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Health Consequences of Environmental Degradation and Social Injustice. Martin Donohoe, M.D., F.A.C.P. Am I Stoned?. A 1999 Utah anti-drug pamphlet warns:

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Health Consequences of Environmental Degradation and Social Injustice

Martin Donohoe, M.D., F.A.C.P.

am i stoned
Am I Stoned?

A 1999 Utah anti-drug pamphlet warns:

“Danger signs that your child may be smoking marijuana include excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, and environmental issues”

causes of environmental degradation
Causes of Environmental Degradation
  • Overpopulation
  • Pollution
  • Deforestation
  • Global Warming
  • Agricultural/Fishing Practices
  • Overconsumption / Affluenza
  • Militarization
causes of environmental degradation8
Causes of Environmental Degradation
  • Maldistribution of Wealth
  • National and Global Political and Economic Institutions
  • Poor education
  • Media manipulation and inaccurate reporting
  • Unbalanced political influence
  • Citizen apathy
consequences of environmental degradation
Consequences of Environmental Degradation
  • Increased poverty and overcrowding
  • Famine
  • Weather extremes
  • Species loss
consequences of environmental degradation10
Consequences of Environmental Degradation
  • Medical illnesses
  • Infectious diseases
  • War
  • Malthusian chaos and disaster
  • Tragedy of the Commons
economic costs of environmental diseases
Economic Costs of Environmental Diseases
  • Estimated at $132-165 billion/year in the U.S. alone
    • Does not count the psychological and emotional costs of the human suffering involved for the victims, their families, and their communities
  • World population - exponential growth
    • 1 billion in 1800
    • 2.5 billion in 1950
    • 6 billion in 2000
    • 6.5 billion in 2006
    • est. 8 billion by 2050
  • More people added to the planet in the last 40 years than in all previous recorded history
  • Africa, Asia, and Latin America primarily affected
  • Causes:
    • Poverty
    • Women’s rights issues
  • Urbanization
    • 20-30 million people/year leave rural for urban areas
    • 2007: first time in history that more than half the world’s population will live in urban areas
  • World migrant population = 100 million -economic, war and environmental refugees
urban sprawl
Urban Sprawl
  • Since the 1960’s America’s metropolitan areas have been consuming land at a rate 4x faster that population growth
wallace stegner
Wallace Stegner

“We simply need … wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope”

air pollution20
Air Pollution
  • Top ten most polluted cities in the world are in China and India
  • Most polluted areas in US:
    • 2001 – LA
    • 2002 – Houston
    • 2003 – San Joaquin Valley in Central California
    • 2004, 2006 – LA
health effects of air pollution
Health Effects of Air Pollution
  • Causes approximately 75,000 premature deaths/yr. in U.S.
  • 1.8 million worldwide
health effects of air pollution22
Health Effects of Air Pollution
  • Air pollution causes asthma and impairs lung development and function
  • Deaths from cardiopulmonary diseases correlate with air pollution levels in US cities
    • Both day to day and over time
health effects of air pollution23
Health Effects of Air Pollution
  • Increased admissions for CHF, asthma, COPD, PVD, and cerebrovascular disease
  • Increased lung cancer mortality
  • Decreased exercise tolerance, increased pulmonary symptoms
  • Impaired sperm production
effects of ozone destruction
Effects of Ozone Destruction
  • Ozone hole over Antarctic (2½X size of Europe)
  • Increased cataracts (UV damage)
  • Increased lifetime melanoma risk
    • 1/1500 - 1930
    • 1/68 - today
  • Number of autos-US: 1 car/2 people-Mexico: 1/8-China: 1/100 (increasing; leaded gasoline)
  • Global auto population to double in 25-50 years
  • Average miles traveled/car/year in U.S.
    • 1965 - 4,570 mi.
    • 1975 - 6,150 mi.
    • 1985 - 7,460 mi.
    • 1995 - 9,220 mi.
    • 2006 – 12,000 mi.
  • Average fuel efficiency of U.S. autos stagnant
  • Relatively low oil prices
  • Growing market for low-efficiency pickups, minivans, and sport-utility vehicles
  • Ford Model T – 25 mpg (1908); Avg. Ford vehicle – 22.6 mpg (2003)
automobiles alternatives
Automobiles: Alternatives
  • Rapid transit-industry squashed in 1930’s and 40’s (GM, Standard Oil, Firestone, etc.)-Convicted under Sherman Antitrust Act
automobiles alternatives31
Automobiles: Alternatives
  • Car sharing
  • Pay-as-you-drive auto insurance
  • “Peak Pricing” and “Congestion Fees”
    • E.g., London → 30% decrease in traffic, 37% increase in bus ridership, cleaner air
  • Bicycles/walking
    • 30% of all trips by bike in Amsterdam; 2% in Portland, OR
alternatives to automobiles
Alternatives to Automobiles
  • Busses
  • Trains
    • 15 x more efficient per passenger than autos
    • Amtrak receives 1/3 the amount of federal funding (adjusted for inflation) that it received 20 years ago
automobiles alternatives33
Automobiles: Alternatives
  • Electric cars-killed by oil companies, automakers in early 20th century
  • Natural gas, gasohol, and biodiesel
  • Telecommuting
automobiles alternatives34
Automobiles: Alternatives
  • Solar cars
  • Hydrogen-powered cars
    • Byproduct = water
    • Problem: Hydrogen production requires fossil fuels
us energy consumption by fuel
US Energy Consumption by Fuel
  • Oil – 40%
  • Gas – 25%
  • Coal – 25%
  • Nuclear – 9%
  • Hydroelectric – 1%
  • Other Renewables – 1.5%
u s energy sources for electricity
U.S. Energy Sources for Electricity
  • Coal – 52%
  • Nuclear – 20%
  • Gas – 16%
  • Hydroelectric – 7%
  • Oil – 3%
  • Renewables – 2%
energy spending research
Energy Spending/Research
  • Since 1947, the U.S. has spent $145 billion on nuclear R and D vs. $5 billion on renewables R and D
  • BP invests $100 million annually in clean energy = amt. it spends annually to market its new name and environmentally-friendly image of moving “Beyond Petroleum”
petroleum industry profits
Petroleum Industry Profits
  • Mergers squelch competition, drive up prices
  • Record-breaking oil company profits in 2005 and 2006
    • Exxon: $36 billion in 2005
      • Largest in U.S. history
      • Exceeds GDP of 2/3 of world’s nations
oil and war
Oil and War
  • Countries that export oil are >40 times more likely to be engaged in civil war than those that do not
  • Gulf Wars I and II
  • The Future?
other sources of air pollution
Other Sources of Air Pollution
  • Industry - #1
  • Indoor combustion of coal and biomass (wood, charcoal, crop residues, and animal dung) for cooking, heating and food preservation
    • Used by almost 3 billion people worldwide
    • Associated with multiple pulmonary conditions
  • 98% of the country’s total refuse is industrial waste; 2% municipal waste
    • Making 1 lb of sellable product generates avg. 32 lbs. of waste
  • American produce 4.4 lbs/d garbage
  • In a lifetime, the average American will throw away 6500 times his/her adult weight in garbage
u s garbage composition
U.S. Garbage Composition
  • Paper and Paperboard - 39%
  • Yard Waste - 13%
  • Food Waste - 10%
  • Plastics - 10%
  • Metals - 8%
  • Glass - 6%
  • Wood - 5%
u s recycling rates
U.S. Recycling Rates
  • Tires - 22%
  • Plastic containers - 36%
  • Glass containers - 28%
  • Yard waste - 41%
  • Paper and Paperboard - 42%
  • Aluminum packaging - 54%
  • Steel cans - 60%
  • Auto batteries - 93%
  • Landfills
  • Incinerators
  • Garbage Exports
  • 6 trillion tons of over 85,000 chemicals produced annually
    • 2000-3000 new chemicals registered each year
    • more than 80% have never been screened for toxicity
toxic pollutants
Toxic Pollutants
  • The chemical industry is a $450 billion enterprise in the U.S. alone
  • Chemical manufacturers are not required to prove safety
    • the legal burden is on the government to prove that a product is dangerous
  • 4.5 billion lbs/yr pesticides (17 lbs/citizen)
  • CA and NY are the only states currently tracking pesticide sales and use
  • EPA: U.S. farm workers suffer up to 300,000 pesticide-related acute illnesses and injuries per year
  • NAS: Pesticides in food could cause up to 1 million cancers in the current generation of Americans
  • WHO: 1,000,000 people killed by pesticides over the last 6 years
  • Children living on or near farms score 5 points lower on IQ tests and other mental and verbal tests
    • May be due to pesticide exposure
  • Even so, the EPA and NAS have OK’d human subject testing
  • $2.4 billion worth of insecticides and fungicides sold to American farmers each year
    • Evidence suggests these actually promote pests (vs. natural pesticides)
      • 30% of medieval crop harvests were destroyed by pests vs. 35-42% of current crop harvests
    • Implies organic farming more cost-effective
  • Body burden of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides high
    • Environmental Working Group (2004)found 287 pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage in umbilical cord blood
      • Many other compounds not even tested; numbers undoubtedly higher
  • Fetuses and children most vulnerable
toxic pollutants economic costs
Toxic Pollutants – Economic Costs
  • Americans pay more than $54 billion annually for direct medical expenses plus special schooling and long-term care for pediatric diseases caused by toxins in the environment
    • Lead = $43.4 billion
  • This excludes the greatest toxic pollutant - tobacco
  • Affects brain development, associated with lower IQ
  • Elevated levels associated with violent behavior
  • Poor, African-Americans more commonly exposed
leaded gasoline
Leaded Gasoline
  • Banned in Canada in 1990, US in 1996 (after 25-year phaseout period), EU in 2002, Africa in 2006
    • Ban fought by industry for decades
  • Many countries still sell leaded gasoline:
    • Indonesia, Venezuela, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria, Yemen
  • Released into air by coal combustion, industrial processes, mining, and waste disposal
    • 4500 tons/yr
  • Travels throughout atmosphere and settles in oceans and waterways
  • Bacteria convert it to toxic methyl-mercury
  • Travels up food chain via fish
  • 16% of women of childbearing age exceed the EPA’s “safe” mercury level
      • Per EPA
  • Freshwater fish mercury levels too high for pregnant women to eat in 43 states
  • New EPA ruling ineffective:
    • allows cap-and-trade of power plant emissions
    • Renmoves power plants from list of pollution sources subject to federal Clean Air Act
toxic pollutants63
Toxic Pollutants
  • 85,000 known or suspected hazardous waste sites in the U.S.
    • Plus up to 600,000 lightly contaminated former industrial sites (“brownfields”)
  • Will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to mitigate environmental impacts
toxic pollutants64
Toxic Pollutants
  • 1 in 4 U.S. citizens lives within 4 mile of a Superfund site (approximately 1,305 sites listed; another 2,500 sites eligible)
  • Taxpayers paying increasing share of cleanup costs
environmental racism and toxic imperialism
Environmental Racismand Toxic Imperialism
  • Environmental Racism
    • waste dumps/incinerators more common in lower SES neighborhoods
    • “Cancer Belt” (Baton Rogue to New Orleans)
  • Toxic Imperialism
toxic pollutants the basel convention
Toxic Pollutants:The Basel Convention
  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes (designed to control dumping of hazardous wastes from the industrialized world in developing countries)
  • Despite being the largest producer of toxic pollutants in the world, the U.S. has signed but not ratified this agreement
persistent organic pollutants
Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • Toxic, remain in environment long-term, resist degradation, can travel long distances
  • Bioaccumulate - higher concentrations as you move up the food chain
  • Most are endocrine disruptors
persistent organic pollutants69
Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • UN Environmental Program organizing worldwide phaseout of top 12 through the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • U.S. has signed, but not ratified
toxic pollutants70
Toxic Pollutants
  • Floriculture
  • Diamond and Gold Mining
medical waste
Medical Waste
  • The 6,000 US hospitals generate 2 million tons of waste per year; clinics and doctors’ offices an additional 700,000 tons

-850,000 tons incinerated

-15% infectious waste

-incinerated pollutants include dioxin, mercury, cadmium and lead

-EPA regulations weak

-segregation and alternatives to incineration would cost 93 cents/patient/day

medical waste72
Medical Waste
  • Solutions:
    • 80% of thermometers no longer contain mercury
    • Remove PVCs from medical supplies (e.g., IV tubing)
medical waste73
Medical Waste
  • Organizations:
    • Health Care Without Harm
    • Green Health Center Movement
  • NAS: Hospitals built and operated on more environmentally sosund principles save money and produce better patient outcomes
electronic waste
Electronic Waste
  • Only 5-10% of computers recycled
  • Most sent overseas
  • EU now requires electronics firms to recycle and to eliminate lead, cadmium and mercury from their products
  • Maine passed first law requiring elctronic manufacturers to pay for recycling their discarded products
  • UN adopted water as a human right in 2002
    • International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
    • US has signed but not ratified
  • Only 2.5% of the earth’s water is fresh
  • 2/3 of this locked up in glaciers and ice caps
    • As glaciers and polar ice caps melt, this is mixed with sea water
  • U.S. water consumption: 81% irrigation, 6% domestic use
  • Worldwide freshwater supplies dwindling
    • Drying up: Aral Sea, Great Lakes, etc.
  • Clean Water Act of 1972 has decreased pollution in the US
    • Under threat from the Bush Administration
    • 80% of US waterways never receive any comprehensive testing for pollutants
  • In developing countries, 90-95% of sewage and 70% of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into the local water supply
  • 13,000-15,000 deaths per day worldwide from water-related diseases
  • Out of 191 nations in the world, 10 nations share 65% of the world’s annual water resources
  • A woman in a developing country walks an average of 6 km/day to obtain water
  • Privatization schemes supported by the World Bank and IMF lead to price increases, worsen poverty
    • 5-10% of world’s water privatized - increasing
    • Privatization increases costs, incites social unrest (e.g., Cochabamba, Bolivia)
    • 15% of US water in private hands
  • Water expected to be the major cause of wars by 2050 or sooner
infamous industrial disasters
Infamous Industrial Disasters
  • Minimata, Japan, 1920s-1970s (Chisso Corporation) - methylmercury poisoning -400 dead; 10,000 injured
  • Bhopal, India, 1984 (Union Carbide) - methyl isocyanate gas
    • 7000-10,000 dead within 3 days, 15,000-20,000 more over next 10 years; tens of thousands injured
    • persistent water and soil contamination
    • Indian government extradition request for Warren Anderson
infamous industrial disasters85
Infamous Industrial Disasters
  • Chernobyl, USSR, 1986 - nuclear power plant explosion

