Rachel's Democracy & Health News #844, March 2, 2006

WHY CIVILIZATIONS DECLINE

[Rachel's introduction: Some civilizations reach their peak of power and then suddenly collapse and remain in decline or even disappear. Others thrive for thousands of years. What accounts for the difference, and what does it matter to the U.S.?]

By Peter Montague

The year 2005 began with an interesting choice by the editors of the New York Times -- the first op ed of the year was a long essay{1} by Jared Diamond{2} called "The ends of the world as we know them." Diamond won the Pulitzer prize for his non-fiction book, "Guns, Germs, and Steel{3}" and later in 2005 he published "Collapse; How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed{4}."

Diamond's op-ed offers an analysis of why civilizations collapse. It is an essay obviously intended to make us ask, "Does our civilization have what it takes to survive?" In the opening paragraph he says, "In this fresh year, with the United States seemingly at the height of its power and at the start of a new presidential term, Americans are increasingly concerned and divided about where we are going. How long can America remain ascendant? Where will we stand 10 years from now, or even next year?"

Diamond goes on: "Such questions seem especially appropriate this year. History warns us that when once-powerful societies collapse, they tend to do so quickly and unexpectedly. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise: peak power usually means peak population, peak needs, and hence peak vulnerability. What can be learned from history that could help us avoid joining the ranks of those who declined swiftly?"

Diamond tells the stories of a few past civilizations that collapsed and rapidly disappeared -- the Maya{5} of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico; the Polynesian societies on Henderson{6} and Pitcairn{7} islands in the tropical Pacific Ocean; the Anasazi{8} in the American southwest; the ancient societies of the Fertile Crescent{9}; the Khmer{10} at Angkor Wat; and the Moche{11} society of Peru, among others.

Diamond then offers a long list of other societies that followed a different trajectory and survived for very long periods in Japan{12}, Tonga{13}, Tikopia{14}, the New Guinea{15} Highlands, and Central and Northwest Europe, among others. So collapse is not inevitable. Collapse is the result of choices.

Diamond asserts that collapse results from 5 inter-woven factors:

1. The damage that people have inflicted on their environment;

2. Climate change;

3. Enemies;

4. Changes in friendly trading partners;

5. Society's political, economic, and social responses to those shifts.

After telling the stories of particular societies that collapsed or prospered, Diamond asks pointedly, "What lessons can we draw from history?"

Take environmental problems seriously

He answers bluntly: "The most straightforward [lesson from history]: take environmental problems seriously. They destroyed societies in the past, and they are even more likely to do so now. If 6,000 Polynesians with stone tools were able to destroy Mangareva Island{16}, consider what six billion people with metal tools and bulldozers are doing today. Moreover, while the Maya collapse affected just a few neighboring societies in Central America, globalization now means that any society's problems have the potential to affect anyone else. Just think how crises in Somalia{17}, Afghanistan{18} and Iraq{19} have shaped the United States today."

The second reasons for collapse is "failure of group decision-making."

Diamond then offers three kinds of failure of decision-making:

Decision-making failure #1: "One reason involves conflicts of interest, whereby one group within a society (for instance, the pig farmers who caused the worst erosion in medieval Greenland and Iceland) can profit by engaging in practices that damage the rest of society," Diamond writes.

Examples of this in contemporary society might include

** The petrochemical industry that reaps mountainous profits by selling products that are heating up the planet, contaminating our bodies with biologically-active industrial poisons, and leaving tens of thousands of chemically-contaminated waste sites for taxpayers to try to deal with.

** Another example might be the tobacco industry that is now hawking its cancer-causing wares to unsuspecting children world-wide.

This list could be readily extended because the U.S. pays only lip service to the important principle that "the polluter shall pay{20}." More often than not, in the U.S. the polluter is subsidized by the federal government to evade paying.

Decision-making failure #2: "... [T]he pursuit of short-term gains at the expense of long-term survival, as when fishermen overfish the stocks on which their livelihoods ultimately depend."

** We might include in this category, unsustainable logging practices; industrialized agriculture, which depletes topsoil and contaminates water with fertilizer and pesticides; and waste- treatment plants that discharge wastes into waters that must then be cleaned for drinking and other essential purposes.

