Category Archives: Solutions

Theo Colburn has died. Thank you for helping us to recover our futures!

When Dr. Theo Colburn published “Our Stolen Future” in 1996 it was a Rachel Carson level revelation.  The book, co-authored by Dianne Dumanoski and John Myers, exposed the devastating depth to which our economic system promotes the creation and distribution of human-made deadly chemicals – for profit.  The poisons exist in virtually all products. This book changed my life.

Yesterday, 15 December 2014, Dr. Colburn passed away at the age of 87. You may remember her for this pivotal book, or her excellent project TEDX- The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, which for many of us has been an essential resource. She may be best remembered for her work on banning BPA from plastic bottles, including baby bottles and toys. She is one of our great heroes. Simply put Theodora Colburn saved a lot of lives. Her substantial legacy will always help us and future generations to recover our stolen future.

Dr. Colburn courtesy Julie Dermansky/Earthworks  2014

Dr. Theo Colburn, courtesy Julie Dermansky/Earthworks 2014

Her friends at TEDX released the following message this morning:

Theo Colburn, 1927-2014

If you ever had the chance to meet her, even once, you knew Theo Colborn. She didn’t have a single hidden agenda. Her commitment to uncovering the truth was out there for the world to see.

For nearly 30 years she dedicated herself to revealing the dangers of endocrine disrupting chemicals to wildlife and humans. More recently she alerted us all to the threats posed by chemicals associated with oil and gas development. She wove the two together beautifully in her statement The Fossil Fuel Connection, which she worked on until the day she died.

Theo’s visionary leadership and passion shone most brilliantly when she made direct connections between new ideas, scientists whose work confirmed them, impacted individuals, and people in positions to change what needed changing. She will be remembered for many generations to come, generations that she worked tirelessly to protect.

Theo often feared that we had already passed the tipping point — that our intelligence and compassion had been so compromised by endocrine disruptors that we could no longer think our way out of the crises we had created.

As the living embodiment of her legacy, we at TEDX say, “No. It is not too late. There are people out there who ‘get it’ and who care — a lot of people — and we won’t let you down Theo.”

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Confronting Government Agencies, Corporate Globalization, EPA, Monsanto, Oceans, Pesticides, Politics, Solutions, Women

Cultivating Climate Justice through Compost: the Story of Hernani, Spain

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Organic garden using Hernani’s compost. Photo by María Cortes.


When the people of Hernani, Spain, began a residential compost system, they weren’t looking to become heroes of the movement for climate justice. Like thousands of other towns around the world, they were simply looking for an alternative to incineration and the pollution it brings.

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Filed under Climate Justice, Food Sovereignty, Solutions, Waste

Cultivating Climate Justice III/IV: Zero Waste Collectives and Activists in Boston and Detroit

zero waste detroit


This is a tale of two US cities building solutions to the climate crisis from the bottom up.

We start in the Northeast, with Cooperative Energy, Recycling and Organics (CERO), a newly formed worker-owned cooperative in Boston, Massachusetts. While providing family supporting jobs for the community, CERO works with businesses on separating out materials that can be recovered. They then collect this waste in a truck and bring it to facilities where it can either be recycled or returned to the soil as compost.

CERO’s board members and employees are people like Guadalupe Gonzalez and Josefina Luna, who have been recycling informally for years or decades. Guadalupe Gonzalez used to do backbreaking work, cleaning commercial buildings during the day while picking bottles from the trash at night. She was one of the thousands of underrated recycling workers, earning precious extra money to support her family. Josefina Luna explains that at CERO, “Now we can earn a living while protecting the environment.”

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Filed under Frontline Communities, Great Lakes, Local Bans/Laws, Pollution, Solutions, Waste

Cultivating Climate Justice: Brazilian Workers Leading the Charge Toward Zero Waste

This is part 1 of a four-part article series “Cultivating Climate Justice” which tells the stories of community groups on the front lines of the pollution, waste and climate crises, working together for systems change. United across six continents, these grassroots groups are defending community rights to clean air, clean water, zero waste, environmental justice, and good jobs. They are all members of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a network of over 800 organizations from 90+ countries.

 This series is produced by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Other Worlds.

Cultivating Climate Justice: Brazilian Workers Leading the Charge Toward Zero Waste                                      

The streets of Belo Horizonte were filled with singing, dancing, chanting, and marching. It was not a holiday or an election day or a soccer game. The chant was: “We don’t want incineration! Recycle! Recycle!”

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Frontline Communities, Pollution, Solutions, Waste

Historical Critique of the Corporate Takeover of the UN

This piece examines the history of the takeover of the UN Climate Conferences by industry and promotes the US climate movement getting on board with the fundamental demands and actions, and alternative solutions being advanced by social movements around the world.  It also gives a nod to the work of GJEP in this arena and credits our report, The Green Shock Doctrine. Thanks Margaret and Kevin!

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Protest at UN Climate Conference, Cancun, Mexico 2010. Photolangelle.org

Climate Alarm Bells Ring but UN and Obama Administration Fail To Act
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. The Smirking Chimp. September 5, 2014.

The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most worrisome so far. Paired with data from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, there is no question that the climate crisis is here and is accelerating at a faster pace than predicted. Its effects are widespread and dangerous, yet real solutions are being suppressed.

