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Eco Op-Ed is your environmental forum. While not endorsing all viewpoints expressed here, we embrace the adage that a mind functions best when open; therefore, we welcome a wide range of ecological opinion. To join the discussion, add your comment below any piece.

One Nation Under Drugs: Big Pharma Is Sabotaging Your Health and the Earth's
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 00:00  |  Written by Shane Ellison, M.S. | Commentary

Pill and Dollar photo by carbonnycAs a medicinal chemist, I tried to ignore my suspicion that an insidious and deliberate conspiracy to get each and every American hooked on drugs, while at the same time bankrupting them, existed between Big Pharma and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

I enjoyed my work. Drug design paid well and kept me comfortably isolated in a high-tech lab, fully equipped to help me bend and twist matter at will. The last thing I wanted to think of was a plot designed to sabotage health and wealth—while causing untold ecological damage—using my chemistry skills. But over time, experience confirmed my suspicion as fact and revealed something even scarier. Read on…

LA: When It Rains, It Pours
Sunday, 04 January 2015 00:00  |  Written by Joe Donnelly | Commentary

The Los Angeles River with Its Concrete BanksSeems it never rains in Southern California
Seems I've often heard
that kind of talk before
It never rains in California
But, girl, don't they warn ya
It pours, man, it pours.

- Albert Hammond, “It Never Rains In
Southern California,” 1972

It’s true, it seems it never does rain in Southern California, or at least not in the past four years during which we’ve seen a record-breaking dry spell. It’s been so dry that during one year-long stretch, from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007, it rained only 2.43 inches in Los Angeles. It’s been so bad that Governor Schwarzenegger (and it’s a sign I’ve been here too long that I don’t have to look up how to spell his name) recently declared a state of emergency over the ongoing drought. Read on...

Of the Earth, Not on the Earth: The Human Superorganism
Friday, 02 January 2015 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

Forearm photo by awnisalanLift up your arm. Hold it in front of you. Look at the distance from the elbow to the finger tip. Feel that weight and heft. Now, imagine that this mass of your body actually belonged to someone else.

Literally. You owned all the other real estate, but that stretch of arm was actually not you. Because that’s exactly the truth.

Genetic analysis of our gastrointestinal tracts find it home to more than a hundred thousand billion (that’s a ten with fourteen zeroes) individual microorganisms from more than 36 species.

And this is just the beginning. We now know that more than 90% of the cells in our bodies are nonhuman. Added together, in mass, these cells would stretch from elbow to fingertip. But their real power extends even further. Read on…

How to Stop Buying, Find Eternal Happiness and Save the Earth
Saturday, 01 November 2014 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

Jewelry photo by Orin ZebestWhen presented with a wild idea, at least if it’s a good one, many scientists tend to say about the same thing: ‘I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a good metaphor to think with.’

Punctuated Equilibrium is a good metaphor to think with.

It’s one of the ideas evolutionary biologists use to explain why most sexually reproducing species see very little evolutionary change throughout most of their history, but this stasis is punctuated by periods of intense fluctuation.

The Punctuated Equilibrium theory says that life likes stasis and that when evolution does occur—when stasis is upset and a species splits into two—it happens in localized, rare and rapid events. Read on…

The Five-Year Baby Ban
Monday, 20 October 2014 00:00  |  Written by Steven Kotler | Commentary

1935 Dionne Quintuplets photo by J HayneI’m about to ask you for a favor. It’s a big favor, maybe the biggest favor you’ve ever been asked for. Most likely you’re not going to want to grant it. Perhaps you won’t like me for asking. So before I begin, I’d like to tell you a little about why I’m asking.

A couple of years ago, I was talking to a friend about the $2 billion that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is spending to eradicate diseases plaguing the Third World. This number is not small change. The $800 million the Foundation donates each year for global health equals the total budget of the United Nations World Health Organization, comprised of 193 nations. “But you know the worst part?” my friend asked. “Most of that money is for fighting diseases in children. And unless something changes, we better hope they fail.” Read on…

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Eco Tip

Lower your thermostat temperature in winter and raise it in summer. In winter, set your thermostat to 68 degrees or less during the day (and wear a sweater) and 55 degrees or less at night (and add an extra blanket). Wear less or use a fan instead of air-conditioning on all but the hottest summer days. When you must use air-conditioning, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or more.  More tips...

Eco Quote

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. — Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732  More quotes...