-25-100 dead, up to 1,000 injured acutely, NCI estimates 10-75K thyroid cancers

  • Alaska, Exxon Valdez, 1989 - oil spill-wildlife devastated, $5 billion damage
  • 2006 BP Alaskan pipeline ruptures
  • Tropical forests constitute 7% of land surface area, contain > 50% of plant and animal species
  • Majority of tropical forests destroyed
  • One acre of world’s forest cut down every second
  • 50% of global wetlands destroyed (54% in U.S.)
  • Historical-Easter Island (Polynesians), Middle East, U.S. Southwest (Anasazi Indians)
  • Contemporary-Mauritania, Ethiopia, Haiti deforested-Philippines and Thailand are now net importers of forest products, looking at Latin America
  • Next?-Amazon, B.C., Alaska, many others
deforestation causes
Deforestation: Causes
  • New agricultural settlements (overpopulation, poverty, unsustainable farming practices)
  • Logging
  • Oil and gas exploration
  • Cattle ranching
  • Drug cultivation-Peru, Bolivia, Columbia
global warming
Global Warming
  • Greenhouse effect
    • 30% increase in atmosphere CO2 since industrialization began (6.25 billion tons/year)
    • Fossil Fuels
    • Methane, choloroflurocarbons, nitrous oxide
global warming97
Global Warming
  • 19 of the last 20 years have been the hottest ever recorded (data go back to 1856)
    • 2005 the hottest
  • Average global surface temperature = 58.3°
    • Hottest temperature in last 10,000 years
  • Pacific Northwest warming up faster than anywhere else on the planet
consequences of global warming
Consequences of Global Warming
  • 150,000 deaths and 5.5 million disability-adjusted life years lost per year
    • WHO, UN Environment Program
    • Expected to double by 2030
    • ↑ weather extremes/natural disasters/insurance claims
    • Floods, cholera, rising malaria zone
consequences of global warming99
Consequences of Global Warming
  • Polar icecaps/glaciers/Greenland ice sheet/permafrost melting, sea levels rising
    • Artic ice pack has lost 40% of its thickness compared with 1960
    • Glacier National Park’s glaciers melting
    • Snows of Kilimanjaro down 85% compared to 1912; will be gone by 2015
consequences of global warming105
Consequences of Global Warming
  • Increased allergies/asthma/anaphylaxis
    • Rising temperatures increase smog/ground level ozone
    • Higher levels of CO2 favor growth of ragweed and other pollen-producing plants
global warming106
Global Warming
  • The top 1/5 of the world’s largest 145 countries account for 63% of global C02 emissions (lowest 1/5 = 2%)
  • The countries likely to be most affected by global warming are those least responsible for the increases in global temperature
  • Soil erosion exceeds soil formation
    • In the past 40 years, 1/3 of U.S. topsoil has eroded
    • Takes 1,000 years to “grow” 1 inch of soil
  • Water use has tripled since 1950, up 6-fold over 20th Century
    • 70% of freshwater use in agriculture
  • Large scale irrigation projects (e.g., China’s Three Gorges Dam)
wasted food
Wasted Food
  • Household food waste adds up to $43 billion/yr in the U.S.
  • An average American family of four tosses out $590/yr food
  • Americans discarded 3 times as much food in 2005 as in 1985
decreasing crop diversity
Decreasing crop diversity
  • 75,000 plant species are edible
  • Humans have utilized 7000 plant species for food
  • 20% of species provide 80% of the world’s food
  • Consequences: decreasing genetic diversity, vulnerability to disease, huge crop losses (e.g., Irish potato famine)
factory farming
Factory Farming
  • Factory farms have replaced industrial factories as the # 1 polluters of American waterways
  • 1.4 billion tons animal waste generated/yr
    • 130 x human waste
    • 1 hog farm in NC generates as much sewage annualy as all of Manhattan
factory farm waste
Factory Farm Waste
  • Most untreated
  • Ferments in open pools
  • Seeps into local water supply, estuaries
    • Kills fish
    • Causes human infections - e.g., Pfisteria pescii,Chesapeake Bay
  • Creates unbearable stench
  • Widely disseminated by floods/hurricanes
agricultural antibiotic use
Agricultural Antibiotic Use
  • Agriculture accounts for 70% of U.S. antibiotic use
    • Use up 50% over the last 15 years
antibiotic resistant pathogens
Antibiotic Resistant Pathogens
  • CDC: “Antibiotic use in food animals is the dominant source of antibiotic resistance among food-borne pathogens.”
  • $4billion/yr to treat antibiotic-resistant infections in humans
    • Campylobacter fluoroquinolone resistance
    • VREF (poss. due to avoparcin use in chickens)
alternatives to agricultural antibiotic use
Alternatives to Agricultural Antibiotic Use
  • Decrease overcrowding
  • Better diet/sanitation/living conditions
  • Control heat stress
  • Vaccination
  • Increased use of bacterial cultures and specific antibiotic treatment in animals when indicated
alternatives to agricultural antibiotic use vegetarianism
Alternatives to Agricultural Antibiotic Use: Vegetarianism

European Union bans antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed (1/06)

  • Fisheries collapsing:
    • Newfoundland cod
    • West Coast salmon
  • 1/3 of fish species threatened with extinction
    • 90% drop in # of largest predatory ocean fish since 1950
  • Large amounts of bycatch discarded
harmful fishing practices
Harmful Fishing Practices
  • Long-lining, large factory trawlers, drift nets
  • Cyanide fishing (400 kg/year)
  • Dynamite Reef fishing
the military harms fish
The Military Harms Fish
  • Environmental destruction
  • Navy sonar harming/killing off whales
    • Japanese/Norwegian whaling compounds problem
  • Dolphins as mine detectors (in Vietnam and Iraq)
  • Weaponizing sharks, dolphins, etc. (DARPA)
coral reefs
Coral Reefs
  • 10% of world’s reefs ruined (90% In Philippines), 30% in critical condition
  • Reefs make up 2% of ocean floor, support ¼ of all marine life
  • Americans purchase 350,000 pieces of live coral broken off from reefs per year
  • 27-33% of fish now consumed is farmed (vs. 4% in 1970)
    • almost all catfish and trout
    • 1/2 of shrimp
    • 1/3 of salmon
  • Consequences
    • decreased diversity
    • antibiotics (incl. chloramphenicol), hormones, dyes, herbicides, pesticides, algicides → increased pollution and sewage
    • damage to local estuaries, birds of prey
    • disease
  • Good seafood (clean water):
    • Clams
    • Mussels
    • Oysters
    • scallops
  • Bad seafood
    • Farmed salmon contains 10X as much PCBs as wild salmon
maldistribution of wealth
Maldistribution of Wealth
  • 500 billionaires worldwide
    • top 250 billionaires worth $1 trillion, the combined income of bottom 2.5 billion people (45% of world’s population)
maldistribution of wealth130
Maldistribution of Wealth
  • U.S: Richest 1% of the population owns 33-50% of the country’s wealth -poorest 90% own 30%-widest gap of any industrialized nation
the stock market
The Stock Market
  • 20% of Americans own stock; 90% of stock owned by 10% (50% by 1%)
    • “Business” news
  • As a group, U.S. Senators beat the market by an average of 12% from 1993-98 (study published 2004)
    • The best fund managers average 3%
maldistribution of wealth132
Maldistribution of wealth
  • The worldwide gap between rich and poor doubled between 1960 and 1990, and grew an additional 20% between 1990 and 1998
  • This gap is higher in the U.S. than in any other industrialized nation
maldistribution of wealth133
Maldistribution of wealth
  • Less than 4% of the combined wealth of the 225 riches individuals in the world would pay for ongoing access to basic education, health care (including reproductive health care), adequate food, safe water, and adequate sanitation for all humans (UNDP)
george orwell
George Orwell

