· Introductions, Expectations, Grading and Classroom Participation
· Review of the Syllabus
· Steve Allen’s “Meeting of Minds”
From 1977 to 1981, Steve Allen, the originator of the Tonight Show, created a television variety chat show format that featured “guests who played important roles in the drama of history.” The show was scripted, yet allowed for spontaneous discussion among three characters at each episode. Guests included Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Marie Antoinette, Thomas Paine, Cleopatra, Francis Bacon, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Jefferson, Attila the Hun, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Voltaire, and Charles Darwin.
Students are expected to select a character of their own choice out of history and prepare, in conjunction with two other characters chosen by classmates, an hour-long discussion on Globalization and the Transformation of Culture from their individual’s unique historical perspective. These segments of “Meeting of Minds” are scheduled for presentations during the last weeks of the semester.
· Solutions Paper/Project
To earn a final grade, students are required to either:
1) Submit a 10-12 page paper critically analyzing and proposing a solution to a topic relevant to the nature of the course; or
2) Perform a substantial number of hours working on a project that benefits an institution whose mission is in furtherance of the public interest.
· Retention of Consumer Packaging and Garbage for Two Weeks
Students are expected to learn about their own personal consumptive habits by retaining all packaging and garbage they will accumulate over the first two weeks of the class. They will then photograph their own social history of trash – their “wealth” – and help build a classroom/ classmate photoshop portrait of consumption.
· Readings for Course
Written just below are the Articles, Required and Suggested Texts that have comprised many of the past semesters’ readings. New materials and those that comprise this semester’s requirements are marked by an in the margin adjacent to the reference.
The readings for this course contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in an effort to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell/edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. [Copyleft] [Creative Commons Legal Code ©©]
1. Durning, Alan Thein & Ryan, John C., “Stuff: The Secret Life of Everyday Things,” 7 Northwest Environmental Watch, 1997.
2. Mander, Jerry & Goldsmith, Edward (Eds.), The Case Against the Global Economy, Sierra Club Books 1996 (or paperback).
3. International Forum on Globalization, Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples Resistance to Economic Globalization, Special Report (2005).
4. McDonough, William & Braungart, Michael, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, North Point Press (2002).
5. Eisler, Riane, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics [(Berrett-Koehler Publishers 2007)] ISBN# 978-1-57675-388-0
6. Marglin, Stephen, The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community, Harvard University Press (2008).
· Frank Ackerman & Lisa Heinzerling, Prices: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing, The New Press (2004).
· Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Power, Viking Canada (2004).
· James Howard Kuntsler The Long Emergency
· Peter Barnes, Capitalism 3.0
· Edward O. Wilson, The Future of Life, Knopf (2002).
· Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest: How The Largest Movement In The World Came Into Being And Why No One Saw It Coming, Viking Press 2007.
· Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Penguin Press 2008
· David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, Pantheon Books 1996
· Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near, Viking Press 2005
· Janine M. Benyus, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, William Morrow Co. 1997
· McKibben, Bill, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, Times Books/Henry Holt 2007
· David Korten, Agenda for a New Economy, Berrett-Koehler Publishing (2009)
· Week 1 Classroom (continued)
· DVD: “The Ad and the Ego” (California Newsreal)
· Week 1 Reading Assignments
1. Story of Stuff, www.storyofstuff.com.
2. Ryan, John C., & Durning, Alan Thein, Stuff, The Secret Life of Everyday Things, Northwest Environmental Watch 1997.
An eye-opening book that follows the everyday consumption habits of a typical middle-class person in Seattle, Washington. The authors trace the astonishing expenditure of energy and natural resources in commonly used food and products, such as coffee, computers, cars, and French fries. While significantly increasing the reader’s awareness of his or her own daily consumption patterns, Ryan and Durning suggest ways to minimize the amount of energy and resources the typical North American consumes.
· Discussion: Consumption, Advertising, Trash
· Discussion: Globalization & Culture
History, Place, Time, Religion, and their relationships to the environment and
· Video Opportunities:
- Human Footprint (National Geographic 2008)
- Illicit: The Dark Trade (National Geographic 2008)
· Week 2 Reading Assignments
1. Mona Hymel, Consumerism, Advertising, and the Role of Tax Policy, 20 Virginia Tax Review 347 (2000).
This article unveils the disturbing ways in which U.S. tax policy subsidizes advertisements that are enormously successful in promoting greater consumption and encourages Americans to spend, consume and, consequentially, waste more. Hymel’s article shows how tax policy goes beyond the sphere of economics and into the realm of socio-cultural behavior, as it influences consumption and consumerism. She reveals the flaws and failures of current tax policy through the lenses of Judge Joseph Sneed’s seven persuasive tax policy purposes and details the social, psychological, and environmental impact of current American consumption levels.
2. Susan Strasser, A Social History of Trash, Orion, Autumn 2000.
This article traces “trash trends” from 1800’s America to present day. Strasser begins by describing the pre-Industrial Era cultural propensity for recycling waste: worn clothing was mended or turned into rags, broken household items were fixed or sold to the “junk man” who used them in other repairs. Most Americans produced little trash before the twentieth century. With the rise of mass production and mass distribution, households were transformed from closed systems to open ones, using products from factories and leaving the packaging at the curb. By the 1920’s, the principle of fashion—obsolescence on the basis of style—was applied to material goods, and Americans began to throw things away not because they were useless, but because new ones looked better. Recycling became associated with poverty and backwardness. Strasser ends the article by discussing the resurgence of recycling in modern American society, beginning in the 1970’s. Sorting trash for recycling has become a moral act for some Americans, and recycling programs have been largely successful. This article also includes inserts about the advantages of recycling and organizations that provide resources for those with recycling initiative.
3. Jeffrey Kaplan, The Gospel of Consumption,
Orion, May/June 2008.
The Gospel of Consumption tells us that consumers can be manipulated to think that there is no limit to consumption. The push in the late 1920’s was to define the customer’s needs to produce a society that was obsessed with the acquisition of material goods. Manufacturers decided to produce more than what the consumer needed. Kaplan describes how Kellogg realized the impact that the longer work hours had on employees and their inability to be efficient workers. Kaplan implies that the American society has become obsessed with the idea of working to consume. As a consequence, the relationships of many American families are strained.
The Big Ideas of 2008, Carnation Milk, Adbusters No. 75.
Is seeing believing? This article questions the concept of believing only what you can see. The author explores the marketing strategies of different companies to make its product more appealing to consumers. Over the years, many companies have marketed their brand to imply that natural ingredients were used in the making of its product. The article points out that although a cow or a wheat field was displayed on the packaging, it does not mean that the natural ingredients were used to make that product. The author suggests that consumers have begun to rely heavily upon the products’ packaging to describe the nutrients in the food and have associated the quality of the food being produced with a certain brand. The article includes research that has linked hyperactivity in adolescences with food and drink additives that has been found in snacks and juices that children are consuming.
The 2007 Green Guide, An Eco-System of One’s Own, Vanity Fair, May 2007.
This article depicts the daily consumption of an average American from the time he/she wakes up to time they go to sleep. Alone, the United States’ gross domestic product equals those of several different countries. Americans are controlling the majority of resources which produces more money to consume more products. The author describes the use of coltan in the manufacturing of the 200 million plus cell phones registered in the United States and how the efforts to obtain this mineral are affecting the existence of the gorillas in their environment. Not to mention, the rain forests that are at stake because of the 110 pounds of sugar that American consume each year. The idea behind this article is to make consumers aware of what they are consuming, where the product is coming from and what it takes to make the product.
Chris Carrol, High Tech Trash, National
Geographic, January 2008
The increasing use of electronic devices by Americans is providing waste that is affecting not only Americans but other parts of the world. High Tech explores the evils of e-waste and the unregulated form of exporting recyclables. Carroll describes how in 2005 Americans threw away between 1.5 and 1.9 million tons of computers, televisions, cell phones and many other electronic devices. Unfortunately, for countries like China, Ghana and many other parts of Asia and Western Africa, America’s e-waste is becoming a chop shop for memory chips, copper wire and drives. The author describes in Ghana, how tons of electronics are brought daily to be scavenged for parts. Once the electronics are dropped off, the televisions or computers are broken down to extract the copper wires to eventually be sold for scrap. At the same time the electronics are dissembled the levels of lead, neurotoxin and other deadly toxins are incredibly high. Once the valuable pieces are claimed, the electronics are thrown in inlets and eventually washed away to the ocean. The article explains how states and local governments are trying to regulate the exportation of recycling in an effort to prevent the harmful reactions to e-waste. However, because the federal government has yet to institute minimum requirements for recycling, there are still large quantities of e-waste that is being shipped to countries like China and Ghana.
7. Matthew Power, The Magic Mountain: Trickle-Down Economics in a Philippine Garbage Dump, Harper’s Magazine, December 2006 http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/12/0081312
Payatas and Pier 18 dump sites have become a way of life for many of the people outside of Manila in the Philippines. Author Matthew Power describes how the Payatas dump site became national news in 2000 when the overpowering 130 foot mountain of trash collapsed and killed hundreds of people who lived and worked at the Payatas dump site. The author examines the aftermath of the collapse and the everyday life of the Payatas and Pier 18 sites. Daily on an average 7,000 tons of the city’s garbage is dumped at one of these sites. In response to the increase of workers at the sites, local officials instituted an organic-garden training program. Once the student completed the program a portion of land was given to grow organic foods. Power explains how over 10,000 scavengers visit the site to scour for aluminum, wire, etc in exchange for money. In the end, thousands of people have become dependent on their findings at these dump sites. For many, scavenging has become a way of life.
8. Packaging, Collection of Articles:
· Tom Zeller, Jr., Recycling: The Big Picture, National
Geographic, January 2008
Zeller takes a look into the world of recycling. Is it worthwhile to recycle? According to the author, recycling has been proven to be better for the environment and conserves more natural resources than the traditional landfills and burning of waste. The most common recycled object in the United States is a car battery, where the disposing process is heavily regulated. On the other hand the article explains how Europeans are leading in the advancement of recyclable package materials. Denmark and Sweden are exceeding a 100 percent in the recycling of paper and glass packaging materials. Zeller also explains how states are requiring more companies to take part in the recycling business.
· Daniel Imhoff, Thinking Outside of the Box,http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0GER/is_/ai_97116312?tag=artBody;col1
Thinking Outside of the Box is an article that describes different possible forms of packaging. According to Inhofe one third of the gross solid waste is packaging materials. The idea is to create a demand for the manufacturers to invent more recyclable packaging materials. The question of paper or plastic seems to be the unanswered question of the recycling world. Regardless of material there are consequences for any material that is used packaging. The answer becomes which of the two evils are more eco-friendly. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws have forced manufacturers to assume responsibility over recycling their own packaging, especially in relation to international trade. The author introduces the newest forms of packaging materials to include bioplastic, earth shells and edible packaging, ecobottle, molded fiber and no-label refillable bottles. The article concludes with ways consumers can help with recyclable packaging. For instance, buying products in bulk and consuming less.
· Sara Bloom, How is Germany Dealing with its Packaging Waste?,http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0GER/is_/ai_97116313?tag=artBody;col1
Author Sara Bloom presents Germany’s form of recyclable packaging. The article explains how the Dual System Deutschland (DSD) has created a logo for manufacturers to use to identify that they have prepaid for recycling. The consumer can identify this logo and separate the packaging materials into their proper collection bins. With the increasing need for land in Germany, many of the country’s waste was being shipped to France. Bloom points out that although there was a decrease in packaging waste after the adoption of the Packaging Ordinance requiring consumers to pay twenty-five cents per can deposit, there has been a significant increase in packaging waste and it continues to grow in Germany.
· Anne Chick, Toward a Common Policy for Europe,http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0GER/is_2002_Winter/ai_97116313/pg_3
adoption of the 1994 European Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive has
provided a foundation for Europe to base its recycling systems. The article
describes how some countries like Austria, Germany and Sweden are mandating
manufacturers to assume the responsibility of recyclable packaging cost. On the
other hand, countries like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands require the
manufacturer to cover the cost and the local governments to supervise the
collection of the recyclable packaging. Then there are countries like Belgium,
Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain where
manufacturers and local governments share the responsibility of collecting and
separating the cost of the recyclable packaging. These are just examples of how
countries can be proactive in the recycling business.
· Better Naked than Packaged,
The German Association for the Protection of the Environment and Nature has enlisted a campaign to completely eliminate the excessive packaging instead of recycling. The article suggests that the “better naked than packaged” slogan is the solution to packaging problem. Awards are given to supermarkets with the least amount of packaging. Solutions to the packaging problem are engaging the consumer in the plight to reduce excessive packaging. The article describes how some stores allow the consumer to bring their own containers for meat and other stores do not package fruit, vegetables, cheese and similar products. The idea behind this campaign is to make the consumer aware of how the product is being packaged and what the consumer can do to eliminate the excessive packaging problem.
· Janine M. Benyus & Dayna Baumeister, Packaging from the Porcupine Fish (and other Wild Packagers)http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0GER/is_/ai_97116313?tag=artBody;coll
This article brings forth the notion that packaging products can mimic some of the natural “packaging” of organisms and other wildlife creatures. The concept of substituting the traditional form of packaging with “expand and collapse” mechanisms, cellular matrixes, optimal packagings and color without paint provides a solution to many of the worlds recyclable packaging dilemmas. The article suggests that studying natural life and how seed cases can be used for air-tight packaging or how sea cumber’s skin stiffens when needed can prevent materials from breaking. The article concludes with the idea manufacturers could study these organisms and produce a packaging material that is natural so that recyclable materials will no longer be needed.
9. Extended materials on Consumption and Advertising.
10. Kalle Lasn and Bruce Grierson, Malignant Sadness, Adbusters June/July 2000.
Have we gained power and wealth for a piece of our soul? This is the essential question posed by Lasn and Grierson, who reveal the haunting statistics surrounding the “epidemic” of clinical depression in present-day America. The authors explore possible explanations for the fact that Americans are suffering unprecedented rates of depression: increasing social isolation, hyper-commercialized modern life, the electronic environment created by TV and the Internet, a consumer capitalist culture focused on consumption rather than human connectedness, the lack of spirituality in day-to-day life, and the postmodern crisis of meaning all factor into the authors’ analysis. The article ends by rejecting the current “pop a pill” treatments for depression and calling for individual examination of the big question, “What am I doing here?”
11. Jerry Mander & Edward Goldsmith (eds.), The Case Against the Global Economy, Sierra Club Books (1996) (hereafter Mander)
Chp. 2: David Korten, The Failure of Bretton Woods.
The Bretton Woods conference of 1944 created the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). In this article, David Korten, president of the People-Centered Development Forum in New York, asserts that the Bretton Woods promise of a harmonious global economy has failed because of two erroneous assumptions: enhanced world trade benefits everyone, and economic growth would not be constrained by the limits of the planet. Korten discusses the ecological limits to growth that to have already been reached, and the shift in resource ownership from the poor to the wealthy in the face of increasing scarcity. He argues that the global economy has translated into economic injustice, empowering the world’s wealthy at the expenses of other people, species and the ecosystem. Global corporate monopolies and elite domination of the global economy are also, in Korten’s view, contributors to the problems of globalization. Korten recommends economic localization and public discussion as the first steps toward remedying the failures of Bretton Woods.
· Chp. 3: Helena Norberg-Hodge, The Pressure to Modernize and Globalize.
Before she became director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, Helena Norberg-Hodge spent three decades as the first foreigner to live among the Ladakhis of the Himalayas. Located on the Tibetan Plateau, Ladakh was isolated from the forces of modernization until 1962, when the Indian Army linked it by road to the rest of India. Here, Norberg-Hodge testifies to the transformation of Ladakhi culture that resulted from exposure to consumerism, government bureaucracy and tourism. Ladakhi self-confidence declines, the youth reject their ancestors’ culture, traditional skills are no longer taught, local food is no longer produced, violence is born. Norberg-Hodge skillfully draws the connection between the loss of a local economy and the loss of a local community’s bonds of interdependence. Her anecdotal description of one culture’s disintegration in the face of globalization fuels her overarching theme: modern culture produces environmental and social problems, which inevitably lead to the breakdown of community and the undermining of personal identity.
· Chp. 4: Marten Khor, Global Economy and the Third World.
