December 2008

Monthly Archive

Ecotopia #13 The Promise of Technology

Posted by on 29 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

This program focuses on technology in an ecotopian world, and our guest is Bill Halal, author of a new book called TECHNOLOGY’S PROMISE, published by Palgrave Macmillan. We talk with Bill about the role technology can play in a transition to a sustainable world, or, as he phrases it, “converting the energy and environmental mess into an opportunity.” He also has some interesting ideas on how technology may lead to a nonhierarchical restructuring of business, government, and other institutions.

Listen to Ecotopia #13 Online Now!

In the News:


  • ·        From Marketwire comes an announcement of “Last Gadget Standing,” a new products competition that will take place next week, where else but in Las Vegas? The sponsors explain that they’ll take the

“top ten coolest gadgets for 2009, pit them head to head, and have the audience online and at a live event vote on their favorites….”

This year’s contestants include a new netbook, a modular build-your-own gadget kit, a personal stress reliever, new camera phones, and a a high definition video camera.”  Previous winners of the competition include: ONStar, the General Motors satellite tracking system; the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner;   Celestron SkyScout, which uses GPS technology to help identify any visible object in the sky; and Eye-Fi, a device that transmits digital photos directly to a personal computer wirelessly. 

As we discuss throughout the show, the question remains whether these kinds of gadgets are a healthy use of resources and ingenuity. Do you really need a robot vacuum cleaner?  But if you want to follow this year’s competition and even vote on the coolest gadgets for 2009 go to


  • ·        A contest with more fruitful, perhaps less self indulgent technological devices is the California Clean Tech Open, an annual technology contest that aims to:

“serve as an innovation catalyst, providing the infrastructure and processes to develop and motivate entrepreneurs and early stage companies creating clean, environmentally sustainable technologies”

The winnters in their 2008 contest included:
* In the air, water and waste category: Over the Moon Diapers, a San Francisco enterprise that says its didies offer “substantial energy savings to both diaper services and consumers, and (are) made almost entirely of recycled and recyclable fabrics.”  
* In the energy efficiency category: Viridis Earth, which has developed a $350 device that the firm says can improve the efficiency of residential air conditioners by at least 20 percent.
* In green building: BottleStone, a Los Altos Hills business whose ceramic stone surface material is 80 percent recycled waste glass.
* In the renewables category, Focal Point Energy of Mountain View captures the power of the sun using thin flexible reflective membranes to produce hot water and steam for industrial use.
* In smart power: Power Assure of Santa Clara makes on-demand energy efficiency management software for data centers.
* In transportation: ElectraDrive of San Francisco, which specializes in converting conventional cars and light trucks to electric vehicles in a swift and inexpensive adaptation process.

Each winner received a prize package worth $100,000: $50,000 in cash and another $50,000 in business services, including office space for a year in a San Jose entrepreneureal complex, plus legal, recruiting, accounting, public relations, insurance and marketing help tailored for an early-stage company.”


  • ·        A group that tracks new technology in service of the environment calls itself the EcoGeeks.  Their mission:  

 “Science, technology gadgets and…baby seals. We’re in a bit of an eco-mess, but we’ve got the brains to lick any problem. And that’s why publishes up to ten stories daily about innovations that are saving the planet.”

In the current issue, Megan Tracy writes of an invention that is aimed at urban wind power.  She writes:

           “Wind  power has so far been relegated to areas offshore and rural, but a Cleveland State University professor wants urban centers to be able to join in on the fun too. Dr. Majid Rashidi has designed a helical wind tower that can harness wind from atop city buildings.


  • ·        Eco-Geek doesn’t mind poking fun a more frivolous inventions, too:  Yoni Levinson writes about a pair of sun glasses that come complete with solar panels, teeny tiny ones.