Decision failure #3: "History also teaches us two deeper lessons about what separates successful societies from those heading toward failure."

Deep lesson #1: "A society contains a built-in blueprint for failure if the elite insulates itself from the consequences of its actions."

** With 10% of the U.S. population owning 71% of all private wealth{21}, we do not have to look far to see this principle at work in the U.S.

--The Walmartization of the economy{22} is one example -- getting rid of good, family-sustaining jobs and substituting low-wage jobs with no benefits and no job security. This does not hurt the 10%, but ultimately it weakens the social fabric that sustains the other 90% of us.

--The privatization{23} of public services is another example -- depleting the ranks of the civil service that provides continuity and expertise to government from one administration to the next. The firms that run the private prisons, the privatized public schools, the private water-supplies, the private highways, the privatized environmental services -- those firms can make out like bandits but the rest of us stand by helplessly as the capacity of our governmental institutions withers and our common wealth{24} disappears.

--The refusal to provide pensions for workers would be a third example -- when a Reagan-appointed judge allows United Airlines to walk away from its pension obligations, it's good for the company's bottom line, and other firms quickly follow suit. Renouncing pension responsibilities{25} is now epidemic. Meanwhile, government -- dominated as it is by the 10% -- is working mightily to cut back Medicare{26} and Medicaid{27}. The 10% do not have to ask who will care for them in their old age, but the other 90% of us do and for many the answer is nothing but an empty question mark.

Deep lesson #2: "The other deep lesson involves a willingness to re- examine long-held core values, when conditions change and those values no longer make sense."

Here, Jared Diamond provides his own examples of the U.S. clinging to dangerously outmoded ideas:

"In this New Year, we Americans have our own painful reappraisals to face. Historically, we viewed the United States as a land of unlimited plenty, and so we practiced unrestrained consumerism, but that's no longer viable in a world of finite resources. We can't continue to deplete our own resources as well as those of much of the rest of the world.

"Historically, oceans protected us from external threats; we stepped back from our isolationism only temporarily during the crises of two world wars. Now, technology and global interconnectedness have robbed us of our protection. In recent years, we have responded to foreign threats largely by seeking short-term military solutions at the last minute.

"But how long can we keep this up? Though we are the richest nation on earth, there's simply no way we can afford (or muster the troops) to intervene in the dozens of countries where emerging threats lurk -- particularly when each intervention these days can cost more than $100 billion and require more than 100,000 troops. [The Iraq war has cost the U.S. $244 billion so far{28}, with no end in sight.--PM]

"A genuine reappraisal would require us to recognize that it will be far less expensive and far more effective to address the underlying problems of public health, population and environment that ultimately cause threats to us to emerge in poor countries. In the past, we have regarded foreign aid as either charity or as buying support; now, it's an act of self-interest to preserve our own economy and protect American lives."

To me the most important point in Jared Diamond's essay is this one:

"A society contains a built-in blueprint for failure if the elite insulates itself from the consequences of its actions." This is surely the case in the United States today.

The remedy for this problem is more democratic decision-making. Decisions should be made with real participation by the people who will be affected. (For information about how this is working now in some places, see here{29} and here{30}).

If this simple principle were practised to a greater extent that it is today, most of the problems that threaten our civilization could be reversed or considerably diminished. On the other hand, if we continue to allow a tiny elite to manage the economy and run the government for their own narrow, selfish purposes, the outlook for long-term success is dim.

==============

Jared Diamond is the author of The Third Chimpanzee; The Evolution and the Future of the Human Animal (N.Y. Harper Perennial, 1992; ISBN 0060183071); Guns, Germs and Steel (N.Y.: W.W. Norton, 1999; ISBN 0393317552); and Collapse; How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (N.Y. Penguin, 2005; ISBN 0670033375).

