This series of articles were written by Jackie Giuliano
(Used with permission)

Check out the full archive of past and present "Healing Our World" columns by Jackie Alan Giuliano. Check also his website.

Subject: * healing our world * weekly commentary
From: (Jean Hudon)
(Now Jean's email is
Date: Sat, 24 May 1997

Dear Jackie

Again I was enthralled reading your recent post, especially more so because I did something similar to what you describe, when I was in Malibu in 1989 organizing the first Earth Concert with a friend and collaborator who had a house there at the top of one of the canyons, and a number of other people. I could relive those moments of attunement with nature and remember the air rich with the fragrance of all those marvelous plants. Those simple experiences are what we need often to remind us of our roots in Nature, just as what I was doing this afternoon here, planting the seeds of yet another garden in the middle of the vast forest of the Saguenay Park in the north-east of Quebec, surrounded by pine, spruce and birch trees.

And again I would like to kindly ask your permission to post your wonderful text in the Earth Concert 2000 web site at as a sequel to your first text. If you do this as a weekly commentary, I can't wait to read the other ones!...

So keep up your Good Work!

Jean Hudon

Date: Mon, 26 May 1997
To: (jean hudon)
From: (jackie a. giuliano)


Thanks so much for your note. Yes, you may post my article. You may do so each week, if you like. I appreciate the information you sent as well. Good luck with your event.

Jackie Giuliano

Date: Mon, 19 May 1997

* Healing Our World *
Weekly Commentary

By Jackie Giuliano


Water flows from high in the mountains,
Water runs deep in the Earth.
Miraculously, water comes to us,
and sustains all life.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

Last week, I took students from my Environment and Human Health class to the Hyperion Waste Water Treatment Plant in Los Angeles. I do this frequently and, each time, it is a powerful experience, both for the senses (particularly the nose!) and the psyche. This one waste water plant, which receives what we flush down the drains from our homes and businesses, processes over 450 million gallons of waste water EVERY DAY. And this is but one of three plants that service the Los Angeles area.

No treatment, by the way, is done on water entering all the curbside sewers - the storm drains - and another 25 million gallons of water per day goes down those drains. That water, containing the runoff of a city of 7 million people, can contain tens of thousands of pounds of lead, zinc, cadmium, and other heavy metals and toxins. It flows directly to the ocean, creating toxic zones where sea life, swimmers, lifeguards, and surfers are poisoned each day. During a heavy rain in 1989, 8 inches of rain washed 150,000 pounds of lead, 500,000 pounds of zinc, and 11,000 pounds of cadmium into the Santa Monica Bay. All this from the air pollution that settles on plants and on the ground, animal waste, pesticides from watering our lawns, and illegal dumping of wastes by businesses. Many tons of other kinds of human waste go into the storm drains as well. Refrigerators, car parts, and solid waste of all kinds wind up in the ocean.

Nowhere is the evidence of our isolation from the full magnitude of our resource use and our disconnection from the natural world so evident than with how we use water in our homes. On a typical day, a resident of Los Angeles will dump 100 gallons of wastewater down the drain. This includes wastewater from bathroom and kitchen drains as well as the toilet. The daily flow is over 1 billion gallons that travels through 6,500 miles of buried sewer pipes.

One flush of a standard toilet in the U.S. uses more water than most of the world's people use individually in a day. At least 25 million people die each year in the lesser developed countries from contaminated water and three-fifths of them are children. Worldwide, every hour 1,000 children die from water born-diseases.

Yet in the more developed nations, we use water without regard for its preciousness. And our dietary choices result in a tremendous impact on our world. Providing a single fast food order of a hamburger, fries, and a soda requires over 1,500 gallons of water to prepare and serve. Most of that water is used to raise, process, and cook the beef. To raise, process and cook a 20-pound turkey requires about 16,300 gallons of water! Making a ton of steel can take as much as 500,000 gallons of water.

Hyperion's job is monumental. Although Los Angeles is a desert, receiving less than 12-inches of rainfall per year, there are virtually no water conservation efforts. Water is still very inexpensive, and is taken from Northern California and transported from the Sierra Nevada mountains to L.A. along hundreds of miles of aqueducts.

Here is the troublesome key to the issue - rather than affect a change in our habits, our lifestyles, and our values, cities often choose to use technology and rationalization to treat our dilemmas - and our sewage.

At Hyperion, the incoming waste (which is 99% water) is first strained of the "big chunks" like condoms, cotton swabs, tampons, and everything else we flush down our drains. Reading about this stuff is one thing, but as students lean over the rails and experience the sensory overload of watching and smelling our society's detritus scraped up and over straining screens to waiting dumpsters, one cannot help feel the responsibility and the disconnection.

