Archive for April, 2011


One Year After The Spill: Bob Cavnar on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

On the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill yesterday, Disaster on the Horizon author Bob Cavnar appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show to discuss what we have (and haven’t) learned since this most devastating of environmental tragedies.

A 30-year veteran of the oil and gas industry, Bob is all too familiar with the dangers and risks associated with offshore drilling. In an op-ed published in the Houston Chronicle, he wrote, “The last year has been an odyssey where the disaster in the Gulf led many to hope that finally we were going to focus on a comprehensive energy policy, improve safety and protect the environment. To the disappointment of many, including me, none of these objectives was reached.”

Watch the video below for more of Bob’s knowing assessment.

Disaster on the Horizon: High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout by Bob Cavnar is available now.

BP Is Messing With The Wrong Woman

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

The following review of Diane Wilson’s book, Diary of an Eco-Outlaw, was written by David Swanson. It appeared originally on his website, WarIsACrime.org

A year ago BP began filling the Gulf of Mexico with oil.

Last week BP blocked a woman from entering its annual meeting.

Which will prove the bigger mistake?

BP may have chosen the right country to hit with the worst oil disaster in world history. If there’s any population that will take seeing its land and water destroyed for corporate profit lying down, it’s got to be us. We’re split between gratitude and indifference: should we thank BP or just stay out of its way?

BP may have chosen the right government to kick in the teeth. BP agreed to a $20 billion settlement that falls very far short of the damage. A year later, the U.S. Department of Justice is pretending to consider the possibility of charging BP with manslaughter for the deaths of 11 men in the explosion that started the gusher. Such a step wouldn’t scrape the surface of the death and destruction BP has created, but it would constitute such a radical reversal of President Obama’s doctrine of immunity for corporate crime that nobody really thinks it’s likely.

But BP (which stands for Belching Petroleum) has made one wrong move. BP has pissed off Diane Wilson.

To understand why this blunder could prove fatal, read Wilson’s newly published “Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth.” This is an hilariously entertaining book of an almost impossible sort.

For years I’ve met fulltime hardcore activists full of powerful and colorful stories that I thought I knew would die with them. Most people are tragically and frustratingly allergic to writing anything down. Wilson is an all-out activist, a Gulf Coast shrimper turned civil resister who has made herself a major thorn in the side of several multinational corporations. She’s part Forest Gump, part Erin Brokovich, part Daniel Berrigan, and she has put her stories down on paper. Her book is a guide to becoming a one-person justice movement.

Wilson has not only lived as a shrimper who experienced the arrival of the polluting chemical companies that would kill off the shrimp, but she has put that experience into context — and I mean context:

“I’ll admit right up front that I’m soft and foolish about the fishermen so I imagine now that our inability to see our own end back then was like that first Indian who saw the first Spanish ship. At first, he couldn’t see the ship. There was nothing in his life or the land where he lived that allowed him to imagine — let alone see — a Spanish galleon. But he could tell that the water moved different. So he did something that, probably, his granddaddy or daddy taught him. Or maybe it was his momma that taught him to watch the water carefully. So he saw how the water swirled and how the light hit the water with a charcoal blackness that he only saw at night. But it wasn’t night. It was broad daylight. Then he saw the ship! It probably took two days for that Indian to see the heavy bobbing ship that was fixing to change his life forever. Fishermen aren’t nearly as quick so it took us forty years to see the pipes and cement and metal towers and tanks and flares and fences and chemicals of every description that were coloring the very air we breathed. And, I say with every ounce of kindness that I possess because I love the fishermen, we were fools.”

Continue reading this review at WarIsACrime.org.

Check out Diary of an Eco-Outlaw in our bookstore now.

Little Learned In the Year After Deepwater Tragedy

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

by Bob Cavnar, author of Disaster on the Horizon: High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout

Today marks the first anniversary of the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of the U.S. Unfortunately, most Americans, including our politicians, are suffering from collective amnesia about that tragic event that cost 11 lives, destroyed thousands of jobs, polluted thousands of square miles of the Gulf of Mexico and damaged the economies of five states. As tragic as all those events were (some are still ongoing), media attention has moved on to the royal wedding, the next earthquake and, of course, breathless coverage of American Idol. At the same time, our politicians, especially those in Washington, have used the lack of media attention to abdicate their responsibilities to make offshore drilling safer; in fact, they are actively working to make it less safe, shocking as that seems.

