GreenYes Digest V97 #168

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Fri, 22 Jan 1999 17:10:45 -0500

GreenYes Digest Wed, 16 Jul 97 Volume 97 : Issue 168

Today's Topics:
Collision of issues - coal ash pollution
How To Deal With This?
message to Alicia Culver
New CEO at Waste Management, Inc.
Whither Miami curbside?
Why will world population stabilize at 10 billion?

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Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 13:32:14 -0700
From: Carolyn Chase <>
Subject: Collision of issues - coal ash pollution

Here's a report with an amazing collission of issues -
Anybody know how coal fly ash is disposed of in their area?

>COAL.SRL 12-Jul-97
> Ecologists at the Savannah River Site are finding high
>levels of heavy metals in animals exposed to coal fly ash left
>over from burning coal at the federal reservation, and they
>suspect that the same problems are widespread because gigatons of
>coal are burned around the world every year.

>Continued reliance on coal as a major energy source worldwide may pose greater
>problems than scientists previously believed, Drs. Congdon and Rowe said.
>Because coal ash pollution is causing substantial problems in aquatic
>on the Savannah River Site, researchers believe that aquatic organisms are
>affected worldwide. Drs. Congdon and Rowe said they believe the
>environmental effects of coal ash pollution on aquatic organisms represent "a
>staggering problem and one that people are not going to want to address."
>Research into the problems related to coal fly ash storage and disposal should
>become a priority because about 100 million metric tons of fly ash are
>each year in the United States alone, they said.

Carolyn Chase, Editor, San Diego Earth Times,
Please visit ;-)

Tel: (619)272-7423 (SDET)
FAX: (619)272-2933
P.O. Box 9827 / San Diego CA 92169

"When in doubt, tell the truth. You will gratify some
of the people and astound the rest." -- Mark Twain


Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 19:07:02 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Food

It's me again.
First of all, you know that I am a businessman just like you, and that I
understand how business works and how it perhaps does not work. That is why
we also have help in those areas business does not.
Sometimes government does not work as well....something you have always been
very quick to agree with me on. These days, at least in my opinion -
gobvernment and business seem to be good friends and only to happy to help
each other out, and I believe some important details are getting left out -
such as the will of the people.
But enough of this. What I really want to write about is a topic that
has me concerned, and since you are an economist as well as a businessman,
perhaps you can help me predict what is going to happen here.

In the past two weeks I've read the World Watch - State of the Wrold
book, and feature West Magazine on the paving of the California Central
Valley, a Scientific American article on Nitrogen fixing, and been talking to
people here about paving of farm land in local Watsonville.
The gist of these publications is that industrial and residential
property has a much higher market value than does farm land, and thus many
farmers have come to look at their land as having value other than simply
growing crops. Much of the best farm land on the planet was put to use
growing food early one, and thus is typically the area where roads are good,
and people already live....this means that this richest farm land already has
most of the infrastructure needed for industry and is thus easier and cheaper
to pave over than more distant, less arable land that has smaller roads,
lass infrastructure.
In Wastsonville you can get anywhere from $250,000 to $400,000 for an
acre of industrial or residential land, and a tenth or less for agricultural
land. As a farmer gets older and looks towards retirement it is very
tempting to talk to the local elected buddies and get that land rezoned, sell
out and take home a bundle in retirement. Good idea.
Problem: Arccording to World Watch (heavily documented) we are running
out of land to farm, and in particular out of good farm land. What does the
free market system do about this?

All I can come up with is that if there is not enough farmland, then
food production goes down, and price goes up, and thuis people come up with
other ways to meet demand. One can imangine prices going up so high as to
make it profitable to build highrise hydroponic farms totally powered by the
chemical industry..... If farmland were to rise to some level comparable to
residential and industrial land, well then it seems to me that this cost
alone would increase the cost of food to a level such that the bulk of
humanity could afford to eat. Do they simply die of starvation?
I could make the argument that when the ability of the planet to feed
all of us is exceeded by the population, then the free market will begin
pricing food above that what the poorest can afford. This essentially kills
off the excess population and resolves that problem?

