Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! Photo by antoine.mcgrath
Two speakers at the Los Angeles Green Festival, held on Nov. 17 and 18, reminded showgoers that organizing is essential to the future of the environment.
Amy Goodman, host of independent global news program Democracy Now! and author of four New York Times best sellers, including her latest, The Silenced Majority, brought a call of action to the crowd, urging the audience to mobilize. “This year the work of movements begins,” she said.
Goodman pointed to President Barack Obama’s re-election and the immigration movement, which she described as a “modern-day civil rights movement,” adding that the “Dreamers” pushed Obama to support and get The Dream Act passed.
During Obama’s first election campaign, Goodman recalled, when asked what should be done about conflicts in the Middle East, the president shared a story about A. Phillip Randolph, the organizer of slaves who worked on George Pullman trains, and organized the 1963 March on Washington. Eleanor Roosevelt brought him to meet with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He described the condition of black people in the U.S. and asked the president for help. Roosevelt said, “Make me do it.”
“This is the moment,” Goodman said. “What kind of legacy do all you people want to leave? How do you want your country to be?”
Climate change shows the U.S. needs a functioning government that helps people in crisis, she added, referring to the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy, which is more evidence of increasingly extreme weather patterns brought on by climate change. “The fate of the planet is at stake,” Goodman said.
She pointed to the recent presidential debates, saying that in contrast with presidential candidates Obama and Romney not mentioning climate change, Democracy Now! broadcasted debates with third party candidates such as Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson. NPR, PBS, Pacifica aired them. “We need to expand the debate to decide how to deal with the fate of the planet,” Goodman said.
John Robbins, author of No Happy Cows, nine bestsellers, including Diet for a New America and Food Revolution, recipient of the Rachel Carson Award, and an inspiration to vegetarians and vegans everywhere, brought home the message that humans, animals and the earth are all connected and to help the environment we need to support each other.
“The earth community is a living matrix and we’re trashing it,” he said. “One of the insanities of our culture is that we’re separate,” Robbins added. “When we recognize we are part of each others’ hopes, dreams, and inspirations, we find the power to make a difference.”
Part of healing the environment means reconnecting with animals and the earth, Robbins pointed out that our relationship to the animal world is part of our kinship with the earth community, and that the livestock industry violates the human-animal bond. “We become alienated from a part of ourselves that we need. We become weak,” he added.
Conversely, plant foods make us stronger and healthier, he said. Additionally, greenhouse gases (GHGs) from livestock production are significantly fueling global warming. The WorldWatch Institute estimates that 50% of GHGs stem from meat and dairy production. “One of the strongest things you can do is eat less meat. Go vegetarian. Go vegan,” Robbins urged.
He also addressed the defeat of California’s Proposition 37, saying it failed because supporters were horribly outspent by Monsanto, and the GMO producer “lied through their teeth.”
Monsanto said that if Prop 37 passed, California families’ food bills would increase by $400 per year, a dollar amount that came from a public relations company in Maine they hired, which had no background in economics, created to scare people.
“They evaluated their message by how it will sell their product, not the truth,” Robbins said. “They put out this fire, but there are 30 more started.” He predicted that Washington state will soon pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill.
Additionally, marking the 25th anniversary of his book, “Diet for a New America,” Robbins released a new edition this year.