New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Archive for the ‘Evaggelos Vallianatos’

The Natural World

February 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

From Abuse and Fear to Serving the Public Good

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

When I lived in Alexandria, Virginia, my home was near the Holmes Run Creek in the west side of the city. The Creek separated my neighborhood from high rises. It was partly natural and partly a cement ditch. Trees and bushes and flowers and the running water made the Creek beautiful, the only stretch of land that had the appearance of wild nature. I used to bike or walk some of the length of the Creek alone or with my dog.

In time, the Creek became my world, a place I went to reflect, exercise, and enjoy the natural world. I was not alone in appreciating the Creek. From 1979 to 2008, the 29 years I lived near the Creek, I noticed the number of people walking or biking by the Creek increased tremendously. The Creek became our neighborhood, where people visited for enjoyment. (more…)

The Hemlock Debt

December 06, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Greece Struggles With a Financial and Ecological Tsunami

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

When in 2008 the “too big to fail” Western banks brought misery and near collapse in the economies and societies of Europe and America, the same banks hit Greece with a ton of bricks.

Greece is a small country that has no control of its currency. Second, the Greek and foreign elites of Europe and America that control both the euro, the currency of Greece and the countries of the European Union, and the giant banks, decided to shock Greece in order to make the country a pliant customer.

Since Greece can’t pay back the banks, the European Central Bank, the European Commission and America’s International Monetary Fund, known as troika, intervened to make certain the borrowers got their money back. The troika pays the borrowers and then lends Greece more money at high interest rates. (more…)

Sustaining Life

November 14, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

New Book Explores ‘How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity’

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Sometime in the 1990s I heard the Harvard professor of medicine, Eric Chivian, make a presentation on Capitol Hill about the anthropogenic origins of global warming. He is an academic who speaks to the world. He co-founded International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which, in 1985, won the Nobel Peace Prize. He is also the founder and director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.

I recently rediscovered Chivian because of his work on biological diversity, which he edited with his colleague, Aaron Bernstein. The book, Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity, published in 2008 by Oxford University Press, is extremely important and timely. The Library Journal named it the “Best Biology Book of 2008.” It is now in its fourth printing and is used at scores of high schools, colleges and graduate schools all over the world. Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic editions are scheduled to appear in a year or two.

Sustaining Life deserves the attention it is getting. (more…)

Otherworldy Dreams

October 30, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

On Religion and Technology in America

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Garry Wills, professor of American history and author of Bomb Power, says that the atomic and nuclear bomb remade the country into a National Security State fostering perpetual emergency, secrecy and war.

“Secrecy,” says Wills, “emanated from the Manhattan Project like a giant radiation emission.” Indeed, Wills argues very persuasively that the Manhattan Project turned out to be not merely a “fatal miracle” because it created the “awesome” bomb but also because of the processes it set in place:

“The military-industrial complex, with a poisonous admixture of government and secrecy, had scored a triumph that would show the way to many other governmental activities… The secrecy that had enveloped Los Alamos [building the bomb] would steal quietly across the entire American landscape in the years to come.”

According to Wills, the other inevitable result of the bomb was that it gave the president supreme power. He alone could decide the fate of the world.

(more…)

Ecological University

September 28, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Is a Successful Ecological Civilization Possible?

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

In ancient times people believed in many gods and worshipped the natural world and the Earth. Now our world is primarily a world where most people believe in one god and consider nature a mine for the extraction of “resources.”

Such a dramatic shift from a sacred natural polytheism to a business monotheism does not bode well for human survival.

Of all modern ecological calamities, global warming suffices to bring to an end life on earth. Climate change, the usual name for global warming, is a result of the heavy human footprint on the natural world. This affliction, the human addiction to coal, oil, and gas, is deleterious to human health and to long-term survival.

Unless we slow down and stop dumping into the atmosphere countless thousands of tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, our children and grandchildren will surely curse us. (more…)

A Land Without Farmers

September 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Grappling with the Emerging Empire of Agribusiness

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

The plutocratic remaking of America has a parallel in the countryside. In rural America less than 3 percent of farmers make more than 63 percent of the money, including government subsidies.

The results of this emerging feudal economy are everywhere. Large areas of the United States are becoming impoverished farm towns with abandoned farmhouses and deserted land. More and more of the countryside has been devoted to massive factory farms and plantations. The consequences, though worse now than ever, have been there for all to see and feel, for decades.

Walter Goldschmidt, an anthropologist with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was already documenting the deleterious effects of agribusiness on small communities in California’s Central Valley as long ago as the 1940s (1). (more…)

Bigger, Not Better

August 23, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Large Farms Are the Emperors of Rural America

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Large farmers, with farms thousands of acres in size, have tremendous power.

You can visualize that power standing on the border of any such large farm. You see nothing but the horizon in the far distance touching the flat land. Coming as I did from Greek culture where farms are tiny, each bordering the neighboring farm with beautiful small stone walls or trees, the vast expanse of merely land without any fences or houses or trees, is always shocking. But after my bewilderment wears thin, I realize these monstrous farms produce most of America’s food.

Large farmers are the emperors of rural America. The federal government lavishes more than $20 billion of subsidies on them every year. Other long-term subsidies in water, science and technology are worth trillions. (more…)