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, Republican chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has taken a novel approach to improving offshore drilling regulation by actually weakening it. Rather than encouraging the modernization of regulations and increasing the budgets for agencies charged with overseeing offshore operations, Hastings is actively working to rush drilling-permit review, further hamstringing an already overloaded federal agency. Last week, Hastings passed out of his committee three bills that he claims improve safety that actually do the opposite. The Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act and the Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act are all intended to do the same things: bash the president, undermine the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) review of drilling permits, and rush into new areas of U.S. waters before any material lessons learned from BP’s Macondo well disaster are even considered. In his severe criticisms of President Obama, Hastings has conveniently ignored the fact that, just three weeks prior to the BP well blowout, the president proposed new drilling areas outside of the Gulf of Mexico. We now know that this courageous step (the first taken by any president since Nixon) was rewarded by the catastrophe that scuttled those plans only a few weeks later.

At the same time House Republicans are seeking to weaken offshore safety, Congress as a whole is ignoring the problem of the statutory limit on liability for damages caused by offshore operators. It remains at $75 million, the limit set in 1990 when the Oil Pollution Act was passed in response to the Exxon Valdez spill, which protects small companies that operate offshore. This is one of the key lessons that we have not taken to heart since the BP blowout. Most people don’t realize that there are only five or six companies out of the dozen or so that operate in deep water who could have even survived an incident of this magnitude. The cost to BP for cleanup and damages could be more than $40 billion by some estimates. This is a staggering number, and multiples of the enterprise values of half those companies that operate there. Had this blowout happened to one of the smaller companies, be assured that all of the clean-up costs and damages would have fallen to you, the taxpayer, after that company filed for bankruptcy. This is one stark reality that many in Washington don’t want you to understand, and one that is still not being addressed.

There were several other painful realities that became apparent during the disaster of last summer. First, the industry did not know how to contain a deep-water blowout. Second, it is still using 40-year-old oil cleanup technology. And third, blowout preventers have a high failure rate. Unfortunately, having witnessed the results of these hard lessons, we still haven’t done much to correct these failures. To be sure, there are companies now being formed to do deep-water containment. In typical fashion, though, the effort is diluted, with smaller companies utilizing Helix Energy Services, a private, for-profit operation, and the majors forming a co-op called the Marine Well Containment Company. It’s unclear what will happen in the next accident, such as who pays if a small operator goes bankrupt after a large spill, not a trivial matter. Some advances will come eventually in spill cleanup, but will be slow unless the government takes a leading role, which, so far it is wont to do.

Which leaves us with the blowout preventer. Everyone in the industry has known for years that blowout preventers have a high failure rate, but no one really focused on that failure rate until the BP blowout. The recent forensics report from Det Norske Veritas on the Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer probably raised more questions than it answered, especially after managers for the study admitted to flaws in its own computer models that led to its conclusions and recommendations. The solution from the industry and the federal government? Let’s go back to work with no fundamental changes or redesign, depending completely on the subsea well containment companies when the next failure occurs.

The last year has been an odyssey where the disaster in the Gulf led many to hope that finally we were going to focus on a comprehensive energy policy, improve safety and protect the environment. To the disappointment of many, including me, none of these objectives was reached; indeed, they are not even being contemplated as all of our politicians, having just finished a re-election cycle a few months ago, are gearing up for the next one that comes a little over a year from now. We don’t want to let trivial things like protecting human life and the environment interfere with the game of politics, do we? It seems that, even in the face of catastrophe, we really haven’t learned any of the important lessons we desperately need to learn.

Read the original op-ed at The Houston Chronicle.

Disaster on the Horizon by Bob Cavnar is available now.

Save 35% on All Books with Discount Code CGSP11

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Celebrate spring with a fresh crop of green books from the leading publisher of sustainability titles.