“Some people are more equal than others”

Maldistribution of Wealth/Resources Threatens National Security and Requires a Permanent War Economy
  • “The U.S. has about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. This situation cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity withoug positive detriment to our national security.”
    • George Kennan, U.S. State Dept. Policy Planning Study, 1948

“The comfort of the rich rests upon an abundance of the poor”

primo levi
Primo Levi

“A country is considered the more civilized the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak or a powerful one too powerful.”

racial disparities economic
Racial Disparities: Economic
  • Income disparities
    • Median income of black U.S. families as a percent of white U.S. families = 60% in in 1968; 58% in 2002
  • Educational disparities
  • Higher levels of unemployment
racial disparities economic139
Racial Disparities: Economic
  • Criminal justice system involvement
  • Toxic waste sitings / environmental injustice / environmental racism
  • Persistent overt / subtle discrimination
    • E.g., “driving while black”
racial disparities health care
Racial Disparities: Health Care
  • Higher maternal and infant mortality
  • Higher death rates for most diseases
  • Shorter life expectancies
  • Less health insurance
  • Fewer diagnostic tests / therapeutic procedures
income inequality kills
Income Inequality Kills

Higher income inequality is associated with increased mortality at all per capita income levels

overconsumption affluenza
Overconsumption (Affluenza)
  • U.S. = 6.3% of world’s population
    • Own 50% of the world’s wealth
  • U.S. responsible for:-25% of world’s energy consumption-33% of paper use-72% of hazardous waste production (1 ton/person/year)
but are we happier
But are we happier?
  • Workloads increasing, vacation and free time decreasing
    • Average American wastes 62 hrs/yr sitting in rush hour traffic
    • Average American working 200 more hrs/yr than in 1960
    • 8/10 Americans want a new job (, 11/03)
  • Stress up / satisfaction with life down
erosion of social capital
Erosion of social capital
  • Erosion of social capital is strongest where maldistribution of wealth is largest
  • Americans have an average of 2 close friends today
    • Down from 3 in 1985
  • 1 in 4 Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss important matters
    • Includes nuclear family
    • Was 1 in 8 in 1985
maldistribution of wealth147
Maldistribution of Wealth
  • In countries with moderate levels of wealth, happiness is highest where income inequalities lowest
    • Major League Baseball: teams are more successful when players’ salaries are more equitably distributed
the booming economy
The Booming Economy
  • Inflation-adjusted net worth of the median U.S. household
    • 1989 - $54,600
    • 1997 - $49,000
    • 2004 - $44,389
the booming economy149
The Booming Economy
  • Weekly wages for the avg. American worker are 12% below what they were in 1973
  • But productivity is up 33%
vacation time down
Vacation Time Down
  • Americans work more than any other country: 1970 hrs/yr
    • Canada (#2): 1800 hrs/yr
    • Industrialized EU countries: 1600-1800 hrs/yr
  • Americans take less than 9/12 days of allotted leave per year
    • Japanese alloted 18, Canadians 20, Germans 27, French 39
minimum wage living wage
Minimum Wage ≠ Living Wage
  • Federal minimum wage = $5.15/hr (no change over last 8 years)
    • $10,300/yr for full-time job
    • Real value down 37% compared with 1968
    • Inadequate to pay rent, buy food and clothing
      • 3 million homeless (44% work)
minimum wage living wage152
Minimum Wage ≠ Living Wage
  • ¼ of US jobs pay less than a poverty-level income
  • In 4 of the last 5 years, Congress granted itself a $5,000 cost of living salary increase
exorbitant ceo pay
Exorbitant CEO Pay
  • CEO salaries up 500% since 1980
  • The average CEO makes 431 X the salary of the average U.S. worker (1960 - 41X; 1980 - 42X)
    • Mexico 45:1
    • Britain 25:1
    • Germany 11:1
    • Japan 10:1
u s debt
U.S. Debt
  • US national debt ceiling raised to $9 trillion for 2006
    • $30,000 for every US citizen
  • Personal savings down, annual bankruptcies up
u s debt155
U.S. Debt
  • Average household debt (cars and credit cards)
      • 2001: $17,024
      • 2004: $18,619
  • Debt exacerbated by
    • Predatory lending practices
    • Payday loans
    • Rent-to-own companies
total credit card debt up
Total Credit Card Debt Up

1990 - $243 billion

1997 - $560 billion

2002 - $1.5 trillion

2005 – $800 billion

Average number of credit cards per U.S. household = 12.7

bankruptcies pensions
  • Record 1.6 million bankruptcies in 2002
    • ½ bankruptcies due to health care expenses
    • exceed # of college graduates/year, # of persons diagnosed with cancer per year
    • Bankruptcy “reform” bill grossly unfair
  • Pensions in jeopardy
the global economy
The “Global Economy”
  • 53 of the world’s 100 largest economies are private corporations; 47 are countries
    • GM is larger than Denmark, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Turkey
    • Wal-Mart is larger than Israel and Greece
    • AT&T is larger than Malaysia and Ireland
the global economy159
The “Global Economy”
  • The combined revenues of GM and Ford exceed the combined GDP of all sub-Saharan Africa
  • Combined sales of the top 6 Japanese companies are nearly equivalent to the combined GDP of all of South America
  • Almost 6 million corporations
    • ¼ non-profits
  • 500 companies control 70% of world trade

“The [only] social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.”