In reality this is more complex because as I've shown the free market
has not, at least thus far, most efficiently allocated land between
agricultural and industrial uses. This has happened because there was always
more land somewhere else to be farmed and thus the higher industrial land
values easily drove out the less costly farmers who had someplace else to go.
But as you run out of land, the farmers have nowhere else to go, but back to
the good land (which by now is long since paved over and if you dig up the
pavement not so good land anymore) with the same high prices...... leading to

Is this right? (that's a loaded question - does it follow economic
theory, and is it morally right? Or should government be more involved in
land allocation - or does that just put off the enevitable???)


Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 15:20:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: How To Deal With This?

Dear Bill,
I know that this is not ac documented as you would like.....but
I've got a BA in Biology and many of Biologist firends will not go near a
farm or enter a home using these chemicals. They must have a reason for
Bottom line question: Please read his conclusions at the bottom if
nothing else, and let me know how you would deal with this kind of topic?

Stephen Suess


The mainstream environmental movement spends its time urging
government to regulate corporations that are making people sick
while poisoning the planet's air, water, and soil. Regulation is
what mainstream environmentalists aim to do. They gather data,
write reports to show how bad things have gotten, and then they
ask government regulators to modify the behavior of the
responsible corporations. In Washington, D.C., and in all 50
state capitals, hundreds or thousands of environmentalists toil
tirelessly year after year after year, proposing new laws, urging
new regulations, and opposing the latest efforts by officials
(corporate and governmental) to weaken existing laws and
regulations. They write letters, meet with agency personnel,
publish pamphlets and hold conferences, prepare testimony for
subcommittees, serve for years on citizen advisory boards, create
"media events," mail out newsletters and magazines, organize
phone trees to create awareness and raise funds. They pore over
immense volumes of technical information, becoming experts in
arcane sub-specialties of science and law. They work hard, much
harder than most other people. When they find that their efforts
have been ineffective, they redouble their efforts, evidently
hoping that more of the same will work better next time.
Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council,
Sierra Club, Audubon, National Wildlife Federation, The
Wilderness Society, The Environmental Working Group, and many
others that make up the mainstream environmental community are
well-intentioned, earnest, and diligent. They are also, it must
be admitted, largely ineffective.

An eye-opening new book describes the nearly-complete failure of
all our attempts to regulate the behavior of the chemical
corporations. TOXIC DECEPTION, by Dan Fagin and Marianne
Lavelle,[1] is subtitled "How the Chemical Industry Manipulates
Science, Bends the Law, and Endangers Your Health." In his day
job, Dan Fagin writes for NEWSDAY (the Long Island newspaper) and
Marianne Lavelle writes for the NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL. Both are
award-winning investigative reporters, and this book shows why:
it is thorough and thoroughly-documented, even-handed, careful in
its conclusions, and absolutely astonishing in how grim a picture
it paints of our corporatized democracy. Even those of us who
study chemicals-and-health full-time have never put all the
pieces together the way these two have.

The book is organized as a case study of only four dangerous
chemicals: atrazine, alachlor, perchloroethylene and formaldehyde.

** Atrazine is a weed killer used on 96% of the U.S. corn crop
each year. Introduced in 1958, some 68 to 73 million pounds were
used in 1995, making it the best-selling pesticide in the nation.
Atrazine interferes with the hormone systems of mammals. In
female rats, it causes tumors of the mammary glands, uterus, and
ovaries. Two studies have suggested that it causes ovarian
cancer in humans. EPA categorizes it as a "possible human
carcinogen." Atrazine is found in much of the drinking water in
the midwest, and it is measurable in corn, milk, beef and other

** In 1989, Monsanto introduced Alachlor, a weed killer that
complements atrazine. Atrazine is best against weeds and
alachlor is best against grasses. Often both are applied at the
same time. Alachlor causes lung tumors in mice; brain tumors in
rats; stomach tumors in rats; and tumors of the thyroid gland in
rats. It also causes liver degeneration, kidney disease, eye
lesions, and cataracts in rats fed high doses. Canada banned
alachlor in 1985. EPA's Science Advisory Board labeled alachlor
a "probably human carcinogen" in 1986. In 1987, EPA restricted
the use of alachlor by requiring that farmers who apply it must
first take a short course of instruction. Much of the well water
in the midwest now contains alachlor and its use continues

