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Invisible
Letters to the Editor

Earth Island Journal
2150 Allston Way #460
Berkeley, CA 94704
editor@earthisland.org

America’s Toxic Prisons” (Summer 2017) is an amazing piece of writing, well researched and balanced in its presentation. It provides another example of how vulnerable and powerless people are marginalized to the point where they are invisible, in this case with respect to the environment. I found this quote by Sean Krausert of That Poverty Project that is relevant to the prison population and so many other groups, especially in today’s political climate: “To provide compassion, even when compassion may seem unwarranted, is the true measure of a civilized society.”

Grail Bahlkow
North Yarmouth, ME

De-funding Deforestation

cartoon depicting bears with an exercise bike
www.bizarro.com

Flying over Borneo in 2005, I was appalled to see once virgin rainforests, home to countless endangered species, reduced to environmentally unfriendly oil palm plantations. During my visit I saw hundreds of orphaned orangutans whose mothers had been shot or butchered by plantation workers. With five years of subsequent activism consisting of corporate letters, campus leaflet distribution, demonstrations, and more, I was able to convince several companies and acquaintances to stop selling and using palm oil laden products. While proud of my work, it falls well short of what needs to be done. I thank EIJ and Mr. Conant for enlightening those who may not be aware their nest egg investments could very well be fueling global warming and the loss of vitally important forest ecosystems (“Crisis Among the Palms,” Summer 2017). I will be contacting my financial holding firm, including sending a copy of your most informative magazine.

Steve Tyler
Orange, CA

Diverse Perspective

I thought Earth Island Journal’s recent piece on Myanmar’s limited capacity to adapt to climate change was well written and well covered (“Forecast: Uncertain,” Summer 2017). I appreciated how the author brought different regions and different disasters into the discussion. I sent it to my niece who works for an NGO in Myanmar dealing with water issues. Thank you for your work.

Ei Ei Samai
Daly City, CA

Transforming Urban Hearts

I enjoyed reading Eric Freedman’s article “In the Shadow of Death” (Spring 2017) about biodiversity in cemeteries. I’m glad these urban green spaces are getting some of the attention due them as “lifeboats” in seas of development. None other than John Muir noticed the ironic abundance of life in graveyards, as long ago as the 1860s. Finding himself penniless on a botanical expedition across the South, he decided to sleep in a cemetery. He was surprised at the abundance of plant and wildlife he found there. “The whole place seems like a center of life,” he noted [in A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf]. “The dead do not reign there alone.”

Austin Orews
Fort Bragg, NC

Correction

Maureen Nandini Mitra's interview with Lori Marino (Conversation, Summer 2017) incorrectly stated that Marino measured brain-body ratios in dead dolphins and whales by slicing up the organs and putting them on slides. Instead, she helped pioneer an alternative process to study intact brains. She is also no longer science director of the Nonhuman Rights Project.

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