ORDER NOW using discount code CGSP11 and get 35% off* your entire purchase.

Visit our online bookstore to get started! Free shipping on orders over $100. *Discount code is for one-time use only.

There’s something for everyone on our spring book list – from Edward Hoagland’s critically acclaimed collection of essays to an entertaining exploration of chile peppers in the face of climate change. Plenty of fascinating fodder here for gardeners, political activists, foodies, and general readers alike! Chelsea Green’s newest releases will educate and inspire you on all things sustainable.

Featured New Releases:

Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail
by Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft, and Gary Paul Nabhan
Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth
by Diane Wilson
The Color of Atmosphere: One Doctor’s Journey In and Out of Medicine
by Maggie Kozel, M.D.
The Mystery of Metamorphosis: A Scientific Detective Story
by Frank Ryan
Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening
by Sepp Holzer
Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes
by Diane Imrie and Richard Jarmusz

Visit our bookstore to see all available titles.

Farming in the Time of Climate Catastrophe

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

by Gary Paul Nabhan, co-author of Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail.

It is spring, and I am kneeling with a few friends in front of the composted soil of the hillside terraces in my orchard-garden in the desert borderlands of Arizona. It is planting day, and as we place each variety of pepper plant into the moistened earth, we say its name aloud, as if reciting a prayer in the face of uncertainty: Chiltepin, Chile del Arbol, Tabasco, Jimmy Nardello, Datil, Beaver Dam, Yellow Hot Banana, Chimayó, Sweet Chocolate, and Sheepsnose. We hand-water each member of this tribe of peppers, place a frost-resistant row cover over it like a monk’s hood, and move on to the next, hoping for the best.

If you have farmed or gardened in the desert for any length of time, you sooner or later learn—in a thousand humbling ways, as I have—that you are not in control of even half of the most essential variables that most converge if you are to return in late summer to harvest a crop. In the face of accelerating climate change, my capacity to control critical factors and predict the outcome of my labors seems ever more limited.

Continue reading this piece at The Atlantic.

Chasing Chiles by Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft, and Gary Paul Nabhan is available now.

Civil Rights Leaders Call for Halt to Water Fluoridation

Monday, April 18th, 2011

The following release was published April 14th by Dr. Paul Connett and the Fluoride Action Network.  Learn more about the dangers of water fluoridation in Connett’s book, written with James Beck and Spedding Micklem, entitled The Case Against Fluoride.

Because fluoride can disproportionately harm poor citizens and black families, Atlanta civil rights leaders, Andrew Young and Dr. Gerald Durley, have asked Georgia legislators to repeal the state’s mandatory water fluoridation law.

Andrew Young, former U.N. Ambassador and former Atlanta Mayor, along with Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley, Pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Atlanta, both inductees in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, expressed concerns about the fairness, safety, and full disclosure regarding fluoridation in letters to the state’s minority and majority legislative leaders. (1,2)

Fluoride chemicals, added to 96% of Georgia’s public drinking water supplies are meant to prevent tooth decay, especially in the poor. Yet, 61% of low-income Georgia third-graders have tooth decay compared to 51% from higher income families – and 33% and 20%, respectively, have untreated cavities showing a dire need for dental care. (3)

“We also have a cavity epidemic today in our inner cities that have been fluoridated for decades,” wrote Ambassador Young.

Studies show that despite fluoridation, tooth decay is higher in blacks (4) along with fluoride overexposure symptoms – dental fluorosis or discolored teeth.(5)

Dr. Durley wrote, “The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences has designated kidney patients, diabetics, seniors, and babies as ‘susceptible subpopulations’ that are especially vulnerable to harm from ingested fluorides. Black citizens are disproportionately affected by kidney disease and diabetes, and are therefore more impacted by fluorides.”(4)

Ambassador Young wrote, “I am most deeply concerned for poor families who have babies: if they cannot afford unfluoridated water for their babies’ milk formula, do their babies not count? Of course they do. This is an issue of fairness, civil rights, and compassion. We must find better ways to prevent cavities, such as helping those most at risk for cavities obtain access to the services of a dentist.”(5)