** Perchloroethylene ("perc") is the common chlorinated solvent
used in "dry cleaning" (which is only "dry" in the sense that it
doesn't use water). In the early 1970s, scientists learned that
perc causes liver cancer in mice. Workers in dry cleaning shops
get cancer of the esophagus seven times as often as the average
American, and they get bladder cancer twice as often. A few
communities on Cape Cod in Massachusetts have perc in their
drinking water; a study in 1994 revealed that those communities
also have leukemia rates five to eight times the national
average. Perc is ranked as a "probable human carcinogen" and we
all take it into our homes whenever we pick up the dry cleaning.

** Formaldehyde is a naturally-occurring substance present in the
human body in very small quantities. Mixed with urea,
formaldehyde makes a glue that handily holds plywood and particle
board together. Mixed with a soap, urea-formaldehyde makes a
stiff foam that has excellent insulating properties. After the
oil shortage of 1973, Americans began to conserve fuel oil by
tightening and insulating their homes, and it was then that
people discovered that formaldehyde can be toxic. In tens of
thousands of individuals, urea-formaldehyde has caused flu-like
symptoms, rashes, and neurological illnesses. In some people, it
triggers multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), a life-long,
debilitating sensitivity to many other chemicals, including
fragrances and perfumes. In recent years, scientists have
confirmed that formaldehyde causes rare nasal tumors in mice and
in industrial workers exposed to high levels of formaldehyde gas.
It is also linked to brain tumors in people exposed to it on the
job (embalmers and anatomists). It is ranked as a "probable
human carcinogen" in humans, and we are all widely exposed to it
through cabinets, furniture, walls and flooring.

TOXIC DECEPTION documents how the manufacturers of these
chemicals --and thousands of others like them --have managed to
keep their dangerous, cancer-causing products on the market
despite hugely expensive government regulatory efforts, civil
litigation by citizens who feel victimized, investigative news
reports, congressional oversight of the regulators, right-to-know
laws, and hundreds of scientific studies confirming harm to
humans and the environment. The book documents how corporations
buy the complicity of politicians; offer jobs, junkets and
sometimes threats to regulators; pursue scorched-earth courtroom
strategies; shape, manipulate, and sometimes falsify science; and
spend millions of dollars on misleading advertising and public
relations to deflect public concerns. In sum, the book shows how
corporations have turned the regulatory system --and those who
devote their lives to working within that system --into their
best allies.

After reading this book, one realizes that the purpose of the
regulatory system is not to protect human health and the
environment. The purpose of the regulatory system is to protect
the property rights of the corporations, using every branch of
government to thwart any serious attempts by citizens to assert
that human rights should take precedence. "At the most
fundamental level," write Fagin and Lavelle, "the federal
regulatory system is driven by the economic imperatives of the
chemical manufacturers--to expand markets and profits--and not by
its mandate to protect public health."(pg. 13) Why are so many
of us still defining our environmental work entirely within the
confines of this hopeless system?

After 27 years of unremitting, well-meaning attempts to regulate
corporate polluters, here is our situation:

** The government does not screen chemicals for safety before
they go on the market.

** Chemicals are presumed innocent until members of the public
can prove them guilty of causing harm. Naturally this guarantees
that people will be hurt before control can even be considered.
After harm has been widely documented, then government begins to
gather data on a chemical, but "the agency usually relies on
research conducted by or for manufacturers when it is time to
make a decision about regulating a toxic chemical."(pg. 14)

