Local Forum to Tackle Problem of Corporations and Lobbyists

April 30, 2010

Daniel Schwartz

By Pamela Adams Hirst

The lecture series for Earth Day, ed 2010, prostate at the University of New Mexico was entitled: Mapping the Fields Through Time and Space: Earth and Environment across the Disciplines.

Daniel Schwartz, symptoms lecturer of environmental sociology, addressed “Perfect Storms and Paradigm Shifts” to a standing-room only crowd in the Scholar’s Room in the UNM Student Union Building.

The Earth can’t afford war anymore, he emphasized. “Warfare is an environmental disaster for soil, air, water and all life that depends on them.”

With an entire green movement calling for more and more participation by citizens, more burdens and blame being placed upon individual consumers, Schwartz said it is time to tell the truth about the ecocide being perpetrated and address what the military is doing to the environment.

“It’s the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge,” he said, then quoted Bruce E. Johansen’s statistics on the carbon footprint of war:

* The U.S. armed forces consume about 14 million gallons of oil per day.

* As early as 2003 the British Green Party estimated the U.S., Britain, and the minor parties of the “coalition of the willing” were burning the same amount of fuel as the 1.1 billion people in India.

* By 2007 the Iraq War had put at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air, as much as adding twenty-five million cars to the road, according to a report from the Oil Change International.

* The Iraq War by itself added more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than 60 percent of the world’s nations, the report also stated.

“Sure we can go out and buy a Prius automobile and save 560 gallons of gas a year,”

Schwartz said, “but an F-15 fighter plane on takeoff would burn this much fuel in only two minutes.”

The effects of poisons from new and old weapons systems and life-destroying chemicals like depleted uranium, dioxin and white phosphorus are cause for concern. Compound all this with the potential negative impacts of all the new chemicals, new technology, bioengineering and Schwartz warned that the earth is poised for a perfect environmental storm.

Phthalates, bisphenal A, atrazine, pesticides and biocides comprise some of the 80,000 new chemicals which may be benign or have a synergistic effect on fetuses, children and all living things, Schwartz pointed out.

“All these effects on the environment are happening on the scale which has never occurred before on the planet, while at the same time citizens are struggling with an ossified, dysfunctional political system unable to address the situation,” he charged, calling for more grassroots participation. “When you are dealing with public policy you have to have grass roots movements to keep the situation honest,” he said.

He cited their success with the Love Canal contamination struggle, black lung disease in miners, and the fights against the effects of pesticides.  “It is the grassroots efforts that will reverse the effects of a failing socio-economic system with multi-layers of bureaucracies and equalities.”

He denounced incrementalism, saying time is too crucial. “That’s why these are dangerous times,” he warned. “’Never has failure been so ardently defended as though it were a success,’” he added, quoting John Ralston Saul.

“Let nature thrive,” was his banner statement.

“We have to tell the truth. Our life support system is being degraded while the government and business continue to operate as usual. Society is struggling against new scales of bureaucracy, institutions and inequality, making it even more difficult to bring about change,” Schwartz told the audience.

“Are we human beings even capable of change, of transforming into altruistic conservers versus consumers?” Schwartz posited.

“We must not cannibalize the earth. Let us protect nature, biodiversity and all life. Let us not pretend we must continue forward because progress and growth leaves no options,” he entreated.

“We do have options. We have to make peace with the earth by giving ecology the equivalent standing and consideration as economics in law, government, and daily life,” he said.

“Civilization is on the edge of a precipice in the 21st Century. Let us not continue dismissing ecology for the primacy of economics and militarism,” he continued.

Then he questioned if it is our fate to go full speed ahead regardless of where it takes us. Are violence, materialism, militarism, technology, control, power and ego our religion?
“Give the people the truth so they can make the right decisions,” he maintained. “Do we not have the power to choose life, to choose the right path?”

“We do have choices,” Schwartz insisted, calling for more people to embrace eco-theology, a new form of spirituality that focuses on healing the earth. He quoted from The Crises in Major Religions by Thomas Berry:

“Looking for personal redemption, transformation and transcendence is not enough. People must work for renewal, balance and harmony of the earth, supporting that which is holy such as water, air, wilderness, animals, plants, soil and ecosystems, basically the entire life support system – all of which is interdependent.”

“Humans have the potential of moral intelligence to develop, not develop, use or not use certain technologies, tools and techniques which denigrate or negatively impact the earth,” he pointed out.

“The earth may have some surprises in store for us. In the end who will decide what is sustainable on planet Earth — nature or humanity?” he concluded.

Daniel Schwartz teaches at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and an MA in Sociology from the California State University at LA with a M.P.H. in social behavior and medical anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He follows the social critic tradition in sociology.

Pamela Adams Hirst is a free-lance reporter based in Las Cruces, NM. She can be contacted at

“The Carbon Footprint of War,” by Bruce E. Johansen: The Progressive – 27
“Oil Change International” by Nikki Reisch and Steve Kretzmann, priceofoil.org
“Dream of the Earth,” by Thomas Berry, Sierra Club with The University of California Press
Las Cruces/Doña Ana County residents gather to discuss how to make Washington work for regular New Mexicans, treat
not the top 2 percent of corporate lobbyists and CEOs

On Tuesday, symptoms
May 4th, local residents of Southern New Mexico will hold a community forum hosted by MoveOn.org at NMSU Campus, PSL Auditorium, 7-8:30pm.  Against the backdrop of a struggling economy and slow job growth, the event will bring together local citizens concerned about the influence of big corporations and lobbyists in Washington. Attendees will discuss what can be done to rein in the growing influence of big corporations and lobbyists in our democracy.

“Our economy is in crisis, and people here in Las Cruces are struggling. Meanwhile big corporations and CEOs continue to spend hundreds of millions lobbying to advance their own interests at the expense of the public,” said Chuck Tyler, a local MoveOn member. “We’re here today to talk about how we can make our democracy work for the 98 percent of us who don’t have high-paid lobbyists representing us in Washington.”

WHAT:          Community Forum on Fighting Corporate Lobbying

WHO:             MoveOn Members with Co-Sponsors: Common Cause NM, Operation Free, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Health Securities for New Mexicans Campaign, and Indigenous Nations  Community Action (INCA).

WHERE:       NMSU Campus, PSL Auditorium, Anderson Hall corner of Espina & Stewart

WHEN:          7:00-8:30pm, May 4th, 2010

MoveOn.org Political Action is a political action committee powered by 5 million progressive Americans. We believe in the power of small donors and grassroots action to elect progressive leaders to office and to advance a progressive agenda. We do not accept any donations over $5,000, and the average donation to MoveOn.org Political Action is under $100.

« Previous PageNext Page »

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.