“Thanks to thin films and – in this case – dye-sensitized cells, designers can put solar panels pretty much anywhere. The fact that … the two designers created …self-energy converting sunglasses  probably has less to do with the inherent brilliance of this creation, and more to do with the fact that they were looking at a pair of sunglasses one day and said ‘Hey! What if we put SOLAR CELLS in these?’ It would take a lot of guts to actually wear [these solar powered shades] in public, even if the things do power your iPod. They aren’t exactly Ray Bans. Also, last time I checked solar cells worked best when positioned to face the sunlight. But people don’t like to look into the sunlight, even when wearing sunglasses. Seems like a waste to make solar cells that will end up capturing so much less energy than they could in another application.” .

Inteview with Bill Halal

Bill Halal author of TECHNOLOGY’S PROMISE. Bill is  a professor emeritus of Science and Technology at George Washington University and is founder of TechCAst, an organization that ponders technology and its future applications. 

Our questions for Bill:

               –Being a prophet is a difficult and dangerous business if you’re wrong. The Old Testament suggests that false prophets should be “cast alive into a lake burning with brimstone.”  But your new book, TECHNOLOGY’S PROMISE, boldly makes numerous predictions for the next several decades. Please tell us about your TECHCAST project and how you work to make your predictions accurate.

               –In chapter two of TECHNOLOGY’S PROMISE, you explore a topic that is central to this program, “Transition to a Sustainable World,” and you seem confident that some of the world’s most pressing problems can and will be (fully or partially) solved through the use of technology. 

Let’s discuss:

      …the realities of population explosion and energy consumption, growing demands for declining resources.

      …prospects for alternative energy.  What do you think of “clean coal”?  wind? solar?  biomass?  conservation?  (You seem comfortable with the thought of nuclear energy futures, while many environmentalists remain skeptical–please explain TECHCAST’s take on nuclear. )

       …Do you think Americans (and people worldwide) have enough self discipline to use these technologies rather than, say, just sucking oil out of the ground and the shale until it’s gone?

       …the future for organic farming–can we be organic and economically viable too?

                –In chapter eight, you discuss “Shifting Structures of Society: Business,Government, and Other Institutions in a Knowledge Age.” 

Let’s discuss:

      …the creative destruction of institutions. Can we really anticipate the downfall of hierarchies?

      …the concept of “internal enterprise.”

      …corporation and community, especially with regard to health care.

The book is TECHNOLOGY’S PROMISE and it is published by Palgrave MacMillan.  You can also check out the Techcast site where the consultants are listed and other predictions given Also check out Bill’s website for more information and predictions

Food for Thought:


  •           We’ve been talking tonight about Technology’s Promise. On that topic, our  list of recommended reading includes Erich Fromm’s 1968 book The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanized Technology. Fromm recognized that technology, per se, is not the enemy, that people can choose actively to use technology to further human and humane ends.  Fromm wrote:

“A specter is stalking on our midst whom only a few see with clarity. It is not the old ghost of communism or fascism. It is a new specter; a completely mechanized society, devoted to maximal material output and consumption, directed by computers; and in this social process, man himself is being transformed into a part of the total machine, well fed and entertained, yet passive, unalive, and with little feeling.”

But the process of creating this dehumanized “megamachine” is reversible, says Fromm, and the solution is to factor human beings back into the technological system.

  •             An excellent educational organization that shares Fromm’s philosophy (and that of others like Jacques Ellul, Aldous Huxley, and Lewis Mumford) is the International Association for Science, Technology, and Society.  Going up against some of the more conventional science teaching organizations, ISTS advocates a broad interdisciplinary curriculum where the social and economic consequences of scientific and technological research are balanced with pure science and gadgetry for its own sake.  ISTS includes in its mission:

To re-integrate western culture to include technology and society
To create a technologically literate citizenry
To help human societal values direct an evolving technology
To provide a radically new approach to education concerned with science and technology at all levels

For example, an article on their website does not swoon over flat screen TVs, but suggests that these giants are coming to dominate living space and conversation space—technology that can further damage quality of life in a TV-obsessed society. They include practical plans for a “TV stand lift,” ,which your flat screen TV behind a piece of furniture,


  •             Finally, we want to quote the work of the Longview Institute, “a virtual think tank” on what they call the “moral economy”  The mission:

“The mission of the Longview Institute is to articulate and promote a vision of our nation based on a moral economy and a just society. Our belief in individual liberty, accompanied by collective responsibility, is deeply rooted in the highest ideals of the American progressive tradition. Working with others, we seek to influence Americans to think about old problems in new ways and to change the terms of debate. Our ultimate goal is to rethink and promote public policy that will lead to an America admired for its moral economy, its personal freedom, and its social and economic justice.”

