I liked the “What You Can Do” inserts in earlier editions of the magazine. While I still enjoy the articles in the Journal, I miss the boxes urging readers to take some action. I didn’t find the “go to our website” instructions helpful, but I did like “write to so-and-so regarding such-and-such campaign.” The Autumn issue could have included something about campaigns to get more recycled toilet paper, for example.
Letters to the Editor
Earth Island Journal
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Silver Spring, Maryland
The list of new environmental leaders (“Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation,” Winter) is awfully white. I suspect the answer to a moribund white environmental movement isn’t replacing the old white leaders with new ones (plus Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins). Until the environmental movement looks and acts more like its constituencies, it’s all smoke and mirrors. Take, for example, this galling statement: “Few of the new leaders are arguing that greens should give up on Washington and surrender the key territory of national law-making. Rather, the idea is that local campaigns can serve as a recruiting tool, and eventually those new supporters will become committed to a larger national and international agenda.” Maybe the national and international agenda (and its “leaders”) need to embrace the local agendas (and their leaders). We can do better than the racial myopia of American greens and its resulting failures. We must do better. And we must start now.
Stewart Brand’s promotion of atomic power, (“Nuclear Power is Safe, Sound and Green,” Plus/Minus, Winter) fails to recognize or address one of the most significant problems of nuclear energy: environmental racism. In order to have nuclear energy, you have to have three things: uranium, nuclear power plants, and a place to store the waste. Where do these exist? Overwhelmingly, on or near Native American reservations. Look at the history of nuclear development in the United States and you will find that throughout the West, Native American reservations (or lands adjacent to them) are the main places where uranium is mined, power plants are located, and nuclear waste is stored. Why? Because there are fewer people per square mile, meaning less potential for political resistance; because, as a whole, Native Americans on reservations are impoverished to a much greater extent than other Americans and, therefore, more vulnerable to development deals that promise economic benefits; and because they are “expendable” populations in the eyes of the United States.
While coal does need to be phased out – no arguments there – creating new, harmful energy sources at the expense of Native Americans and their culture, livelihood, and natural environments is not the answer. Indigenous peoples depend up on their natural environments being intact for their continued cultural and spiritual existence – in other words, for their continued existence as Indigenous peoples. I hope environmentalists and Earth Island Institute will take a strong stand against environmental racism and work to educate people about such issues and not be fooled by claims of “green and clean.”
Thank you for the great article on plastic pollution (“The Bioplastic Labyrinth,” Autumn). A return to reusable container systems is the only sensible way to go. Make it a global standard with containers for all consumer products and we will save billions of containers from reaching landfills every year. Current reusable bottle systems in Germany and Canada typically use a bottle 15 times before it is recycled. That is a huge amount of raw material and energy saved, and plastic pollution avoided.
Perth, Western Australia
Due to an editing error, the letters “Leaving the Leaves” and “Plenty of Protein” were attributed to the wrong readers in the print edition of our Winter issue. D.L. Nichols, of Chapel Hill, NC, wrote “Leaving the Leaves,” and “Plenty of Protein” was submitted by Heather Moore, of Sarasota, FL. We regret the error.
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