Khor believes that the global economy has led to the degradation of the environment and the deterioration of human health in the Third World. He highlights a number of examples to support this thesis. Transnational companies have shifted production operations to the Third World, capitalizing on Third World countries’ relaxed industrial standards while exposing Third World people to toxic and hazardous materials. Transnational food companies have replaced traditional agricultural methods with industrial methods dependent upon pesticide and technology. Traditional fishing methods have been lost within the surge of modern trawling practices that destroy fish populations and habitats. Tropical forests have disappeared at the rate of millions of acres per year. All of these environmental and social hazards are part of what Khor classifies as the drain of resources from south to north on a global scale. Khor considers the greatest challenge of the world today to be the creation and establishment of a new economic and social order.
· Chp. 5: Maude Barlow and Heather-Jane Robertson, Homogenization of Education.
With the creation of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA, Canadian culture is eroding under new and invasive reforms modeled after American individualism, entrepreneurship and competitiveness. Barlow and Robertson use the transformation of the Canadian educational system as a model for the American and transnational takeovers occurring in many aspects of Canadian life. The new free trade policies advanced by NAFTA require Canada to treat U.S. companies as if they were Canadian, allowing them to bid on public contracts, including those surrounding education. As a result, where Canada once treated education as a common heritage, education is now being increasingly privatized and corporate-sponsored. American fast-food chains will soon be able to provide cafeteria services in Canadian schools. American “for profit” educational services can mass market in Canada. University research, once valued for its public good, is now proprietary. Curriculums are negotiated with corporate sponsors. Across North America, political forces are pushing for an academic common market in North America, which Barlow and Robertson believe will lead to the disintegration of Canadian authority in education.
· Chp. 6: Richard Barnett and John Cavanagh, Homogenization of Global Culture.
With the increasing globalization of Western media sources, traditional forms of entertainment and music in diverse communities across the globe are being replaced by cookie-cutter Western pop icons, television shows, and music stars. This replacement potentially degrades and even distinguishes traditional cultural experiences and values in favor of a homogenized, Western product. Because teachers, community leaders, and parents are finding it hard to compete with these new images and trends, Hollywood has become a prominent source of education and values among children and others in poorer countries.
· Chp. 22: Edward Goldsmith, Development As Colonization.
The central thesis of this article is that multi-national and World Bank development of third world nations is merely one more instance of colonialist domination, masked in the guise of humanitarian agency and good will. The goal of this development is once again to extract valuable raw materials and exploit cheap labor sources which, in turn, will serve to maintain the standard of living the first world has become accustomed to. What we are witnessing today in the third world is essentially first world capitalism gone cannibalistic. Today’s method of colonialism is simply packaged in more politically acceptable paper.
· Chp. 28: William Grieder, Citizen GE.
Using the example of General Electric, Grieder demonstrates the ways in which corporate influence permeates throughout American political, legal, social, and educational systems. Of particular concern to Grieder is the fact that corporations are not democratically run, but rather represent the will and objectives of a few elite. Indeed, GE’s involvement in the various realms of American society are largely self-serving. For example, GE submitted amicus curiae briefs and “whispered” into the ear of the president’s legal counsel on several occasions when legislation negatively affecting corporations was at stake. GE was also substantially involved in orchestrating tax policy changes that reduced their own tax burden. In examining the case of GE, Grieder questions why although considered as a sort of American “citizen,” corporations like GE enjoy far more advantages and protections than the average citizen.
Chp. 29: Kai Mander and Alex Boston, Wal-Mart: Global Retailer.
Wal-Mart, the largest American retailer, is seeping into small towns around the country, suffocating small, family-owned stores and communities. With its eyes glazed over by the possibility of infinitely greater profits, Wal-Mart aspires to become the first global retailer. Thanks in large part to the Uruguay Round of GATT rules, Wal-Mart will enjoy greater freedom in spreading its manufacturing or retail business abroad. Typically, retailers like Wal-Mart seek countries that show little concern for the environment, employee welfare, or fair labor wages. As Wal-Mart moves into more and more close-knit communities, it destroys neighborhood stores or markets by substituting local and middle-man stores with its mass-produced, cheaply made, and self-distributed goods. This chapter tells the story of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, and demonstrates his seemingly demonic drive to accumulate wealth and success at any price.
12. Marglin, Stephen, The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community (2008).
Chp. 13: From Imperialism to Globalization by Way of Development
In this chapter, Marglin discusses the cultural impact of western economics on communities outside of the west. Cultural change in the Third World is packaged with the spread of globalization. However, Marglin does not believe that cultural destruction is a necessary corollary of the spread of technologies that improve the quality of life. He believes that most people worldwide want access to these types of technologies and he does not dispute that. He instead focuses on how cultures can remain intact when these technologies are delivered. He believes that cultural intervention is limited and that the west should refrain from simply supplanting other cultures with a western vrsion. Marglin uses the case of female genital alteration as an example. First, he suggests we recognize there are a variety of practices that vary in the amount of suffering caused and their impact on sexual sensitivity. Rather than lumping them together as either female circumcision or female genital mutilation, we should recognize the variance and determine which of the practices are outrageous. Then we should pinpoint the grounds of our opposition to those practices, and we should think of suitable solutions, rather than outright cultural intervention. For example, if our opposition stems from health risks associated with the procedures, we should advocate the use of antiseptics and anesthetics and, if need be, hospitalization. Using this and several other examples, Marglin argues that it is possible to continue spreading technology while minimizing the negative impact on non-western cultures.
13. Peter Berger, Four Faces of Global Culture, The National Interest, Fall 1997.
Cultural globalization is inherent in economic globalization, but what does cultural globalization look like? In this article, Berger argues that cultural globalization is a complex phenomenon with at least four faces. The first, what Berger calls the “Davos” culture, is comprised of the elite businessmen that accompany global economic processes. This yuppie and distinctly Western culture occupies the boardroom and the political arena. The second is the “Faculty Club,” a culture of Western intelligentsia carried across geographic borders by foundations, academic networks and multinational agencies. The third face is the “McWorld” culture: the popular culture that embraces American music, fashion and fast food on a global scale. The fourth face of global culture is Evangelical Protestantism. This missionary-type force inculcates the Protestant ethic into new territories, bringing about radical changes in relationships, educational systems and traditional hierarchies. Berger notes that all four faces of global culture share two traits: they are all Western, and they are all dependent upon English. A nuanced understanding of cultural globalization must take into account the homogenizing forces of these four faces, and the resistances to them. Berger believes that understanding the multiplicity of cultural globalization is a necessary precursor to dialogue between contending civilizations. Like the Barber article listed below, this article is written in response to Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations.
14. Martin Walker, Globalization 3.0,http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=wq.essay&essay_id=358325
Globalization 3.0 refers to a shift in world power with China and India as forerunners where the Western world no longer controlled the rules for world trade. China’s pledged investments to Latin America in the sum of 100 billion for oil and a billion dollar fund to help develop Africa has made China a leading economic giant. Will poor countries be able to compete with the old world giants because of this transition in globalization?
15. Moisés Naím, The Five Wars of Globalization, Foreign Policy 29, January/ February 2003.
Currently governments around the world are fighting five global wars: illegal international trade in drugs, arms, intellectual property, people and money. Naím argues that these global wars cannot be won unless governments rethink the ways they wage these wars. Rather than conceptualizing them as law enforcement problems we should view them as a new global trend. All of these problems have no geographical boundary, no traditional notions of state sovereignty; they pit governments against market forces and bureaucracies against networks. To effectively win this battle, Naím proposes that governments develop more flexible notions of sovereignty, strengthen existing multilateral institutions, devise new mechanisms and institutions and move from prohibition of certain trades to developing better regulations.
16. Philip Jenkins, The Next Christianity, Atlantic Monthly 53, October 2002.
Jenkins argues that Christianity is gaining popularity as well as mutating in ways that Westerners do not see. As a result of this growth and mutation, conflicts within different sects of Christianity will ultimately leave the deepest mark in the twenty-first century. This article gives an in-depth historical analysis of Christianity beginning with the Reformation, Counter-Reformation and how different denominations have branched out in recent years. Jenkins points out that the success of highly supernatural churches – such as the Pentecostal Christians – should be seen as a direct by-product of urbanization. These churches gain support because of how they interpret the horrors of everyday urban life in supernatural terms. Furthermore, disease, exploitation, pollution, drugs, and violence also explain why people might be easily convinced that they are under siege from demonic forces. These extremist denominations are becoming evermore popular around the world, including countries in Africa where Muslims and Christians jostle for political influence. Jenkins fears that in these countries it will ultimately prove fatal if religion is used as a reason to fight or dies for one’s cause.
17. Amy Chua, A World on the Edge, Wilson Quarterly 62, Autumn 2002.
In numerous countries around the world that have pervasive poverty and a market-dominated minority, democracy and markets, which are goals that should ultimately be obtained, can create violent backlashes against a particular ethnic minority if swiftly implemented. Markets concentrate wealth in the hands of market-dominated minorities while democracy increases the political power of the impoverished majority. Chua states that in the eyes of the impoverished majority, the minority wields outrageously disproportionate economic power relative to the majority. Once given political power, the danger lies in widespread backlash, violence and rage against the market-dominated minority. As Chua explains, market-dominated minorities exist everywhere in the world, and a combination of democracy and markets have historically caused violent backlashes in the Philippines, Serbia, Rwanda (genocide), Indonesia, Israel and the United States (9/11).
18. Gary Hufbauer & Joseph E. Stiglitz,The Fair Play Debate (Free Trade/Fair Trade), The National Interest, May/June 2008.
19. John Ralston Saul, The Collapse of Globalism, Harper’s Magazine 33, March 2004.
This article argues that the grand theory of globalization has collapsed in recent years and the world is currently experiencing a resurgence of nationalism as its replacement. Saul begins exploring the reasons for why globalization received such wide-spread initial support during the 1970s and what ultimately led to its demise in the late 1990s. The attraction of globalization was that, in theory, it offered a solution to almost all difficult economic and social problems including high inflation and unemployment. Unfortunately, the results did not meet the expectations of the economists. Not only did the power of the nation-state weaken, the gap between the rich and the poor grew bigger, the costs of public utilities increased for consumers, while CEO’s salaries increased to 1,000 times the pay of average workers. Moreover, corporate ineptitude triggered its ultimate decline. The resurgence of nationalism is evident in the fact that Malaysia refused to follow global rules during the Asian economic crisis in 1998 as well as the United States’ unilateral stance toward a possible war with Iraq. Saul believes that with the death of globalization comes the idea of choice, a choice of whether to retreat to negative nationalism or positive nationalism.
20. Lawrence M. Friedman, Erewhon: The Coming Global Legal Order, 33 Stan.L.J. 347 (2001).
This article outlines how globalization has changed culture, international law and has levered a gradual consensus toward human rights. Friedman first argues that the globalization of trade is now an international business, which is dependent on the rise of global culture. As the global culture becomes more homogeneous, law will increasingly become more global as well. The use of English as the predominant language in international trade means that U.S. ways of thinking about and writing contracts are likely to influence other countries’ customs. Second, globalization has made global problems such as genocides in third-world countries and environmental destruction more personal. The notion of human rights makes it difficult for the rest of the world to be indifferent to wholesale slaughter. Ultimately, borders will mean less both culturally and economically and the global village will be nowhere – yet everywhere.
21. Benjamin R. Barber, The Uncertainty of Digital Politics, Harvard International Review, Spring 2001.
Technology may not necessarily be an ally to democracy. Technology tends to mirror, rather than transform, societies. Therefore, societies composed of weak citizens and flailing democracies will likely only reflect and perhaps, magnify, these political inadequacies as technology takes increasing prominence in their community. While the latest Internet advances are being touted as educational and cultural opportunities, the Internet is largely comprised of commercial entrepreneurship, benefiting companies rather than individuals. In addition, the speed at which the Internet passes knowledge may interfere with the deliberative and patient nature of representative democracy. The speed at which information is transferred also presents a danger in that it allows unedited, overly simplistic, or completely false information to be championed at random. Most alarming, the sheer volume of information we now ingest ignores our inability to process that information and use it wisely. We should not assume that technology enhances or promotes democracy. Indeed, technology has the potential to support democracy, so long as a ground-level community of citizens is able to subscribe to it.
22. Amartya Sen, Universal Truths: Human Rights and the Westernizing Illusion, Harvard International Review, Summer 98.
Sen examines why the discourse on human rights has been characterized as the imposition of Western values on non-Western cultures, particularly Asian traditions. At the same time that Western values have not always championed freedom and equality, Asian traditions have not always eschewed freedom and equality in favor of order and discipline. The oversimplified categorization of Western or non-Western societies as representative of one or two sole values is misguided. Thus, rather than divide societies, human rights can unite diverse traditions and cultures by focusing what is universally essential to valuing human life.
23. Richard Falk, World Prisms: The Future of Sovereign States and International Order, Harvard International Review, Summer 1999.
Falk examines world order and the prominence of the sovereign state amidst the mercurial nature of globalization. International peace and security efforts will most likely be replaced by traditional peace keeping methods involving unilateral action by dominant military states. The international sector will, in turn, continue to serve as a champion of human rights and developmental concerns. Regional power structures, such as the European Union, will continue to develop and strengthen while the nation state struggles against regional structures and attempts to re-emerge as a regulator amidst global market forces. World cities will either compete with or enhance states in their climb to the level of transnational actors. The uncertainty of the future world order leaves open opportunities for the sovereign nation state to either step up and increase its role in world markets and forces, or be swept along with the tide.
24. Stephen A. Marglin, Development as Poison: Rethinking the Western Model of Modernity, Harvard Int’l Review, Spring 2003.
Marglin argues that the development of technology and production of the Western culture has rapidly spread to other societies. As a result, it has undermined indigenous cultures’ way of experiencing, seeing, understanding and living. This is a direct result of the Western culture’s economic and market-driven society. Marglin argues that there are five assumptions of modern Western culture that undermine the concept of community and culture which is perceived to be the “right” values and beliefs: individualism, self interest, the privileging of rationality, unlimited wants, and the rise of the moral and legal claims of the nation-state on the individual. A consequence of these assumptions is that people do things for efficiency and abandon other old, traditional and more community-oriented methods. Rather than relying on the community to achieve a particular goal (bar-raising) which fosters mutual interdependence, people rely on efficiency and economics (insurance) to achieve the same goals. However, relying on efficiency prevents mutual economic dependence, which fosters and builds personal relationships. To remedy this problem Marglin suggests that local communities should do two things: 1) decide which innovations in organization and technology are compatible with the core values the community wishes to preserve; 2) practitioners and theorists should be less arrogant in thinking that they are liberating people from ignorance, oppression of tradition and superstition.
· Barbara Stark, Women and Globalization: The Failure and Postmodern Possibilities of International Law, 33 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 503 (2002).
· Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, Dividing the Surplus: Will Globalization Give Women a Larger or Smaller Share of the Benefits of Cooperative Production? 4 Ind. J. Global Legal Stud. 51 (1996).
· Discussion: Economics, Demographics, Markers of Progress
· Video Opportunities:
- “Who’s Counting” (Bullfrog Films)
Readings for Week 3:
1. Riane Eisler, The Real Wealth of Nations, Chapter 2, Economics Through a Wider Lens
This chapter describes more efficient, caring, and accurate forms of determining economic prosperity, using economic indicators which take into account our personal, social and environmental challenges. Eisler argues that a cross-disciplinary approach to economics, which takes into account the larger social system ofo which economics is just a part, will better serve our society. She describes the differences between domination politics, in which the government or large corporations control natural resources and the means of production, and partnership politic, which value caretaking functions and are less concerned with domination and more with receiving insight and input from all levels of necessary hierarchies. She notes that Western Capitalism systems and Soviet-style Communist systems are both domination systems, and have thus failed to significantly raise the value of life for the majority of their citizens or protect the environment. Instead of furthering these systems, Eisler argues for adopting a partnership system by embracing caring activities as necessary for our economic growth. She suggests adopting “Seven Steps Toward a Caring Economics,” including realizing how devaluating caregiving has negatively affected our economic policies, changing economic indicators to value caregiving, and educating all people about the importance of caregiving. She argues that only by adopting caring economic systems can we meet individual, organizational, social, and environmental needs.
Chp. 17: Ted Halstead and Clifford Cobb, The Need for New Measurements of Progress.