Play List:


The James Bond Theme    3:51    The Ventures                           

Inspector Gadget (Theme)             1:25    Cathodic Orchestra

Land of the Future               5:14    Josh Lasden & Synoptic                         

Knight Rider                         2:38                                     

Auld Lang Syne                   2:36    Straight No Chaser 

Holiday Spirits    5:06    The Herbaliser    

U Don’t Dance 2 Tekno Anymore 3:38    Alabama 3    

Weave Me the Sunshine   4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary         

Ecotopia #12 Winter Solstice

Posted by on 22 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

This edition brings you a different sort of program on Ecotopia. We celebrate the Winter Solstice, which occurred on Sunday, the 21st.   We read poetry, nonfiction, and prose poetry on the Winter Solstice in four parts. Part I pays tribute to the value that the Solstice brings into our lives, in our opportunity to appreciate and be at one with the gods of the dark.  Part II looks at the “Science and Culture” of the Winter Solstice and the way it has been observed in history and in different cultures.  Part III, “In the Garden,” we focus on how we can interact with the natural world, observing and participating in nature in our gardens and neighborhoods. The final Part, “Nature’s Future in Our Hands” looks at how we humans might disrupt and denigrate our world through bad decisions.

Listen to Ecotopia #12 Online Now!

Part I: The Solstice in Our Lives

We begin our celebration of the Winter Solstice by reading a piece by Judith Rich: A Paean to the Pregnant Darkness.

Part II: Science and Culture

·  Material on the nature of the solstice and some of its global traditions, prehistoric to modern, with reading from www.Candlegrove.Com.

·   “Just Delicate Needles” by Rolf Jacobsen and Translated by Robert Hedin

·   “The Unconquered Sun,” by Janet Shotwell, in the Karma Dzong Banner.

·   “Toward the Winter Solstice”  by Timothy Steele

Part III: In the Garden

·   Northern California Gardening  by Katherine Grace Endicott (Chronicle Books).

·   Snow in the Suburbs  by Thomas Hardy,

·   Early Frost by Scott Cairns

·   Good-bye, and Keep Cold by Robert Frost

Part IV: Nature is in Our Hands

·         Carl Sagan, “The Nuclear Winter”

·         The Union of Concerned Scientists “Doomsday Clock”

·         Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, on CNN

·         Lines for Winter  by Mark Strand

Play List

  • Winter Solstice Night          4:09    Dolmen          Winter Solstice         Rock              
  • Winter Solstice         8:16    Phil Thornton                       Solstice          New Age
  • Winter Solstice Theme (Classical Guitar)           26:09  Michael Silvestri       Winter Solstice            New Age                               
  • Winter (Concerto # 4 In F Minor, Rv 297): Allegro Non Molto/Largo/Allegro 8:13    Vivaldi Orchestra            Vivaldi: The Four Seasons            Classical
  • Winter Solstice  3:47           Michele Mclaughlin Christmas – Plain & Simple           New Age
  • In The Winter’s Pale            3:38    Tim Story       Winter’s Solstice VI  New Age


Ecotopia #11 The Tyranny of Oil

Posted by on 14 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

In this program we are talking about OIL. Our opening theme was from the Beverly Hillbillies, where the Clampett family strikes oil: Black Gold, Texas Tea. Or what we call euphemistically in our time: Palin Perfume, Iraqi Squeezings,

Our guest is Antonia Juhasz, author of a new book called The Tyranny of Oil, a detailed investigation of the world’s major oil companies and their influence.

Listen to Ecotopia #11 online NOW!

Global News

·         Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Neil King, Jr. reports that President Obama’s pledge to end the tyranny of oil is no easy task. He interviewed Jimmy Carter, who says of his own energy reform efforts: .”It was like gnawing on a rock.” Mr. Carter [suggests that Mr. Obama must help Americans]  see the virtue in making energy sacrifices, a notoriously tough sell, especially in the face of falling prices. Obama needs to get energy legislation to Congress quickly, during the presidential honeymoon.

·         The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “Oil [is now] cheaper than water” Jonathan Dart writes: “World oil was trading at $US43 … a barrel during last week, ….With 158 litres to a barrel of oil, the raw product has dropped below the price of the cheapest bottled water,…-41cents [per liter] compared to 42 cents a litre at the pumps.

·         Alexis Madrigal of Wired News reports that: “The world’s population will use less oil this year than it did last year, according to a new forecast from highly-regarded International Energy Agency …In a separate report, the World Bank said the global economy [is in]…recession. One sign of the times: here in California … [is that] the state’s tax revenues came in nearly 20 percent below expectations this month. And biofuel companies trying to capitalize on last year’s high oil prices may suffer from a crippling one-two punch: The financial crisis froze money that might have flowed into their coffers, while the precipitous decline of energy prices makes them look relatively less attractive.”

·         Sara Smith in reports that in a meeting in Algeria taking place  December 17:   “OPEC is planning to announce cuts in oil output production by 2 million barrels per day in an effort to stabilize gas prices.…The world oil cartels are hit with a steady drop in oil prices due to the global economic recession. The proposal is aimed at creating a balance in oil supply and demand in the market”

·         Hybrid Cars News reports that hybrid sales are falling and Americans are returning to the pump: “The only certainty during these times is uncertainty. With the fate of the American auto industry up in the air, the length of the economic recession unknown, and the direction of oil markets in disarray, American consumers can only respond to the real price of gasoline at the corner gas station at this exact moment. The response apparently is to fill ‘er up while the price is low.

Interview with Antonia Juhasz

Antonia Juhasz is a policy-analyst, author and activist living in San Francisco.  She is a Fellow at Oil Change International and Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. She is author of The Bu$h Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time and her new book is The Tyranny of Oil: the World’s Most Powerful Industry and What we Must do to Stop It.

Our questions for Antonia:

  • Your book is called The Tyranny of Oil.  Who are the tyrants and who the victims of tyranny?
    • in the western world”?
    • in “third world” countries? (e.g., Chevron in Nigeria, Ecuador).
    • elsewhere, e.g., the field of agriculture, the fishing industry of Alaska?
  • How has Big Oil gained such power?
  • What has been the role of the Bush administration in the current oil tyranny? Did Bush/Cheney really have a say in the matter?
  • In your book, you note that the U.S. has been trying to rein in the oil industry since the late 19th century, the era of Standard Oil and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Please review this history and how it lead to what you call the “Seven Sisters” of big oil today?
  • You also discuss the need to explore energy alternatives. Given our “addiction” to oil, is there really much hope that the alternatives will explored in useful ways?
    • the myth of “clean” coal (Al Gore)
    • “lotsa” nuclear plants (McCain) or nuclear power as part of a “balanced energy picture” (Obama)
    • serious implementation of solar and wind power? (We previously interviewed proponents and opponents of the [defeated] California Prop 7 which would have mandated 50% renewables by 2025.)
  • Where did the recent drop in gas prices come from? What will be the effects on oil and gas consumption? Does this decrease or increase the tyranny?
  • What action should congress be taking in terms of:
    • Offshore drilling?
    • Other untapped domestic reserves?
    • Windfall profits?
    • Automobile manufacturer bailouts?

Will Congress act, given their indebtedness to the oil industry?

  • A question we always raise on Ecotopia: What can one person do?  We know we should drive less, use fewer plastics, etc., but are there other actions we could/should be taking to end the tyranny of oil?
  • Where is your research taking you now? What’s your next project?
  • We know that your book has been the subject of controversy, and some critics have spoken of you and your work in less than kindly ways. What (or who) inspires you to wade in and keep up the fight? Who are your role models?


Recommended by Daily Fuel Economy Tips. com:

·         Drive less; walk and bike more.

·         Don’t sit with the engine on idle.

·         Slowdown.

·         Accelerate and decelerate slowly.

·         Inflate the tires to their recommended limits.

·         Turn off the air conditioner.

·         Clean the air filter.

Earth Policy Institute has a new report on alternative energy sources not only to reduce the tyranny of oil, but to create new investments and new jobs as a way to “create jobs and help prevent climate change from spiraling out of control.”  The discussion includes:

·         Wind farms

·         Geothermal

·         Solar voltaic

·         Solar thermal power

·         Hybrid cars

·         Urban transit

·         Retrofitting buildings

TriplePundit, has an interesting series of well-researched short essays on the topic, “Can Oil Companies Go Green?”

  • Challenging Chevron’s well-financed “willyoujoinus” campaign.
  • Recommending Jared Diamong’s book Collapse, with its thesis that environmental degradation has been an active choice of societies.
  • Reporting some positive efforts by oil companies, particularly British Petroleum to go beyond mere advertising campaigns.
  • Discussing Boone Pickens’ promotion of alternative energy.

Oil Change International, where Antonia Juhasz is a staff member.  They include updates on climate control issues and some recommended actions that individuals can take, plus an activist toolkit.


#1 Beverly Hillbillies Theme Song (Ballad of Jed Clampett)            2:30    Roger Bass Man Kurt          So – Low!                              

#2, Giant (from the Warner Bros. film, Giant)     3:15    Warner Bros. Orchestra       

Movie Music: The Definitive Performances                               

#3,Only So Much Oil In The Ground        3:50    Tower of Power           

Urban Renewal                               

#4, North Sea Oil                             3:12    Jethro Tull    


#5, Weave Me the Sunshine         4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary           

The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary   

#6, Traffic Jam                                  2:13    James Taylor           

James Taylor Live   

#7. Drive My Car                              2:30    The Beatles  

Rubber Soul










Ecotopia #10 Celebrating the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Posted by on 09 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

This program aired on the eve of December 10, the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The initiative was begun in the Franklin Roosevelt administration and was championed through the U.N. by Eleanor Roosevelt. The Declaration guarantees all human beings the freedoms of speech and opinion, and freedom from fear and want.

Listen to Ecotopia 10 online NOW!

Though the original declaration does not refer specifically to the environment, a 2002 UN conference on human rights and the environment discovered:

“…a growing inter-connectedness between the fields of human rights and environmental protection. The overall context for these developments is the concept of sustainable development, which requires that different societal objectives be treated in an integrated manner.”

Ecotopia is concerned with social, economic, and technological issues as well as environmental.  So in this program we are looking for connections, both negative (degradation of the environment and human rights) and positive (correlations between improved environmental and human conditions). 

To help us explore those relationships, we will be talking Mallika Dutt, Founder and Executive Director of Breakthrough, an innovative human rights organization that uses popular media and ulture in the U.S. and India  to transform attitudes about  HIV/AIDs, immigration, and other issues.

Global News on Human Rights and the Environment

Chevron Oil Company has been acquitted in a San Francisco court of human rights abuses in Nigeria.  But there are multiple perspectives on this story. Chevron claimed that protesters boarded a Chevron oil platform, that they were armed and violent, taking workers hostage. The oil company says they had no choice but to call in the Nigerian military for help, and two protestors were killed.

However, the Nigerians claim that they a peaceful protest at one of Chevron’s offshore oil platforms, demanding a meeting between company representatives and village elders to negotiate for the job training and education programs they had been promised in exchange for the severe environmental harms they had been forced to endure. They were unarmed, and after receiving word that Chevron would attend a meeting in a nearby village the following day, they prepared to leave the platform peacefully. Before they could do so, three company helicopters carrying Nigerian military personnel swooped down on the platform and opened fire, killing two people and injuring several others,

Although in this case, Chevron has been acquitted, the L.A. times talked with Naomi Roht-Arriaza, a professor at UC Hastings’ College of the Law who observed part of the trial. She says that the verdict appears to have turned on the irreconcialable facts in the case, not on whehter a US corporation can be called to account in a US court for actions in other countries.  She believes that despite the outcome, the trial was a success for the human rights community because the lawyers succeeded in bringing the case to trial.,0,3174607.story

Nature Conservancy.  A more positive example of human rights and the environment comes from a recent report issued by the Nature Conservancy. The report describes four programs where Marine Protected Areas have been developed in Fiji, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, and the Phillippines. Conservancy researchers interviewed 1100 local people about changes in quality of life since the creation of Marine Protected Areas. The researchers found reports of:

  • Improved fish catches.
  • New jobs, mostly in tourism.
  • Stronger local governance.
  • Benefits to health.
  • Benefits to women. I

Interview with Mallika Dutt

Mallika Dutt is the Founder and Executive Director of Breakthrough (, an innovative, high impact international human rights organization using education, media and popular culture to transform attitudes and advance equality, justice, and dignity. Breakthrough works in India and the United States, the world’s two largest democracies, on several issues including women’s rights, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, racial justice and immigrant rights.

Breakthrough’s recent work includes the cutting edge use of gaming and Web 2.0.  The ICED – I Can End Deportation video game ( educated millions about the lack of due process in U.S. immigration policy.  In India, Breakthrough’s 2007 multimedia campaign, Is This Justice?, educated over 35 million about discrimination faced by women living with HIV/AIDS. 

Prior to founding Breakthrough, Mallika was the Program Officer for the Human Rights & Social Justice Program at the Ford Foundation’s New Delhi office. Mallika has also served as the Associate Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University and as the Director of the Norman Foundation. She began her professional career as an Associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in NYC.

Mallika is a founder of Sakhi for South Asian Women and has served on several boards and committees, including the Human Rights Watch Women’s Rights Project and Asia Watch, The Sister Fund, Asian American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and the US NGO Coordinating Committee for the UN World Conference Against Racism. She is currently on the Board of WITNESS.

Our Questions for Mallika Dutt:

  • Please tell us a little more about Breakthrough and your programs.
  • Your organizational mission makes specific reference to the UN Declaration of Human rights. On this 60th anniversary, what do you see as the achievements of the Declaration? 
  •  What problems remain for the Declaration? Should it be updated? Made more rigorous in terms of participation and enforcement?
  •  Breakthrough focuses on women’s rights, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, racial justice and immigrant rights.  What do you see as the connections between these and environmental concerns?
  • Who inspires you as an activist? Who are your role models?
  • What suggestions do you have for citizens who see the Declaration of Human Rights and projects like Breakthrough as important and who want to see them advance. How can folks become involved and affect change globally?

Resources for Human Rights Actions

–Amnesty International has called for participation in specific human rights campaigns:

·         The U.N. Millennium Development Goals were adopted in 2000 by 189 different countries, setting targets for alleviating poverty and disease and improving quality of life through sustainable development.  But more than halfway to the endpoint of the goals, the world is in danger of falling far short. Amnesty asks you to call on world leaders to make realization of those goals a priority.

·         Amnesty International also wants you to urge President-Elect Obama ran on a pledge “to partner with the people of the Gulf Coast to rebuild now, stronger than ever”. Now is the time for change in the Gulf Coast. Ask the new Obama administration to follow through on the commitment to rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

·         Improve healthcare for Native American and Alaska Native women  The Indian Health Service (IHS) is the principle and in some areas, sole provider of health services for Native American and Alaska Native people. Despite its prevalence, IHS continues to lack consistent protocols and resources for treating sexual assault survivors. You can Join the AIUSA Stop Violence Against Women campaign and help break down the barriers for Indigenous women overcoming cri.

–In Chico, the new chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is providing multiple ways of getting involved in human rights and civil rights issues, including committees on immigrant rights, young people, police actions, and GLTB rights.

Another excellent source of information is the Mainstream Media project, and we want to thank Halimah Collingwood of Mainstream Media for the followin notess and resources.

60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

About the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

         The Declaration was drafted by Eleanor Roosevelt and others after World War II and was adopted by the United Nations on December 10th, 1948.

         The Declaration has 30 Articles that spell out human rights, including Article 3 which states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

         The Declaration states that people have a right to be free from slavery, servitude and torture.

         Article 7 states that all people are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination to equal protection of the law.

         The Declaration details specific protections for labor rights, including the right to just and favorable working conditions, the right to form and join trade unions and the right to equal work for equal pay.

         The Declaration includes freedom of religion and freedom of political affiliation and the right of all people to freely participate in their government.

Human Rights in the U.S.:

         Many human rights defenders recommend that the U.S. re-establish the Interagency Working Group on Human Rights. The group, which was established by President Bill Clinton and essentially dismantled by the Bush Administration, was responsible for coordination among federal agencies on human rights issues. The Group would be responsible for responding to human rights complaints by international organizations, reviewing legislation for conformity to human rights obligations and performing an annual review of human rights allegations against federal agencies.

         The legacy of the Bush Administration included one of the most blatant violations and abuses of human rights at home: the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. The next president must work to uphold domestic human rights and can do so by addressing these issues in his Inaugural Speech, first State of the Union Address or a separate but high profile speech dedicated to domestic human rights issues.

         Other domestic human rights issues include the racial wealth gap, the gender wealth gap, the lack of affordable housing in the U.S., racial discrimination and profiling, unemployment, poverty and health care. Some 46 million Americans are without health insurance.

         Although only 8% of Americans can identify the Universal Declaration of Human rights by name, 82% believe all people have basic rights and recognize that principle as a core part of American identity. 2/3 of Americans believe the government should expand programs that guarantee human rights.

         Our credibility abroad on human rights issues relies on our performance at home. If the U.S. government does not respect and uphold human rights at home, other world leaders who have human rights abuses could point to the U.S. as hypocritical.

U.S. war on terror and international human rights abuses:

         The U.S. has broken international treaties in its pursuit of terrorists in the War on Terror, including condoning torture of prisoners and imprisoning people at Guantanamo Bay without trial indefinitely.

         When the world witnessed the pictures of U.S. military personnel engaged in humiliation and torture of people in Abu Ghraib prison, the U.S. lost credibility in the world as a defender of human rights and was instead viewed as a violator of human rights and international treaties against torture and inhumane treatment.

         Many human rights defenders are calling on President-elect Obama to provide redress for the abuses that have occurred, stop the military commissions and instread prosecute terrorist suspects in federal court, as well as reject preventive detention (detention without trials) as an alternative to prosecuting terrorist suspects.

International Human Rights:

         Although we’ve come a long way in 60 years, there are still serious human rights abuses occurring worldwide. The U.S. can re-enforce its commitment to upholding human rights and working with international groups on human rights issues in other countries by signing onto international human rights treaties and adhering to those treaties in all its actions.


Play List for Ecotopia #10

1. Get Up, Stand Up            3:18    Bob Marley     Legend                                 

2. Find The Cost Of Freedom        2:22    Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young       Four Way Street

3.  Long Walk to Freedom (Halala South Africa) 5:19   Ladysmith Black Mambazo           Long Walk to Freedom      

4. Human Rights                             7:06    H.R.     Human Rights         

5. Weave Me the Sunshine           4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary         The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary   

6. If I Had a Hammer           2:10    Peter, Paul And Mary         The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary    






Ecotopa #9 Sustainable Fashion

Posted by on 02 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Our topic for this program is “Sustainable Fashion.” Unless we are content with monk’s robes or togas, we all use conventional clothing for our families and ourselves. Although fashion standards have become more casual, most people want to be modestly in style.  But we can be more environmentally friendly in how we dress ourselves. In this program we interview Paul Weinstein of Truly Organic Apparel, a company founded “as a way to bring naturally dyed, organic fabric to the Canadian and the US markets.” The parent company,  “Tenfold Organic Textiles,” markets, distributes and sells naturally dyed organic fabric to small to medium sized businesses and crafts people in the US and Canada.”  And we have tips at the end of the program for how to be environmentally conscious when you dress.

Listen to or download Ecotopia #9 online now!


  • Facts and assertions from Stan Cox, an environmentalist from Salinas, Kansas, in CounterPunch online magazine. He writes: “We’ve already stockpiled enough clothes to last us for years. The average annual shopping haul swelled from $1,550 per household in 2002 to $1,760 last year. That spending spree was prompted in part by what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says was a 30 percent drop in real apparel prices over the past decade. With cheap imports allowing a dollar to buy more, the physical bulk of garb purchased by the average household has risen 18 percent in just five years….” Stan has a lot more facts and information on sustainable fashion, and you can read his article at
  • From the Yorkshire Times in the U.K. comes a story asking whether pesticides sprayed on British fields are a “time bomb” for health.  Sarah Freeman writes; “Cotton, for example, may seem harmless, but it is the most polluting crop on earth, using 25 per cent of the world’s pesticides.  For cotton to go from woolly ball to T-shirt it needs to be washed, bleached, dyed and printed – using at least 8,000 chemicals in the process. While many of those chemicals are classified by the World Health Organisation as ‘moderately hazardous’ to ‘acutely hazardous’, the jury is still out on how they, and the pesticides used on the crop to begin with, affect your health in both the short and long term.”  Read her article at
  • And finally, Charlotte Mardon-Heath writes of “Dressing for a Credit Crunch” in the U.K.’s Seven magazine:  “Until recently, organic ethical dressing was more associated with sheep shearers in New South Wales than [high fashion shops]….[But] as the credit crunch bites and a simple purchase becomes more of an investment, organic clothing ticks all the right boxes. While global warming is worsening, ethical fashion arguably quells the mass-production industry and facilitates fair trade with other countries and independent farmers. However, in our fast-paced, self-centred society, it has taken a crisis that affects people on a personal level to realise this on an effectual scale. The time it takes for our economy to recover needs to be long enough to give people an opportunity to re-evaluate how they spend their money so that, hopefully, the more sustainable independents have their foot in the door. As fashion is such a lucrative industry, empowerment of ethical clothing lines will have massive consequences across the world on social and environmental levels. “  Her article is reprinted at:  an excellent site with a number of sustainable fashion resources.


Paul Weinstein is President and General Manager of Truly Organic Apparel. You can find them on the web at


  • The online Green Guide has an article by Janna Leyde that provides a run-down of companies producing—in various ways—green clothing. In the past, green products, like 100% organic cotton, have been very pricey. However, there are some alternatives.
  • We remain healthily skeptical about the Green Wave of products, new or recycled, and no matter how good these products are, there’s still environmental concern about the amount of new clothing material is being unleashed on the world. But has a number of ideas for reusing clothing through thrift shops, garage sales, and clothing swaps.
  • Also check for ideas concerning reuse and recycling, plus ideas on how to make your clothing last longer.   And we end with this idea from Green Living Ideas: “There is still much room for improving sustainability in the clothing industry.  By altering our habits and desires to obtain the newest and latest fashions, we can decrease the sheer volume of new clothing that is produced.  By purchasing fewer and more durable garments that are designed to last for more than one season, we may learn to make our clothing into something that we cherish rather than something we consistently seek to replace at the turn of the season.”


1. Devil With a Blue Dress On         3:35    Mitch Ryder   

2.  Cotton Needs Picking     4:22    Dan Smith      Good Morning Blues                        

3.  Better Together    3:28    Jack Johnson                                    

4   A Summer Wind, A Cotton Dress          3:55    Richard Shindell       

5  Girls In Their Summer Clothes    5:19    Bruce Springsteen                                

6   Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary