Rachel's Democracy & Health News #869
Thursday, August 24, 2006

From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #868 ..........[This story printer-friendly]
August 16, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: If everyone lived at the standard of the industrialized countries, it would take two planets comparable to the planet Earth to support them, three more if the population should double, and, if worldwide standards of living should double over the next 40 years, twelve additional "Earths." ...We have been obsessed by thinking, hoping, deluding ourselves that we can somehow go on forever with business as usual, but [we] simply cannot. -- Peter H. Raven]

By Peter Montague

[Here we continue summarizing two important articles by biologist Peter H. Raven, who was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) during 2002: his presidential address to the AAAS in 2002, and a companion piece.

In part 1 of this series, Dr. Raven pointed out that the human population was 2.5 billion in 1950 and is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. It is roughly 6.3 billion today. As humans expand their domination of the earth, other species are being squeezed out. Dr. Raven cites projections that 2/3rds of all species will disappear from the earth during this century.

In some instances we have changed the order of presentation of facts from Dr. Raven's essays. Text inside square brackets is our editorial comment.--P.M.]

The Present Human Standard of Living

About a quarter of humanity lives in what the World Bank defines as absolute poverty, on less than $1 per day. Depending on the criteria used, between an eighth and a half of the world's people are malnourished, with about 700 million of us literally starving. Some 14 million babies and young children under the age of four starve to death each year, at the rate of 35,000 per day.

In the world's poorest societies, women and children are literally disenfranchised, having to spend most of their time foraging for firewood or water, and unable to gain the benefits of education, which would enable them to contribute to the progress of their societies, or our own. Such relationships are inevitable in a world in which 20 percent of us control 80 percent of the total resources, and 80 percent of us have to make do with the rest.

The empowerment of women is one of the most critical needs for building a sustainable world for the future -- it simply cannot be postponed further, says Dr. Raven

In our country, where only about 4.5 percent of the world's people live, we control about 25 percent of the world's wealth, and produce 25-30 percent of the world's pollution. Clearly, we are dependent on the stability and productivity of nations all over the world to maintain our level of affluence: the time has long passed when we could act on our own, and rely on our own resources to maintain our standard of living. In the face of these relationships, it is remarkable that the United States, the richest nation that has ever existed on the face of the Earth, is the lowest donor of international development assistance on a per capita basis of any industrialized country. [All sources of U.S. aid combined, including federal, corporate, church, foundation, and individual total $60 billion, or $200 per person per year.]

The Human Footprint

"In the world as a whole, human beings are estimated to be using, wasting, or diverting nearly half of the total products of photosynthesis, which is essentially the sole source of nutrition not only for humans, but for all of the other organisms on Earth. Thus we, one of an estimated 10 million or more species, appropriate for ourselves half of the total biological productivity of our planet, while our numbers, our increasing levels of affluence (consumption), and our use of inappropriate technologies all increase our share of the total with every passing year," says Dr. Raven.

When it had become definite that India would attain independence, a British journalist interviewing Gandhi asked whether India would now follow the British pattern of development. Gandhi replied immediately "It took Britain half the resources of the planet to achieve this prosperity. How many planets will a country like India require?"

Ecological Footprint Analysis

A population's EF [ecological footprint] is the total area of productive land or sea required to produce all the crops, meat, seafood, wood and fiber that it consumes, to sustain its energy consumption and to provide space for its infrastructure. Viewed in these terms, the Earth has about 11.4 billion hectares of productive land and sea space. Divided by the current world population of 6.3 billion people, this amounts to about 1.8 hectares per person. [One hectare = 2.47 acres.]

The actual Ecological Footprint of an individual, however, is very unequal around the world: 1.3 hectares per person in Africa or Asia, about 5.0 hectares in Western Europe, and about 9.6 hectares in North America. The world consumer's average EF in 1999 was 2.3 hectares per person, so that we are about 22% beyond the planet's capacity to support us on a sustainable basis. We support ourselves, in a world in which 800 million people receive so little food that their brains cannot develop normally and their bodies are literally wasting away; three billion people are malnourished; and 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 per day, by means of a gigantic and continuing overdraft on the world's capital stocks of water, fossil energy, topsoil, forests, fisheries and overall productivity. We use the world, its soils, waters, and atmosphere as a gigantic dumping ground for pollutants, including the pollutants that render much surface water unusable, the carbon dioxide that is contributing directly to global warming and the atmospheric pollution that kills millions of people around the world annually.

