“The US military is responsible for the most egregious and widespread pollution of the planet, yet this information and accompanying documentation goes almost entirely unreported. In spite of the evidence, the environmental impact of the US military goes largely unaddressed by environmental organizations and was not the focus of any discussions or proposed restrictions at the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This impact includes uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil.
The extensive global operations of the US military (wars, interventions, and secret operations on over one thousand bases around the world and six thousand facilities in the United States) are not counted against US greenhouse gas limits.…
As it stands, the Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest US chemical companies combined. Depleted uranium, petroleum, oil, pesticides, defoliant agents such as Agent Orange, and lead, along with vast amounts of radiation from weaponry produced, tested, and used, are just some of the pollutants with which the US military is contaminating the environment.”
And it makes me think a lot of sustainable designers may be fighting the wrong war.
I missed this when it first hit the web, but wow, that’s a striking presentation.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine published this graphic during the 2007 debate on the US Farm Bill.
Why is New York City’s census count always so low? In addition some concern about a history of census abuse targeting minorities, there’s a whole host of ways people bend the rules to live here. Folks may not want to be counted if you live in off-the-books housing, with off-the-books tenants, or do off-the-books work for a living.
And though immigration is a perennially hot-button issue, I wonder whether this latest flare-up has more to do with mid-term elections or suppressing counts (thus money and power) in non-white districts where Democrats tend to lead.
In my consulting, it’s often useful to reframe questions about design or technology as political matters. A given feature set is rarely limited by technology — just about anything can be built — it’s more a matter of institutional priorities. Outside of this, I’m also finding many apparently technical issues can be better understood when reframed politically. Two via Mike:
The Decline of the Landline: “In many ways the landline network is still an essential utility. Maintaining landline networks provides thousands of jobs (the landline operators support more pensioners than even the car industry does). Landlines are the platform for many public services, such as emergency response. And taxes on landlines are the basis of the complex system of subsidies to ensure universal service, meaning an affordable phone line for all. The phone network is thus not just a technical infrastructure, but a socioeconomic one.”
On Reinventing the Firm “As I argue, drawing on Ronald Coase, a firm is a political response to an economic problem: managerial power and hierarchy is one efficient way of dealing with the uncertainties attached to the employment relationship. But this doesn’t prevent us from considering alternative political settlements, that are potentially more democratic and more productive.”
Hunger is not a lack of food:
Ending Africa’s Hunger: “Conventional wisdom suggests that if people are hungry, there must be a shortage of food, and all we need do is figure out how to grow more. This logic turns hunger into a symptom of a technological deficit, telling a story in which a little agricultural know-how can feed the world.... But there's a problem: the conventional wisdom is wrong. Food output per person is as high as it has ever been, suggesting that hunger isn’t a problem of production so much as one of distribution.“
Interview with Devinder Sharma: “Hunger in India is at a level today that it very shameful. We have this hunger existing at a time when we have a mounting food surplus. We have an unmanageable food surplus, which is a record in history, and we also have a record number of hungry with us today. This paradox forced me to get into this issue of hunger. There are two ways of looking at it. One, of course, is the grassroots effort that one can do to bring people out of hunger. The other, to my understanding, is that hunger is the result of policies, national and international. The basic idea, or the basic focus, today, is to keep one half of the world hungry, because you can only exploit the hungry stomach. You cannot exploit a full stomach, somebody who is very happy and fed.”
Maternal mortality is not just a medical issue:
A Tipping Point on Maternal Mortality?: “During World War I, more American women died in childbirth than American men died in war. Then, after women’s suffrage became a reality, maternal mortality fell sharply. It seems that when women were accepted fully into the political system, then resources were also made available in the health system and they, less marginalized, were able to take advantage of them.”