that dusted out some 3.5 million Okies, especially from Kansas and Oklahoma. Wrecking the land triggered the calamity of the Great Plains.

Some 30 years later, in the early 1960s, three books elaborated Leopold’s message to some degree. The first was “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson (Boston, 1962). Carson documented the misuse of pesticides, the heedless dumping of millions upon millions of pounds of biocides all over America, but especially in the lands of industrialized farmers.

The second book was “The Quiet Crisis” by Stewart Udall (New York, 1963). This is an absorbing history of what America did to its pristine and abundant, natural treasures of land, forests, rivers, lakes and mountains.

Udall paints not a pretty picture. He keeps talking of over-grazing, over-farming, cut-and-run policies of the timber barons, land grabbers, great giveaway, every man for himself and lumber tycoons in order to capture the violent relations of Americans toward nature in the first century and a half of the country’s life. The main characteristic of that era was plundering of the natural world by corporations and individuals.

White Americans also nearly exterminated the indigenous population, the only humans in the continent who had a land ethic. Whites also were responsible for the near annihilation of the beaver and the buffalo.

However, thanks to thinkers and activists like John Muir and Leopold and the policies of a few statesmen like Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, America, after the dust bowls of the 1930s, made the late transition to “conservation” policies, which are some kind of a tenuous truce in its ever-present war against nature.

Udall writes with doubtful conviction. He was in a position of power in the 1960s, but he failed to walk the talk.

Udall was the secretary of the Interior Department under presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He did precious little to stop the plunder of nature in America, especially in California when corporate farmers violated the law in grabbing subsidized water, incessantly becoming larger and larger.

The Department of the Interior was then and remains the largest owner of land in the United States.

Udall could have stopped the rising agribusiness empire in the West, ending the water subsidies to huge corporate farmers, putting an end to the decimation of public lands by ranchers and land grabbers, projects of both agribusiness and state and federal governments. However, he did nothing of the sort. His eloquent book was, in some measure, a quiet apologia steeped in guilt.

The third book is “Pesticides and the Living Landscape” by Robert L. Rudd (Madison, Wisconsin, 1964). This is a variation of the theme explored by Carson, only more scholarly and suggestive of the futility of trying to dominate nature with toxins. Rudd talks about the ruthless arrogance and the scientific incompetence and greed of those exploiting the land, hubris pitted against the eternal values and verities of the natural world.

These studies, especially “Silent Spring,” triggered all kinds of alarms in the country. The chemical industry called Carson “communist,” an old spinster who did not know science. President Kennedy and a few senators praised Carson.

The federal government, however, stayed on the sidelines. It started half-hearted policies of trying to control pollution and ecological despoliation.

The environmentalists also sided with Carson. Yet, for many of them it was not easy to fall in love with nature. They had the guilt of moneyed men who meant to do good while not infringing on the privileges of their class. With such muddled thinking, “environmentalism,” always deferential of corporations, never captured the country’s soul.

On the other hand, corporations remained on the offensive. Their armies of lobbyists and purchased academics have been killing the ecological idea even before it makes it to the print or public debate, especially that. They fight ferociously any plan to “regulate” their industrial activities while spreading disinformation about the environment, denying the country’s severe ecological crisis, even rejecting the toxic effects of agribusiness and the calamity of global warming.

On the face of such corporate audacity verging on gangsterism, the federal government remains polite and silent and supportive of corporations.

For example, in 1966, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) of the Department of the Interior administered by Udall published a pamphlet, “Fish, Wildlife and Pesticides” in which it described the serious ecological harm caused by farm sprays while assuring Americans, “There has been no Silent Spring – yet. The frogs croak their love songs, the wild geese fly north on schedule and the salmon splash their way upstream to spawn.”

Aside from this gentle if misleading treatment of pollution and death in nature, the FWS ignored the damming of the rivers threatening the salmon with extinction.