It is estimated that the world's Ecological Footprint was about 70% of the planet's biological capacity in 1970, reaching 120% by 1999. And our population growth, demand for increased consumption, and continued use of inappropriate technologies are rapidly driving the ratio upward, indicating that we are already managing our planet's resources in an unsustainable way, much as if we used 30% of the funds available in our bank account each year with the expectation that they would somehow be replenished, or because we just didn't care.

We continue to assume that developing countries will somehow reach the level of the industrialized ones currently, while our good senses should tell us that that cannot be the case without making extraordinary changes in our assumptions and in the ways that we live.

In fact, Wackernagel and Rees have estimated that if everyone lived at the standard (rate of consumption, equivalent technologies) of the industrialized countries, it would take two planets comparable to the planet Earth to support them, three more if the population should double, and, if worldwide standards of living should double over the next 40 years, twelve additional "Earths."

Aspirations to such a standard of living everywhere are clearly unattainable, and yet advertising continues to reassure us that it is both appropriate and achievable, Dr. Raven says.

"Even those of us who live in rich countries continually strive to seek to increase their standards of living by increasing their levels of consumption," Dr. Raven observes.

"The paradox presented by these relationships can be solved only by achieving a stable population, finding a sustainable level of consumption globally, accepting social justice as the norm for global development, and developing improved technologies and practices to make sustainable development possible," says Dr. Raven.

The world view that so many of us share seems an unsuitable one for building a sustainable world, Dr. Raven says.

"In essence, we have been obsessed by thinking, hoping, deluding ourselves that we can somehow go on forever with business as usual, but [we] simply cannot," Dr. Raven concludes.

Then he shifts gears somewhat:

January 6, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, addressing Congress: "In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world."

For reasons that are starkly obvious, we are now focusing our attention massively on terrorism and the problems associated with terrorism. As the months go by, the real challenge facing us, however, will be whether we will come to regard the events of September 11 as specific and short-term, or whether we build on the events in analyzing their underlying causes and learning how to deal with those causes. Many of us agree with Leon Fuerth, who eloquently stated on the occasion of a recent forum in Washington, "A world in which the fate of poor and hungry people is of no interest to us is not a world in which we will ever be safe."

"[S]imply appropriating as much as possible of the world's goods and processing them as efficiently as possible can never be a recipe for long-term success, and ignorance of environmental principles can never assist us to lay proper foundations for a sound future. Perhaps if we had fully accepted the vision presented to us sixty years ago by President Roosevelt, and truly worked to make it a reality, we would now be on the way to achieving a peaceful and sustainable world. But it is not too late to accept that vision now," Dr. Raven says.

Ultimately, as those who have been considering the matter carefully over the past several months have come to realize, there is often no way to deter a committed terrorist, regardless of how clever and vigilant we may be. Consequently, the only way to build a secure world is to change both that world and our way of thinking about it.

[W]e can clearly find our way to a sustainable future only by achieving a sustainable population, finding a sustainable level of consumption globally, accepting social justice as the norm for global development, and finding the improved technologies and practices that will help us make sustainable development possible, Dr. Raven concludes.

[Continued next week.]


From: New York Times .....................................[This story printer-friendly]
August 22, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: "At the worst, a deepening water crisis would fuel violent conflicts, dry up rivers and increase groundwater pollution, the report says. It would also force the rural poor to clear ever more grasslands and forests to grow food and leave many more people hungry."]

By Celia W. Dugger

More than two billion people already live in regions facing a scarcity of water, and unless the world changes its ways over the next 50 years, the amount of water needed for a rapidly growing population will double, scientists warned in a study released yesterday.

At the worst, a deepening water crisis would fuel violent conflicts, dry up rivers and increase groundwater pollution, their report says. It would also force the rural poor to clear ever more grasslands and forests to grow food and leave many more people hungry.

The report, which draws on the research of more than 400 hydrologists, agronomists and other scientists, was sponsored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the world's premier network of agricultural research centers, among others.

The authors of the report, "Water for Good, Water for Life: Insights from the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture," concluded that countries confronting severe water shortages cannot simply employ the same strategies for increasing food production that have had dramatic success over the past half-century.

Since 1950, the acreage of land under irrigation -- a driving factor behind the Green Revolution that helped Asia feed itself -- has tripled. But some parts of the world, including the breadbaskets of India and China, the cotton belt of Central Asia and swaths of the Middle East, are reaching the physical limits of their water supplies.

Sub-Saharan Africa, the world's poorest region, has lacked the financial wherewithal to build dams and irrigation systems to get water to farms and homes in rural areas where most people live.