Halstead and Cobb, both economists, argue that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is inherently flawed because it measures progress solely by the volume of production and consumption. As a result, America’s societal well-being is declining while the GDP is on the rise. The authors point out a number of problems with the GDP measuring system: it does not account for the depletion of natural resources, it counts family breakdown and disease as economic boons, it takes no account of income distribution and it ignores the drawbacks of living on foreign assets. As an alternative, Halstead and Cobb have created the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), which adds a cost side to the GDP growth ledger. Among other things, the GPI evaluates resource depletion, pollution, long-term environmental damage, non-market transactions and income distribution. The GPI suggests that national well-being has steadily declined since the 1970’s, and that the costs of current economic activity are beginning to outweigh the benefits. The authors also apply the GPI to developing nations currently controlled by the GDP-based World Bank and the IMF. They conclude that the GDP fails to recognize the social and ecological costs of globalization.
· Chp. 31: Richard Barnett and John Cavanagh, Electronic Money and Casino Economy.
In this article, Barnet and Cavanagh offer a condensed history of the changes in financial activity that produced the modern “casino economy.” A worldwide deregulation of global financial systems, coupled with radical changes in the scale and speed of financial communications technology, leaves us poised for a global economic collapse. The authors argue that globalization demands a deregulated financial services industry. The buying and selling of monetary products has become a business in itself, and investments have little to do with production or commerce. Barnet and Cavanagh paint a haunting portrait of a global investment network where trillions of dollars are exchanged at the touch of a keypad, far beyond the reach of government control. The authors warn that in this vast electronic network, entirely dependent upon computer technology, one breakdown in the global banking system (be it from fraud, a virus or a flash of lightning) could send the world into financial panic. If and when this economic catastrophe does occur, innocent workers and civilians will suffer the resulting injuries.
Chp. 38: Susan Meeker-Lowry, Community Money: The Potential of Local Currency.
In this article, Meeker-Lowry surveys modern community efforts to create local currency. She begins by highlighting the ways in which conventional monetary systems, such as the federal dollar, malfunction in society. As a result of the problems presented by national currency, a number of groups have successfully created local currency systems. The author provides a number of inspiring examples of communities who trade and barter their skills and crafts with other community members. These groups create their own units of exchange and keep track of credits and debts through a central coordinator. Local businesses often join in, and the services available through the local currency system encompass any number of fields, including law, home repair, childcare, food, gardening—even language lessons. These programs allow communities to regain independence and “unplug” from the federal system. Resources stay within the community, emphasizing local sustainability. Unlike conventional money, which is based on scarcity, community currencies are designed to include everyone who wants to participate, and everyone’s time is valued. Meeker-Lowry offers refreshing insight into the cooperation and interconnectedness engendered within local currency communities.
3. Marglin, Stephen, The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community (2008).
The premise of this book is that as economic development proceeds, community is lost. Marglin concedes that the state is one cause of diminishing communities. However, he also believes that markets, with economics as their disabler, are another cause of the demise of community. Marglin was impacted by a stay in India after graduate school in which he experienced human life that was based upon a sense of community. As a professor in India, Marglin realized that western economics was foreign to his young student. He began to think about the cultural specificity of economic theory. Marglin began to question how much a culture can change, or can “grow” based on a western model, without losing his identity. This book is an attempt to answer that question.
· Chp. 1: Economics, The Market, and Community
Marglin argues that a self-regulating market system bears a large portion of the responsibility for undermining community. Economics “celebrates the self-interested, calculating individual.” Marglin thinks that economics rests on foundations such as basic assumptions about the self-interested individual, rational calculation, unlimited wants, and the nation-state. On the other hand, markets have promoted economic growth, the problem is that economists do not balance the gains and losses created by markets. Economics supports the market by providing a means to internalize externalities, suggests that the market’s imperfections do not matter because they are too small or can be overcome, and relies upon the assumption that economic agents rationally calculate their individual self-interest in continuing consumption, quite apart from any ties of community other than nation-state. Marglin illustrates this point through the lens of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Economists claim that NAFTA has benefited both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border: consumers in the U.S. can buy Mexican good, and Mexican consumers on the other side of the border can purchase imported Oscar Mayer sliced ham. Morever, economists brag that NAFTA created jobs for Mexicans. However, NAFTA also destroyed jobs by outsourcing manufacturing jobs from small town U.S.A. to Mexico and by destroying the agricultural economy in Mexico. The result was the destruction of small manufacturing towns in the U.S. and the even more dramatic devastation of Mexican villages. Moreover, these results were predicted prior to the enactment of NAFTA. Such devastation was an actual deliberate strategy for what Marglin describes as “bringing the Mexican peasant into the twenty-first century—kicking and screaming if necessary.” Thus, while economics and the free market may be touted by some as possessing the ability to modernize or create progress, it does so with extremely high collateral damage: the loss of the community.
Kirkpatrick, Sale, An Illusion of Progress, The Ecologist, July/August 2003.
The reality of the state of our ecosystem is blurred by the illusionistic actions that are taken to fix our environment. To many, the problem with our environment is deemed fixable. What people don’t realize is the extent of the damage that is being done to natural resources by pollution and consumption. Sale points out the example of toxic waste dumps when toxins are still being produced; or the continued mass production of wheat while not considering the consequences of pesticides and soil erosion. The purpose of the article is to inform the readers that we are only hitting the surface of the environmental problems. The author wants the readers to educate others on how to lessen their footprint and become aware of the true state of our ecological system.
Nathan Cardinal, Adding & Subtracting, Alternatives Journal, 2007
Nathan Cardinal explains how British Columbia’s economic growth per capita is equated and how a significant number of factors are not included in the gross domestic product (GDP) calculation. According to this article, the GDP should not be the only indicator of a nation’s wealth. The example given is the Exxon oil spill which caused the nation’s GDP to rise by not measuring the disastrous effect the spill had on the environment other than to account positively for clean-up costs. The author suggests adopting the Genuine Progress Index (GPI).
Jonathan Rowe, Our Phony Economy, Harper’s
Magazine, June 2008.
Similar to Cardinal’s article, Jonathan Rowe describes how the gross domestic product (GDP) takes into account strictly expenditures.
7. Lourdes Beneria, [Author: Gender, Development and Globalization: Economics as if People
Mattered], Adbusters Big Ideas 2008
The interview between Lourdes Beneria and Tom Green illustrates Beneria’s thoughts on the “science” behind economics. Beneria points out that economics is still a very biased field in favor of male gender and has refused to incorporate power relationships into its equations.
Gilles Raveaud, Neocon Indoctrination – The Mankiw Way, Adbusters Big Ideas 2008.
N. Gregory Mankiw is a leading professor at Harvard University. Under Mankiw’s teachings students learn that the market is the solution to all problems. If a problem continues, the market does not exist or it is imperfect. According to Mankiw, the theory of supply and demand can be applied to all issues. Raveaud suggests that Mankiw has given little reference to the gap between the rich and poor in the United States. Mankiw has also distorted economic theory by not presenting how the market has harmed our environment and eliminated the importance of societal relationships.
Herman Daly [Formerly: Senior Economist, Environmental Department World Bank, Adbusters Big Ideas 2008.]
Daly pushes the envelope by examining the concept of economics and its relationship to happiness. He describes how new research on happiness has proven not to be directly related to growth, which defies many economists’ theories. The article poses the question of what less growth would look like. However, less growth is a theory that the field of economy does not consider. The author wants future economists to question the theories of economy in the hopes of transforming the reality of free trade.
Rebecca Solnit, Finding Time, Orion, September/October 2007.
Rebecca Solnit entices the reader to slow down their lives and revert to a more sociable nature. The article examines our current society and has defined it as efficient, convenient, profitable and secure. The new trend to be efficient, convenient, profitable and secure drives the idea to consume.
11. Curtis White, The Ecology of Work, Orion, May/June 2007.http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/267
This article explores how contemporary everyday work has changed over the years and is the source of environmental jeopardy. White portrays that our society is wrapped in the idea of consumption yet to the diminishment of fundamental goods. Instead of planting a garden and fishing for food, our society has lost the true meaning of work. The author recommends that a new culture needs to be formed.
12. John Gallup & Jeffrey Sachs, Location, Location: Geography and Economic Development, Harvard Int=l Review, Winter 1998/1999.
Gallup and Sachs of the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) identify correlations between geographic location and relative poverty. Despite the benefits of modern development, 85 percent of the world consists of developing countries that are falling farther and farther behind the advanced countries in relative income levels. Two unmistakable geographical correlations exist: tropical countries are almost all poor and coastal economies enjoy higher incomes than landlocked counterparts. Further, geography is not the sole determinative factor; countries in favorable geographic localities have failed to thrive under socialist economic and political systems. Comparatively, Northern Hemisphere, temperate zone, coastal, non-socialistic, and non-war torn countries have the highest incomes. Concluding that geography, alongside social and political and economic institutions, does in fact matter, four main policy implications are suggested. First, heightened scrutiny must be given to landlocked countries; second, policymakers should examine the likelihood and desirability of large-scale migrations from geographically disadvantaged regions; third, population policy must be reexamined; and fourth, a closer look must be taken at non-traditional forms of aid, such as for basic science on tropical agriculture and tropical public health.
13. Theodore Roszak, Our Demographic Destiny: Longevity and Gender in 21st Century, Lapis, Issue Eleven.
Theodore Roszak, a professor of History at California State University, Hayward, concludes in this piece that he is not surprised at all that this time in our history when women are finally coming into their own is the world examining the messy complexities of nature and revisiting many of its problems with far more sensitivity and understanding. While he suggests that the future belongs to age, more importantly, female baby boomers are determined to find empowerment and fulfillment. This quest will translate to the rest of society, a society that has been characterized by a male dominated ethic. The implications will touch everything from our reliance on technology to the restoration of the environment.
14. Carl Elliot, Humanity 2.0, Wilson Quarterly 13, Autumn 2003.
Humanity 2.0 describes a world where humans are nearly a thing of the past. The idea of transitional humans dominating our society will enhance the quality of life. Many transhuman advocates declare that disease will no longer be an issue and eternal death will be a thing of the past with the option of freezing heads or bodies to be “reanimated” in the future. Critics of transhumanists question the impact it will have on society. They are worried that our society has become dependent on cosmetic surgery and botox, and how transhumanism will affect the price of one’s life if its popularity continues to grow.
15. Robert Repetto, Accounting for Environmental Assets, Scientific American, June 1992.
Natural resources are often not properly accounted for on national accounting reports, which is most detrimental to low-income countries that are usually most dependent on natural resources for employment, revenues, and foreign exchange earnings. This anomaly is based upon the fact that natural resources are considered to be so abundant that they have no marginal value or that natural resources are free gifts of nature so that there are no gifts of nature to be written off. Policymakers are thus apt to further the interests of the economy at the expense of the environment. Repetto suggests that the true definition of income must encompass the notion of sustainability. The author then exemplifies the problem with a case study of the devastation of Costa Rica’s natural environment, with the worst fate falling upon its forests. The results of improper accounting were brought to bear with the forests; considering that there was a declining rate of deforestation in recent years, asset depreciation has increased dramatically because the hardwoods being destroyed have become more valuable. Further unaccounted for were the resultant losses in wildlife habitat, tourist attractions, and the like, which have not been yet monetarily quantified. With similar accounting deficiencies being brought to bear in other low income countries, it is incumbent upon the U.N. Statistical Commission and the U.N. Statistical Office to devise an accounting system that accurately and effectively integrates economic and environmental values.
16. Peter Menzel, Material World: A Global Family Portrait, Sierra Club Books 1994.
CHARACTER and HIS/HER DESCRIPTION FOR
STEVE ALLEN’S MEETING OF MINDS PRESENTATION (5%)
· Discussion: Population, Food, Water & Health Security, Safety, Access
· Video Opportunities:
- “The People Bomb” (CNN 1992)
- “The Red Dirt on Farmer John” (2005)
- “Flow: For Love of Water,” www.flowthefilm.com (2008)
- “Food, Inc.” (2008)
Book: Peter Menzel & Faith D’Alluisio, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Ten Speed Press 2005), www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1626519,00.html
Book: Dieter Telemans, Troubled Waters (Exhibitions International/BAI 2007)
Exhibition: Water: H20=Life, www.alternet.org/story/72376
Readings for Week 4:
1. Robert Engleman, Population & Sustainability, Scientific American 3.0, www.scientificamerican.com/Earth3.
Engleman begins with the premise that, these days, more people mean less for each: less water, less land, more expensive food. He then asks whether a realistic reduction in population growth could actually help us to be more environmentally sustainable. The number of humans on the planet is not the only problem. The way we live and behave, our considerable consumption, is another important factor. The wealthiest, most industrialized nations, and not the most populated, have traditionally been most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. However, slowing population growth would still cut down on carbon emissions. Engleman believes that both population and consumption are the problem, and together they expand humans’ environmental impact exponentially as time goes on. In the hot button world of “population control,” Engleman proposes a strategy endorsed by 179 nations at a United Nations conference in Cairo in 1994. This strategy involves improving reproductive health. Engleman argues that women do not want more children, but want to have more for the children that will reliably become healthy adults. Thus, if women could raise healthy children, they would, on their own, have fewer children. Moreover, women need to be given aces to contraceptives and education.
2. Garrett Harden, The Tragedy of Commons, at www.dieoff.org/page95.htm(1968).
In his now famous piece, Harden describes the population problem as the sort belonging to the class of “no technical solution problems.” As our population grows exponentially, our resources must logically decrease. Harden characterizes the problem as one of the difficulties of defining what the maximum good is for each person when values are so different. This problem as a whole has been characterized as the tragedy of the commons, with which we are all now familiar. The troubles of the tragedy of the commons appear with the public lands, pollution, and even free parking. Yet, the U.N. and others still see the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society and are happy to leave decisions regarding the size of the family to the family itself. Harden thinks that it is a misstep to allow the control of breeding to be left to appeals to conscience, which has both long and short term disadvantages. The solution, as Harden sees it, is a set of mutually agreed upon coercion, some sort of social arrangement that produces responsibility. In this case, while the notion of the commons works fine with low population density, it fails, and consequently infringes upon individual’s personal liberties, as every new enclosure of the commons is made; thus, Harden argues we must relinquish our freedom to breed.
3. Russell Shorto, Childless Europe, NY Times Mag., June 29, 2008.
Shorto examines the decline of birthrates in Europe and its effects on the European economy. The birthrates in Southern and Eastern Europe have declined to below 1.3 children per couple. Even in Italy, where there is a monetary incentive to reproduce, women are having fewer children. Contrary to what many people may believe, it is the stay at home mothers who are having fewer children compared to the working mothers. The growing concern is the lack of young workers contributing to the country’s pension funds.
4. Mona Hymel, The Population Crisis: The Stork, The Plow, and the IRS, 77 North Carolina Law Review 13 (1998).
Tax policy can function as an economic and social tool to influence behavior. The U.S. Congress, however, has failed to use this tool in addressing problems of overpopulation in this country. Instead, as Professor Mona Hymel argues, current tax policy exacerbates problems of overpopulation in three specific areas: reproductive rates, the strain on agricultural and natural resources, and the overconsumptive lifestyle of U.S. citizens. As it functions now, the U.S. tax system has a pronatalist bias, it fails to encourage sustainable farming practices and the conservation of resources, and it actually encourages overconsumption. This pattern can be altered, however, through proposals made by Professor Hymel such as environmental taxes, preferential treatment for practices such as organic farming, and the elimination of tax exclusions that encourage urban sprawl, to name a few. Since the United States sets the pace for the world on important social issues, Professor Hymel argues that it is imperative for the country to take the lead on addressing the catastrophic effects of overpopulation. Tax policy provides a viable place to start.
Chp. 10: Karen Lehman and Al Krebs, Control of the World's Food Supply.
Domestic and international food trade policies implemented by governments around the world have separated people from the food they eat, placed the world’s food supply under the control of multinational corporations and threatened the biological wealth of the planet. Ownership of the food industry is now concentrated in the hands of agrigiants, who substitute capital for efficiency and technology for labor. In the U.S., the family farm is rapidly disappearing. Internationally, indigenous culture is disappearing as local food is rejected in favor of less expensive imports. Urban areas are becoming overpopulated as displaced farmers migrate away from farms that have been in their families for generations. Real choice and quality have all but vanished from the dinner table. Perhaps most frightening, the World Trade Organization has enabled multinational corporations to patent the genetic material for crops that farmers have been cultivating for hundreds of years. The authors thoroughly describe these predators to the world’s food supply, offering convincing support for the assertion that rejecting agribusiness in favor of local produce is a central element to relocalizing economy.
Chp. 36: Daniel Imhoff, Community Supported Agriculture: Farming with a Face on It.