- Milton Friedman

  • “Corporations [have] no moral conscience. [They] are designed by law, to be concerned only for their stockholders, and not, say, what are sometimes called their stakeholders, like the community or the work force…”

-Noam Chomsky

  • Internalize profits
  • Externalize health and environmental costs
corporate taxation
Corporate Taxation
  • Nearly 1/3 of all large corporations (assets > $250 million or annual sales > $50 million) pay no annual income tax
corporate taxation166
Corporate Taxation
  • Corporations shouldered over 30% of the nation’s tax burden in 1950 vs. 8% today
  • Corporate taxes are at their lowest level since WW II
reasons for inadequate corporate taxation
Reasons for Inadequate Corporate Taxation
  • Tax breaks, corporate welfare, corporation-friendly tax laws, loopholes, transferring assets overseas
  • Cheating and under-payment common
  • Offshore tax havens shelter capital
corporate crime
Corporate Crime
  • Each year in America, we lose;
    • $4 billion to burglary and robbery
    • $200 billion to corporate fraud
  • Americans lose $1 million/hr. to securities fraud.
  • Fines meager, often considered a cost of doing business
corporate crime169
Corporate Crime
  • 25% decrease in federal prosecutions of white collar crime, including corporate crime, since 1999
  • Increase in non-prosecution and deferred-prosecution agreements
  • 3/5 U.S. companies settling corporate crime cases illegally deduct some or all of the settlement to the IRS
  • 5-6% unemployment rate (true percentage likely higher)
    • Women slightly more likely to be unemployed than men
    • Black women 2X white women
  • Under-employment rate approximately 10%
the rise of the permatemp
The Rise of the Permatemp
  • Temporary agency workers
    • 1989 - 1.2 million
    • 1998 2.8 million
    • 2006 - est. 4.0 million
  • Results: job insecurity, fewer benefits, no retirement savings, more uninsured, etc.
job loss and the decline of labor
Job Loss and The Decline of Labor
  • 12 million quality jobs lost in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005
  • Free trade
  • Expatriation of jobs
job loss and the decline of labor173
Job Loss and The Decline of Labor
  • Labor union membership declining since 1950
    • Now 12%:
      • 8% in private sector
      • 4% in public sector
  • Employers generally anti-union
overseas labor markets
Overseas Labor Markets
  • Currently made overseas:
    • 83% of all garments sold in the U.S.
    • 90% of sporting goods
    • 93% of shoes
  • Overseas factories often lack adequate occupational health and safety / pollution controls (e.g., maquiladoras)
worker health and safety
Worker Health and Safety
  • ILO: 2.2 million die of work-related injuries and diseases worldwide each year
    • Considered vast underestimate, due to poor reporting in many developing countries
  • 2 million manufacturing jobs lost between 2001 and 2003
  • Over the last few years, compared to other firms, CEO compensation has increased five times faster at the 50 U.S. firms that do the most outsourcing of jobs
the global workforce
The Global Workforce
  • 27 million enslaved laborers
    • Slavery occurs in every country in Africa (Unicef)
  • Over 250 million child laborers
    • 60% exposed to hazardous conditions; 25% exposed to hazardous chemicals
the third world debt crisis
The Third World Debt Crisis
  • Over 40 of the poorest countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia owe a total of almost $300 billion in foreign debt
    • countries borrowed when loans cheap and easy to get
    • money lent to corrupt/undemocratic governments during Cold War
    • corruption
    • world prices for main exports declined
    • new loans (at higher interest rates) required to pay interest on debt
the third world debt crisis179
The Third World Debt Crisis
  • Creditors
    • US, UK, Japan, France and Germany
    • interest rates up to 20-22% in 1980’s
the third world debt crisis180
The Third World Debt Crisis
  • Each African child inherits approximately $379 in debt at birth
    • debt 100-200% of GDP for Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia, and others
  • Live Aid (1985 raised $200 million)
    • Equal to the amount all African countries pay back on foreign debts each week (in 2001)
the third world debt crisis181
The Third World Debt Crisis
  • Countries spend more each year repaying debt than on education and healthcare.
  • Debt will never be paid off
effects of the third world debt crisis
Effects of the Third World Debt Crisis
  • Indebted countries drastically cut wages, which slows the economy and decreases purchases of U.S. imports
    • makes U.S. jobs less secure
  • Currency is Devalued.
    • imports more expensive; exports cheaper
  • Government price controls eliminated
    • basic goods more expensive
effects of the third world debt crisis183
Effects of theThird World Debt Crisis
  • Government spending on food, fuel and farming subsidies reduced.
  • Social service (healthcare/education) program spending cut
  • Countries strip and sell their natural resources
    • increased global pollution, etc.
foreign aid
Foreign Aid
  • In total dollars: Japan #1, U.S. #2
    • Even though the U.S. economy is more than twice the size of Japan’s
  • As a % of GDP, U.S. ranks 2nd to last among the world’s 22 wealthiest nations
foreign aid186
Foreign Aid
  • U.S. Aid: Over 1/3 military, 1/4 economic, 1/3 for food and development
  • Most U.S. aid benefits U.S. corporations, is spent on military, goes to Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, and the Philippines
foreign aid187
Foreign Aid
  • Aid agencies often forced to buy from U.S. companies at inflated prices
    • 70% of aid effectively returned to U.S.
  • Food aid inefficient, benefits large agribusiness at expense of local farmers/economies
    • Takes $2 taxpayer money to generate $1 in food aid
foreign aid188
Foreign Aid
  • 0.9% of the total federal budget, 1.6% of the U.S. discretionary budget
  • Yet 64% of Americans believed in a 1997 poll that foreign aid was the largest federal expenditure
  • On average, Americans think that 24% of the federal budget goes toward foreign aid
u s charitable giving
U.S. Charitable Giving
  • Approximately $250 billion/year
    • 2.5% of income
    • 2.9% at height of Great Depression
u s charitable giving by income bracket
U.S. Charitable Givingby Income Bracket
  • $15K and under: 26%
  • $15K - $30K: 9%
  • $30K - $50K: 5.3%
  • $50K - $100K: 3.8%
  • $100K - $200K: 3.0%
  • $200K and over: 3.4%
american charitable giving
American Charitable Giving
  • Religious Groups: 35%
  • Education: 13%
  • Multipurpose Foundations: 10%
  • Social Services: 8%
  • Health: 8%
  • Arts and Culture: 6%
american charitable giving192
American Charitable Giving
  • Science: 5%
  • Environment and Animals: 3%
  • International Aid: 2%
  • Other: 9%

- Includes individual, corporate, foundation, and bequest donations

  • Less than 10% goes to groups which directly help the poor
distribution of one federal income tax dollar 2004
Distribution of one federal income tax dollar - 2004
  • 29¢ - military and defense
  • 20¢ - interest on national debt
    • 10¢ - military debt
    • 10¢ - non-military debt
  • 20¢ - health care
  • 5¢ - income security
distribution of one federal income tax dollar 2004194
Distribution of one federal income tax dollar - 2004
  • 4¢ - education
  • 4¢ - Veterans’ benefits
  • 3¢ - nutrition
  • 2¢ - housing
  • 2¢ - natural resources
  • 0.4¢ - job training
  • 12¢ - other
the military and pollution
The Military and Pollution
  • World’s single largest polluter
  • 6-10% of global air pollution
  • 2-11% of world raw material use
  • 97% of all high level and 78% of all low level nuclear waste
the military and pollution196
The Military and Pollution
  • Pentagon generates 500,000 tons toxic waste/year
  • Numerous toxic waste sites
  • Exempt from most environmental regulations
the military and pollution197
The Military and Pollution
  • “The more birds that the [Department of Defense] kill[s], the more enjoyment [people] will get from seeing the ones that remain: ‘Bird watchers get more enjoyment spotting a rare bird than they do spotting a common one.’”
    • From a 2002 court summary of the U.S. Defense Department’s argument for exemption from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918
the military diversion of resources away from health care
The Military: Diversion of Resources Away from Health Care
  • 3 hours world arms spending = annual WHO budget
  • 1/2 day of world arms spending = full childhood immunizations for all world’s children
  • 3 days of U.S. military spending = amt. spent on health, education, and welfare for U.S. children in 1 year
the military diversion of resources away from health care and other scientific projects
The Military: Diversion of Resources Away from Health Care and Other Scientific Projects
  • 3 weeks of world arms spending/yr. = primary health care for all in poor countries, incl. safe water and full immunizations
  • 25% of the world’s 2.5 million research scientists and engineers work entirely on military R and D
  • Iraq/Afghanistan war creating enormous U.S. debt / federal and state budgets strapped
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”

~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The problem in defense spending is to figure out how far you should go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.”

~Dwight D. Eisenhower

poverty and hunger
Poverty and Hunger
  • US: 13% of residents and 18% of children live in poverty
    • Rates of poverty in Blacks = 2X Whites
  • Hunger rate increasing nationally
  • At least 1 billion people live in urban slums
  • 1.1 billion people lack access to safe, clean drinking water-1.8 million child deaths/year
  • 2 billion have no electricity
  • 2.6 billion do not have adequate sanitation services
  • 2.8 billion live on less than $2/day
  • 3 billion have never made a phone call
  • 3.8 billion have no cash or credit with which to make purchases
  • 770 million unable to read
poverty and priorities
Poverty and Priorities
  • Amount of money needed each year (in addition to current expenditures) to provide water and sanitation for all people in developing nations = $9 billion
  • Amount of money spent annually on cosmetics in the U.S. = $8 billion
poverty and priorities211
Poverty and Priorities
  • Amount of money needed each year ( in addition to current expenditures) to provide reproductive health care for all women in developing countries = $12 billion
  • Amount of money spent annually on perfumes in Europe and the U.S. = $12 billion
u n declaration of human rights
U.N. Declaration of Human Rights

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care”

  • 1.5 billion not consuming enough calories to prevent stunted growth/other health risks
  • Hunger kills 25,000 people per day, most under age 5
  • Hunger-related causes kill as many people in 2 days as the atomic bomb killed at Hiroshima
feast and famine
Feast and Famine
  • For the first time in history, there are now an equal number of people – 1.1 billion – who get too much to eat as those who don’t have enough to eat
  • One week of developed world farm subsidies = annual cost of food aid to solve world hunger
medical care
Medical Care
  • 50% of global health care budget spent in the U.S.
  • Per capita expenditure on health care:
    • U.S. = $4,000
    • Typical poor African/Asian country = $5-10
  • Even so, U.S. has 41 million uninsured, ranks 24th worldwide in overall population health as judged by disability-adjusted life expectancy
infectious diseases
Infectious Diseases
  • Increased morbidity and mortality due tochanging distributions of disease vectors, reservoirs, and agents-overpopulation and population shifts-malnutrition-drought-decreased immunity
infectious diseases220
Infectious Diseases
  • Malaria -610 min zone expands-50-80 million additional cases/year by 2100
  • TB
  • Viral encephalitis
  • Schistosomiasis
  • AIDS
  • Influenza
  • Trypanosomiasis
infectious diseases221
Infectious Diseases
  • Onchocerciasis
  • Dengre
  • Leishmanasis
  • Rabies
  • Hookworm
  • Yellow fever
  • West Nile Virus
species loss
Species Loss
  • Earth contains an estimated 5 to 10 million species
    • Only 1.5 million have been identified
  • Rate of extinction = 4,000-6,000 species/year, highest estimates = 4 species/hour- over 1000 x background rate of extinction
species loss223
Species Loss
  • 50,000 vertebrates- 7,100 of 10,000 bird species threatened with extinction- 1,100 of 4,400 mammalian species- 1/3 to 1/2 of 232 primate species (including man?)
    • bush meat trade contributing

- 1/3 of 24,000 fish species- 1/4 to 1/3 of 10,300 reptile and amphibian species (may be higher, limited assessment)

Precipitous Decline of Alpha Predators will have enormous repercussions for ecosystems/other species
causes of species loss
Causes of Species Loss
  • Habitat loss (logging, overpopulation, etc.) *
  • Overhunting
  • Chemical pollution of environment
  • Exotic species invasions (e.g. rabbits/Australia)
extinction lost pharmacopoeia
Extinction: Lost Pharmacopoeia
  • Drugs from plants and native peoples’ health knowledge -More than 1/2 of the top 150 prescription drugs contain an active compound derived from or patterned after natural products-e.g. digoxin, vincristine, paralytic agents, etc.
  • Of the more than 250,000 known flowering species, <0.5% have been surveyed for medicinal value
the black market in endangered animals
The Black Market in Endangered Animals
  • $10 billion market-equal to smuggled arms market-less than contraband drug market ($30 Billion)
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
worrisome trends
Worrisome Trends
  • Environmental Audit Laws
  • WTO/IMF Policies
  • MAI
  • GATT, NAFTA, CAFTA, other trade agreements
  • Food Disparagement Laws
  • SLAPP Lawsuits
bush administration
Bush Administration
  • Key administrators/committee members/regulators former industry representatives and/or lobbyists
  • Corporate profit before public good
  • Unsound/distorted/suppressed science
  • Eco-harassment
    • Criminalizing activists
bush administration238
Bush Administration
  • Rollbacks of key environmental laws
  • Lax enforcement of existing laws
  • Huge tax cuts primarily benefit wealthy
  • Federal and state government deficits astronomical
    • Program and funding cuts
status of women in the third world
Status of Women in the Third World
  • Poverty
  • Impaired access to employment and education
  • Lack of reproductive health services, early childbearing, large families
status of women in the third world241
Status of Women in the Third World
  • Political marginalization
  • Discriminatory and “cultural practices” -forced prostitution, female genital mutilation, etc.
  • Trafficking, sex slavery
status of women
Status of Women
  • Economic discrimination
    • women do 67% of the world’s work
    • receive 10% of global income
    • own 1% of all property
  • Poverty
    • Women make up 45% of the global employed workforce, yet are 70% of the world’s poor
would you sign a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide
Would You Sign a Petition to Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide?

1. It can cause excessive sweating and vomiting2. It is a major component in acid rain3. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state4. It can kill you if accidentally inhaled5. It contributes to erosion6. It decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes7. It has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients

geographic ignorance
Geographic Ignorance
  • Percent of US teens unable to locate the following on a map:
    • United States – 11%
    • Pacific Ocean – 29%
    • Japan – 58%
    • United Kingdom – 68%
pseudoscientific beliefs
Pseudoscientific Beliefs

Percentage of Americans who believe “at least to some degree” in these “phenomena”

1997 1976

  • Astrology 37% 17%
  • UFOs 30% 24%
  • Reincarnation 25% 9%
  • Fortune-Telling 14% 4%
  • Public relations / ad campaigns-Chevron’s “People Do” Campaign, butterflies/refinery-Dupont Freon Campaign in 1970’s-Grants to a few scientists who challenge environmental warnings-tobacco ads in 1950’s
  • Bluewash: association with UN principles/logo
  • Artificially-created grassroots coalitions
    • utilize specially tailored mailing lists, field officers, telephone banks, fax machines, intense lobbying
    • may be one or two individuals, or run by a PR firm, or have “volunteer” employee members
corporate front groups
Corporate Front Groups
  • The American Council on Science and Health
  • The Alliance for Responsible CFC Policy
  • The Oregon Lands Coalition
  • National Wilderness Institute
  • The Environmental Conservation Organization
  • The Foundation for Clean Air Progress
  • Similar semantics for new laws/congressional bills
corporate pr tactics
Corporate PR tactics
  • Invoke poor people as beneficiaries
  • Characterize opposition as “technophobic,” anti-science,” and “against progress”
  • Portray their products as environmentally beneficial in the absence of (or despite the) evidence
sponsored environmental educational materials
Sponsored Environmental Educational Materials
  • Corporate-sponsored and supported by a loose coalition of antiregulatory zealots, corporate polluters, lapdog scientists and misguided parents
sponsored environmental education materials examples
Sponsored Environmental Education Materials (Examples)
  • Exxon’s “Energy Cube”

-“Gasoline is simply solar power hidden in decayed matter”

-“Offshore drilling creates reefs for fish”

  • Pacific Lumber Company

-“The Great American Forest is. . . renewable forever”

sponsored environmental education materials examples253
Sponsored Environmental Education Materials (Examples)
  • International Paper

-“Clearcutting promotes growth of trees that require full sunlight and allows efficient site preparation for the next crop”

  • American Nuclear Society’s “Activities with the Atoms Family”
  • Dow’s “Chemipalooza”
worrisome trends254
Worrisome Trends
  • Advertising Budgets ↑↑
  • Public Education in disarray
  • Television
  • Higher Education increasingly expensive
academics at risk
Academics at Risk
  • Increasing corporatization of academia
    • Private commercial funding of university research:
      • $264 million in 1980
      • $2 billion in 2001
  • Secrecy/Pseudoscience
    • AAPG Notable Achievement in Journalism prize to Michael Crichton for State of Fear (which denies global warming)
  • Brain drain
  • Lack of scientists in developing world (1/50th of developed world per capita)
the media
The Media
  • Most media organizations owned by multinational, multi-billion dollar corporations that are involved in a number of businesses apart from the media, such as forestry, pulp and paper mills, defense, real estate, oil wells, agriculture, steel production, railways, and water and power utilities
global warming controversial
Global Warming: Controversial?
  • Of 928 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 0% were in doubt as to the existence or cause of global warming
  • Of 636 articles in the popular press (NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, WSJ), 53% expressed doubt as to the existence (and primary cause) of global warming

Science 2004;306:1686-7

(Study covers 1993-2003)

mass media sources 2002
Mass Media Sources, 2002
  • 92% white
  • 85% male
  • Where party affiliation identifiable, 75% Republican
  • Predominantly conservative/centrist
  • Lobbying groups spent just under 2.5 billion in 2006 (record)
  • All single issue ideological groups combined (e.g., pro-choice, anti-abortion, feminist and consumer organizations, senior citizens, etc.) = $76.2 million
  • Agribusiness/oil industry lobbying dwarf environmental lobbying
  • Active lobbying (new laws, not enforce existing laws or fund existing programs)
  • “Lobbying for lethargy” (maintain status quo)
corporate influence leads to large taxpayer subsidies to polluting industries
Corporate Influence Leads to Large Taxpayer Subsidies to Polluting Industries
  • Mining - $3.6 billion/yr
  • Nuclear power - $10.5 billion/yr
  • Coal - $8 billion/yr
  • Ranching (grazing on public lands) - $52 million/yr
  • Timber (below cost sales of national forest trees) – approx. $350 million/yr
  • Oil and gas - $550 million/yr
the decline of democracy
The Decline of Democracy
  • True democracy demands an informed citizenry (education), freedom of the press (media), and involvement (will, time, money)
  • “Information is the currency of democracy”
    • Thomas Jefferson
the us rogue nation
The US: Rogue Nation
  • History: Native Americans, slavery, current excesses, disparities and injustices
  • Co-opting Nazi and Japanese WWII scientists
  • Minimum 277 troop deployments by the US in its 225+ year history
the us rogue nation265
The US: Rogue Nation
  • Since the end of WWII, the US has bombed:
    • China, Korea, Indonesia, Cuba, Guatemala, Congo, Peru, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, Libya, Panama, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yugoslavia, and Iraq
the us rogue nation266
The US: Rogue Nation
  • Conservative estimate = 8 million killed
  • US invasions/bombings often largely at behest of corporate interests
the us rogue nation267
The US: Rogue Nation
  • In 2002, the US spent about $1,211 per US citizen on defense
    • vs. $2.27 per citizen on international peacekeeping efforts
  • The US maintains military bases in 69 “sovereign” nations around the world
  • Continued funding of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
international non cooperation isolationism
International Non-Cooperation/Isolationism
  • Failure to sign or approve:
    • Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change
    • International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
    • Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Land Mines
    • Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
international non cooperation isolationism269
International Non-Cooperation/Isolationism
  • Failure to sign or approve:
    • Convention on the Rights of the Child
    • Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    • Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons
international non cooperation isolationism270
International Non-Cooperation/Isolationism
  • Failure to sign or approve:
    • Protocol 1, Article 55 of the Geneva Conventions, which bans methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment
international non cooperation isolationism271
International Non-Cooperation/Isolationism
  • Failure to sign or approve
    • The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
    • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes
    • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (re GM foods)
the us rogue nation272
The US: Rogue Nation
  • Death Penalty:
    • US executes more of its citizens than any other country
    • US is the only country to execute both juveniles and the mentally ill
  • Failure to follow World Court Decisions
  • Largest debtor to the UN (only 40% of dues paid)
positive trends
Positive Trends
  • Majority of U.S. citizens rate the environment as one of the most important issues facing the country, think the government is doing too little to safeguard the environment, and favor environmental protection over economic expansion
  • Power/voice of green groups increasing
  • Involvement of religious groups growing
positive trends274
Positive Trends
  • Insurance industry urging reductions in global emissions
    • due to dramatic increase in weather-related claims
  • Analogy with smoking
the benefits of sterility causing chemicals in the workplace
The “Benefits” of Sterility-Causing Chemicals in the Workplace?