{1} http://www.precaution.org/lib/06/ends_of_the_world.050101.htm

{2} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Diamond

{3} http://www.powells.com/biblio/18-0393317552-0

{4} http://www.powells.com/biblio/18-0143036556-0

{5} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_civilization

{6} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henderson_Island

{7} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitcairn_Island

{8} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anasazi

{9} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertile_crescent

{10} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_Empire

{11} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moche

{12} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Japan

{13} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonga

{14} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikopia

{15} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Guinea

{16} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangareva

{17} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somalia

{18} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghanistan

{19} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq

{20} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polluter_pays_principle

{21} http://www.ufenet.org/research/Economic_Apartheid_Data.html#p55

{22} http://www.nathannewman.org/log/archives/001691.shtml

{23} http://onthecommons.org/blog/2?PHPSESSID=77592fc27ad8818c0db4094c511ae9d7

{24} http://onthecommons.org/blog/2?PHPSESSID=77592fc27ad8818c0db4094c511ae9d7

{25} http://www.precaution.org/lib/06/new_corporate_outsourcing060129.htm

{26} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare

{27} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicaid

{28} http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182

{29} http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/index.cfm?issue_ID=2415

{30} http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/index.cfm?issue_ID=2416

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Rachel's Democracy & Health News #844, March 2, 2006

From: New York Times, Feb. 21, 2006

MONEY AND MEDICINE: RICHER OR POORER, HEALTH AND WEALTH ARE LINKED

[Rachel's introduction: A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms that people with lower "socioeconomic status" are twice as likely to die in any given period of time, even after taking into account age, sex, race and current smoking habits.]

By Nicholas Bakalar

A new report{1} issued last week adds support to the premise that poor people are in worse physical condition and have an increased risk for death compared with those who are better off.

The findings, published last week in The Journal of the American Medical Association, examined more than 30,000 patients consecutively referred to the Cleveland Clinic for stress testing. The researchers assigned a socioeconomic status score to each patient by matching the home address to economic data in the 2000 census.

Patients exercised on a treadmill while being measured for the maximum amount of oxygen they consumed during exercise, usually called functional capacity, and for heart rate recovery, or the amount the heart rate decreases during the first minute after exercise.

Both slower heart rate recovery and lower functional capacity were associated with lower socioeconomic status, even after controlling for age, race, smoking and body mass index.

The subjects were then followed for an average of six and a half years, through February 2004, to track their survival.

There were 2,174 deaths during the period, and patients in the lowest quarter of socioeconomic status score were twice as likely to have died as those in the highest quarter, even though the two groups did not differ in age, sex, race or current smoking habits.

Dr. Michael S. Lauer, the study's senior author and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Case Western Reserve University, said that poverty itself could be a cause of disease or death.

"Some people think that poverty causes stress to the autonomic nervous system, the part that regulates blood pressure and heart rate," Dr. Lauer said. "Stress to the autonomic nervous system can manifest as hypertension and poor fitness."

{1} http://www.precaution.org/lib/06/socio-econ_status_and_mortality060215.pdf

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Rachel's Democracy & Health News #844, March 2, 2006

From: Environmental Working Group, Feb. 28, 2006

CHILDREN'S DRINKS CONTAIN INGREDIENTS THAT CAN FORM BENZENE

[Rachel's introduction: The government has known since 1990 that vitamin C can combine with other common soft-drink ingredients to form benzene -- a powerful industrial solvent and potent carcinogen (see Rachel's #647{1}). Recent studies found benzene levels in some popular 'kids' drinks that were 2 to 4 times what's "acceptable" in drinking water. And benzene is only one among many health problems linked to our soda pop culture, including obesity, tooth decay, caffeine dependence, and weakened bones.]

FDA silent despite knowledge of the problem

Agency Trusted Industry to Change Formulas in 1990, Yet Still Finds Sodas with Benzene

By Abid Aslam

WASHINGTON -February 28 -Today the Environmental Working Group (EWG) sent a letter{2} to the FDA requesting that the Agency notify the public about the presence of two ingredients in many popular children's drinks that can mix together to form the cancer-causing chemical benzene. The FDA last addressed this problem more than 15 years ago when it entered into a voluntary agreement with the beverage industry to reformulate its products to avoid the presence of this hazardous mixture. It appears, based on news reports and a sampling by EWG of popular children's drinks from retail outlets, that many manufacturers have not complied.

In 1990, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) learned that certain soft drinks marketed to children contain two ingredients that can mix in the soda to form the toxic carcinogen benzene. The Agency didn't tell the public, but instead merely asked companies to voluntarily change their formulas to eliminate the problem.

So far in 2006, two news outlets have reported that the Agency is again testing soft drinks, finding benzene sometimes at levels above the safe limit for drinking water, and asking companies to change their formulas. To date the FDA has concealed this information from the public.