The climate crisis is a ticking clock that demands immediate effective action, but the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP), which is the international body responsible for creating agreements on climate change, has become nothing more than a tool for multinational corporations and financiers to force a neo-liberal agenda and profit from the crisis. The false solutions being promoted displace and exploit people, destroy the environment and worsen climate change.

The climate crisis is our greatest challenge. Significant work has been done over the past decade by civil society groups around the world cooperating to create plans for resistance to the corrupt COP process and a vision for a just transition to sustainable systems. Now is the time for organizations throughout the United States that advocate for justice to recognize that the climate crisis affects all of us and to participate in this global movement.

Effective strategy requires knowledge of the political environment, the entities involved and an understanding of real versus false solutions. The United Nations, the United States government, Big Green Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the corporations that exert influence over them all are obstacles to effective action. Solutions exist but they won’t be coming from above, rather they will come from a mobilized grass roots demanding transformation to a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy.

To read the entire article, click here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, COP21 Paris 2015, Copenhagen/COP-15, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Natural Disasters, Solutions, UNFCCC, Warsaw/COP-19, World Bank, WTO

Busted! Research on food waste shows no need for GM crops

foodwaste-(1)An increasing population needs an increasing food supply, right? At least, that’s the excuse politicians and corporations have been force-feeding the public, justifying their pursuit of genetically modified foods. They tell us that organic processes and farming techniques in tune with nature just aren’t up to the task of feeding the nearly 7 billion people on the planet.

That myth is now busted, and the proof is in the nearly 222 million tons of food wasted by industrialized nations every year. “If we eliminated this unnecessary food waste, we could potentially provide 60-100 percent more food to feed the world’s growing population,” writes Andrew Gunter in his Huffington Post article, “Big Ag Profits From Food Waste.”

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Filed under Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Solutions, Waste

Division, not consensus, may be the key to fighting climate change

By Razmig Keucheyan, May 5, 2014. Source: The Guardian

A toxic waste dump in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. 'With climate change, a long-standing form of inequality is becoming more and more visible: environmental inequality.' Photo: Issouf Sanogo/AFP

A toxic waste dump in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. ‘With climate change, a long-standing form of inequality is becoming more and more visible: environmental inequality.’ Photo: Issouf Sanogo/AFP

With the release of the fifth report by the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change, calls for the international community to once and for all transcend its divisions and get serious at last about climate change have multiplied. The content of the report is nothing less than frightful: global warming has been occurring since the middle of the 20th century at an unprecedented rate, already engendering all sorts of disasters. No doubt is permitted as to the principal cause of the phenomenon: mankind. This changes everything, to quote the title of Naomi Klein’s forthcoming book. Because climate change will affect all of humanity, it renders past conflicts and traditional political categories – left and right among them – obsolete.

Well, this widespread ecological consensus isn’t getting us anywhere, and it will certainly not help us fight climate change effectively. The environmental crisis is not brought about by an endless proclivity of mankind to destroy its environment and deplete natural resources, as Jared Diamond, among others, would make us believe in his neo-Malthusian bestsellers. It finds its origin in the logic of a quite recent system, one that was born in the 19th century: industrial capitalism.

Capitalism is productivist, ie it seeks to increase productivity indefinitely (it has no embedded self-limiting mechanism). Moreover, it is predatory, programmed to exploit and exhaust natural resources and biodiversity. Finally, it is irreparably tied to a carbon – coal, oil and gas – energy system. To use the words of German Marxist Elmar Altvater, industrial capitalism is necessarily fossil capitalism. All three features combine to give way to the dreadful situation described by the IPCC report.

This is exactly why the environmental crisis doesn’t render past conflicts and divisions obsolete, but on the contrary reinforces them. Climate change doesn’t change anything, it rather worsens existing problems. To paraphrase a famous dictum by Lenin, it is the highest stage of capitalism.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Pollution, Solutions

The browning of the world

By Christy Rodgers, April 29, 2014. Source: Dissident Voice

There are a lot of seemingly disparate things happening at various levels of scale in the world outside my window these days. But there is one color that describes them more than any other.

My world is browning. As deserts grow and forests shrink, as smog, soot and dust clouds fill the skies horizon to horizon, as average heat levels (represented by yellows, oranges and browns on maps where they are most intense) increase, you start to see that color everywhere, eating away at the greens and blues of our old picture of the planet. What is the color of drought, which has struck the place where I live with an intensity not seen for 500 years? Brown. What is the color of oil slicks on oceans and chemical spills in rivers and mudslides on denuded hills? Brown. What is the color from space of barren ranges that were once clothed in glaciers and yearlong snows? Of flooded rivers filled with the irreplaceable topsoil, thousands of years old, which washes into them every year from giant monoculture farms? Brown. Our gentle euphemism for the toxic waste dumps that fester at the edges of cities and towns is “brownfields.”

The world’s human population is browning too. Northern European and European American populations, never a majority in the world, are losing even the percentage share they once had, while overall their proportion of the world’s income and consumption of its resources remains grossly, disproportionately large. But the ranks of global billionaires are browning as well, for whatever you think that’s worth (it’s currently worth about as much for the 2100 of them as what 2 billion of the rest of us possess). And the mostly white middle class, shrinking in my country, is growing in many others, like India, China, and Brazil, while desperate poverty there is shrinking – for the time being.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions