The Scotchgard Cover-up
The Scotchgard article (Winter 2001-2) was great! Last summer, I had some employees at the 3M PFOS plant in Alabama contact me. The info I got correlated with the health problems showing up in the first generation offspring. However, it also appears from the accounts that spontaneous abortion and stillbirths occurred in employees, far above the average.
One woman had two spontaneous abortions and three still births. She had two surviving children. One developed leukemia at a very early age and the other had precancerous cysts in his throat at birth.
The employees I interviewed said that company toxicologists routinely took blood and urine samples but would not release the results to employees (even under court order). Unfortunately, 3M got wind of my investigations and began intimidating the employees who abruptly ceased contact.
3M has also been tracking PFOS in human serum for some time. For 3M to even reduce production, the rat studies must have been very scary. Incidentally, the same PFOS that goes into Scotchgard is used for fire extinguishers purchased by the US goverment under contract.
St. Petersburg, Florida
About that Cover
I have found EIJ the most informative environmental journal I've ever read and I've been reading it for years. I've also been very impressed with your recent covers - outstanding and artistic.
However, what happened to the last Winter issue cover? Outstandingly unattractive, '50s, corny and frankly, dumb! Please, give us the usual artistry your excellent journal deserves.
Ames Item Off the Mark
In the "Ebb & Flow" column of the Winter 2001-2 Earth Island Journal, you reported that NASA's Ames Research Center has proposed combating global warming by moving the Earth further from the Sun. This item was culled from an article in the London Sunday Observer.
Our work has nothing to do with the very serious problem of short-term global warming associated with emissions of greenhouse gasses. Our "proposal" to move the Earth further from the Sun was part of a theoretical study of the evolution of the solar system. Over the next several billion years, the sun will grow more luminous, thereby sterilizing the biosphere. Our study showed that with a minimum expenditure of energy, one could use repeated flybys of an asteroid to slowly transfer energy from Jupiter and Saturn to the Earth, thereby gradually increasing the size of Earth's orbit over billions of years.
Our work is strictly an exercise in orbital mechanics. It would be physically impossible to implement this scheme as a short-term solution to global warming, since each asteroid flyby must be separated by tens of thousands of years, and hundreds of thousands of flybys are required.
The London Observer reported that our asteroid flyby scheme could be implemented as a short-term fix to global warming. In this incorrect context, my comment regarding attaching rockets to asteroids is both alarming and irresponsible.
Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics
University of California, Santa Cruz
Responding to Terrorism with War
You say it is difficult to dissent with what the US government does right now backed by patriotic support of the majority. You say it is then inevitable that millions in Afghanistan would certainly die from starvation over the winter. It is indeed difficult to resist the social tide. We understand.
But remember: You have blamed the Japanese for fighting you under the totalitarian regime a half century ago and [you] dropped two atomic bombs in the end killing almost instantaneously over 300,000 mostly civilians.
It was very difficult at the time [for the Japanese people] to speak against the Holy War and Emperor as manifest God who led it. And it must be similarly difficult for people in Afghanistan at the moment to do anything about the decision by Taliban leaders.
Unlike the Japanese in World War II and the Afghans at present, you have the best democratic institutions and means of most advanced communication. Please speak up against the needless calamity in the poorest of all nations.
Despite our prime minister's careless promise to your president, we can't and won't support your military interventions due to our Peace Constitution that states: "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of forces as means of settling international disputes."
Here across the Great Sea of Peace we are doing what we can to persuade our government not to abandon this gem of supreme laws in order to blindly follow the orders of your administration.
To see our reason and law perish under the threat of terrorism would truly be the gravest loss.
Yakushima Island, Japan
George W. Bush's bombs will not end terrorism and will not improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan. Then what is the alternative?
The answer to all of the problems thrown up since September 11 must address the suffering of millions of people around the world, the vast inequality of wealth and the military industrial complex. The roots of all these problems lie in the capitalist system itself, which perpetuates inequality and competition between the ruling classes around the world. First, we must oppose any military intervention by our own government, as it will only be used to strengthen [the US'] economic and political status around the world. Second, we must look to a long-term goal of building a new society based on human need and not profit.
We can build a struggle to end all war by ending the system of inequality that produces it.
San Francisco, California