On February 24 and February 27, 2006, EWG staff found many juices and sodas at major national retail outlets containing the ingredients that can form benzene. The beverage industry appears to have flagrantly ignored the 1990 agreement to eliminate chemical combinations that can form benzene in their products and the FDA, by all accounts, has done nothing about it.

"Benzene is a potent carcinogen that has no place in foods and drinks targeted to children," said Richard Wiles, Sr. Vice President of Environmental Working Group. "We urge the FDA to immediately issue a statement telling consumers which ingredients in foods and drinks can combine to form benzene," Wiles added.

In the meantime EWG is providing the following information to consumers:

To steer clear of chemicals in foods and drinks that can mix together to form benzene, consumers should avoid products that contain both ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and either sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate. "Once again, the FDA has sided with industry and against the public, in this case by concealing simple information that would allow people to easily avoid benzene in the drinks they give their children," said Wiles. "Once people have this information, we are convinced that food and drink manufacturers will simply reformulate their products, as many already have done, and as FDA originally intended in 1990."

Additional Resources

A list of drinks containing ascorbic acid and either sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate{3}

UK, Germany testing sodas, too{4}

FDA quietly investigating?{5}

WJLA-TV news report{6}

{1} http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/index.cfm?issue_ID=1316

{2} http://www.ewg.org/issues/toxics/20060228/letter20060228.php

{3} http://www.ewg.org/issues/toxics/20060228/list.php

{4} http://www.foodanddrinkeurope.com/news/ng.asp?n=65933-benzene-soft-drinks-food-safety

{5} http://www.beveragedaily.com/news/ng.asp?id=65840

{6} http://www.ewg.org/news/video.php?id=5111

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Rachel's Democracy & Health News #844, March 2, 2006

From: Independent (UK), Feb. 27, 2006

DUMPED ELECTRICAL GOODS: A GIANT PROBLEM

[Rachel's introduction: As the electronic age progresses, the environmental costs grow exponentially. If full-lifecycle manufacturing were embraced, the vast majority of e-waste could be recycled. An average desktop computer holds 14 pounds of plastic, 4 pounds of lead, 8 pounds of aluminum and smaller amounts of arsenic, mercury and beryllium.]

By Martin Hickman

This year [in Britain] we will discard 100 million TVs, computers, stereos and mobile phones as we're seduced by ever newer models. They could all be recycled -so why aren't they?

What do you do with your old telly -the black set that now looks so dull when compared to its silver digital and widescreen betters? And what about your old computer, a hulking grey box superseded by the sleek, exciting new Apple? Or your old drill, mobile phone or any other electrical product broken or deemed surplus to requirements in our increasingly throwaway society?

Some people dump these once-treasured items of progress in the bin, the tip, from where they make their way to landfill sites. There, their heavy metals like mercury poison the ground and raw materials are lost to future generations. Some, who cannot bring themselves to jettison items once so coveted and useful, put them in the loft. Then throw them away when they move.

Nationally, Britain's electronic mountain is crashing into landfill at an extraordinary rate. No one knows exactly how much is thrown away because it is dumped along with the kitchen scraps and broken furniture. But industry sources estimate that 100 million fridges, TVs, computers, mobile phones and other items of electronic equipment are discarded every year. They weigh 936,000 tons -the same as 2,400 jumbo jets.

The startling fact is that all of these products can be recycled using new technology; the country's first Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) recycling plant has just opened in the North-east. And none should even be entering the dumps at all. By August 2005, Britain was supposed to have introduced new European rules stipulating that all electronic waste be recycled. Under the directive, retailers of electronic goods pay for the collection and producers pay for the recycling. This has been introduced in all almost EU countries -but not in Britain. The Government's response has been slow. We are now, along with France and Malta, incurring the wrath of the EU and probably heavy fines.

Britain first announced that the directive would be in place by last March, then the date moved to August. Then December. Then, in mid- December, the energy minister Malcolm Wicks announced a review of the directive -with no end date. In its defence, the Department of Trade and Industry says it wants to get implementation right. "It doesn't seem right to rush it through just to meet a deadline," says a spokeswoman.

The delay has infuriated environmentalists. Michael Warhurst, senior waste and resources campaigner at Friends of the Earth, says: "WEEE is very important. It's a complete waste of resources to be taking these electronic items and dumping them in landfill sites. In Britain we have a pretty pathetic situation where the Government should have implemented WEEE and hasn't."

The Government says the delay is due to ongoing discussions about how to enact the directive. A study suggests it will cost between £229m and 500m -2 to 5 for each product.

Arguments have raged about how best to collect all those old TV sets. Should there be neighbourhood collection sites for the smaller items like kettles, similar to bottle banks? Should everyone take their products to a point at the municipal dump? Should consumers return stuff to the retailers?

The electronics industry, which would have to foot the bill, is sanguine about the continuing discussion. "The cost implication is large, and poor implementation could have massive repercussions on UK businesses, consumers and the environment," says a spokesman for the Recycling Electrical Producers' Industry Consortium (Repic), which represents the makers of 80 per cent of electrical goods.

Friends of the Earth believes the mess surrounding the EU directive is symptomatic of a wider reluctance by Labour to introduce environmental measures that inconvenience business. "What we have seen here is that they keep consulting and trying to reach a consensus position, and that's not working. Governments that show a bit of leadership go to consultation and then say: 'Right, this is what we are going to do'."

Frustration is also being felt at Wincanton, the British company that has spent £4.5m installing the UK's first WEEE recycling unit near Middlesbrough. The machine takes whole computers, microwaves and so on, cracks them open and sorts the materials for re-use in new products. The breaking happens when the products fall into the machine and crash into one another as they are spun in a vortex. MeWa, the German maker of the machine, likens it to "cracking the nut".

Once broken, the components are sent into containers of ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals. The metals are shredded for re-use. The plastic is granulated for re-use. The gases inside the machines are siphoned off for re-use. On a conveyor belt at the centre of the machine workers pick off special items, like circuit boards, which contain gold.

The machine, one of about 20 in Europe, can recycle 75,000 tons of electronics a year -equivalent to 800,000 washing machines. Two hundred people armed with screwdrivers would be required to carry out the same job.

Yet local authorities are not sending truckloads of material to the plant. Until the directive comes into force, Wincanton is relying on retailers forwarding on faulty goods, and the appliances it remove swhen it delivers new products to homes.

The main business of the FTSE 250 company is delivering goods for major retailers. It hopes WEEE recycling will use up spare capacity on its empty lorries and has six depots waiting to collect products.

Gordon Scott, managing director of its industrial division and a self- confessed late convert to environmentalism, says: "The bottom line is we cannot go on as we have been going on. We cannot landfill as we have been landfilling. We have got to do something like this."

Having made a downpayment of some millions, he is hoping Britain begins to recycle its TVs and computers very soon.

Fashion beats functionality in a throwaway society

We buy more stuff and throw it away faster than at any point in our history. Electronic goods lose their lustre for consumers quicker now because of advances in technology and lower prices.

Buying a basic television has never been so cheap, relatively speaking. In the past, people would call a television repairman to fix the telly when it went on the blink. Nowadays they often pop down to the high street to buy a new set -which may not cost more than their old set did five years before.

Fashion is also playing an increasing role -functional but unfashionable products are now jettisoned for the latest model. Mobile phones are considered out of date by Dixons after just six to nine months. Mere function is not enough -flashiness is now essential.

"Our attitude to technology has changed from using something until it breaks beyond repair, to constantly replacing it because something cooler is in the market," says Tom Dunmore, editor-in-chief of the gadget magazine Stuff.

"I know of people with five or six iPods who change their mobile phone every few months. And they're not unusual."

Mark Strutt, senior campaigner at Greenpeace, says: "We consume vast amounts of electronic goods and throw them away. Mobile phones are a classic example, where they are more or less designed to be thrown away after a few years. Another prime example is the MP3 player, which does not have a battery that can be changed or recharged."

Copyright 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

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Rachel's Democracy & Health News #844, March 2, 2006

From: Sunday Times (London, UK), Feb. 26, 2006

ACID SEAS KILL OFF CORAL REEFS

[Rachel's introduction: As global carbon dioxide levels rise, the oceans are growing more acidic. Scientists now believe that a critical threshold for sea-life is being crossed, which could further the decline of corals and shellfish populations which are highly sensitive to acidity levels. This in turn would reduce the uptake of C02 (oceans absorb about half the C02 we produce) worsening the problem of global warming.]