In December 1969, the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare elaborated the pesticide danger in greater detail in the hefty “Report of the Secretary’s Commission on Pesticides and Their Relationship to Environmental Health.”

The report said that, yes, pesticides are hazardous, indeed, they are threat to global ecosystems, but Americans have no choice but to adapt to them: they are indispensable to food production.

The report also, for the first time ever, documented environmental racism in America. Blacks receive greater dosages of pesticides than whites. The following figure shows the unequal amounts of poison in the form of DDT in the blood of whites and blacks:

Once the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came into being, it also started studying the effects of agricultural sprays. In the early 1970s, it completed 11 reports examining the uses of pesticides everywhere in nature and society: in forests, aquatic environment, suburban homes and farms.

The EPA’s Herbicide Report (1974) was an example of good science serving the public interest. The report, prepared by the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, was groundbreaking in its assessment of weed killers, bringing to light startling news: herbicides altering the nutrition value of crops, changing their physiology, making them appetizing to insects. Herbicides also cause insect-pest outbreaks while stimulating their reproduction (pp. 45, 61).

The EPA, however, did nothing with the findings of this report. In 1974, the EPA had some more bad news about the farmers’ spays, challenging the assumption that farmers use pesticides to increase food production. “Farmer’s Pesticide Use Decisions and Attitudes on Alternate Crop Protection Methods” by Rosmarie von Rumker, an EPA consultant, reported that farmers turned to pesticide merchants for advice and, second, chlorine-based sprays reduced the yield of corn and soybeans, the implication being that all toxics are inimical to crops.

This was the time of Jimmy Carter in the White House. Carter spoke about the 1970s being “a decade of environmental progress,” which started on January 1, 1970, with the signing into law of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Carter was effusive in his comments about NEPA calling it “the nation’s charter for protecting and improving the environment.”

However, Carter’s rosy picture of environmental progress was wrong. The NEPA is a good law but, like so many other good laws, corporations and their lobbyists, who had plenty to do in the writing of these laws, kept working through their purchased members of Congress, crippling the NEPA’s effectiveness, making it a routine administrative program of endless assessments without teeth. In addition, when it comes to agribusiness issues, the chemical industry, assisted by the scientists of the land grant universities, controls the mind and the policies of both farmers and policymakers, thus neutralizing the NEPA and all other legislation.

In July 1980, only a few months before the election of Reagan, the EPA published “Acid Rain,” a report on the sulfuric and nitric acids coming out of the stacks of American factories and cars burning fossil fuels. These acids travel hundreds of miles with the wind and then fall to the earth, forming deadly acid rain. Now, we know that the same factories and cars burning coal and petroleum also emit carbon dioxide, thus causing global warming.

One of the EPA scientists responsible for the preparation of the “Acid Rain” report, Richard Laska, said to me on March 17, 1988, that Reagan’s first EPA administrator, Anne Gorsuch, was so enraged by the findings of the “Acid Rain” report she “burned” it, perhaps symbolically.

The Carter administration also studied America’s agricultural crisis, the rural exodus of family farmers and the threatening rise of agribusiness as the dominant force in rural America. And, again, just before the Reagan men and women took over the government, the Carter Department of Agriculture (USDA) published two pioneering studies, one on organic agriculture: “Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming” (July 1980) and another on the precarious nature of American agriculture, becoming primarily agribusiness, “A Time to Choose” (January 1981).

Yet, the time to choose had just about expired. Agribusiness was in the saddle all over the country.

Robert van den Bosch, professor of biology at Berkeley, exposed the corruption in America’s agricultural and environmental education and policy establishment in his pioneering “The Pesticide Conspiracy” (New York, 1978).

The story van den Bosch tells is extraordinary, but true: Merchants of poison bribe professors and politicians, fund the suppression of research into traditional farming and treat the USDA and the EPA like subsidiaries of the chemical industry. They write the laws and enjoy the protection of the government.