"We have to learn how to grow more food with less water," said David Molden, the principal researcher at the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka and the coordinator of the study. "That's imperative. We can't just keep expanding the land used."

In Africa, where having an adequate food supply is still a life-and- death issue, the scholars say governments and donors should focus on relatively inexpensive, small-scale methods for irrigating small, often widely scattered plots of land.

For example, farmers could use small tanks to store rainwater and apply it to crops through simple drip irrigation during dry spells. Farmers could also operate treadle pumps to tap into groundwater. Such pumps work like a stair stepper in the gym, cost only $50 to $100 each and are powered by the farmer's own labor, not costly fuels.

"A lot more people could benefit from these small-scale technologies in Africa than from a large dam," said Mr. Molden, a hydrologist. "You can buy a treadle pump and install it immediately. You have to wait 5 or 10 years for a dam to be built."

But the authors of the study, released in Stockholm at an international conference on water, also note that while these technologies may be simple, installing them on a national scale and maintaining their use would be no easy matter. For example, a country like Ethiopia, with very low rural literacy levels, would need to train people to carry out such a plan.

Water alone would not be enough. Farmers need credit, crop insurance and roads to get their products to market. They need AIDS treatment, and they need fertilizers to nourish their land. A major study released in March found that three-quarters of sub-Saharan Africa's farmland is severely depleted of basic nutrients to grow crops.

The report also raised the specter of global climate change, and its potential to alter patterns of rainfall, especially in the poor countries near the Equator.

The more rapid glacial melt in the Himalayas is now increasing the water flowing into India, Nepal, Pakistan and China, but it may mean much less water in future years, the report said.

"To me, that's quite frightening," Mr. Molden said.


From: WorldChanging.com ...................................[This story printer-friendly]
August 23, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: There's a cruel irony in a new report just out from the World Wildlife Fund: Water crises, long seen as a problem of only the poorest, are increasingly affecting some of the world's wealthiest nations.]

by Joel Makower

There's a cruel irony in a new report just out from the World Wildlife Fund: Water crises, long seen as a problem of only the poorest, are increasingly affecting some of the world's wealthiest nations.

That's a far cry from the usual water-related enviro-screed, which typically cites U.N. data pointing to the 1.1 billion people around the world who lack access to improved water supplies and the 2.6 billion who lack access to improved sanitation. It's become chic to say that, "In the 21st century, water will be the new oil."

All true, of course. But as the WWF report, Rich Countries, Poor Water (2.6 Mbyte PDF), points out, a combination of climate change, drought, and loss of wetlands that store water, along with poorly thought out water infrastructure and resource mismanagement, will lead to increasing water problems in countries such as Australia, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.

In Europe, countries on the Atlantic are suffering recurring droughts, while water-intensive tourism and irrigated agriculture are endangering water resources in the Mediterranean. In Australia, the world's driest continent, salinity is a major threat to a large proportion of its key agricultural areas. Despite high rainfall in Japan, contamination of water supplies is an extremely serious issue in many areas. In the United States, large areas are already using substantially more water than can be naturally replenished. This situation will only be exacerbated as climate change brings lower rainfall, increased evaporation, and changed snowmelt patterns.

Says WWF:

"Some of the world's thirstiest cities, such as Houston and Sydney, are using more water than can be replenished. In London, leakage and loss is estimated at 300 Olympic-size swimming pools daily due to ageing water mains. It is however notable that cities with less severe water issues such as New York tend to have a longer tradition of conserving catchment areas and expansive green areas within their boundaries."

The implications for companies doing business in the industrialized world are implicit if not explicit: access to water could easily become a constraint to operations. In some cases, water-related problems could lead to decreases in water allotments, more stringent water-quality regulations, growing community activism, and increased public scrutiny of water-related corporate activities. These may impact site selection, license to operate, productivity, costs, revenues, and, ultimately, profits and corporate viability. As the Pacific Institute put it in a 2004 report detailing risks to the private sector from inadequate freshwater resources: "Water-related risks now pose a potential multi-billion-dollar threat to a wide variety of businesses and investors."

(I've posted previously on this theme -- see, for example, this and this.)

What to do? The WWF report suggests that we have to change "our attitude toward water."

"It is clear that fresh water has long been an under-appreciated and undervalued resource and the attitudes of developed country governments, industries, and populations to water need urgent revision."