12 September 1977

Dr. Eula Bingham, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Recently we received the interesting Department of Labor news release concerning worker exposure to DBCP. While involuntary sterility, caused by a manufactured chemical may be bad, it is not necessarily so. After all, there are many people who are now paying to have themselves sterilized to assure they will no longer be able to become parents... If possible sterility is the main problem, couldn’t workers who were old enough that they no longer wanted to have children accept such positions voluntarily? They would know the situation, and it wouldn’t matter. Or could workers be advised of the situation, and some might volunteer for such workposts as an alternative to planned surgery for a vasectomy or tubal ligation, or as a means of getting around religious bans on birth control when they want no more children?


Robert K. Phillips, National Peach Council

environmental success story the montreal protocol 1987
Environmental Success StoryThe Montreal Protocol (1987)
  • Phaseout of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by 1996
  • Major cause of Antarctic and Arctic ozone holes
  • Current substitute, HCFCs, much less damaging to ozone layer, also to be phased out
  • Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals
  • European Treaty requiring companies to test chemicals already on the market by a set timetable and test new products before putting them on the market
  • Economic analyses show large environmental and health benefits
solutions based on the precautionary principle
SolutionsBased on the Precautionary Principle

“When evidence points toward the potential of an activity to cause significant, widespread or irreparable harm to public health or the environment, options for avoiding that harm should be examined and pursued, even though the harm is not yet fully understood or proven”

the precautionary principle practical essentials
The Precautionary Principle:Practical Essentials
  • Give human and environmental health the benefit of doubt
  • Include appropriate public participation in the discussion
  • Gather unbiased, scientific, technological and socioeconomic information
  • Consider less risky alternatives
the precautionary principle
The Precautionary Principle
  • Endorsed by APHA, ANA, others
  • Puerto Rico, San Francisco have adopted, among others
  • Big business, US Chamber of Commerce oppose
  • Shift from a throw-away economy to a reduce/reuse/recycle economy
  • Support local economies
  • Enhance fair trade policies
  • Zero waste production systems
  • Extended producer responsibility / Extended product liability
  • Recycling laws
  • Restructure tax system-decrease taxes on work and savings-increase taxes on destructive activities (e.g., carbon emissions, toxic waste generation)
  • Stronger clean air and water standards
  • Eliminate fossil fuel industry tax breaks and subsidies
  • Carpooling
  • Sweden plans to be world’s first oil-free economy by 2020
  • Increase tax breaks, subsidies, research for renewable energy
    • Renewable energy now 1% of transportation fuel market (ethanol) and 2% of the electricity market (wind, solar, biomass)
  • Streamline EPA-25% of 14 billion superfund payouts have gone to lawyers and consultants
  • Composting / Recycling organic wastes
  • Decrease light pollution ($2 billion energy wasted per year) and see the stars!

-Czechoslovakian anti-light pollution law

  • Insulation
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Decrease excessive packaging
    • 15¢/plastic bag tax in Ireland ↓’d use by 90%
  • Safe storage of nuclear wastes
  • Green electricity - $3/month
  • Sustainable forest management
  • Plant trees
    • The average urban tree removes nearly one ton of greenhouse gas during its first 40 years of life
  • Stop receiving catalogues
    • contact Direct Marketing Association
  • Prevent Congress from weakening NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act)
    • Requires federal officials to conduct environmental impact assessments; allows citizens to challenge the government’s conclusions
  • Oppose Congressional attempts to create “Sunset Commissions” with the power to review federal programs and recommend which programs live, die, or get realigned
  • Punish environmental scofflaws with large fines and jail time
  • Increase enforcement budgets to combat international environmental crime
  • Establish International Court of the Environment
  • Bioprospecting
  • Ecotourism
  • More equitable distribution of medical research funds and health care dollars
  • Strengthen family planning programs
  • Decrease “demand” for large families
    •  education
    •  status of women
    •  child mortality
solutions fair representative elections
Solutions: Fair, Representative Elections
  • Publicly financed campaigns and campaign finance reform
  • Open debates, free air time for candidates
  • Proportional representation
  • Instant runoff voting/cumulative voting
solutions living wage
Solutions:Living Wage
  • 130 cities and counties have adopted living wage laws
    • Including NY, LA, Chicago, and Philadelphia
  • 15 states now have minimum wages that exceed the federal requirement
  • Join and contribute to environmental and social justice groups (Greenpeace, Doctors without Borders)
    • Local grassroots groups especially good
  • Land purchases
  • Litigation (e.g., EJLDF, NRDC)
  • Green investing-returns as good or better than the S & P 500
  • Celebrities/Jocks for Justice
  • Activism / Letter writing / Protesting / Whistleblowing
    • US Supreme court ruled in 2006 that public employees have no free-speech rights re whistleblowing and no constitutional protections against retaliation by bosses
  • Join community groups – become involved in local as well as national issues
g nter grass
Günter Grass

“The first job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open.”

margaret mead
Margaret Mead

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

solutions vote
Solutions: Vote
  • US voter turnout low
    • Wealthy vote at twice rate of poor
    • Whites > Blacks > Hispanics
    • Old > Young
    • Property owners > Renters
  • Campaign finance reform
  • Fair, representative elections
  • Publicly financed campaigns
  • Better candidates
  • Increased exposure to nature
  • Improvements in education
    • Multidisciplinary
      • Literature
      • History
      • Law
      • Photography
      • Community Service
the role of literature
The Role of Literature
  • Vicarious experience
  • Explore diverse philosophies
  • Promotes empathy, critical thinking, flexibility, non-dogmatism, self-knowledge
  • Encourages creative thinking
  • Allows for group discussion/debate
why use literature
Why Use Literature
  • Encourage appreciation of non-medical literature
  • Develop reading, analytical, speaking and writing skills
  • Promote ethical thinking (narrative ethics)
  • Identification with authors who are health professionals (e.g., Keats, Chekhov, Maugham, Williams, Sanger, Nightingale, etc.)

Doris Lessing

“An Old Woman and Her Cat”

From the Doris Lessing Reader (New York: Knopf, 1988)

race and access to care
Race and Access to Care

Ernest J Gaines

“The Sky is Gray”

in Gray, Marion Secundy, ed. Trials,Tribulations, and Celebrations: African American Perspectives on Health, Illness, Aging and Loss. Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, 1992

  • Orwell, George. How the Poor Die. In Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus, eds. The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letter of George Orwell, IV; In Front of Your Nose, 1945-1950. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc: pp.223-233.
  • Checkhov, Anton. Letter to AF Koni, January 26, 1891, Letter to AS Survivor, March 9, 1890. In Norman Cousins, ed. The Physician in Literature Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1982.
  • Eighner, Lars. Phlebitis: At the Public Hospital. In Travels with Lizbeth. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.
activist journals
“Activist” Journals
  • American Journal of Public Health
  • Public Citizen’s Health Letter
  • PNHP Newsletter
  • Mother Jones
  • Harpers
  • Z Magazine
  • Hightower Lowdown
activist journals309
“Activist” Journals
  • Rachel’s Environmental Weekly
  • Sierra
  • The Amicus Journal
  • Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
  • Multinational Monitor
  • Some articles in NEJM, JAMA, JGIM, SSM, Policy, Politics, and Nurs Prac, others
contact information
Contact Information

Martin Donohoe, MD, FACP

503/819-6979 (ph)