** Industry manipulates scientific studies to reach the desired
conclusions. According to Fagin and Lavelle, when chemical
corporations paid for 43 scientific studies of any of the four
chemicals (atrazine, alachlor, perc or formaldehyde), 32 studies
(74%) returned results favorable to the chemicals involved, 5
were ambivalent, and 6 (14%) were unfavorable.(pg. 51) When
independent nonindustry organizations --government agencies,
universities or medical/charitable organizations (such as the
March of Dimes) --paid for 118 studies of the same four
chemicals, only 27 of the studies (23%) gave results favorable to
the chemicals involved, 20 were ambivalent, and 71 (60%) were
unfavorable.(pg. 51)

** As of 1994, after 24 years of trying, EPA had issued
regulations for only 9 chemicals.(pg. 12) EPA has officially
registered only 150 pesticides, though there are thousands of
others in daily use awaiting review by the agency.(pg. 11) The
Occupational Safety and Health Administration has done only
slightly better, setting limits on 24 chemicals after 18 years of
effort.(pg. 81)

** Close to 2000 new chemicals are introduced into commercial
channels each year in the U.S., virtually none of then screened
for safety by government prior to introduction. When screening
does occur, it occurs AFTER trouble has become apparent. All
together, about 70,000 different chemicals are now in commercial
use, with nearly 6 trillion pounds produced annually in the U.S.
for plastics, solvents, glues, dyes, fuels, and other uses. All
six trillion pounds eventually enter the environment.

More than 80% of these chemicals have never been screened to
learn whether they cause cancer, much less screened to discover
if they harm the nervous system, the immune system, the endocrine
system, or the reproductive system. In sum, in the vast majority
of cases, nothing is known about the health or environmental
consequences of dumping these chemicals into the environment.
It's a huge corporate experiment on the public.

The corporations use a single line of defense: we don't know FOR
SURE how dangerous these chemicals really are. But this simple
strategy works perfectly because Congress has placed the burden
of proof on the public, not on the corporations. We have to
prove that we have been harmed. Because we are all exposed to
hundreds if not thousands of chemicals each day, pinpointing the
source of a rash, a headache, or a brain tumor is next to
impossible. Meanwhile the exposures continue. The dice in this
game are loaded. Why do we continue to play?

Instead, why doesn't the environmental movement come together to
discuss a new strategy --one that asserts the right of a
sovereign people to control subordinate entities like
corporations? We could lawfully shift the burden of proof onto
the purveyors of poisons. We could legitimately deny them the
protections of the Bill of Rights. (Rule of thumb: if it doesn't
breathe, it isn't protected as a person under the Constitution).
We could legally define what corporations can and cannot do, JUST
(See REHW #488 and #489.) Such a program would no doubt have
enormous popular appeal because so many people have been treated
with injustice and disrespect by one corporation or another in
recent years. Why keep wasting our time? Let's get together and
focus our energy on DEFINING (not regulating) corporations. It's
the only way we'll ever achieve environmental protection. And it
would give people some control over their lives once again.


Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 15:20:39 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Internalize/Externalize

Dear Bill,
In our on going discussion you write: " The first step towards stopping
greenhouse gases and other resource depletion is to put these ideas before a
critical audience and accept what the peers as about our evidence. Once
armed with a consensus, we can then move forward to internalizing those costs
which are presently externalized. Wishing them away, or hoping that public
pressure will overcome market is, in the long run, merely pissing in the

I fully agree that when we do something we should pay the price of
whatever impact that action takes. The problem is that too often we do not
know the price, and even when we do we might not wish to pay the price.
Frankly I do not know the value of old growth trees - but I do suspect it is
more than the subsidized value of the raw lumber, and yet we do not have the
political will to remove those subsidies. In this "picture of reality" arn't
your ideas just as much "pissing in the wind" and Mr. Orrs?

In this weeks Newsweek (A journal we cannot trust as you say) is a
column by Robert Samuelson who basically says that inspite of all the talk
about the greenhouse effect, that we will do nothing about it, and even if
the worst case senario takes place so what - we may have to build a few sea
walls and adjust what our farms plant. My response follows:

Although I understand Robert Samuelson's (Don't Hold Your Breath, July
14,1997) assertion that we won't do much about global warming, I was
concerned about his implication that an energy tax is the only way to limit
greenhouse gas emissions, and I was even more concerned about how he came
across as feeling that no matter how bad it gets, we will adapt, and that the
whole thing is really no big deal.