Addressing this, says WWF, will involve the proper and equitable pricing of water and the ecosystem services provided by freshwater flows; the ending of subsidies that encourage wasteful use; ramping up water conservation and recycling efforts; maintaining and restoring aquatic ecosystems; and more.

That's just for starters. WWF says we'll also need to deal "openly and accountably" with water. That includes accounting for the cumulative impacts on human and natural water systems, "a factor often ignored in one-off project impact assessments"; and adopting a precautionary principle where knowledge of impacts or natural systems is inadequate.

The bottom line: Companies should expect to find water issues rising to the level of awareness that energy conservation and efficiency has seen in recent years. The good news is that companies that already have implemented comprehensive energy efficiency and management systems will have a jump on those that haven't. Addressing both energy and water involve extremely similar processes: conducting audits and establishing a current baseline; identifying cost-effective, low- hanging fruit for making efficiency improvements; generating organizational awareness of the issue through effective communication and training; getting top-level buy-in to tackle the bigger, longer- term, and more challenging issues, such as water-intensive manufacturing processes; engaging suppliers, activists, and other stakeholders; measuring and reporting; and on and on. You know the drill.

And along the way, some leadership companies will establish themselves with innovative technologies and practices, smart and effective partnerships, and new business models and opportunities.

Even before that happens, customers, regulators, and activists will likely be chiming in, inquiring about what companies are doing to mitigate the risks of doing business in a world where access to water is a constraint to productivity and profits.


From: Washington Post (pg. A7) ...........................[This story printer-friendly]
August 19, 2006


Genetically Altered Variety Is Found in Long-Grain Rice

[Rachel's introduction: The U.S. rice supply has become contaminated with a bacterial gene not approved for human consumption. The contaminant is intended to make rice resistant to chemical weed killers.]

By Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced late yesterday that U.S. commercial supplies of long-grain rice had become inadvertently contaminated with a genetically engineered variety not approved for human consumption.

Johanns said the company that made the experimental rice, Bayer CropScience of Monheim, Germany, had provided information to the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration indicating that the rice poses no threats to human health or the environment.

"Based upon the information we have seen, this product is safe," he said in a telephone news conference.

Johanns said he did not know where the contaminated rice was found or how widespread it may be in the U.S. food supply. The agency first learned about it from the company, he said, after it discovered "trace amounts" during testing of commercial supplies.

The variety, known as LLRICE 601, is endowed with bacterial DNA that makes rice plants resistant to a weedkiller made by the agricultural giant Aventis.

Johanns said Bayer had not finished the process of getting LLRICE 601 approved for marketing before dropping the project years ago. But the company did complete the process for two other varieties of rice with the same gene. And although neither of those were marketed, he said, their approval offers reassurance that 601 is probably safe, too.

Bayer said in a statement it is "cooperating closely" with the government on the discovery. It added that the protein conferring herbicide tolerance "is well known to regulators and has been confirmed safe for food and feed use in a number of crops by regulators in many countries, including the EU, Japan, Mexico, U.S. and Canada."

Johanns acknowledged that the discovery could have a significant impact on rice sales -- especially exports, which are worth close to $1 billion a year. Many U.S. trading partners have strict policies forbidding importation of certain genetically engineered foods, even if they are approved in the United States.

Those restrictions reflect a mix of science-based fears that some gene-altered foods or seeds may pose health or environmental hazards; cultural beliefs about food purity; and political wrangling over trade disparities.

If other countries cut off imports, the political and economic impact could rival or exceed that of the last such major event -- the discovery in 2000 that the U.S. corn supply had become contaminated with StarLink corn. StarLink, which was engineered to be insect- resistant, was approved for use in animal feed but not for humans because of its potential to trigger allergic reactions.

The StarLink episode led to the recall of hundreds of products and the destruction of corn crops on hundreds of thousands of acres. There have been several smaller incidents requiring similar actions since.

Yesterday's announcement quickly prompted a new round of accusations that the government is failing in its efforts to regulate and contain the burgeoning field of agricultural biotechnology, in which genes from various organisms are added to crops and other plants -- usually to confer resistance to weedkillers or to make the plants produce their own insecticides.

"How many incidents will it take before the government takes their oversight of the biotech industry seriously?" asked Gregory Jaffe, director of the biotechnology project at the District-based Center for Science in the Public Interest. "It's reassuring that in this instance there is no safety risk, but I don't think that justifies the industry's blatant violation of government regulations."

Johanns said Bayer contacted the USDA about the problem on July 31, but the agency delayed announcing the finding until it had developed a test it could share with trading partners and others who might want to check for contamination. That test is now available.

