I agree with Derrick Jensen that people in India or Peru need access to land so that they can grow their own food (“Can’t Buy Me Change,” Autumn 2011). However, a strategy of self-reliance means that people might need to give up things that they enjoy. Poor people in countries of the Global South might need to stop drinking Coca-Cola. I’ve not owned a car since 1970, but if I moved to an organic farm, I would not be able to make as many trips to the university library, and I could play music in fewer jam sessions.
Letters to the Editor
Earth Island Journal
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The more affluent of the world’s population must be willing to make sacrifices to prevent the future deaths of millions of people. For many of the world’s people, global warming and diminishing supplies of oil mandate a lower-energy future, and a different lifestyle. The richer countries need a different definition of poverty. People should try to avoid poverty, but ought to strive to live more simply. Poverty is different from simplicity.
Milton Takei, Eugene, Oregon
Your cover story about adapting to climate change (“Ready or Not,” Autumn 2011) reminded me of a tussle I got into with a colleague at the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund many years ago. She argued that we should not talk favorably about restoring degraded wetlands or clearcut forests or decimated species because by acknowledging that restoration is possible we’re playing into the hands of our opponents. Why? Because if restoration is possible, then there’s no reason to preserve wetlands, forests, or species in their healthy state. It struck me as fatuous then, even intellectually dishonest.
Same goes for adaptation to climate change. It’s analogous to saving rare species because they might someday be useful to humans: selfish and necessary all at once. We need to figure out how best to cope with climate change as we work like crazy to reverse it. I wish it weren’t so, but it is.
Tom Turner, Berkeley, California
Alex Johnson (“Getting Out,” Autumn 2011) is a wonderful writer, and I thank you for publishing his unique views about being in nature as a way to overcome the alienation created by homophobia. This is the second piece I’ve read by him, and I look forward to reading more.
Theresa D. Daniels, Chicago, Illinois
I thought there was a good bit lacking from the review of the Earth Liberation Front documentary If a Tree Falls (“Clenched Fists, Pointed Fingers,” Autumn 2011). Reviewer Jason Mark seemed to be suggesting that director Marshall Curry should have pushed harder to dismiss the ELF actions as ineffective. After seeing the film a few times, I had the opposite impression.
I was glad the film gave proper credit to the sabotage that shut down the wild horse slaughterhouse, which accomplished in one night what 10 years of protests and petitions could not. But I wanted to hear more about how some of these high-profile actions highlighted growing opposition to things like genetic engineering, free trade agreements, SUVs, and corporate greed in general. How many people heard about the World Trade Organization or GMO trees because vandalism and arson made them newsworthy? How many nefarious companies had their insurance and security costs go up as a result of ELF activity, and did that slow them down or make them think twice?
If Mark really does agree that symbolic methods of protest aren’t going to cut it – but at the same time doesn’t think that ELF’s tactics were any more effective – then where does that leave us? In these times of quickening ecological crisis, I am not ashamed to say that we the need more of the sort of thing that ELF had to offer, with a renewed sense of strategy and priority.
Panagioti Tsolkas, Earth First! Journal Editorial Collective, Lake Worth, Florida
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