Why do we need to talk about carbon taxes, when we already have huge tax
credits and other subsidies on fossil fuels. It seems to me that, in this
era of limited government and anti-welfare sentiment, we ought to be talking
about eliminating fuel subsidies as well. One would think both Republicans
and Democrats would jump at this opportunity to both save tax payers money
and help reduce greenhouse emissions. (Unless there is something else
involved - lobbying and campaign finance perhaps - but then that is another
The cost of solar energy has dropped by more than a factor of fifteen since
the 70's, and another drop like that would make solar energy more than
competitive with fossil fuels even at todays subsidized prices. Why not
subsidize solar energy research instead of fossil fuel consumption? If we
can develop less expensive renewable energy sources we would benefit in many
ways including: The virtual elimination of our balance of payments deficit
by the elimination of our oil imports, to say nothing of the resulting
economic and political ramifications. Other nations would replace their
fossil fuel consumption with a renewable energy system as well, leading to a
virtual halt in the atmospheric rise of carbon dioxide and thus eliminating
that issue altogether. In addition we would eliminate much of the air
pollution issues affecting cities everywhere, and innumerable health costs
along with that.
Through the use of energy conservation methods we managed to keep our fossil
fuel consumption at essentially the same rate through more than a decade of
economic growth following the embargoes of the 70's. These energy saving
systems required that we spend time and money making them happen, but in the
long run they have saved us money. What is astonishing is that we now seem
to have stopped in our efforts to save energy and money.

My father wrote the first scientific paper (with Roger Revelle in 1957) on
his (the first) measurements that showed that we were in fact having an
impact on the carbon dioxide level of the Earths atmosphere. I grew up
listening to my fathers concerns - which were so great that he wanted to
build a nuclear power plant on every street corner. His research was on the
radioactive form of carbon (Carbon 14), and specifically calibrating the
natural levels over time so that one could accurately date archeological
artifacts. In his work he discovered a correlation between the Carbon 14
level and world climate, and based on this he predicted a cooling trend, and
not the warming trend we are experiencing.
The last ice age, which covered much of the North American continent with a
mile thick sheet of ice was the result of a world wide cooling of some five
degrees. An increase of even one degree does not mean that we have
marginally warmers days, but rather it means that our weather systems have
significantly more energy, leading to increases in violent storms, flooding,
and so forth. The insurance industry is becoming aware of how this slight
increased warmth could bankrupt the entire industry. (Could the fossil fuel
industry be held legally accountable for this in the same way cigarette
makers are now responsible for societies added health costs?)
A seemingly small rise in sea level may not drown much of Earths land
surface, but it is just the land closest to sea level that is the most
fertile agricultural and most densely populated. By some (admittedly the
worst case) estimates we are talking about losing a third of the worlds
agricultural land and moving a fourth of the worlds population.

I recently built a new home and had to install smoke alarms, fire
sprinklers, and a fire hydrant all of which added about 10% to the cost of my
home. My car has seat belts and air bags, and when I go to the airport they
x-ray my bags and ask me all kinds of questions, all of which costs lots of
money. We live in a society where we want to be protected from all events
that have a greater than one in say ten million to a billion chance of
occurring, and we spend huge amounts of money creating vast systems of
industries to do this. Why we are not equally cautious when it comes to
protecting the health of this planet is something I can not fathom.
Some ten years ago, Newsweek wrote that "the environmental nightmare
scenarios of the 60's are now beginning to come to pass." I believe that Mr.
Samuelson does a real disservice to the public by catering to that desire not
to know what bad thing might happen to us if we continue in our ways, and in
feeding that sense of hopelessness too many of us feel in our ability to have
any influence in improving things.
And finally, I suggest he read the World Watch Institutes book on the State
of the World, perhaps the Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken, or look up what
the Natural Step People are doing before he does the typical reporters
routine of giving equal credence to all sides of any issue.


Stephen Suess
Zero Waste Institute
1000 Larken Valley Road
Watsonville, CA 95076
(408) 462-1565


Date: Fri, 15 Aug 1997 22:24:12 -0500
From: "Susan K. Snow" <>
Subject: message to Alicia Culver

Alicia Culver:
The information you sent to me on incineration is wonderful. The two
groups of people with whom I am networking have sent back nothing but
praise. The copied the articles and passed them onto their communities
in both Delaware and Louisiana.

I wish I could thank you personally, but I misplaced your email
address. However, just wish to thank you again.

Susan Snow


Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 13:53:33 -0500
From: RecycleWorlds <>
Subject: New CEO at Waste Management, Inc.

According to today's Wall Street Journal (7/15/97), the Waste Management =
Board of Directors has appointed a new CEO, Ronald LeMay. LeMay has =
been the no. 2 executive at Sprint, and has no prior experience in solid =
waste issues. The article notes:

"A career-long telecommunications manager, Mr. LeMay said in an =
interview yesterday that he 'knew very little' about hte trash business =
when initially approached about the job six weeks ago. His 24 year-old =
son, a ontime environmental science student, knew a bit more, and tried =
to fill Mr. LeMay in."
"He'll find, of course, a huge glut of dump capacity that dpresses =
prices and profit; a recycl;ing business popular with consumers but at =
best marginally profitable; and a vast hauling operation that could be =
run more efficiently."

Does anyone know a 24 year old environmental science student whose last =
name is LeMay?


Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 13:45:45 -0700
From: Carolyn Chase <>
Subject: Whither Miami curbside?

> Last week officials in Miami were debating ways to keep the
>city's curbside recycling program from being "axed to save
>money." The city had suggested a drop-off system would be available
> until 10/98, when a private firm is scheduled to resume
>curbside pickups (Yolanda Balido, Miami Herald, 7/9).
++ does anybody know any of the details of this?

Carolyn Chase, Editor, San Diego Earth Times,
Please visit ;-)

Tel: (619)272-7423 (SDET)
FAX: (619)272-2933
P.O. Box 9827 / San Diego CA 92169

Do all the things that need to be done.
Do all the good you can each day.
-- Peace pilgrim


Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 19:03:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Why will world population stabilize at 10 billion?

I understand that demographic projections now predict a possible
stabilization of world population around 10 billion. This is based on
projecting population growth from the past into the future and in no way
takes into account any new and unforseen changes such as nuclear war,
asteroids, death viruses, or a sudden urge to have more babies....or the
environmental ability of the Earth to sustain such numbers. It is this
sustainable number I'd like to very briefly address:
In 1975 as a graduate student at Scripps Institute of Oceanography a
number of us began to ask just what is the sustainable population level of
the Earth. We ended up in an informal worldwide dialogue with hundreds of
scientists over a two year period and although we never really came to any
consensus - the range varied as high as 15 billion (but none higher), to as
low as half a billion. The mean fell in at two billion.
You have to remember one can temporarily have a much higher population
as you consume your capital, but at the other end the crash is much greater
leading to lower sustainable numbers if preceded by higher beginning figures.
The reason for this seemingly pesemistic estimate has to do with the
realization that we all want to have a good, first world standard of living,
thus more consumption, and secondly that we are already consuming our stored
resources at a much higher rate than that in which they are replaced, and
finally the impact of pollution and environmental degredation is cumulative
and was negative already when we were but a billion.....
I believe that those who feel we can feed ten billion - sustainably -
are eternal optimists who really have not looked at this topic from ALL
sides, and have not really addressed the questions of: At what standard of
living do these ten billion exist, and where do ALL the resources, not just
the food, but also the farm land, the replacement for the dwindling top soil,
and so forth, come from.
The late J. Cousteau asks us to look at small over populated islands
such as Haiti, Madagascar, and some of the suth pacific islands to see how
resource depletion leads to barren and non-sustaining environments. He told
us that this is what the entire Earth if we continue in our ways!


End of GreenYes Digest V97 #168