Dr. Durley’s letter to the legislators also says, “I support the holding of Fluoridegate hearings at the state and national level so we can learn why we haven’t been openly told that fluorides build up in the body over time (and) why our government agencies haven’t told the black community openly that fluorides disproportionately harm black Americans…”

An American Association for Justice Newsletter for trial lawyers describes potential fluoride legal actions based on personal injury, consumer fraud, and civil rights harm.(6)

In a letter to their state’s Health Commissioner, a bipartisan group of Tennessee legislators expressed their concern about fluoridation’s undesirable impact on babies and other groups.(7)

A bipartisan group of New York City Council Members has also introduced legislation to stop fluoridation in NYC. (8)

Daniel G. Stockin of The Lillie Center Inc., a Georgia-based firm working to end the practice of fluoridation says, “You can look for even more leaders and persons harmed by fluoridation to speak out now.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposes to lower water fluoride levels to alleviate the growing dental fluorosis epidemic. The Fluoride Action Network (FAN) submitted scientific evidence to HHS (9) indicating that fluoridation must stop completely to preserve health, documenting that:

• HHS has failed to consider fluoride’s impact on the brain. Fluoride has been linked to lowered IQ in 24 human studies, and over 100 animal studies have reported damage to the brain.

• Infants who are fed formula made with fluoridated tap water will receive up to 175 times more fluoride than breast-fed infants. Infants 0-6 months old, the smallest and most vulnerable in our population, were completely excluded from risk calculations in HHS’s proposal.

• African-American children and low-income children suffer from the highest rates of dental fluorosis, including the most severe forms of the condition. The HHS has failed to take any steps to redress this inequity, thereby making fluoridation an Environmental Justice issue.

Young stated, “My father was a dentist. I formerly was a strong believer in the benefits of water fluoridation for preventing cavities. But many things that we began to do 50 or more years ago we now no longer do, because we have learned further information that changes our practices and policies. So it is with fluoridation.”

Paul Connett, PhD, Director of FAN says “Fluoridation is unnecessary, unethical, the benefits wildly exaggerated and the risks minimized.”

Continue reading the release at the Fluoride Action Network site.

Check out The Case Against Fluoride by Dr. Paul Connett, James Beck and Spedding Micklem, available now.

Now Available: Wild Law

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

On the eve of Earth Day 2011 and Bolivia’s pending passage of the world’s first law protecting the rights of Nature, Chelsea Green announces the publication of a newly updated edition of Cormac Cullinan’s seminal work, Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice.

The legal, political and economic systems of contemporary industrialized societies are not only failing to prevent the destruction and degradation of Nature, and with it the well-being of future generations, they encourage and legitimize that destruction.

Cullinan argues that the survival of life on Earth—including humans—requires us to fundamentally alter our understanding of the purpose of law and governance, rather than merely changing laws.

Since its first publication in 2002, Wild Law has informed and inspired the global movement to recognize rights for Nature—a movement destined to shape the twenty-first century as significantly as the human rights movements shaped the twentieth. This revised edition includes a new preface, postscript and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth proclaimed on April 22, 2010.

Hear Cormac Cullinan speak at two upcoming events – Nature Has Rights in New York City on April 21st and San Francisco on April 27th, respectively.

Check out Wild Law in our bookstore now!

Diane Wilson Arrested in London

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Gulf Coast shrimper-turned-environmental activist Diane Wilson was arrested on Thursday, April 14th in London while protesting outside the BP annual general meeting.

In a press statement, Diane said, “My community is dead. We’ve worked five generations there and now we’ve got a dead community . . . I am here to articulate the anger of thousands of Gulf Coast residents whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed while the BP board continues to prosper.”

Listen to Diane’s interview describing the day’s events on Democracy Now. Read more about her arrest and the delegation of Gulf Coast residents that traveled to London to hold BP accountable here and here.

Diane’s new book is Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth. Check it out along with her two other titles in our bookstore now!

We’ll continue to provide updates on this story here and via our Facebook page, so stay tuned!

Hedge Fund Gamblers Earn the Same In One Hour As a Middle-Class Household Makes In Over 47 Years

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

by Les Leopold, author of The Looting of America

We live in a very, very rich country. Yet we seem to be utterly consumed by a collective hysteria that we’re about to go broke. Historians are certain to look back at this period and wonder why the richest country in history consumed itself in a struggle over how many teachers to fire.

How rich are we?

Just take a look at the latest reports on what the top hedge fund managers haul in. In 2010 John Paulson led the list with a record $4.9 billion in personal earnings. That’s a whopping $2.4 million an HOUR. Here’s a factoid to make you wretch: It would take the median US household over 47 years to earn as much as Paulson pocketed in just 60 minutes. And, every hedge fund manager pays a lower tax rate than the average family.

The top 25 hedge fund earners took in $22.07 billion in 2010. Thanks to a generous tax loophole these billionaires will pay a top tax rate of 15 percent instead of 35 percent. Closing that loophole on just those 25 individuals – just 25 guys who wouldn’t miss a penny of it — would raise $4.4 billion, which is enough to rehire 126,000 laid-off teachers.

Wait a sec. This is America, not Russia. Don’t we want our entrepreneurs to go out there and earn as much as possible? We don’t want to punish the successful who are building up our economy, do we?

Continue reading this article at Alternet.

The Looting of America by Les Leopold is available now.

Carol Deppe: Why the Best Salads Don’t Need Salad Dressing

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The modern paradigm for a salad is a bowl of a relatively limited number of relatively bland vegetables to which we add the flavor via salad dressing. Most perennial vegetables, fresh herbs, and wild greens have strong flavors. Many of these greens are unusually nutritious, and some are especially easy for home gardeners to grow. In addition, markets these days often also carry a good repertoire of herbs and greens with stronger flavors.

However, if we include substantial amounts of highly flavorful greens in a salad and dress it with a standard salad dressing, we end up with overwhelming instead of pleasing flavor. Many people respond by sticking to salads based mostly upon lettuce. The full-flavored greens just don’t fit into the mild-ingredients-plus-flavorful-dressing paradigm. I opt for biodiversity in the salad bowl, the diet, and the garden. What I eliminate is the salad dressing. I challenge the entire concept of salad dressing. Here’s my approach:

1. I use substantial amounts of full-flavored leaves in my salads. I can use lots more if I use small amounts of many of different types rather than a large amount of one of them. Onion greens, garlic greens, wild garlic, lovage, salad burnet, young horseradish leaves, sorrel, mustard greens, carrot tops, Alexanders Greens, young dandelion greens, and many others find their way into my salads.

2. I like milder salad ingredients too. I mix them with the stronger-flavored greens and herbs. By eliminating the salad dressing I make more room for strong-flavored greens as actual salad ingredients. I often use carrots or apples as part of my milder ingredients. Apples go great in salads (or sandwiches). (A little lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) will keep the apples from browning.)

3. I put all the smaller amounts of various herbs in a big leaf of something (kale, horseradish leaf, lettuce, cabbage), roll the smaller bits up in the leaf, and slice the roll very fine. This allows me to cut all the strongest-flavored greens very fine with little effort.

4. I don’t use a generic mixed dressing, home-made or commercial. Instead I taste the combination of greens and vegetables I have in the bowl that day and season to taste with something sour such as lemon or vinegar (if there are no sour ingredients), some oil (if there are no oily ingredients), water (if needed), and a little salt. I may use some dried herbs too. If so, they are chosen to complement the specific salad.

5. I often include oily ingredients in the salad (sliced hard-cooked eggs, sunflower seeds, slivered hazelnuts) instead of using store-bought, extracted oil. (I have a flock of laying ducks. A few laying hens or ducks fit into many backyards and wonderfully complement gardening.) Sometimes I blend nuts or sunflower seeds in water and use that in the salad instead of oil or whole or slivered nuts or seeds. Sometimes I mash a hard-cooked egg yolk in a little water to give a creamy texture and use that in the salad, with the egg white pieces as one of the ingredients.

Continue reading this article on Alternet.

Learn more about Carol Deppe’s new book, The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times, in our bookstore.


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