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Re: let's build a unified movement, not fight each other
>However, when environmental organizations start covert operations
> -- breaking into facilities, engaging
>in criminal trespass and taking
>samples of waste --- we, as a movement, risk losing enormous
>public credibility. We would never tolerate our corporate
>opponents breaking into our offices and homes and stealing
>records and private information from environmental groups. Why should
>anyone support such tactics carried out by "environmentalists?"
Perhaps because they see no reason why large corporations should be given
equal rights in law to those of private individuals? Especially when
those corporations are using their corporate powers to avoid disclosure
of information that should legitimately be in the public domain - which,
in my book, includes all the details of the toxic materials that they
>From a personal perspective I would have preferred it for the last
professional looking break in job to just have sampled my recycling bins
rather than taking away my computer AND on site back up discs (which they
seemed to find more interesting than the cheque book, money and credit
cards they left behind).
>I'd suggest again three specific transitions that need to be
>1. The transition from "complainer/victim" to
I think that you may be preaching to the converted on this list!
>2. Numbers make a difference and focus on the quantitative aspects
>of toxic exposure issues is absolutely essential..... Not all toxic
>risks and emissions are the same. It is really important to know
>the differences. The worst problems deserve the most attention
>and priority on an emissions, exposure and population at risk basis
>when setting issue priorities.
I find this less compelling - we haven't really got a clue what will
happen to a lot of the residues that are being produced at the moment
over a long period and the risk assessment won't help - hazard
assessment is more appealing than risk assessment for the long haul.
Accepting the underlying principle of the risk assessment means that we
consider that it is OK to kill some people and then the only issue in
question becomes 'how many?'. We play straight into the polluting
industries technocratic agenda if we spend a lot of time debating numbers
in their risk assessment models.
The logic for the alternatives is easily understood - the debate is then
open to all, as it should be, rather than exclusively in the domain of
those of us with technical backgrounds (and dominated by industry
interests) and is explained in succinct 'Natural Step' terms for dioxin
by Dr Karl Henrik a leading Swedish cancer researcher:
Is dioxin natural? No.
Is dioxin stable? Yes.
Does it degrade into harmless substances? No.
Does it accumulate in bodily tissue? Yes.
Is it possible to predict the acceptable tolerances? No.
Can we continue to place dioxin into the environment? No, not if we
want to survive.
So what about agreeing on some genuine regulatory changes like a zero
discharge agenda and reverse onus for polluters ? (and why is it the
grass roots who are leading the debate on this? why don't our regulator
friends promote these arguments if they are so serious about
An alternative may be to let a corporation have any discharge it wants
as long as the stack emissions pass through the boardroom after the bag
filter/ESP and the directors drinking water intake is downstream of their
>3. Stay away from dogma and indeological approaches..... Understanding
>toxic emissions and exposures is a matter of scientific investigation
But controlling and eliminating them is a social and political question
and an ideology that puts people first is a crucial part of that debate.
_\\|//_ Alan Watson C.Eng
(' O^O ') Oakleigh
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