By Jonathan Leake

The world's coral reefs could disappear within a few decades along with hundreds of species of plankton and shellfish, according to new studies into man's impact on the oceans.

Researchers have found that carbon dioxide, the gas already blamed for causing global warming, is also raising the acid levels in the sea. The shells of coral and other marine life dissolve in acid. The process is happening so fast that many such species, including coral, crabs, oysters and mussels, may become unable to build and repair their shells and will die out, say the researchers.

"Increased carbon dioxide emissions are making the world's oceans more acidic and could cause a mass extinction of marine life similar to the one that occurred on land when the dinosaurs disappeared," said Professor Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's global ecology department.

When CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels dissolves in the ocean, it forms carbonic acid. A little of this can benefit marine life by providing carbonate ions ' a vital constituent in the biochemical process by which sea creatures such as corals and molluscs build their shells.

Caldeira found, however, that the huge volumes of carbon dioxide being released by humans are dissolving into the oceans so fast that sea creatures can no longer absorb it. Consequently, the levels of carbonic acid are rising and the oceans are "turning sour".

Speaking at the American Geophysical Union's ocean sciences conference in Hawaii last week, Caldeira said: "The current rate of carbon dioxide input is nearly 50 times higher than normal. In less than 100 years, the pH (measure of alkalinity) of the oceans could drop by as much as half a unit from its natural 8.2 to about 7.7."

This would mark a huge change in ocean chemistry. The shells of marine creatures are made of calcium carbonate, the same substance as chalk, which is vulnerable to acidity. Even a slight increase in acidity would mean many creatures would dissolve. Others might be able to rebuild their shells but would be unable to reproduce.

Nature, the scientific journal, recently published a study by Jim Orr, of the Laboratory for Science of the Climate and Environment, Paris. It said that by 2050 the Southern Ocean and subarctic regions of the Pacific might be so acidic that the shells of smaller marine creatures would start eroding.

Such a loss would have disastrous consequences for larger marine animals such as salmon, mackerel, herring, cod and baleen whales. These all feed on pteropods, or sea butterflies, one of the species most threatened by rising acidity.

Last week another warning was issued about the threat of acidity to sea life at the annual meeting in St Louis of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Katherine Richardson, professor of biological oceanography at Aarhus University in Denmark, said: "These marine creatures do humanity a great service by absorbing half the carbon dioxide we create. If we wipe them out, that process will stop. We are altering the entire chemistry of the oceans without any idea of the consequences."

Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.

[For more information about the issue of ocean acidification see the March edition of Scientific American article 'The Dangers of Ocean Acidification{1}'.]

###

{1} http://www.precaution.org/lib/06/ocean_acidification_from_c02_060301.pdf

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Rachel's Democracy & Health News #844, March 2, 2006

Rachel's Democracy & Health News (formerly Rachel's Environment & Health News) highlights the connections between issues that are often considered separately or not at all.

The natural world is deteriorating and human health is declining because those who make the important decisions aren't the ones who bear the brunt. Our purpose is to connect the dots between human health, the destruction of nature, the decline of community, the rise of economic insecurity and inequalities, growing stress among workers and families, and the crippling legacies of patriarchy, intolerance, and racial injustice that allow us to be divided and therefore ruled by the few.

In a democracy, there are no more fundamental questions than, "Who gets to decide?" And, "How DO the few control the many, and what might be done about it?"

Rachel's Democracy and Health News is published as often as necessary to provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

Editors: Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org

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Rachel's Democracy & Health News (formerly Rachel's Environment & Health News) highlights the connections between issues that are often considered separately or not at all.

The natural world is deteriorating and human health is declining because those who make the important decisions aren't the ones who bear the brunt. Our purpose is to connect the dots between human health, the destruction of nature, the decline of community, the rise of economic insecurity and inequalities, growing stress among workers and families, and the crippling legacies of patriarchy, intolerance, and racial injustice that allow us to be divided and therefore ruled by the few.

In a democracy, there are no more fundamental questions than, "Who gets to decide?" And, "How DO the few control the many, and what might be done about it?"

Rachel's Democracy and Health News is published as often as necessary to provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

Editors:
Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org

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