Earth Island Journal

This publication offers news, analysis and commentary on environmental issues news.

Articles from Vol. 27, No. 3, Autumn

A River of Money Runs through It
AMERICA IS UNDER ASSAULT from a deadly, insidious, and persistent pollutant. This pernicious contaminant threatens our health, safety, and way of life. Its noxious emissions are rising fast, fouling every corner of our nation. It attacks our brains,...
Browey Youth Awards: Meet the 2012 Winners!
Each year Earth Island Institute's New Leaders Initiative recognizes six young activists ages 13 to 22 from North America for their exceptional efforts to promote ecological sustainability and social justice. We're thrilled to announce the recipients...
Captive Time Bombs
Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity BY DAVID KIRBY, St. Martin's Press, 2012, 469 pages Author David Kirby has written a shocking expos6 of the SeaWorld marine parks and the dangers that wild animal captivity...
Cash for Trash
AT THE TIME, THE EPISODE WAS the perfect allegory for our environmental predicament: an oceangoing barge piled with more than 3,100 tons of garbage, churning up and down the Eastern Seaboard looking for some place to dump its trash. It was March 1987...
Cheap at a Price
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Trees are falling in some of Russia's old-growth forests--and those who have heard them crash say Ikea is to blame. The home furnishing giant ran into controversy after a May investigation revealed that its wholly owned...
Citizens United against Citizens United: A Movement Is Building to Amend the Constitution
IN JANUARY 2010, FIVE US SUPREME Court justices legalized the wholesale purchase of America's elected officials. In its landmark decision, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, the court's majority ruled that corporations, as persons, have...
Climate Wise Women: Speaking Truth to Power
At a United Nations breakfast event in New York City in September 2009, four women--a peasant farmer, a former hairdresser, a journalist, and a social administration expert--came together with former heads of state and Nobel Prize winners to speak...
Conversation: Ra Patel
Raj Patel is no fan of messiahs and iconic leaders. "One bright shining light is dangerous," says the writer, activist, and academic who was once mistaken as the savior of humankind by an obscure religious group. Still, there's no denying that Patel--young,...
Creating Science
The United States isn't the only nation where anti-evolution sentiment is winning against science. Creationists in South Korea are succeeding in their efforts to limit teaching about evolution. Bowing to pressure from a group that calls evolution...
Get off of My Cloud
Pollution, infamously, doesn't respect national boundaries. Sulfur emissions in one country can lead to acid rain in another and carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect no matter where it comes from. But what about pollution monitoring?...
Guerilla Radio
You might not associate Justin Bieber or Rihanna with environmental causes, but in one part of the world their music is helping save primates. In the breaks between a heavy rotation of teen ballads and angst-ridden rock songs, Indonesia's Radio Kalaweit,...
Hunt, Fish ... and Save the Planet
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] ON SOME EVENINGS, I HEAR the honking music of Canada geese as they fly over my house in central Wisconsin. "Do we hunt them, Daddy?" asks my five-year-old son. He has eaten geese that I killed, as well as venison, salmon,...
Money to Burn
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] WHEN BARACK OBAMA VISITED Ohio in mid-March during one of his many swings through the crucial battleground state,John Kasich, the state's Republican governor, made a point of pulling the president aside to put in a good word...
Never Say Die
Hours after Lonesome George's death, Fausto Llerena, a ranger at the Galapagos National Park and George's long-term keeper, hauled his leathery friend's corpse into a storage freezer. The idea was to preserve George's tissue in the hopes that, one...
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
It was sort of like the animal lover's version of destroying the village in order to save it. In an effort to preserve one of the world's densest leatherback turtle nesting sites, construction crews in Trinidad ended up crushing as many as 20,000 turtle...
Pay to Play
In a move that immediately became irresistible fodder for late night comics and editorial cartoonists, the Republican-controlled North Carolina Legislature this summer approved a law that bars state agencies from considering scientific predictions...
Politics and Plutocrats: A Parade of Inequality
America is currently engaged in the most expensive presidential contest in world history. In the United States, money doesn't just talk--it dictates. How can we hope to make progress on the path to sustainability when the road is blocked by barricades...
Putting Down Roots
Think of it as a kind of environmental chain letter. A 36-year-old Polish marketing executive, Jacek Powalka, has created an online initiative called PioSeki that lets people order up to two free maple, beech, oak, or spruce seedlings--one to keep...
Reclaiming the Wilderness
I can still recall the memory with total clarity: I was afraid that the wind would lift me off the ground and carry me over the edge of the world. I knew if I let go of my parents' hands, I would lose them and I would be lost. I was five years old....
Shut Up Money
IN MARCH, THREE GOVERNORS, two lieutenant governors, and a top USDA official rearranged their schedules to show up for a press event at the South Sioux City, Nebraska factory of Beef Products Inc. The purpose: To reassure Americans that the company's...
Temperature Gauge: Note from a Warning World
Iron Sink It appears that dumping iron in the sea can help suck carbon out of the air and bury it underwater, like, forever. New research by a team of international researchers published in the journal Nature shows that spreading iron dust in...
The Rise and Fall of the East Sand Empire
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] EAST SAND ISLAND SITS NEAR the mouth of the Columbia River. Although the mound of sand and dredge spoils is only a mile or so long and a few hundred yards at its widest, it hosts one of the largest seabird colonies in the...
Unseen Landscapes
The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot BY ROBERT MACFARLANE Hamish Hamilton, 2012, 448 pages [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In The Wild Places, the second of Robert Macfarlane's sweeping trilogy of books about "landscape and the human heart," the author...
Up in the Air over Flying
There's no getting around it--flying is the single most carbon intensive activity an individual can undertake. The global aviation industry is responsible for nearly 5 percent of all emissions. So what's to be done? Should we all stop flying and keep...
War Games
Since taking over the US Navy in 2009, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has made reducing his fleet's dependence on fossil fuels one of his top priorities. He says that the military's reliance on foreign oil is expensive and forces the United States to depend...
Waters off Limits
Australia is famous for its submarine beauty and aquatic biodiversity, most notably the Great Barrier Reef. But until recently areas that held great natural wonders were open to commercial fishing and oil drilling. Not anymore. In June, Environment...
Weight of the World
Until recently, obesity was a public health concern only in affluent, Western countries. Not anymore. With McDonald's franchises in Mumbai, KFC outlets in Beijing, and Coca-Cola and Pepsi, well, just about everywhere, obesity and health complications...
Weird Science: The Promise and Peril of Synthetic Biology
IN 1971, A MICROBIOLOGIST NAMED Ananda Chakrabarty patented a bacteria genetically engineered to degrade and destroy crude oil. The next year scientists created the first synthesized gene, a bit of yeast RNA ushered into existence virtually from scratch....
We've Been Here Before: American History Offers a Hopeful Lesson in Checking Corporate Power
ANYONE LOOKING FOR THE source of today's tsunami of corporate money in politics might consider blaming Earth Day 1970. Earth Day? Kids picking up litter and swatting giant beachballs painted like Planet Earth? That's certainly part of what happened...
What's in a Name?
Sustainability. Few other buzzwords have so perfectly surfed the zeitgeist of our new century. Environmentalists, of course, have adopted the word to explain the challenge of balancing human consumption with the carrying capacity of Earth's ecosystems....
Who Cares?
Among behavioral psychologists it's known as the "Dunning-Kruger effect": the well-documented tendency of individuals to inaccurately estimate their abilities. Incompetent people are likely to believe they are more capable than they are. Exceptionally...