In this article, Imhoff offers an uplifting description of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a business model that allows local farmers to produce organic produce for families who subscribe to the farm’s services. CSA is an appealing solution to the problems presented by current farming practices. As agribusiness continues to dominate the industry, the average food product travels over 1300 miles before it reaches the family dinner table, waxed, irradiated and packaged. 10 calories of energy are required to create just 1 calorie of food. On a CSA farm, community members pay a share of the farm’s operating expenses in the spring, and then receive fresh-picked organic produce once a week during the farming season (about 30 weeks of the year). The average CSA crop travels to a neighboring dinner table in a recyclable bag, and arrives there at a below market price. CSA farms bring communities together with workdays and educational programs, providing consumers with knowledge of how and by whom their food is grown. Imhoff’s article portrays Community Supported Agriculture as a simple and successful way to re-establish relationships between people and the planet.
The essay, A Fist in the Eye of God, examines the ethical question of genetic engineering. The author describes the theory of evolution as the foundation of all natural life. All living things have different genetics, which produces diversity in our environment and our food. Many agriculture companies are investing in genetic engineering to support our industrialized economy. Food allergies and other harmful illness are directly linked to genetically engineered foods. Unfortunately, engineered seeds are contaminating more of our naturally produced food. According to some studies, the United States is subject to losing all its naturally grown corn because of the genetic engineered contamination.
Researchers are beginning to rethink their initial conclusion on animals’ cognitive ability. The article suggests that animals are more like humans than researchers have thought in the past because of their cognitive ability. Many species, other than great apes and other primates closely related to humans, have demonstrated the ability to learn new skills, solve problems, and make distinctions among various objects. Parrots, for example, have been taught to speak English words, to tell researchers what they want, and to distinguish between items based on color, shape and material. Crows have demonstrated an ability to make tools in order to accomplish a specific task. Such research suggests that cognition is an inherited trait that is possessed not only by mammals, but across various species with ancestral histories very different than our own.
The author explores the legislation within the Spanish Parliament’s Environmental Committee, which extends limited rights to chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans. The committee based its decision on the Great Ape Project. The Great Ape Project found that chimpanzees’ DNA make-up is anywhere between 95- 98 percent the same as humans. The article explains that if the Parliament passes the legislation, it will be illegal to kill apes excluding self-defense. McNeil acknowledges that once these rights are given, the cultural practices that involve animals will be in question. The author brings up the issue of bullfighting in Spain and how the bull’s rights may be established as well.
This article explores the science of tampering with organisms. Scientists have long ignored the way organisms live and adapt in a natural state, assuming that genetic mutations are accidents. However, recent research has demonstrated that organisms actually genetically adapt to their surroundings. Holdrege and Talbott argue that if scientists are to continue experimenting with genetic modification of plants and animals, they need to focus on the organisms’ natural propensities, rather than just human utility. While it is impossible for organisms to live in isolation without affecting one another, we should only modify plants and animals in a responsible manner.
13. Thomas Nagel, What Is It Like To Be A Bat? http://organizations.utep.edu/Portals/1475/nagel_bat.pdf
In a philosophical article, Nagel sets out to explain why we presently do not understand the relationship between the mind and the body. He states that consciousness is what makes it impossible for us to solve the mind-body problem. The fact that consciousness exists in different organisms means that there is a specific meaning of what it is like to be that organism, a way of being that only that organism understands. Nagel uses the experience of the bat to illustrate the point that, because we have a certain point of view, it is impossible to understand the consciousness of another living being. We could imagine what it is like to be a bat—but if we imagine ourselves with webbed hands and hanging upside-down, we do not understand the bat’s consciousness, we understand what it would be like for us to be a bat. We do not possess a language that allows us to describe the experience of the bat, but this does not mean that the bat does not have experiences just as rich as our own. Experience is therefore completely subjective, and it is impossible to understand what it is like for the experiencing organism, like the bat, except from that one point of view—the point of view of the bat. Thus, we cannot understand the true nature of the bat’s experiences from observing the bat’s physical operation. Nagel proposes a different method to close the gap between the subjective and the objective: we should pursue a more objective understanding of the mental by itself. We should develop a new method, independent from the imagination, to think about the subjective character of experience. This could be used for humans, say, to explain to someone who was born blind what it is like to see. In any event, Nagel believes that any physical theory of the mind cannot be put forth until there is a better understanding of the more general problem of the subjective and the objective.
As animal rights activism has gained momentum in Europe, many consumers are beginning to realize the transition that takes place in the process of converting meat from animals. Europe has increased its attention to animals and factory farms. More regulations have been implemented toward animals that are housed before being killed. According to the article, it is industrialization that is contributing to the inhumane suffering of animals in the meat process. Pollan highlights a visit to a good farm, where animals are living in a natural state and do not appear to suffer before being killed. The article encourages more good farms to fix the inhumane conditions under which animals are being kept and raised, and encourages more consumer awareness.
Dugan examines the conditions under which animals are being transported in order to be considered home reared. In many instances, horses, pigs, sheep and chickens are hauled days at a time to end up being killed once they arrive at their destination. During the transit, animals are dying from diseases, heat exhaustion, hunger and stress because of the minimum allowable standard of care. The article recommends that animals should be killed prior to their transit to eliminate the inhumane conditions during transport.
16. Andrew Kimbrell, ed., Seven Deadly Myths of Industrial Agriculture, The Fatal Harvest Reader, Island Press, 2002.
This article exposes readers to seven common myths of industrial agriculture. First, contrary to what most people think, the world is currently experiencing a food surplus, not a food shortage. The reason so many people in the world are still facing a food shortage is because global corporations favor growing luxury high profit foods rather than staple foods. Peasants are also forced off their land by agricultural corporations, unable to grow their own crops and forced to work at low-paying jobs. Second, food is not as clean and safe as one thinks. More pesticides are used on crops than ever before which leads to increased cancer risk. Preserved and prepackaged meals are also high in calories, sugar and fats. Third, there are huge environmental, health and social costs associated with industrial agriculture. Widespread use of pesticides and herbicides are harmful degraders of the environment, and some are assuredly carcinogenic. Fourth, bigger farms don’t necessarily produce better foods. Big farms often use more synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics per unit of production, which increase potential adverse health and environmental effects. Fifth, whereas people think they are being offered more choices, industrial agriculture is actually causing a loss of diversity of foods. Furthermore, foods sold in supermarkets often do not provide sufficient information on their labels. Sixth, contrary to what one thinks, intensive farming methods do not protect the environment, but rather chemical pesticides and fertilizers kill wildlife, decrease biodiversity, and increase pesticidal resistance. Lastly, biotech crops will only increase industrial agricultural problems by consolidating control of the world’s food supply in the hands of a few large corporations.
17. Ellen Ruppel Shell, New World Syndrome, Atlantic Monthly, June 2001.
Michael Ableman is a small farmer from California who has maintained one of the oldest organic farms for over twenty years. In the interview, Michael explains how consumers must go beyond organic and buy locally grown food to save the environment. Industries need to consider the benefits of growing and selling for a regional market. Once industries begin to think local, it will produce an eco-friendly market saving energy, water and fuel. The article illustrates how Michael is concerned that people have become detached from the manual work of farming. As a result, the safety and quality of food has declined. Michael argues that smaller farms are more productive than large industrial farms and provide more variety for consumers.
Researchers predict that today’s children will be the first generation of Americans whose life expectancy will actually be shorter than that of their parents. The main reason is that children are growing up obese and diabetic, which is indirectly caused by the huge food surplus in the U.S. Ever since the 1970s when the U.S. faced a food shortage, subsequent administrations have subsidized farmers on a consistent basis to the point where the U.S. now produces so much food that food companies create “supersize” consumer products to increase their profits. Annual subsidies to farmers now amount to 19 billion and average Americans now consume 200 more calories [day?] than Americans did 25 years ago. This is disastrous for other countries as well, because it is driving out farmers in other countries such as India since it’s cheaper for people in those countries to buy American corn rather than their own. Pollan argues that the U.S. should resolve the problem of food overproduction by resorting to a policy created and used during the New Deal. Namely, the federal government should give the farmer an option of “nonrecourse plan” to use the corn as collateral for the full value of his crop. This way, if the market improved, the farmer can sell his crops and repay the government back, or if the market failed to improve the farmer could discharge his debt simply by handing his crop over to the government.
According to the article, farmers in Africa are beginning to flourish because the cost of land is low, the prices for crops are rising and the output is extremely high. In recent years, flowers have exceeded coffee as the leading export with vegetables and fruits not too far behind. However, critics are skeptical about the future of farmers because too many factors are involved. Farmers need to consider climate changes, the possibility of corrupt governments, and population as factors that might hinder the rise of sustained agricultural productivity.
The Rise of Big Water illustrates how private companies are taking over the water supply of many countries and the negative effects that are resulting in the transfer. The example given by the author explains how government officials of Changzhou have polluted the city’s water by allowing industries to take over and flush waste into the city’s canals. Instead of the government addressing the pollution problem, the city opted to privatize the water supply. The problem with private water companies as the article points out is that the cost of water has risen, with the hope that consumers will conserve their water intake. However, it is the poorer cities that are being affected the most. The idea of allowing the market to determine the cost of water is leaving many people without water. Mann is concerned that countries are going into large sums of debt, instead of considering other possible solutions to resolve water pollution.
25. Robert Paarlberg, The Global Food Fight, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2000.
25a. Union of Concerned Scientists, Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops, March 2009. www.UCSUSA.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/failure.
25b. Cormac Sheridan, Report Claims No Yield Advantages For B+ Crops, Nature Biotechnology (2009). www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v27/n7/fall/nbt0709-588.html
26. C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer, A Removable Feast, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2000.
Intellectual property rights (IPR) are increasingly changing the face of agriculture markets. Tansey points out that IPRs are unevenly distributed and the rules for enforcement are causing major debates. Patenting of seed has sown much confusion and, because of uneven distribution, many small farmers and undeveloped countries are being excluded from the benefits. The article points out that patents have the potential to commercialize farming everywhere and will continue to put small local farmers out of business. The author suggests that a balance needs to exist to address the concerns of the public and the private entrepreneur.
28. Maude Barlow, Blue Gold: The Global Water Crisis and the Commodification of the World=s Water Supply, (Special Report) International Forum Globalization, June 1999.
· The Environment on the Precipice
· Video Opportunities:
- “What A Way To Go: Life At The End Of Empires”, www.whatawaytogomovie.com
- “Everything’s Cool: A Toxic Comedy About Global Warming” (2007)
- “Blue Vinyl” ( )
- “Manufactured Landscapes” (Edward Burtynsky) (Zestgeist Films 2007)
- “Guns, Germs and Steel” (National Geographic 2005)
- “The Age of Stupid” (2009)
- “2012” (2009)
· Exhibition: David Maisel, “Black Maps”
· Exhibition: Sebastiao Salgado, “Genesis”
Readings for Week 5:
· Chp. 7: Edward Goldsmith, Global Trade and the Environment.
The central premise of this article is that the global economy is directly at odds with the needs of our environment. Goldsmith outlines the ways in which economic growth in the name of globalization inevitably produces environmental destruction. Third world countries are transformed into consumer cultures, increasing global resource consumption levels. Globalization’s emphasis on export leads to the annihilation of indigenous cultures and the destruction of native lands. The increased transportation necessary to support export trade translates into more pollution and inroads into previously inaccessible land. In order to stay competitive in the global market, nations are reluctant to adopt any environmental regulation that could increase corporate costs. Deregulation aids in the steady destruction of the environment, as international organizations like the GATT view environmental laws as illegal barriers to trade. Goldsmith’s recitation of the statistics surrounding environmental destruction brings home his message: “there can be no trade and no economic development on a dead planet.”
Chp. 13: Harvard Working Group on New and Resurgent Diseases, Globalization, Development, and the Spread of Disease.
The authors of this chapter have spent over ten years working together to research issues of disease through the lens of globalization. Here, they provide an overview of the effects of globalization and environmental destruction on infectious disease. When Americans predicted twenty-five years ago that infectious disease had been virtually eliminated, they apparently did not predict globalization. After listing a haunting number of statistics about the rise of disease in the modern world, the authors follow a pathogen through the environmental pathways that enable it. The large-scale movement of people and goods throughout the world make it more likely that carriers of disease will reach areas where none previously existed. Because the IMF and World Bank have imposed cutbacks in sanitation and public health in many developing nations, once a carrier arrives, the disease is highly like to spread. As environmental degradation reduces biodiversity, the colonization of disease is made easier. With increasingly unpredictable changes in climate (again, produced by environmental degradation) some areas are left more vulnerable to disease. Finally, as the gap between rich and poor grows, those marginalized by the development process are left more vulnerable to disease, and less likely to have health resources.
Chp. 18: Robert Goodland, Growth Has Reached Its Limit.
Chp. 19: David Morris, Free Trade: The Great Destroyer.
Morris deconstructs the ideologies of free trade and demonstrates that the rhetoric supporting the global economy is not living up to its promises. He identifies key postulates of free trade—the adoration of bigness, the need for global markets, and the law of comparative advantage—and then neatly tears them down. The promises of globalism appear empty when seen through Morris’ acrid critique. By juxtaposing the theory with the reality, Morris demonstrates that the doctrines of free trade and globalism are in fact approaching absurdity.
Chp. 21: Wolfgang Sachs, Neo-Development: >Global Ecological Management.=
5. David Quammen, Planet of Weeds, Harper’s Magazine, October 1998.
In this article, author Quammen presents evidence that Earth is heading towards another mass extinction, one that would rival those of the Permian or Cretaceous. Between the years 1600 and 1900, humanity had caused the extinction of about 75 known species, mostly mammals and birds; between 1900 and 1979, humans had extinguished about another 75 known species, a rate well above the rate of known losses during the Cretaceous extinction. What is most worrisome is the numbers of species extinctions that go unrecorded; some putting that number as high as 25,000 plant and animal species. Two of the most significant factors contributing to this problem include land conversion and human population growth, coupled with increasing poverty levels. Significant as well to the current mass extinction are invasive species, which have had the effect of the extinction of less competitive, less opportunistic native species. Some researchers suggest that humans are the consummate invasive species: we’re geographically widespread, we have a remarkable reproductive rate, and we’re incredibly good at co-opting and monopolizing resources. Thus, it will take a real significant change in the Earth’s ecosystem to affect humans; perhaps a bad thing as change is needed now.
6. Christopher Cokinos, The Consolations of
Extinction, Orion, May/June
Cokinos examines the evolution of nature and the extinction of species that persists today. The article exerts the author’s feelings about the extinction. He specifically examines the era since the Permian, when 95 percent of all living creatures that existed during that time have become extinct today. The idea of extinction does not end in the Permian Era. It continues throughout the twenty-first century. The article does not intend to convince the reader of the helplessness of extinction, but to invoke awareness of the environment. He concludes by recognizing that extinction is natural.
Alisa Opar, All Creatures Great and Small, Plenty Mag., August/September 2007.
In this article, Opar researches a team in San Diego that has created a frozen zoo. The frozen zoo stores samples from more than 7,000 animals from different species. Researchers at the zoo have multiplied animals that were on the verge of extinction to inhabit the wild again. Although extinction is considered a natural process, extinction rates have increased rapidly because of pollution and environmental destruction. This presents a testy topic for it champions a technological fix to human-caused degrading activity.
Mark Schapiro, Toxic Inaction, Harper’s
Magazine, October 2007.
Toxic Inaction explores the extent of toxins that exist in commonly used products. Chemicals in products include stain repellents, flame-retardants and pesticides. These chemicals have proven to result in cancer, liver or thyroid imbalances. The author also explores the lack of United States’ government regulation regarding theses toxins. The United States Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 gave the federal government the authority to follow chemicals used by industries and allowed the government to place restrictions on those that they found to be harmful. However, the chemicals already on the market were excluded from the requirements. This exclusion affected up to 95 percent of the chemicals in public use. The article compares the implications of the European policy to address toxins: REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals. Under REACH, industry regulations are more strenuous compared to those in other developed countries. The idea behind REACH is to act as a preventative measure unlike the US policy. REACH requires industries to take more responsibility of the health of consumers.
9. David Ehrenfeld, Pretending, Orion, Autumn 2000.
Ehrenfeld argues that our high tech society as a whole has been ‘pretending’ when confronted with strong warning signals about the possible future plight of our ecosystem. For example, consider the science of genetic engineering. Touted as a miracle, scientists today are pretending that their technology works as claimed, is stable, and is safe, that the euphoria of 1960 is still scientifically justified, in spite of the dangers we have since learned of, including the possible creation of virulent pathogens and disease resistance among disease organisms. Another example comes at the hands of pollution control and risk management. We pretend that we know every effect of a pollutant, that we can accurately monitor releases, and we understand environmental thresholds. And the final example that Ehrenfeld provides is that of nuclear missile defense: he questions why the public pretends that this shield is possible, when it truly is not and never will be. He concludes by suggesting if we don’t wake up and stop pretending, our world will wither, our security will vanish, and all the pretending in the world will bring us no comfort.
10. Wade Davis, The End of the Wild, Lapis, Issue Eight.
In this short article, Davis argues that the capacity to forget, a fluidity of memory, is a frightening human trait. The complete extermination of the American passenger pigeon, the destruction of the buffalo, and the nearly complete deforestation of Haiti are the examples that Davis points to. He is shocked to realize how effortlessly we have removed ourselves from these ecological tragedies. These events were unmitigated ecological disasters that robbed us and the future of something unimaginably precious. This century will be remembered as the era in which men and women stood by and either passively endorsed or actively supported the massive destruction of the biodiversity of this planet. The most important challenge of our times, Davis argues, is to quell this flame of destruction and reinvent the poetry of diversity.
11. David W. Orr, Law of the Land, Orion 18, January/February 2004.
This article argues that the time is now ripe for an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing the right to a healthy environment. The author argues that because the Declaration of Independence claims, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” then no generation has a right to take away the unalienable rights of future generations by destroying the environment. Although federal regulation such as the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) have been passed, they have had no dramatic effect in protecting the environment because they have been watered down for other major economic interests. The author also believes that lawyers and judges should be more educated in environmental and ecological issues.
John Broome, The Ethics of Climate Change, Scientific American, June 2008.
Some economists have found themselves immersed in an ethical challenge about current climate change. According to the World Health Organization, annual death rates from global warming have reached 150,000 since 2000. So why are we not reducing our consumption patterns? The article further identifies that the majority of economists are not considering the ethical question of what should be done about the climate change in the market of discounted rates. The author concludes that ethical questions should be addressed to determine the current sacrifices consumers need to make for our future well-being.
13. Jürgen Scheffran, Climate Change and Security, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 2008.
In this article, Scheffran looks
at recent research on global warming and its societal effects. The author
notes that environmental changes resulting from climate change will affect more
than human living conditions; they may threaten the fabric of our society.
Depending on the level of vulnerability to global warming, societies may or may
not be able to cope with major environmental changes. A look at history points
to some possibilities. For example, in “the year without a summer” of 1816,
during the Little Ice Age, Europe erupted in social unrest and violence. And
the environmental issues faced by 18th and 19th century
Europeans do not begin to compare to the climate change we can expect in the
future. Scheffran looks at such impending problems as the degradation of
freshwater resources and environmental migration and discusses what their
impact may be on the lives of those who have to face them.
Derrick Jensen, Beyond Hope, Orion,
This article proclaims that hope takes you away from the present and leads you to the future of the unknown. Beyond Hope suggests that instead of hoping that legislatures will make the right decision to save the environment, we should take action. When we give up on hope, we can begin to act to save the planet. The author concludes that losing hope in our environment does not mean that we are miserable and do not care. It means that you cherish and love the environment enough to take the state of affairs into your own hands and act.
Special Feature, A Brighter Shade of Green: Rebooting Environmentalism for
the 21st Century, What is
A Brighter Shade of Green examines the evolution of environmentalism into the 21st century. The idea of going green has transcended into the idea of staying green or a brighter shade of green. Some traditional environmentalists are scared of the new tools used in fighting the war to save our planet. On the other hand, some modern environmentalists have embraced the use of technology to conserve and revolutionize the idea of conservation.
16. Special Issue, Energy’s Future: Beyond Carbon, Scientific American, September 2006.
17. [Global Warming: Both Sides, Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2003]
Epstein, Is Global Warming Harmful to Health, Scientific American, August
In this article,
Epstein argues that there are several less familiar effects that global warming
could have on our society, namely the expansion of the incidence and distribution
of many serious medical disorders. Heat waves, revised weather extremes, and
the spread of infectious diseases are some of the more obvious possibilities,
that will also tend of have a larger effect on the developing world. Perhaps
one of the greatest concerns is a warmer global environment that favors the
mosquito and all the diseases relayed by this insect: malaria, dengue fever,
yellow fever, and encephalitis, to name a few. Further, global warming will
also likely elevate the incidence of waterborne diseases, especially with more
extreme and frequent drought and flood events. To most effectively combat this
problem, a multicomponent solution is in order: a comprehensive surveillance
system to predict oncoming outbreaks, a climatological prediction system to
tell when conditions become conducive to outbreaks, and a system to attack
global warming itself.
19. Richard Grove, Climatic Fears: Colonialism and the History of Environmentalism; Gary P. Sampson, The Environmentalist Paradox: The World Trade Organization’s Challenges; Carl Pope, Race To The Top: The Biases of the WTO Regime, Harvard International Review, Winter 2002.
Climatic Fears, by Richard Grove. This article explores the history of colonial environmentalism during the 1700-1800s based mainly on the fear of climate change. Due to massive deforestation on colonial islands which scientists linked to rainfall reduction, forest-reserve legislation during the 1700s began to appear throughout the British, French and Dutch empires. Specifically, the Forest Department established in India in 1864 saved many forests in that country whereas in China and Thailand (where no significant reserve system developed) the forests have now largely disappeared. Grove argues that similar policies of state land-use reservation could be presently adopted in the U.S. as well as in other countries. The underlying assumption is that private capital interests could not be trusted to safeguard and conserve resources on which environmental stability as well as longer-term economic well-being depended.
The Environmentalist Paradox, by Gary P. Sampson. Despite decades of success, the WTO and GATT have recently been met with much criticism, especially from NGOs. Much of the concern surrounds the notion that liberalized trade can be harmful to the environment, especially in developing countries. Yet, this must be balanced by the fact that economic growth can also generate additional resources that improve the environment. Further, removing market restrictions can mean an improved functioning of markets, and enhanced competition can mean that fewer scarce natural resources are required to produce the same level of output. Additionally, WTO rules are often criticized as unwanted intrusions into the domestic affairs of sovereign states despite the fact that member governments often consider WTO rules to be quite democratic. Sampson argues that this constant clash really isn’t within the purview of the WTO at all; in fact, it has specifically left room for other international treaties to establish environmental standards and compliance mechanisms. In a perfect world, global policies founded upon a coherent approach to trade, the environment, and other social and economic matters would be formulated. Yet, countries are unwilling to forgo national sovereignty and accept strong compliance mechanisms in treaties negotiated under the auspices of the UN. Therefore, the best we can hope for is continued support of the WTO and the recognition of its true place in global governance.
Race to the Top, by Carl Pope. In this article, Pope reminds us that environmentalists are not really looking for sweeping changes to come from the WTO, yet are most interested in seeing that the WTO does not worsen those problems or some how act against sustainability. The most environmental damage is caused by commodity production and those industries are, for the most part, export driven. Where the WTO fails is in impliedly allowing subsidies in the form of environmental degradation. Further environmental injustice occurs when countries are barred from limiting imports based on the way products were produced, even if the production methods directly damaged the global commons. At the forefront of these concerns are the oceans and their resources; no other commodity can be so easily exploited by just one rogue country. Trade restrictions, or in the very least the threat thereof, are integral parts of the trade equation even though trade economists often disapprove of them. Further complications arise when considering the three different commons; the seas, the atmosphere, and the genetic diversity of the biosphere are all vulnerable in different ways. Pope argues the solution will come from global environmental treaties and increased scrutiny of the WTO’s agenda. He believes that a rules-based trading system can be environmentally neutral or even protective.
20. Peter Sauer, The Monarch Versus the Global Empire, Orion, Spring 2001.
In this article, Sauer describes how the monumental conservation efforts to protect the monarch butterfly decades ago is now being threatened by massive U.S. agribusiness (occupying 49% of all land in the U.S.) that characterizes milkweed and the monarch as infestations. The problem is just as severe in Mexico where GATT and NAFTA implementation brought incredibly rapid economic and social transformations, including the acquisition and industrialization of vast tracts of forest-, range-, and farmland by foreign corporations. Just as in the U.S., globalization affected the smaller Mexican farmer. This problem is striking developing countries across the world. As concessions are made to foster foreigners, the nation’s domestic agriculture collapses, dependency on more expensive imported food rises, and hundreds of thousands of farmers are displaced. All of this turns to economic collapse, and in a snowball effect, the devastation of natural systems is exemplified by the destruction on the monarch’s habitat that was originally protected with great efforts. U.S. consumerism, the force that drives the globalization of agriculture and international trade on this continent, is killing the monarch. Sauer concludes by suggesting that those in the first world have a responsibility to realize that their lifestyles and financial security are dependent upon and contribute to the devastation of tropical forests and the oppression of the forest’s peoples.
Ackerman, Frank & Heinzerling, Lisa, Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing, The New Press (2004).
Richard Revesz, Environmental Regulation, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and the Discounting of Human Lives, 99 Colum. L. Rev. 941 (1999).
“The loss of human life resulting from environmental contaminants generally does not occur contemporaneously with the exposure to those contaminants. Some environmental problems produce harms with a latency period whereas others affect future generations. One of the most vexing questions raised by the cost-benefit analysis of environmental regulation is whether discounting, to reflect the passage of time between the exposure and the harm, is appropriate in these two scenarios. The valuations of human life used in regulatory analyses are from threats of instantaneous death in workplace settings. Discounting, to reflect that in the case of latent harms the years lost occur later in a person’s lifetime, is appropriate in these circumstances. Upward adjustments of the value of life need to be undertaken, however, to account for the dread and involuntary nature of environmental carcinogens as well as for higher income levels of the victims. By not performing these adjustments, the regulatory process may be undervaluing lives by as much as a factor of six. In contrast, in the case of harms to future generations, discounting is ethically unjustified. It is simply a means of privileging the interests of the current generation. Discounting raises analytically distinct issue in the cases of latent harms and harms to future generations. In the case of latent harms, one needs to make intra-personal, intertemporal comparisons of utility, whereas in the case of harms to future generations one needs to define a metric against which to compare the utilities of individuals living in different generations. Thus, the appropriateness of discounting should be resolved differently in the two contexts.”
Mari Matsuda, On Causation, 100 Colum. L. Rev. 2195 (2000).
In this Essay, Professor Matsuda argues that the narrow focus of tort law perpetuates very real, and remediable, social harms. Using tort causation doctrine as her starting point, Matsuda demonstrates how the tort system sacrifices human bodies to maintain the smooth flow of the economic system. Time after time, tragedies occur: school systems fail, first graders shoot each other, women live in constant fear of rape. Yet each tragedy is met with the same systematic response: those without resources, those least able to correct the harm, are considered the legal cause of the harm. The economic and corporate interests that created the structure in which these tragedies occurred are absolved of legal and moral responsibility. Professor Matsuda proposes two changes to this system. First, when determining legal cause, we must expand tort liability in consideration of the ability of defendants to avoid, prevent, and redress social harm. Second, we must exchange our egocentric notion of responsibility for a communal and connected understanding of social responsibility. For instance, when I walk over a homeless man on my way to law school, I must recognize that it is not just a social failing that caused his plight; it is a personal failing on my part. Professor Matsuda argues that we exist in, and benefit from, a society that makes his position possible, and under current understandings of responsibility, even inevitable.
Martha C. Nussbaum, The Costs of Tragedy: Some Moral Limits of Cost-Benefit Analysis, 29 J. Legal Studies 1005 (2000).
In all situations of choice, we face a question that Nussbaum calls “the obvious question”: What shall we do? But sometimes we also face, or should face, a different question, which she calls the “tragic question”: Is any of the alternatives open to us free from serious moral wrongdoing? Discussing cases of tragic conflict from literature, philosophy, and contemporary life, she argues that it is valuable to face the tragic question where it is pertinent because facing it helps us think how we might design a society where such unpalatable choices to not confront people, or confront them less often. Cost-benefit analysis helps us answer the obvious question; but it does not help us either pose or answer the tragic question, and it frequently obscures the presence of a tragic situation, by suggesting that the obvious question is the only pertinent question. Nussbaum applies these reflections to thinking about basic entitlements of citizens, such as might be embodied in constitutional guarantees.
William W. Buzbee, Urban Sprawl, Federalism, and the Problem of Institutional Complexity, 68 Fordham L. Rev. 57 (1999).
In both state and federal politics, the ills associated with urban sprawl and the political opportunities these problems present are once again hot topics of discussion. Urban sprawl causes many direct and indirect societal and environmental harms. As part of this analysis of institutional complexity and federalism, this article looks at lessons from the history of environmental law to assess whether transformative political and legal reforms are likely to arise and remain effective in combating ills associated with urban sprawl.
Garret Keizer, Sound and Fury, Harper’s Magazine, March 2001.
In this essay, Keizer argues that quiet is the most assailable form of wealth. Conflicts between anti-noise campaigners and the modern loud, indignant societies contain an implicit cultural symbolism. Those who dismiss the noise issue as “merely aesthetic” are, of course, ignoring the well-documented medical and psychological effects of noise. They are also forgetting that, in the context of relationships, aesthetics can become ethics. Keizer also finds it very interesting that noise disputes are informed by class conflict; those with lower incomes are more likely to suffer from noise than the affluent.
Mark Dowie, Nuclear Caribou, Orion, January/February 2009.
Dowie discusses the nuclear renaissance and its effect on Indigenous populations through the lens of the Indigenous peoples of Canada. As existing nuclear resources dwindle and as attention focuses on the desire to produce alternative fuels, the nuclear industry is experiencing a resurgence. Because nuclear energy depends on uranium, uranium mining companies are jumping at the chance to capitalize on this trend. However, nuclear energy is not the carbon-free energy source that it is claimed to be. Mining and transporting uranium, building nuclear power plants, and even running the power plants require energy from fossil fuels. Moreover, uranium mining and transportation are extremely hazardous and a spill can contaminate ecosystems for thousands of years, as well as poison local drinking water and food supplies. And those most likely to be affected by such byproducts of nuclear energy are the world’s most poor and disenfranchised citizens. About 70% of the worlds’ uranium is located beneath Indigenous communities in Africa, Asia, Australia, North America and South America. Mining companies therefore attempt to mine uranium from those sources, where the people are desperate for income and politically marginalized, and thus less likely to oppose or resist mining. As Dowie points out, uranium mining is becoming “a worldwide challenge to the sovereignty of Indigenous communities.”
· The Environment and Technology
· Control of Innovation
· Biotechnology/Biocolonization and the Patenting of Life
Readings for Week 6:
Chp. 30: Jerry Mander, Technologies of Globalization.
2. Bill Joy, Why the Future Doesn=t Need Us, Wired, April 2000.
3. Neil Postman, Staying Sane in a Technological Society: Six Questions in Search of an Answer, Lapis, Issue Seven.
4. Thomas Berry, Technological Triumphalism, Lapis, Issue Eight.
Chet Raymo highlights the themes that author Robert Frenay portrays in the book Pulse. According to Raymo, Pulse introduces a new promise for the future-biotechnology or the “new biology.” The author of Pulse believes that a new civilization is emerging into our society. The idea presented is that agricultural and industrial “revolutions” are ending. The advances in technology have allowed biotechnology to rise to the forefront. Frenay reveals that the “new biology” will treat machines as organisms and humans will be responsible for its evolution. Pulse acknowledges the Americans’ mass consumption patterns will end human development. Frenay suggests sustainability through “new biology” will drive the future.
Ehrenreich examines the effects of hope and describes in this article her battle with cancer. She illustrates that the idea of hope masked the reality of her disease. According to the author, ideas of having positive attitudes have changed the way American society copes with reality. The “cult of positivity” has even spread to a discipline of study within many psychology departments. The article highlights studies that suggest positive people have a greater likelihood of living longer lives. There are exceptions to the rule of positivity. Certain professions have to consider worst-case scenarios instead of the positive. The author suggests ignoring the idea of hope. Instead, take control of your life and take actions to improve your situation.
Hoagland describes the depletion of a natural world to which he had become accustomed. Not only are plants and animals disappearing from nature, but also the “human way of life” has changed. Humans no longer embrace nature as a means for living. The author pleads for a reversal of our consumption patterns because the rate of change in our environment is resulting in the extinction of all natural life. Hoagland notes that every human action has a reaction on nature, as when he put out food for a local family of foxes: soon the mice, to which he had become so accustomed, had disappeared. He argues that even as it becomes more trendy to embrace nature, humans choose to do so in an unnatural way. He describes a neighbor who, after cutting down natural flora and fauna, built a private lake which he filled with frogs. The neighbor later poisoned all of “his” frogs because they were too loud. Hoagland argues that we have reached a point where we can no longer continue to consume nature, because we have nearly destroyed it all while seldom replenishing what we have taken. He concludes that whether our society dies away will depend on whether we re-evaluate our lifestyles in order to make room for the survival of the earth.
This is a useful and practical article describing the precise nature of nanotechnology and how it has already affected our lives – maybe without us even realizing it! The author connects nanotechnology to everyday consumer products and reveals how products containing nanoparticles exist everywhere. Products utilizing nanotechnology include sunscreen and cosmetics (titanium dioxide nanoparticles), scratch-resistant coatings on ophthalmic lenses (aluminum oxide nanoparticles), antimicrobial bandages (silver nanoparticles), rechargeable batteries (lithium titanate nanoparticles), tennis rackets (carbon nanotubes) and tennis balls (nanoclay particles). The article further describes corporate nano-plans and how nanotechnology affects food, agriculture, medicine, environment, and the military.
Chp. 11: Andrew Kimbrell, Biocolonization: The Patenting of Life and the Global Market in Body Parts.
Chp. 12: Vandana Shiva and Radha Holla-Bhar, Piracy by Patent: The Case of the Neem Tree.
13. Paul Heald, The Rhetoric of Biopiracy, 11 Cardozo J. Int’l & Comp. Law 519 (2003).
Heald’s essay examines the consideration of sui generis intellectual property rights for “long-term occupant communities.” Advocates for long-term occupant communities (LTOC) want to ensure the existence of these communities, preserve bio-diversity and the survival of traditional knowledge. Biopiracy is a result of large corporations going into LTOC, acquiring their knowledge and use of a particular plant, and not sharing their profits. Advocates of LTOC are requesting the implementation of new intellectual property rights that will protect the knowledge and resources of these communities. Heald declares that new intellectual property rights are not the answer to this epidemic. There are even more threatening occurrences. LTOC are encountering corrupt governments, loggers and the disappearance of the biodiversity. Heald advocates a relationship between several large corporations and LTOC to maintain biodiversity as well as help the communities preserve traditional knowledge.
14. Charles R. McManus, Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge Protection: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, 11 Cardozo J. Int’l & Comp. Law 547 (2003).
This article outlines the global efforts to sustain local cultural biodiversity. Trade-Related Aspects of Intellections Property Rights (TRIPS) under the auspices of the the World Trade Organization (WTO) must address, collectively, patent development and biodiversity. Industrialized corporations pirate the developing world’s genetic resources. International organizations are aware of the instability of the world’s biodiversity. Many countries and research institutions are collaborating to sustain and conserve traditional knowledge. The International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) is a collaboration of several organizations attempting to secure the intellectual property of the people of Aguaruna in Peru. The ICBG-Peru Project produced a “know-how license” to ensure the people of Aguaruna the payment of licensing fees through the disclosure of traditional plant knowledge. The project has also produced a patent application that acknowledges the people of Peru as the providers of the traditional plant knowledge. The essay also explains other global measures taken to ensure the rights of the country that is providing the resources.
15. Graeme Austin, Retreating Intellectual Property? The WAI 262 Proceeding and the Heuristics of Intellectual Property Law, 11 Cardozo J. Int’l & Comp. Law 333 (2003).
Austin argues that intellectual property law needs to be expanded to thoroughly protect indigenous folklore. He discusses the various treaties have been drafted attempting to protect such rights, focusing on the WAI 262 claim of the Maori of New Zealand. However, he cautions that various issues remain, including the definition of folklore, the scope of protection, determining the beneficiaries of protection, and defining any defenses or exceptions to the laws. Moreover, decolonization creates further complexities as various nations attempt to reconstitute the relationship between the government and indigenous peoples.
Kerry ten Kato & Sarah Laird, The Commercial Use of Biodiversity: Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing, Earthscan Pub. (1999).
Michael Halwood, Indigenous and Local Knowledge in International Law: A Preface to Sui Generis Intellectual Property Protection, 44 McGill Law Journal 953 (1999).
“A number of parties are ‘squaring off’ over the question of who should share the benefits derived from the exploitation of genetic resources and biotechnology. One of the fault lines that divides disputants is between developed and developing countries; another is between local communities and the dominant socio-economic cultures of the countries within which they are situated. The globalization of intellectual property laws through international trade agreements such as TRIPs and NAFTA has contributed to developed countries’ reaping the lion’s share the benefits derived from the exploitation of genetic resources. In this article, Halwood analyzes the development, in international law, of means by which local communities and developing countries could increase their own control over others’ use of their biological resource-related innovations. Exactly how these norms should be implemented in domestic law, however, is far from clear. The author argues that one plausible means of implementation would be through policies to increase the participation of indigenous communities in resource management decision-making. Another possible means would be through the creation of national sui generis intellectual property laws to protect indigenous and local knowledge. At least in theory, vesting intellectual property rights in indigenous and local communities over their innovations would assist them to stop undesired use of their knowledge and/or compel compensation when it is used.”
OUTLINE OF MEETING
OF MINDS PRESENTATION,
SOURCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY DUE (5%)
16. Antonio Regaldo, The Great Gene Grab, Technology Review, September/October 2000.
Just as the human genome was being completely deciphered, genomics corporations began patenting the individual genes by the hundreds with thousands more patent applications awaiting review. The future of health care, Regaldo argues, hangs in the balance. As this race to patent continues, no congressional vote or Supreme Court decision has ever directly addressed the question of whether human genes should be patentable at all. The basic logic proffered for allowing gene patenting is that genes captured and identified in the lab aren’t in their natural form, yet they have been copied, abbreviated, spliced, or otherwise altered. However, there is no clear result to any of these patents; useful drugs (and hence profits) are not guaranteed; only basic scientific findings are now being patented. If that is the case, how far should the patent extend? Does any drug founded upon a particular patented gene belong to the owner of that patent? If patents continue to be allowable, should patent sharing be mandated in order to encourage the most research possible? Will market forces provide a solution? And what of public opinion? These are just some of the questions considered by Regaldo.
17. Jeremy Rifkin, The New Genetic Rights Movement: Resisting Life as a Commodity, Lapis, Issue 14.
Despite decades of contemporaneous, albeit independent, development, genes and computers have finally crossed paths as advanced computers are used to decipher, download, manage, and exploit genes. This marriage is propelling us into the biotech century. Rifkin finds significant problems with the genetic engineering experiments that go beyond what nature intended, such as the recombining of the DNA of fireflies and tobacco plants resulting in plants that glow around the clock. Rifkin fears the answers to all of the unasked questions, most significantly, will the laboratory replace nature? Issues of control, piracy of the necessary genes from nature, genetic pollution, genetic discrimination, and commercial eugenics also all disturb Rifkin. In a society that is beginning to consider life as perfectible by engineering standards, the real casualty of all of this is a loss of empathy; how empathetic are we likely to be to any child growing up that does not conform to the standards our companies and engineers have set up? Rifkin, still a strong advocate of science, suggests a genetic rights movement, using this new science to better understand our relationship to nature, helping us to become a steward, partner, and caretaker of the natural world.
18. Bill McKibben, Designer Genes, Orion, May/June 2003.
McKibben describes a dangerous world in which genetic engineering could potentially make it possible for people to enhance their children’s intelligence, height, looks and even athletic ability. The danger lies not only in a future in which all human beings may be genetically programmed to possess certain abilities but also in the fact that it will ultimately become a vicious, never-ending cycle. Those parents with a child of IQ 150 may be satisfied in the beginning but ultimately disappointed and unhappy because the next batch of children could be manipulated to have an IQ of 170. Furthermore, what if a child genetically programmed with a gene giving her artistic talent decides she wants to become an athlete instead? There are also problems regarding unanticipated dangers of genetic modification. What if the programming is unsuccessful and turns the child into a moody person, or causes him to be unable to read and write? Additionally, what if the parents of a child successfully programmed decide they picked the wrong package and wanted something else instead? McKibben argues that this world of genetic arms race could be stopped if everyone makes a conscious, political choice to say no to this kind of technology.
19. Eric Rakowski, Who Should Pay for Bad Genes?” 90 Cal.L.Rev. 1345 (2002).
The law review article gives a legal as well as philosophical perspective on whether parents are legally liable to a child born with “bad genes,” i.e., a life not worth living, if they could have prevented its birth. It also explores the issue of who should bear the financial burden of paying for medical expenses as well as other social costs associated with a child born with bad genes. Rakowski argues that three parties could theoretically pay for accommodating the genetic disadvantages of someone with bad genes: the disadvantaged themselves, their parents, and the community generally. Rakowski gives elaborate analysis on this issue with arguments on both sides. He also asks whether a person must exist before his right can be violated. While he doesn’t have an answer to this question, he proposes that everyone has a right not to have been brought into existence with a life not worth living. He also believes that because people generally want to avoid having a child whose lives are not worth living, states don’t necessarily have to coerce parents to do genetic testing for certain horrible diseases; they could simply provide subsidies for screening, contraception, abortion or other services that may help.
Richard Lewontin, Genes in the Food, http://www.nybooks.com/nyrev/WWWarchdisplay.cgi?20010621081R
While humans have been genetically modifying plant and animal species for centuries, never before have we been able to cross-distant species creating transgenic organisms. These transgenic DNA transfers are used in agriculture to provide crop plants with resistance to pests or herbicides. While seemingly benign, the real problem is that there is simply no limit to what could be done if it were worth someone’s while to do it. There are five general issues that surround the debate over GMOs: threats to human health, possible disruption of natural environments, threats to agricultural production from a more rapid evolution of resistant pests, disruption of third-world agricultural economies, and principled objections to unnatural interventions. While no unequivocal conclusions have been drawn, Lewontin is concerned that what government regulation there is has been founded upon data supplied by parties whose prime concern is not the public good, but private interest. Yet, Lewontin correctly reminds us that this commercialization of agriculture has been happening for over a century now; the creation and adoption of genetically modified organisms are the latest steps in this long historical development of capital-intensive industrial agriculture.
Richard Lewontin, After the Genome, What Then? www.nybooks.com/nyrev/WWWarchdisplay.cgi?20010719036F
In early 2001, within a day of each other, both Celera Genomics’ commercial project and the publicly funded International Human Genome Sequence Consortium published their results of mapping nearly the entire human genome. Ironically enough, each project had supporters from the “opposing” side; in all, more than 500 authors were noted by the two publications. Lewontin then points out that now that we know the human genome sequence, we are absolutely no closer to understanding what it is to be human. We know how many genes there are, and where they exist on the “map”, but only really know how a small handful of them actually work. What now must be turned to in full force is the “proteome,” the complete set of all the proteins manufactured by an organism. Since there are supposedly far more proteins than there are genes, this will be a huge undertaking indeed. So far, the dream of gene therapies has come unfulfilled, but proteomics has arrived to bear the full burden.
Elizabeth Price Foley, The Constitutional Implications of Cloning, 42 Ariz. L. Rev. (2000); available at http://www.law.arizona.edu/Journals/ALR/ALR2000/vol423/foley.pdf
“Not since the ground-breaking work of Gregor Mendel, a mid-nineteenth century monk who founded the science of heredity, had genetic understanding made such a large leap. Perhaps it means something slightly broader but still not so broad as to encompass cloning, such as any form of sexual procreation (which would include ARTs such as IVF or artificial insemination) but not asexual procreation. Thus, if one accepts the family values argument as sufficient for justifying a ban on human cloning, the ineluctable conclusion is that a similar ban on the use of adoption or ARTs, such as IVF or artificial insemination, likewise would be legally justifiable. While such stigmatization may initially manifest itself in feeling sorry for such children, such children are likely in the end to become the object of a form of contempt: the contempt that the (supposedly) spontaneous, natural, and unplanned would tend to feel toward the (supposedly) manufactured and allegedly artificial. Such a numerical limitation on the use of donor sperm, according to the ASRM, makes the risk of procreation amongst close blood relatives essentially nonexistent and also naturally reduces the risk of a loss of genetic diversity that might otherwise be caused by the repetitive use of a single individual's sperm.”
Lisa A. Karczewski, Biotechnological Gene Patent Applications: The Implications of the USPTO Written Description Requirement Guidelines on the Biotechnology Industry, 31 McGeorge L. Rev. 1043 (2000).
“Generally, satisfying the written description requirement does not present a significant obstacle for the patent applicant. According to the USPTO, the written description requirement will not be met unless it is made apparent to those skilled in the art or science that the inventor was in possession of the claimed invention at the time of filing the patent application. In Graham v. John Deere Co. the United States Supreme Court articulated the modern test for obviousness, composed of three requirements: (1) the courts must determine the scope and content of the prior art; (2) the courts must ascertain the differences between the prior art and the claimed invention; and (3) the courts must resolve the level of ordinary skill in the relevant art. Over the past two centuries, as United States patent law transformed from a central claiming system to the modern peripheral claiming system in use today, the purpose and function of the written description requirement has changed. The next step under the guidelines involves an evaluation as to whether the patent application meets the written description requirement. Under the European Biotechnology Directive, Recitals 22 through 24 embody a ‘written description’ requirement for comparison with United States patent law.
Symposium, Biotechnology and the Law, Excerpted Introduction from Professor Franklin A. Gevurtz, 32 McGeorge L. Rev. 85 (2000).
This Symposium inaugurated what is hoped to become a series of symposia dealing with the legal issues facing the biotechnology industry.
The Project begins with an article from Professor Raymond Coletta, one of the founding members of the Society for Evolutionary Analysis in Law and, as such, a proponent of the law and biology discipline. Professor Coletta's article focuses on the essential feature of biotechnology, which is that this technology entails altering the natural course of evolution in a radically accelerated time frame. This fact raises profound ethical questions which, in turn, pose fundamental challenges for the law. Professor Coletta's paper goes beyond the difficult issues, to suggest an even more staggering ethical and legal implication of biotechnology. Drawing upon the theory of evolution, he discusses how our species' sense of ethics, and our rules of law, might themselves be the product of biological evolution. If so, does biotechnology create the prospect that humans could reengineer their sense of right and wrong, and, in turn, mean that, instead of the law controlling genetic development, genetic development will control the law?
The next article is from Professor Kojo Yelpaala. In his article, Professor Yelpaala examines the intellectual property issues raised by biotechnology development. Biotechnology has set off a debate over the extent to which companies can claim exclusive intellectual property rights in biological research results. The economic importance of this debate became even more evident when not so long ago, the prices of biotechnology company stocks plummeted in reaction to statements by President Clinton and English Prime Minister Blair, which some interpreted as calling into question the ability of companies to exercise exclusive rights over the results of mapping the human genome. Professor Yelpaala further argues that deciding upon an appropriate intellectual property regime for biotechnology requires answering fundamental questions as to the purposes and nature of property.
The third article is from Professors Julie Davies and Larry Levine. Their article looks at the tort law issues raised by biotechnology. Much of tort law has developed in reaction (often a delayed reaction) to technological developments. For example, both common law tort doctrine and alternative statutory compensation regimes have developed to deal with injuries to workers due to the new manufacturing technologies introduced in the industrial revolution, the deaths and injuries resulting from the advent of the automobile, and harms to consumers resulting from the mass production and distribution of potentially dangerous products. Additionally, Professors Davies and Levine consider the challenges posed to the existing tort system by biotechnologically created harms. They look at whether biotechnology poses issues of sufficient complexity and novelty to merit special legal treatment, such as an overall exemption from tort liability or a refusal to apply strict liability in the biotechnology context. Professors Davies and Levine discuss how injuries resulting from biotechnology may arise and try to anticipate how courts will deal with these cases.
Professor Franklin A. Gevurtz considers some of the business organization issues facing the biotechnology industry. From a business organization standpoint, what strikes one about the biotechnology industry is the sheer magnitude of the dollars involved, both in terms of funding research and development, and in terms of potential liability if things go awry. I shall look at a couple of the implications for business organization issues which these huge dollar sums entail.
The final article is by Judith Cregan, a recent graduate of the McGeorge School of Law, who worked in the biotechnology arena prior to attending law school. Ms. Cregan highlights some of the problems with the current regulatory regime for experimental gene therapy, and proposes several specific reforms in order to enable society to better realize the promise of gene therapy.
· Mary Breen Smith, An End to Gene Patients? The Human Genome Project Versus The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s 1999 Utility Guidelines, 73 U. Colo. L. Rev. 747 (2002).
· Symposium, Kirsten Rabe Smolensky, Creating Children With Disabilities: Parental Tort Liability for Preimplantation Genetic Intervention, 60 Hastings L. Rev. 299 (2008).
· Atrocity Week
· Video Opportunities:
- The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo (2008)
- War Dance (2007)
- The Cove (2008)
- The Rape of Europa (2008)
- At The Edge Of The World (2009)
Book: Alessandra Mauro (Ed.), My Brother’s Keeper: Documentary Photographers and Human Rights (Contrasto 2007)
Website: Sebastiao Salgado, www.terra.com.br/sebastiaosalgado/el/chooseproject.html
Readings for Week 7:
1. Jeffrey Gettleman, Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo
War, NY Times, October 7, 2007
Gettleman describes the violent rapes committed against women in the Congo. The article explains that in 2006, 27,000 sexual assaults against women were committed. Officials are claiming that the assailants are refugee militias, known as Hutu, who have fled from Rwanda and are hiding in the forests. According to the article, the assaulted women are finding no relief. Families and communities are rejecting the raped women as well. The article describes how a woman’s husband divorced her because he claimed she was “diseased” after the rape. The author explains that the United Nations Peacekeepers are stepping in to provide relief for these women. Even though peacekeepers are intervening, resources are still limited.
2. Should Rape Be Considered A Weapon?, NPR, June 21, 2008, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyID=91692457
This is an interview that takes place on the “Day to Day” talk show with the filmmaker, Lisa Jackson, in reference to her newest film, “Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo.” In 2006-2007, Jackson documented the rape epidemic in the Congo. According to Jackson, 5 million people have died because of the war in Congo and ¼ million women have been raped. A United Nations debate has elevated rape to a security issue and addressed prevention instead of reaction. Jackson proposes that security patrols be imposed on routes where women are going to the market, gathering firewood, etc. She also addresses the involvement of UN peacekeepers, many of whom have taken part in the rape epidemic. According to Jackson, the government sends guilty peacekeepers back to their countries for punishment. Yet, the countries rarely punish these men.
3. Mark Jenkins, Who Murdered the Virunga Gorillas?, National Geographic, July 2008
Last year a family of gorillas was brutally murdered in Virunga National Park. The park is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is home to many natural resources, such as charcoal, as well as many rival armed soldiers trying to win the war with funds from charcoal production and sales. Charcoal is the main source of energy in Kivu. In the mist of this economic war, a Congolese organization, the Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN), is trying to protect the wildlife of the Virunga National Park. Unfortunately, the exploitation of these natural resources continues to endanger the wildlife. The fight to save the park and the animals within has angered many of the guerilla armies. Jenkins suspects that the gorilla killings took place because one ranger was incorruptible.
Colin M. Turnbull, The Mountain People,
This is a book review of The Mountain People by Colin Turnbull. Turnbull is an anthropologist who studies the Ik, an indigenous group located in the mountain area of Uganda, Sudan and Kenya. According to the article, the book examines the Ik after the tribe was forced to settle on the eastern edge of a Ugandan National Park because the people were no longer allowed to hunt in the national site. The Ik’s new land lacks resources to feed the village and forces the people to steal cattle. Turnbull questions the “civilized” belief that humanity is essentially good.
5. Bryan Mealer, The River Is A Road: Searching For Peace In
The Congo, Harper’s Magazine,
Mealer illuminates his journey along the Congo River in a search for “peace.” The article describes this 3,000-mile river as once a bountiful source of beauty, then Belgium colonialization. The Congo gained its independence from Belgium in 1960. Throughout the article, Mealer struggles with his romanticized notion of how presidential elections bring peace and stability to the Congo. The conditions of the public barges shattered Mealer’s vision of the river. Boats are packed with disease and traders who make a living hustling everyday items to the ship’s visitors. In the end, Mealer suggests that the war in the Congo is not over. The people are still fighting poverty and hunger. Peace and revitalization of the river is far from existent.
6. Olivia Judson, The Selfless Gene, The Atlantic, October 2007
The Selfless Gene addresses the question of nature versus nurture. Olivia Judson examines the way groups interact with each other because of its genetic composition and its communal attitude. The article describes how the evolutionary process explains generosity. Judson’s mentor, William Hamilton, defines generosity as altruism. However, the idea of a true altruist would become extinct because of its constant need to help others.
· Happiness Week
Readings for Week 8:
1. Darrin M. McMahon, The Quest for Happiness, Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2005.
The Quest for Happiness examines the different aspects of pursuing happiness. McMahon implies that the idea of happiness has historically ethical, philosophical and religious thought associated with the term. However, Aristotle excluded happiness from his list of emotions. According to the article, Aristotle viewed happiness as an activity to express the emotion of virtue. McMahon believed that Christianity shaped the idea of happiness. Thomas Jefferson transformed the term when he referenced the pursuit of happiness in the United States Declaration of Independence. McMahon considers happiness a western idea and concludes that modern history is the quest for happiness.
Barbara Ehrenreich, The Importance of Collective Joy,
This article is an interview between Barbara Ehrenreich and Laura Barcella with Alternet. Barbara is promoting her new book Dancing in the Streets, which examines the evolution of “communal celebration” and societal resistance. Dancing in the Streets suggests that humans need to dance, sing and revel in a communal state. According to Ehrenreich, all cultures are alike in which they all have singing and dancing. Barbara believes that if societies reverted back to communal festivities humans would be a lot more joyful.
3. A Prairie Home Companion Joke Programs, American Public Media.
Note: This week, the students will
bring into the classroom their recommendations for and stories of happiness.
The Internet and Access to Knowledge
Creating the Corporate Utopia: Transnationalism, The World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund
- “Life and Debt” (DVD 2003)
- “Bamako” (2006)
- “China Blue” (Teddy Bear Films 2006)
Readings for Week 9:
1. Charles Mann, Who Will Own Your Next Good Idea, The Atlantic Monthly, September 1998.
Copyrights have been increasingly gaining in importance: the copyright industry has grown almost three times as fast as the economy as a whole and in 1997, copyrighted material contributed more than 400 billion to the national economy. However, as intellectual property is being converted into electronic form, new problems are being created. The same digital technology that is making copyrights ever more valuable, threatens to make it next to worthless at the hands of piracy. Nothing is safe: the author chronicles the problems seen by the book, software, and music industries. Copyright is in fact a bargain between the public and the publishers and the proper distribution of information is the key. And what sort of information? To the author and several of his sources, the debate essential to democracy depends on the national supply of substantive facts, argument, and expression, not the per capita quota of zeroes and ones. This highlights the benefits of copyright: smoothing diversity’s path by giving creators special rights to exploit their work. So, a balance must be struck, especially to preserve certain fair uses that are currently widely engaged in.
2. John Perry Barlow, Selling Wine Without Bottles: The
Economy of Mind on the Global Net, available at
Barlow remarks that the riddle of digital property is that we strive to reproduce and distribute this information, how can we expect to protect it? The difficulty is that digital technology has detached information from the physical plane, where property law has always found a basis. Since the inception of this body of law, the real value was in the conveyance and not the thought conveyed; in other words, the bottle was protected, not the wine. As we move into the future, we will further remove the artists from the reward for the utility or pleasure others may find in their works. Barlow argues then that all legislation and litigation should be stayed until we have a much clearer picture of enterprise in Cyberspace and our knowledge of what it is exactly we are trying to protect. It is this latter point that Barlow then focuses on; he attempts to define information as three separate concepts: as an activity, a life form, and a relationship. Based upon these, he attempts to decipher the best course of action for the future of this ever-changing body of law.
Current website for John Barlow: http://w2.eff.org/Misc/Publications/John_Perry_Barlow/HTML/idea_economy_article.html
3. Lawrence Lessig, Code: and Other Laws of Cyberspace (2000) (Selected Chapters)
Lawrence Lessig, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (2008) (Selected Chapters)
Lessig Blog: http://www.lessig.org/blog
4. Madhavi Sunder, IP3, 59 Stan. L. Rev. 257 (2006).
Sunder believes that the traditional practice of viewing intellectual property solely through an economic lens is insufficient in a digital age. As technology becomes available to more people allowing them to “rip, mix and burn,” as basic food items are being patented, and as the economy becomes more and more knowledge-based, Sunder argues that intellectual property law needs to be viewed from a cultural lens as well. She examines what she calls IP3, which is the convergence of intellectual property, identity politics and the Internet Protocol in order to develop a system of intellectual property law that would allow for greater democratization.
5. Laurence R. Helfer & Graeme W. Austin, Human Rights and Intellectual Property: Analysis and Sources, in _________________________ (forthcoming)
6. Benjamin R. Barber, The Uncertainty of Digital Politics, Harvard Int’l Review, Spring 2001. http://www.harvardir.org/articles/999
The Uncertainty of Digital Politics addresses the relationship between new technological communications and democracy. Barber lists several general concerns in reference to technology. They are: information technology is not globally universal; new communication technology is rapidly changing; there is a stigma attached to older technology; and new technology reflecting culture that makes it rather than altering it. Since new technology reinforces a consumers’ society through marketing and advertising, there is an increased pressure toward uniform democracy. However, because there is currently no single democracy, the development of one democracy may be damaging to others. The internet’s speed, which is its primary virtue, is also its greatest vice: it promotes unfiltered and unthinking venting that does not necessarily lead to well-conceived ideas and threatens to overload us with news, opinions, and theories. Moreover, the internet divides us as we each connect to the internet via a solitary interface. Concerns such as these lead Barber to question whether a democratic cyber-community is feasible. Barber concludes that whether or not this is possible depends on the quality of political institutions, rather than of our technology.
Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas, On the Rights of the Molotov Man:
Appropriation and the Art of Context, Harper’s
Magazine, February 2007.
The article confronts the idea of documenting history and its context. Joy Garnett, an artist, replicated Susan Meiselas’ photograph of the Molotov Man. Meiselas argued that Garnett’s painting misrepresents the context of history. Garnett used a portion of Molotov Man in a series documented as the “Riot” as inspiration for her collection. However, the original photograph included a man holding a rifle and throwing a Molotov bomb at the last Somoza National Guard garrison. Meiselas argued that the picture does not present a riot, but an act of liberalization of the Sandinistas from the Somoza reign. Since she published the picture of Molotov Man, many forms of the photograph have surfaced. Meiselas is concerned that the replicas of the photograph are out of context, and argued that artists must work harder to maintain the portrayed context of history.
8. Jonathan Lethem, The Ecstasy of
Influence: A Plagiarism, Harper’s Magazine,
Jonathan Lethem confronts the history of plagiarism and intellectual property rights. According to Lethem, the use of another’s intellectual property is nothing new. Bob Dylan used inspiration from old films, Shakespeare, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
9. Tom Robbins, In Defiance of Gravity, Harper’s Magazine, September 2004
Robbins wants to evoke new life into American literature. He understands that literature imitates life, but suggests that writers should include humor and imagination into “naturalistic narratives.” The article challenges American writers to incorporate wisdom, playfulness and magic to their pieces of work.
Christine Rosen, Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism, The New Atlantis, October 2007.
The idea of virtual friendships has reached new heights with the popular MySpace and Facebook social websites. Rosen addresses the social concerns related to virtual networks. She suggests these social networking sites are creating or affirming social behaviors. The term “friends” is used to identify people who are in your social network. What is missing with the use of this term is the natural face-to-face interaction that develops a friendship. Adolescences are becoming socially handicap with the use of these virtual social networks. The need for status continues within the virtual world. Many people are in a race to identify as many “friends” as possible to determine their status. These relationships are socially handicapping many people because they are consumed with the activity online and not their community that surrounds them. Rosen concludes the article by stating that there are positive attributes to virtual networks like staying in touch with old friends and meeting new ones. However, whether the virtual relationships are satisfying has yet to be determined.
Thompson, The Democratic Republic
“The age of the internet has brought with it exciting, fresh ideas about the disintermediation of power and peer accountability. But who is responsible for the standards and functions of the network itself? Bill Thompson charts the history of internet governance, reflects on what has been lost as accountability passes from the hands of the geeks to those of the politicians and lawyers, and offers his proposal for redressing the democratic deficit.” Thompson foresees a forum of net governance where the masses are free to communicate and discuss without intermediaries. The forum will be founded upon a reputation system that weighs more heavily the opinions of those who have participated and provided good advice in the past. He feels that central governance must not be completely done away with, but suggests that the United Nations should provide necessary centralized guidance.
This “documentary” catalogues the future of media up to the year 2014. According to this fictional account of the future of mass media, papers become outdated as all news is online. Bloggers and social networkers are able to create their own news leading to a future where all citizens are awash in a mass of news, some of it credible but much of it not.
13. Kevin Kelly, “What Will Happen to Books?”,
The New York Times Magazine, Sunday, May 14, 2006, p.43.
The author describes the movement to create digital libraries. The movement aims to create universal libraries incorporating as many books as possible, along the lines of the great library in Alexandria. A digital library will be democratic as it will proved the masses with access to millions of books. However, it will be even more revolutionary because it will create a new means of sorting books by linking them based on subject matters. Readers will be able to click on a link in a footnote and immediately be taken to a different book. Each book will cease to exist independently and will instead be part of a larger whole.
Chp. 26: Tony Clarke, Mechanisms of Corporate Rule.
Chp. 27: Jerry Mander, The Rules of Corporate Behavior.
Chp. 32: Richard Grossman and Frank Adams, Exercising Power Over Corporations Through State Charters.
15. Lawrence Mitchell, Corporate Irresponsibility
Mitchell argues that, while American corporations are viewed by many with wonder due to their creation of material well being that allows many to live the American dream, while others view American corporations with horror. The horror stems from the fact that limited liability allows corporations to externalize their costs of production on others, that corporate layoffs treat workers as disposable and factory closings destroy entire communities, and that the disparity between the fabulously wealthy and the very poor continues to widen. Mitchell reminds the reader that not all nations want this to happen to them; that the acquisition of wealth is not their main priority. Right now American corporations strive to maximize short-term profits while limited liability encourages irresponsibility. Therefore, unless changes are made in cultural and business norms, exporting corporations will not help developing nations.
16. Naomi Klein, No Logo: Multinationals and the Appropriation of Meaning, Lapis, Issue 13.
17. Cynthia A. Williams, Corporate Social Responsibility in an Era of Economic Globalization in Symposium – Corporations Theory and Corporate Governance Law, 35 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 523, 705 (2002).
This article examines whether corporations have specific social responsibilities besides maximizing profit. Currently, mainstream corporate law theorists believe that corporations owe responsibility only to their shareholders. In contrast to this view, the “irresponsible” position conceptualizes the corporation as a nexus of implicit and explicit contracts between shareholders, bondholders, managers, employees, suppliers and customers. As a result, corporations ought to consider the implications of their actions on these other constituents as well. Unfortunately, Williams argues that current regulatory law and contract are unable to protect the interests of these constituents. Developing countries usually attract outsourcing. Because the standards of living in these countries are raised, regulatory standards remain low and companies exploit this lack of regulation for their financial benefit. Furthermore, evidence also suggests that in order to compete for investment on the basis of low wages it is causing wages to remain low in many developing countries. The author also goes on to mention the impact of corporate governance on economic inequality and the effects of globalization on countries’ redistributive policies and concludes that taxation and redistribution fail to fully remedy the concerns of corporate social responsibility.
18. Mary Kreiner Ramirez, The Science Fiction of Corporate Criminal Liability: Containing the Machine Through the Corporate Death Penalty, 47 Ariz. L. Rev. 933 (Winter 2005).
Ms. Ramirez argues that, although corporations are legal entities just as humans are and can commit crimes in the same way humans can, because corporations are soulless, they cannot truly be punished. She suggests replacing the worst human offenders on the board of directors with others in order to deter against criminal conduct. A different recourse could be “three strikes” type laws that would force a change in management or dissolve the corporation after three convictions. In this way, corporations would be given similar incentives to behave legally as are individuals while enjoying the benefits of legal entity status.
Symposium B Corporate Social Responsibility: Paradigm or Paradox?, 84 Cornell Law Review 1133-1355, July 1999.
Ford Motor Company 2000 Corporate Citizenship report, www.ford.com/serve...AndCulture&LEVEL3=buildingRelationships
Chp. 8: Ralph Nader and Lori Wallach, GATT, NAFTA, and the Subversion of the Democratic Process.
20. Paul Hawken, N30, Skeleton Woman in Seattle, Orion, Spring 2000.
21. William Finnegan, The Economics of Empire, Harper’s Magazine, May 2003.
Finnegan gives a lucid and comprehensive account of the effects of free trade and globalization on every corner of the globe and on every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that the U.S. is a hypocritical country in terms of espousing the doctrine of free trade. While the U.S. shoves the free trade doctrine to every country in the world, it practices (when it pleases) protectionism. For example, when it’s in the U.S. interest to raise tariffs and give subsidies to its own farmers it does so willingly. When other countries do so, it’s condemned. This article also shows how free trade economics have destroyed many countries in Latin America, such as Argentina and Bolivia in recent years, as well as the role of the IMF. and the World Bank. It also describes some free trade success stories, such as China and the Four Tigers of Asia. Even those countries however, have strict capital controls and China has gone slowly with privatization. Moreover, Finnegan points out that free trade and economic growth which most regard as an overall social good, is not always so. For instance, some growth is so unequal that it heightens social conflict and increases repression. Furthermore, there is growth so environmentally damaging that it takes away a society’s quality of life. The truth is, in many countries, a dominant ethnic minority is reaping almost all of the benefits of free trade while the poor and working class bear the burden and absorb all of the harms resulting from globalization.
22. Kenneth Rogoff, The IMF Strikes Back, Foreign Policy 39, January/February 2003.
This article attempts to respond to some major criticisms of the IMF. First, critics say that the IMF loan programs impose harsh fiscal austerity on countries that have tight budgets. Second, IMF loans encourage those who finance the fund to invest recklessly. Third, IMF advice to countries suffering debt only aggravates economic conditions. Fourth, the fund pushes countries to open themselves up to destabilizing flows of foreign capital. Rogoff responds by asserting that the harsh fiscal austerity is not really true because the country that needed the money to begin with was already in an economic crisis. The fact that the IMF insists on being paid should not be seen as the IMF forcing the country to cut domestic programs. Second, Rogoff claims that creditors are in fact being paid, and not receiving subsidies from the Fund. Therefore, the moral hazard theory is not all true. Third, IMF advice doesn’t necessarily aggravate economic conditions. The source of the problem is that these countries are not well regulated. In countries that have succeeded with IMF help, the reason is because their developed domestic financial markets were extremely well regulated. Fourth, the IMF should not encourage countries to just shut their doors. The fund provides a forum for exchange of ideas and eliminating it will not solve any fundamental problems.
23. J. Enrique Espinosa, Jaime Serra, John Cavanagh, Sarah Anderson, Happily Ever NAFTA?, Foreign Policy 58, September/October 2002.
This group of articles is a series of debates over whether NAFTA – nine years after its inception – has produced beneficial results in the U.S. and Mexico or if it created more problems than it resolved. Cavanagh and Anderson argue that NAFTA was a “Bad Idea that Failed” because although the amount of trade increased between the U.S. and Mexico during these nine years, it failed to reduce poverty or raise wages in Mexico. Furthermore, NAFTA also failed to improve broader social goals such as creating jobs or cleaning the environment. In fact, NAFTA makes it more difficult for countries to tackle environmental problems because of the provision in the agreement (Chapter 11) that allows foreign investors to sue governments directly over an act that might devalue their investment. On the other hand, Serra and Espinosa argue that NAFTA was a success because exports from Mexico to the U.S. have grown tremendously in the nine years. In fact, it doubled those of the rest of the Latin American countries. They also argue that because of inflation and a series of massive devaluations, real wages actually increased for Mexican workers. While Serra and Espinosa seem to admit to several facts asserted by Cavanagh and Anderson, such as the environment getting worse and Mexican corn growers being driven out of business by the low U.S. corn prices, they attribute these problems to lack of funding for government services and justify the corn problem by the fact that overall the benefits of NAFTA outweigh the harms caused.
24. Kevin C. Kennedy, Trade and Foreign Investment in the Americas: The Impact on Indigenous Peoples and the Environment, 14 Mich. St. J. Int’l. L. 139 (2006).
Kennedy raises several issues regarding the free trade agreements to which the United States is a signatory. For example, what impact have free trade agreements, which focus on natural resource extraction, have on foreign environments? Do multinational corporations have a social responsibility to the peoples of other countries whose lives they can affect so powerfully? How can intellectual property rights be utilized to protect traditional knowledge? These and other questions serve as a reminder that free trade agreements are not only economic treaties, but have vast environmental and social impacts that need to be recognized.
25. Mindahi Crescencio Bastida-Munoz and Geraldine A. Patrick, Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights: Beyond TRIPS Agreements and Intellectual Property Chapters of FTAS, 14 Mich. St. J. Int’l L. 259 (2006).
The authors describe the way that globalization is chipping away at indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge as well as destroying ecosystems were indigenous peoples used to live sustainably. In order to deal with the destruction of these ecosystems, pharmaceuticals are embarking on multimillion dollar campaigns to obtain as much traditional knowledge about plants as possible before this information has been completely eroded. The authors argue that current intellectual property law is ill-served to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Lifelong patents allow corporations to become monopolies over pharmaceuticals. Because these corporations are driven by lucrative goals in favor of private rights, sovereign governments can be overwhelmed by transnational corporations and lose control of bioethics. The authors therefore call for revisions of the TRIPs Agreement to provide meaningful protection for biodiversity and traditional knowledge.
26. Suzana Sawyer and Terrence Gomez, Identity, Power, and Rights: Paradoxes of Neoliberalism in the Context of Resource Extraction (unpublished manuscript).
The Ecologist Report: Globalizing Poverty: The World Bank, IMF and WTO—Their Policies Exposed, September 2000.
Maude Barlow, The Free Trade Area of the Americas: The Threat to Social Programs, Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice (IFG-Special Report 2001).
The Case for Globalization, The Economist, September 23-29, 2000.
· Bioregionalism and Conserving Communities
Readings for Week 10:
Chp. 34: Wendell Berry, Conserving Communities.
Chp. 37: David Morris, Communities: Building Authority, Responsibility, and Capacity.
Chp. 40: Kirkpatrick Sale, Principles of Bioregionalism.
Ch. 4: Individualism
Marglin begins this chapter with the (perhaps) obvious point that “[i]ndividualism is one way of being in the world rather than the only way.” He makes this point because individualism is such a central aspect of both economics and the ideology of modernity that it is easy to lose sight of such an obvious statement. According to Marglin, the market requires the self-interested individual to function well. This is because mainstream economics has always focused on how efficiently economic institutions deliver goods. For some, efficient economic systems serve to maximize the “slice of the pie” for society as a whole. For libertarians, the goal is to maximize one’s own slice. However, in mainstream economics, individualism plays a pivotal role in society; by self-serving actions, individuals promote efficient production and distribution when mediated by the market. Four other assumptions are necessary to show how individuals serve the market: given preferences, universal agency, radical subjectivism, and self-interest. However, Marglin shows how each of these fundamental assumptions are full of holes---a problem which questions the ability for economics, or the market, to determine what is best for society. Rather than having a given set of preferences, humans experience changing preferences. Because changing preferences is a social process, one that requires social interactions, it leads away from individualism. Individuals also lack complete agency; rather, agency is a function of relationships with other members of society. Individual preferences may be overridden by group standards. Humans feel a moral duty to act for the benefit of others, as opposed to always feeling self-interested. These holistic assumptions co-exist with individualist assumptions in modern societies. The problem is that, in the modern West, individualism and holism are out of balance—holism has “gone underground.” In order to economics to suggest a way that will really benefit society as a whole, it needs to take into account holist assumptions as well.
3. Wendell Berry, The Idea of a Local Economy, Orion, Winter 2001.
The authors profile John Stilgoe, Professor of History of Landscape Development at Harvard University. Stilgoe is an expert on urban and rural landscapes, reading them for revelations into the changes in human lifestyle and economy over the past several hundred years. He studies potholes, clothing, the configuration of parking spaces and other everyday, ordinary things. From these observations he can explain the migration of industry from North to South to abroad, why professors don’t need elbow patches on their tweed jackets, and the reasoning behind housing regulations that required car garages to be built of concrete. Stilgoe claims that period studies are valuable tools for future planning, as well as windows into our vanishing past.
5. Theodore Roszak, The Ecology of Wisdom, Lapis, Issue Seven.
6. Wolfgang Sachs, AThe Virtue of Enoughness”, NPQ Special Issue 1999.
7. Ivan Illich, The Shadow Our Future Throws, NPQ Special Issue 1999. http://www.brandon.multics.org/library/Ivan%20Illich/shadow.html
Illich explains that the notion that humans are destroying themselves has gone from being viewed as radical extremism to common knowledge. He argues that the current problems of our society must be viewed from their historical beginnings: the lack of clean water in urban centers springs from the reduction of native crops and destruction of farming communities. By understanding this, we can see how things society views as “needs” are really derived from “wants,” from the never ending goal to develop. On the bright side, he sees how resourceful individuals with no other options have managed to survive in the bleakest environment, such as citizens of the “City of the Dead,” the poor living in the cemeteries of Cairo. Illich concludes that “life” can only be separated from “death of nature” by creating a self-regulating lifestyle where an ecological man protects life and defends against the depletion of natural resources.
8. Alain Touraine, Neo-Modern Ecology, NPQ Special
Touraine has defined himself as being neo-modern. Neo-modern extends from the term post-modern. The idea behind neo-modernism is that people can live in a world where the environment and “cultural initiatives” are equal. Touraine suggests that ecological movements will change the modern society and ecology relationship. He agrees that man must release his Industrial Revolution era belief that he can dominate and control nature. However, he disagrees that ecology requires man to surrender himself to domination by nature; rather, man should continue to take charge of his own actions. As a neo-modernist, Touraine believes that man can continue to create culture, but must seek an equilibrium between this cultural initiative and the environment. To do so, human rights must provide a check for reason, and ecology must provide a check for industrial development. Humans will be the center in the sense that they will create their own senses of self, but they will not take center stage in the cosmos. Touraine believes that it is our choice to allow the West to prosper by creating a balance between remaining modern and becoming ecological.
9. William McDonough and Michael Braungart, The NEXT Industrial Revolution, Atlantic Monthly, October 1998.
12. What the World Needs Now: Twelve Honest Answers, Orion, Spring 2002.
13. The Earth Charter
According to www.earthcharterinaction.org, “[t]he Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental ethical principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all people a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life, and future generations. It is a vision of hope and a call to action.” The charter acknowledges that such goals as the eradication of poverty, sustainable living, equitable economic development, and human rights are interconnected. The charter thus provides an inclusive and integrated framework for achieving these goals. The charter began as a United Nations initiative, but was carried out by an international civil society initiative. The charter encourages us to work internationally and seek a common ground in order to accomplish shared objectives.
14. Thomas Berry, The Mystique of the Earth, Caduceus, Spring 2003.
Thomas Berry is “geologian” whose lifework consists of promoting a new relationship between humans and the earth. The article is an interview between Caroline Webb and Thomas Berry in reference to his vision for an “Earth Democracy.” Berry believes that human destruction of the earth is directly related to the theory of law. He advocates for a human world that exists equally with the natural world. According to Berry, a hierarchical system should not exist that allows humans to dominate the environment. He believes that a proper relationship should exist between human technology and natural technology. He argues that it is impossible to have health humans on a sick planet: to have healthy humans, the earth must be healed first. The United States Constitution, according to Berry, serves to protect only human things at the expense of the planet. By giving humans property rights, the Constitution enshrines our appetite to devour everything around us, rather than to preserve it. However, destroying the Earth will inevitably prevent us from having a healthy human economy. Thus, Berry argues that humans must understand the natural order, first, and then find our place in it second, rather than trying to fit the natural order into a human world. This environmental structure must also extend to the legal realm, and laws must be fit into the context of the Earth as a whole in order for humans to survive.
15. Rick Bass, The War of the Senses, Orion, September/October 2004.
Written nearly immediately preceding the 2004 presidential election, Bass writes of his memories of the previous four years under the Bush administration. He mourns the period when we briefly stood together after September 11th, before the war in Iraq ripped the United States further away from the respect of the world. However, Bass also points out that Americans were at war before September 11th: minorities and homosexuals lost rights; the environment was attacked and protections were stripped away; the battle between seniors for affordable prescriptions and pharmaceutical companies for profits; wars of insensitivity and simply not paying attention. However, Bass felt Americans could rise to the fight, stating “Bravery is how you might respond when under relentless or horrific attack: When you hold your ground and fight back. Courage, I think, is different, and harder to attain: To fight when you might not have to; when no one would know the difference.” Bass calls on Americans to exercise courage so we leave our children and grandchildren with inspiration, rather than destruction.
16. Studs Terkel, On Hope and Activism,
Terkel, who was then over 90 and had lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights movement, explains that hope remains even in the most desperate of times. His book, Hope Dies Last, took its title from a Spanish saying relied upon by farmworkers in the days before Cesar Chavez: “La esperanza muere última.” When we have lost everything else, hope will be the one thing that remains, and to lose hope means to lose everything. However, more than hope is required to make the world a better place. Terkel argues that we must act, that activists truly contribute to the world, even if they cannot make it perfect. Terkel then compiled brief biographies of activists he believed had made an impact: Elaine Jones, director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Eliseo Medina, former organizer for Cesar Chavez and executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Usama Alshaibi, sound engineer at the Chicago Historical Society, independent filmmaker, and newly sworn-in U.S. citizen who immigrated from Iraq where he was born the son of a Palestinian mother and an Iraqui father. This article provides inspiration to continue hoping and begin acting to make such hopes a reality.
17. David Korten, The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, Lapis, Issue Nine.
Korten argues that capitalism has hampered democracy, the market, and human rights. He analogizes the current state of capitalism to a disease. He thinks that the market is not itself a problem but that capitalism “is to a healthy market economy what cancer is to a healthy body.” In order to cure this “cancer,” Korten states that we must eliminate limited liability corporations and create a post-corporate world. Some of the actions Korten suggests are ending the legal fiction that corporations are people, excluding corporations form politics, implementing campaign finance reform, and regulating international corporations. Korten admits that eliminating the prominence of corporations from our society will be difficult but feels that human rights and democracy cannot co-exist with capitalism. In the end, Korten argues that political and spiritual awareness is the “best immunological defense against invasion by the capitalist cancer.”
Derrick Jensen, Beyond Hope, Orion,
Jensen, an environmentalist, has lost most hope in saving the planet. He thinks, however, that this is a good thing. Jensen believes that false hopes keep humans chained to a system that is destroying the environment. False hope leads us to believe that the system will change, that companies will stop polluting, and that a new president or piece of legislation will make everything okay. This leads to inaction, and inaction hinders progress. Hope takes us away from the present and makes us powerless: it leaves us longing for a future condition over which we have no agency. On the other hand, if we realize that we do have some type of agency, we no longer need to hope; we can work and change and better the world around us. If we allow ourselves to feel desperation at the same time we love our environment, we can realize how dire our situation truly is and we can do something about it.
Alice Walker, We Live in the Best of Times (Interview with David Swick), Shambhala Sun, May 2007.
Alice Walker is a writer and activist, whose current book is We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting for. The article is an interview with David Swick addressing her concerns in the new book. Walker believes that perfection lies within imperfection and the world is constantly teaching us things. Walker relies on her spirituality and yoga to alleviate her stress in life. She believes that We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting for is a book that considers our current economic and political state. The book allows the reader to step back and mediate about the current political situation of our country.
20. Terry Tempest Williams, Finding Beauty in a Broken World (Interview with David Medaris). www.thedailypages.com/daily/article.php?article=24345
21. Gene Sharp, The Methods of Nonviolent Action (Extending Horizons Books)
Sharp provides a collection of nonviolent action, divided into various categories. Formal statements include public speeches and petitions, among others. Group representations may involve picketing or group lobbying. Boycotts of various groups fall into categories involving actions taken by workers, middlemen, and managers. Symbolic public acts refers to demonstrations such as displaying flags or symbolic colors, destroying one’s own property, and public prayer or worship. Altogether, Sharp has compiled 198 different kinds of nonviolent action, which can form the basis for activism that is both nonviolent and effective.
22. Mark Kurlansky, Nonviolence, Orion 58, September/October 2006
· Meeting of the Minds Presentations
· Meeting of the Minds Presentations
· Meeting of the Minds Presentations
· Thanksgiving Holiday – no classes
· Meeting of the Minds Presentations
· Concluding Assessments