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Archive for the ‘Evaggelos Vallianatos’

Water World

December 18, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Are We Approaching a Global ‘Cadillac Desert’?

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Water for the Greeks was the immortal natural world. The supreme Greek god, Zeus, sent rains; Poseidon, brother of Zeus, was the god of the oceans and seas; Metis, daughter of the Ocean River god and first wife of Zeus, was goddess of intelligence and mother of Athena, goddess of the arts of civilization.

Homer said the god of metallurgy, Hephaistos, sculpted the great Ocean River surrounding the Earth on the outermost rim of Achilleus’ shield. Achilleus, son of a water nymph, was the Greeks’ greatest hero during the Trojan War.

And the first Greek natural philosopher, Thales, proposed in the seventh century BCE that water was the stuff of life and the cosmos. (more…)

The Tragic Voice of Truth

November 12, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos, Politics

Fukushima: Danger, Deception, and Betrayal

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Last month I watched a documentary on the March 11, 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima prefecture, Japan. The showing of the 2013 documentary, A2-B-C, took place in a cafeteria of Pomona College where students gather at tables and speak foreign languages. I am a guest at the Greek table.

The American producer, Ian Thomas Ash, introduced his film and answered questions. He is young and unusually virtuous and talented. He sees himself as a witness of a tragedy he has to report to the world.

He said he felt morally obliged to document the effects of the horrific nuclear accident. That is the reason he is not married and without children. For the duration of filming he lived in the contaminated Fukushima prefecture with the affected local people. He ate the food they ate and drank the same water. In addition, he speaks Japanese and has lived in Japan for several years. (more…)

Food Mosaics

October 07, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos, Politics

UN Appeals for Urgent Agricultural Reform

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

I remember going to one of the preparatory meetings on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development at the State Department. It was late 1978 and I represented Congressman Clarence Long (D-Md.).

There must have been at least forty federal bureaucrats around a huge wooden table in a large conference room. I asked them how many peasants they or the United Nations had invited to address the 1979 Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Conference in Rome. After all, who knows more about the pain of the peasants than peasants themselves?

The icy silence that followed my question was a reminder that this conference had nothing to do with food and agriculture or agrarian reform. It was rather a forum for the amusement of men and women from the North and the South who guarded the world’s food and agriculture. (more…)

Subversive Ecology

September 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Can It Be an Antidote to Our Toxic Age?

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

One of the discoveries I made during my 25-year tenure at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was ecology.

Of course, I had heard of ecology before joining EPA in 1979. I studied zoology as an undergraduate, so I was familiar with ecology and its theoretical focus on connections and processes. They underpinned the natural world.

But nothing had prepared me for the political ecology of EPA. I came to know a few ecologists and, more than that, I read dozens of their memos.

It was then I realized the harmful effects of pesticides — and the limits of ecology in America. (more…)

Traditional Agriculture

May 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Reclaiming Our Farmland from the Rural Oligarchy

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Traditional agriculture was the mother of human culture and societies. Small farmers raised food and created organized societies and Large carrot field, Coachella Valley, southern California. (Photo: Evaggelos Vallianatos)states. In ancient Greece, small farmers invented democracy and the polis. They also defended the state. Xenophon, an Athenian general, a student of Socrates, and philosopher of late fifth century BCE, praised agriculture as the mother of all the arts and sciences and civilization.(1)

However, the fall of the Greeks and the Romans and the following Dark Ages transformed agriculture more to the liking of plantation owners who worked the land with slaves. Then the nineteenth-century “industrial” revolution added mechanical power to the plantation and, thus, the industrialized version of agriculture came into being. This is a mechanical powerhouse that has been remaking modern science and society to serve the interests of large landowners and industrialists. The damage of this monstrous institution has been monumental, even threatening the survival of the Earth. (more…)

Civilizational Shift

May 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos, Politics

Old-Fashioned Activism to Confront the Food Monopoly

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

In the twentieth century, American agriculture abandoned its traditions of family farming. This was no small change. Like the centuries-long enclosure movement in England whereby the landlords used the law and violence to privatize the commons and throw out of the land uncounted number of peasants, American large farmers have been using the power of the state to bring about a civilization shift in rural America.

They transformed a way of life for raising food and sustaining democratic society to a massive factory industrializing both farming and food and farmers, making rural America a colony for the extraction of profit.

This tragedy left behind millions of broken family farms, contaminated water and land, and a wounded rural America.

According to the 1884 “Transactions of the California State Agricultural Society,” “there will be too few farms and these too large. A republic cannot long survive when the lands are concentrated in the hands of a few men. Any man will fight for his home, but it takes a very brave man to fight for the privilege of working for half wages.” (more…)

Sowing Knowledge

March 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

What I Tell My Students…

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

I have taught sporadically at several universities. My latest teaching is at Pitzer College that prides itself for its liberal and environmental values.

I focus on the politics of agriculture, shedding light on an invisible giant making America on its image.

This is not the agriculture of Thomas Jefferson with the small family farmer all over the country. Rather this is the agriculture of big business. This is the agriculture that has sent rural America to oblivion, industrializing the countryside and, along with it, farming and food. And, yet, it remains out there, unspoken, beyond the daily discourse. (more…)