Although Bayer stopped field tests of LLRICE 601 in 2001, the contamination appeared in the 2005 harvest, Johanns said -- a detail that Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, found "alarming."

"It's more evidence to me that all of these things that have been getting tested ultimately have a route to the food supply," Mellon said.

Although agency investigations are underway, both Johanns and Robert Brackett of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said they do not anticipate recalls, crop destruction or other regulatory action.

"If we become aware of any new information to suggest that food or feed is unsafe, we will take action," Johanns said.

Instead, Johanns said, Bayer now plans to resurrect its effort to get the product approved -- or in government parlance, "deregulated" -- a move that would make the contamination issue moot in the domestic market.

Researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 The Washington Post Company


From: New York Times .....................................[This story printer-friendly]
January 6, 2005


[Rachel's introduction: The comparison between the propagandistic manipulation and uses of Christianity during the Nazi era and now is hidden in plain sight. No one will talk about it. No one wants to look at it.]

By Chris Hedges

Princeton, N.J. -- Fritz Stern, a refugee from Hitler's Germany and a leading scholar of European history, startled several of his listeners when he warned in a speech about the danger posed in this country by the rise of the Christian right. In his address in November, just after he received a prize presented by the German foreign minister, he told his audience that Hitler saw himself as "the instrument of providence" and fused his "racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity."

"Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics," he said of prewar Germany, "but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas."

Dr. Stern's speech, given during a ceremony at which he got the prize from the Leo Baeck Institute, a center focused on German Jewish history, was certainly provocative. The fascism of Nazi Germany belongs to a world so horrendous it often seems to defy the possibility of repetition or analogy. But Dr. Stern, 78, the author of books like "The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology" and university professor emeritus at Columbia University, has devoted a lifetime to analyzing how the Nazi barbarity became possible. He stops short of calling the Christian right fascist but his decision to draw parallels, especially in the uses of propaganda, was controversial.

"When I saw the speech my eyes lit up," said John R. MacArthur, whose book "Second Front" examines wartime propaganda. "The comparison between the propagandistic manipulation and uses of Christianity, then and now, is hidden in plain sight. No one will talk about it. No one wants to look at it."

Dr. Stern was a schoolboy in 1933 when Hitler was appointed the German chancellor. He ran home from school that January afternoon clutching a special edition of the newspaper to deliver to his father, a prominent physician.

"I was young," he said, "but I knew it was very bad news."

The street fighting in his native Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland) between Communists and Nazis, the collapse of German democracy and the ruthless suppression of all opposition marked his childhood, and were images and experiences that would propel him forward as a scholar.

"I saw one of the last public demonstrations against Hitler," he said. "Men, women and children walked through the street and chanted 'Hunger! Hunger! Hunger!' "

His paternal grandparents had converted to Christianity. His parents were baptized at birth, as were Mr. Stern and his older sister. But this did not save the Sterns from persecution. Nazi racial laws still classified them as Jews.

"It was only Nazi anti-Semitism that made me conscious of my Jewish heritage," he said. "I had been brought up in a secular Christian fashion, celebrating Christmas and Easter. My father had to explain it to me."

His schoolmates were swiftly recruited into Hitler youth groups and he and other Jews were taunted and excluded from some activities.

"Many of my classmates found the organized party experience, which included a heavy dose of flag waving and talk of national strength, very exhilarating," said Dr. Stern, who lost an aunt and an uncle in the Holocaust. "It was something I never forgot."

His family fled to New York in 1938 when he was 12. He eventually went to Columbia University intending to study medicine. But his passion for the past, along with questions about what happened to his homeland, caused him to switch his focus to history. He wanted to grasp how democracies disintegrate. He wanted to uncover the warning signs other democracies should heed. He wanted to write about the seductiveness of authoritarian movements, which he once described in an essay, "National Socialism as Temptation."

"There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented," he said. "There was a longing for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then and the mood now, although also significant differences."

HE warns of the danger in an open society of "mass manipulation of public opinion, often mixed with mendacity and forms of intimidation." He is a passionate defender of liberalism as "manifested in the spirit of the Enlightenment and the early years of the American republic."

"The radical right and the radical left see liberalism's appeal to reason and tolerance as the denial of their uniform ideology," he said. "Every democracy needs a liberal fundament, a Bill of Rights enshrined in law and spirit, for this alone gives democracy the chance for self-correction and reform. Without it, the survival of democracy is at risk. Every genuine conservative knows this."