From my experience at the EPA, where I worked from 1979 to 2004, I can certify that van den Bosch is right: the government envelops the industry’s corruption with the epiphenomena of science and regulation, so that the actions of the chemical industry mafia look both legal and routine.

Whether one is concerned about spreading cancer, the general decline in the quality of life throughout nature and society, global warming, the killing of America’s democratic family farming or children eating food contaminated with toxins, the source of the problem is the same: powerful corporations abusing society’s trust and the political system for their profits, using methods for food production which are not safe for humans or wildlife.

Indeed, I would argue that the mafia model is the unspoken factor in the government-industrial-academic complex determining the fate of agriculture, public health and the environment in the United States.

Consider these additional examples:

  1.  Children are by far the greatest victims of our toxic agriculture: Two scientists with the Environmental Defense Fund, now Environmental Defense, Stephanie G. Harris and Joseph H. Highland, reported that the late 1970s, when they studied children, were not “normal times,” children being “the defenseless victims of environmental pollution.” Their report, “Birthright Denied” (New York, 1977), was thorough and timely, examining all kinds of toxins found in mothers’ milk, including dioxins.Like Harris, a former reporter for The New York Times, Philip Shabecoff and his wife Alice Shabecoff, investigated the fate of children born and growing up in a toxic world. The result is “Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children” (New York, 2008), a powerful indictment of giant corporate polluters; agribusiness; large farmers and other poisoners responsible for higher rates of birth defects, cancer, asthma, autism and other deadly diseases of America’s children.
  2. In her 1983 book, “A Bitter Fog,” Carol Van Strum dissects the forces at work allowing for the endless spraying and contamination of nature by pesticides, especially those carrying with them dioxins, by far the most lethal of toxic substances of industrialized societies. Van Strum said to me in the spring of 1989 that, once the Sierra Club published her book, it immediately pulled it back from the market. She had no doubt that it was herbicide merchants who set fire to her house, killing her children in the woods of Oregon.
  3. In order to undermine the public’s fear of cancer and dilute the charge it was approving cancer-causing chemicals for food, in the mid-1980s, the EPA, with the blessings of the Reagan White House and Congress, funded the US National Academy of Sciences to “study” the Delaney Clause, the only provision in the federal law prohibiting cancer-causing chemicals – carcinogens – in processed food. In its 1987 report, “Regulating Pesticides in Food,” the Academy prepared the ground for the EPA to dismantle the Delaney Clause, which the Academy renamed the “Delaney Paradox.”By 1987, cancer-causing sprays were pervasive in American crops and food. Sixty percent of weed killers were carcinogens, 90 percent of crop disease-fighting chemicals (fungicides) were carcinogens and 30 percent of insect sprays were also cancer-causing chemicals. And since most of the crop spays concentrate in processed food, the easy, but dangerous, option for the EPA was to get rid of the troubling prohibition, which the EPA did with fanfare in 1996 under a Republican-dominated Congress, but a Democratic White House. President Bill Clinton; the EPA administrator Carol Browner; and Dr. Lynn Goldman, a pediatrician and assistant administrator for pesticides at the EPA, signed off on that abhorrent policy.
  4. While the united Democrats-Republicans on Capitol Hill and the White House and the EPA were celebrating the elimination of the Delaney Clause, three researchers, two environmental scientists and one journalist, Theo Colborn, John Peterson Myers and Dianne Dumanoski authored “Our Stolen Future” (New York, 1996). This was another silent spring-like story, updated to include the effects of hormone-like toxins, many of them farm sprays, on humans and wildlife. The book documented the effects of the toxic hormone imposters to be global and lasting – causing malformations of newborns and declining fertility in wildlife and humans.

Al Gore, vice president of the United States, wrote the preface to “Our Stolen Future.” Yet, his former personal assistant who had become the EPA administrator, Browner, ignored the tragedy of the hormone-like sprays in the environment.

In this shameless fashion, Gore repeated his inaction on global warming about which he wrote a good book while a US senator: “Earth in the Balance” (Boston, 1992). Gore was vice president and Browner the administrator of the EPA from 1993 to 2001. Gore did nothing on global warming and Browner did nothing to protect human health and nature from the torrent of dangers issuing from America’s industrial establishment.

However, being out of power brought Gore back to his senses and he became a passionate defender of the earth, publishing an honest and eloquent book on global warming: “An Inconvenient Truth” (Rodale Press) in 2005. On October 12, 2007, he earned the Nobel Prize for peace for his eloquent and courageous stand on the environmental emergency we face because of global warming.

Gore’s late conversion does not diminish his failure as a politician. Adding insult to injury, the Clinton-Gore administration appointed a woman pediatrician, Goldman, to administer the EPA’s largest office, which was responsible for pesticides and other toxic chemicals, my base for most of the years of my tenure at the EPA.

Goldman kept talking about children’s health, but her policies, like those of Browner, left children in the same terrible condition they had been and continue to be under Republican and Democratic administrations.

Environmentalism is in crisis in the United States. Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus (“The Death of Environmentalism,” Grist Magazine, January 13, 2005) argue – still persuasively six years later – that environmentalists have to rethink everything they do.

Environmentalists do not fail because they don’t have consistent or attractive values. They do. Environmentalists fail because their opponents – mafia-like corporate plunderers of nature, unethical academic scientists, large farmers, oil companies, power companies, mountain destroyers, developers of wetlands, loggers, industrial fishers  and other industrialists – are armed to the teeth.

These businessmen make up the military-industrial complex. They often do their work under various covers. Some of them operate behind the façade of nonprofit or faith-based organizations, as well as domestic and international development.

They make up a kleptocracy instrumental in the making of environmental policy. For example, preachers like Pat Robertson and Republican politicians set the tone of the George W. Bush administration’s outrageous attack against both nature and public health.

The Obama administration comes perilously close to following on the footsteps of the Bush administration. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, an EPA colleague fired by the Bush administration, wrote a letter to the EPA administrator Lisa Jackson (August 5, 2011) in which she accused her of fostering “a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation.”

Evaggelos Vallianatos
Evaggelos Vallianatos is the author of “This Land is Their Land” and “The Passion of the Greeks.”

Disease Ecology – Kunz


Disease Ecology – Kunz


Posted 12 September 2011, by Professor Thomas Kunz, Boston University Research,



White-nose syndrome (WNS) was first identified in 2006 as an emerging infectious disease of bats and has since been implicated in widespread population collapses and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of animals. Since then, the epidemiology behind this disease indicates that regional extinctions of the little brown bat (M. lucifugus), one of the most abundant bat species in North America, are likely to occur. Because of the importance of bats as predators of numerous pest insect species, it is imperative that we begin to address this rapidly developing problem in order to avoid the potential collapse of affected ecosystems as well as the potential of increased incidence of arthropod-borne diseases. MHC genes are the most polymorphic loci known in vertebrates and this diversity is well appreciated to play an important role in resistance to infectious disease. MHC genes encode cell surface glycoproteins whose primary role is! to present self and non-self peptides to circulating T lymphocytes (T-cells), which are essential components of the vertebrate immune system. This study seeks to first characterize MHC diversity in little brown bat populations, and to then correlate this diversity with patterns of resistance to WNS. Understanding the impacts of WNS on little brown bat MHC diversity offers one of the first chances to identify how an infectious agent influences contemporary patterns of selection on immunologically relevant loci.  Also, from a practical standpoint, characterizing MHC genetic variation within little brown bat populations could be useful for identifying whether there is a genetic basis for resistance to WNS. This could allow biologists to focus conservation efforts/resources on more susceptible bat populations. As MHC diversity is primarily important for the adaptive immune response, this study would also be useful for identifying whether adaptive or innate immunity is more important for resistance to this infectious agent.