Dr. Stern, who has two children from a previous marriage, is married to Elizabeth Sifton, a book publisher. They live in New York. He is writing a book called "Five Germanys I Have Known," a combination of memoirs and reflections that looks at Weimar, Nazi Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, East Germany and unified Germany. He is widely read in Germany and has won its highest literary prize.

"The Jews in Central Europe welcomed the Russian Revolution," he said, "but it ended badly for them. The tacit alliance between the neo-cons and the Christian right is less easily understood. I can imagine a similarly disillusioning outcome."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


From: GAIA ...............................................[This story printer-friendly]
August 17, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: GAIA seeks an energetic and experienced organizer to work collaboratively with allies on urgent and exciting work on a national level, including working with a coalition of community groups, NGOs, and recyclers preventing incentives for new incinerators; supporting local campaigns across the country to stop the new plague of incinerator proposals; and strategically promoting zero waste strategies, environmental justice, social justice, and a toxics-free future.]

Position description

GAIA seeks an energetic and experienced organizer to work collaboratively with allies on urgent and exciting work on a national level, including working with a coalition of community groups, NGOs, and recyclers on this issue; preventing incentives for new incinerators; supporting local campaigns across the country to stop the new plague of incinerator proposals; and strategically promoting zero waste strategies, environmental justice, social justice, and a toxics-free future.

The position will be based in GAIA's Berkeley, California office, or possibly another location.

Key Duties/Responsibilities

** Network communities fighting incineration to facilitate information sharing and strategic discussions, in regions where other GAIA members are not already doing this

** Conduct effective policy development and legislative advocacy at local, state, and national levels

** Work with groups to provide technical and strategic advice, going to communities and speaking at public hearings, helping groups to find resources, and developing case studies about viable solutions, in regions where other GAIA members are not already doing this

** Research technologies, companies, proposals and related issues

** Write factsheets, letters, articles, and policy positions

** Network with related issue organizations, including clean production, climate change, renewable energy, environmental health, recycling, and others

** Communicate with GAIA's global coordination team and with GAIA members around the world


** At least three years successful organizing and advocacy experience

** Demonstrated ability to work well with diverse groups and build alliances

** Commitment to environmental health and justice

** Self-starter and well organized

** Strong oral and written communication skills, including public speaking, information materials development for diverse audiences (i.e., technical and lay audiences), and media outreach

** Project and budget management experience desirable

** A team player who works well with others as well as independently

** Ability to work in a second language desired

** Willingness to travel within the U.S. and likely internationally


In the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. community groups and environmental organizations stopped proposals for hundreds of municipal waste incinerators. Waste burners poison our food and bodies, destroy resources that should be recycled, drain money from local economies and discourage waste prevention. By the mid-1990's, incineration was widely viewed as an obsolete, uneconomical and dirty technology in this country and many cities re-focused their attention on waste reduction practices. However, after nearly a decade of no incineration expansion, the incinerator industry is attempting a comeback here. A recent spate of new proposals now require a coordinated effort to preserve the progress made against this wasteful technology and to ensure that real, sustainable approaches gain an even stronger and effective hold. GAIA works with allied organizations and members such as Greenaction on opposing these incinerators and advocating for long term solutions.

About GAIA

The Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance / Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives is a Philippines-based network of over 450 community, academic, environmental, environmental justice, informal recycling, and recycling organizations in 77 countries. GAIA's name has two meanings to reflect the dual nature of our work. GAIA members campaign against wasteful and polluting incinerators and work for safer sustainable alternatives. Our network was founded in December 2000, and has grown steadily ever since.

Collectively, we recognize that our planet's finite resources, fragile biosphere and the health of people and other living beings are endangered by polluting and inefficient production practices and health-threatening disposal methods. We oppose incinerators, landfills, and other end-of-pipe interventions.

Our ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. Our goal is the implementation of clean production, and the creation of a closed-loop, materials-efficient economy where all products are reused, repaired or recycled back into the marketplace or nature.

GAIA's Secretariat is in Manila, Philippines with other offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Berkeley, USA. For more information please visit www.no-burn.org.


Depending on experience with generous benefits package.

To Apply:

Submit a statement of interest, recent writing sample, and resume to fatou @ no-burn.org (delete spaces in address).

No telephone inquiries.


Open until filled. The target start date is the end of August 2006, or as soon as the appropriate candidate is found.

We value diversity and strive to create a workplace which reflects this value. We especially encourage people of color to apply. EOE/AA.


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.

Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
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