From there, the waste water enters more filtering screens to get out more of the solids. Conveyor belts go whizzing by with the human "compost" and we see undigested capsules (vitamins and medicines taken too soon before a visit to the bathroom) and thousands of seeds. That's right, seeds. Our guide points out the tomato seeds. You see, humans cannot digest most seeds from the fruits and vegetables we eat. Outside that building, along the cracks in sidewalk, amidst the roar of earth-moving machinery and rumble of trucks, tomato plants grow and birds feast on their bounty in a surrealistic testimony to the resiliency of life.

But those solids contain much more than just seeds and the occasional vitamin capsule. They also contain heavy metals and other toxic waste that thousands of businesses in Southern California legally and illegally dump down their drains every day. You can even tell the time of year by measuring the amount of some toxins. Thousands of jewelry stores dump cyanide from jewelry cleaners down the drain every day. Around the gift-buying holidays, the amount of cyanide increases as people buy more jewelry.

It is "too expensive" to do anything about the toxins, so they are left in the solids, rationalized away as being in concentrations that are below "federal standards" and shipped to processing plants. Some is buried, but most of it is used for fertilizer. It is not supposed to be used on food crops, yet the City of Los Angeles Department of Sanitation is very proud of their "Top Grow" brand of garden compost that they sell through local chain stores.

The wastewater continues on its journey through Hyperion, resting for a while in large covered tanks where bacteria eat away at as much of the remaining solids and organic matter as they can. The resulting water is allowed to rest for a while, given time for the gorged bacteria to settle out along with as much of the remaining solids time allows, and then flushed through an underground pipe 5 miles out into the ocean at a depth of 3,000 feet. The wastewater spends about eight hours at Hyperion before being dumped at sea.

So let's get this straight. Hyperion alone sends nearly 500 million gallons of wastewater every day into the ocean. The total is over 1 billion gallons per day when you add the waste from the other two plants into the picture. This water is not drinkable. It could be made drinkable, but no one wants to spend that kind of money. It can still make you very sick. This has been going on since the 1860's. And it is better today.

Until 1987, the solid sludge was also dumped into the ocean. It was totally untreated until 1950. From 1949 through 1970, 1,000 pounds of DDT per day was dumped into the sewers. The huge solid waste "doughnut" that rests on the ocean floor off Santa Monica Bay, covers two square miles. Ocean currents continually bring this material up, poisoning sea life and bathers.

So what now? As I said earlier, we keep relying on technology to get us out of our messes. But that doesn't work, does it? Well sometimes it can. Billions of dollars are being spent "upgrading" Hyperion to handle the increase in capacity in the coming years. Yet there is a company in Texas that produces a toilet that does not need to be hooked up to any city sewer system! After a series of uses, you push a button, and the waste is incinerated at 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. The ash is completely germ-free and the resulting teaspoon of ash can be thrown in the trash. It uses no water, drains nothing out, and the emissions to the air are clean. They cost under $2000. What if all the money being spent on Hyperion were used to buy these toilets for everyone. We could reduce our toilet waste water use to ZERO. Why doesn't this happen?

What can we do? Here are some ideas.

1. Don't be afraid of the information. Read it, go to a wastewater plant in your town and tour it. Smell it. Take responsibility for it.

2. Resist the notion that we have been saddled with since birth that our government is there to take care of us. This is a great fallacy. We must make our own choices. We must decide how we want to live.

3. Get upset with pollution. Every time you hear of a beach closure or a person getting sick from going into the water, don't just say "oh, that's too bad." Take it personally. Realize that it could have been you. Look around you at home and take another step to reduce your water use.

4. Find out how the places you patronize conduct their business. Ask your jeweler how they dispose of their waste. If their response is not satisfactory, tell them you cannot support them and take your business elsewhere.

5. Notice how your community is built. Find out where the storm drains are. If you live in a coastal city, find out where the drains enter the ocean. Keep yourself and your family away from them. If you see some dumping that looks suspicious, call the police.

6. Talk about this at parties! That's right. Decide what you want your values to be and live them all the time. Leading a double life not only keeps the problems going, but damages our psyches in ways we cannot know. Work through the fear of becoming the bearer of bad news. Take time to be depressed, but then turn your knowledge into empowerment.

7. Reduce your own water use around the house. Fix leaky faucets. Don't flush every time you urinate. That's right! Let it accumulate for a few uses. It's not going to hurt anyone and it doesn't even smell. Get a low flush toilet. Most water utilities will give them to you for free or pay for most of the cost. Maybe you can even consider getting an incinerating toilet.

8. If you are healthy and have not heavily exerted yourself, you do not have to shower every day! Doing so is actually not healthy. We are constantly washing away vital skin oils. Unless you sweat a lot each day, every other day is fine.

9. Have a body odor problem? Examine your diet and lifestyle. Body odor comes from out of-balance metabolic processes. Don't buy a deodorant that closes your pores. Look for the cause. You see, it is all connected!

We have so many options, so many ways out. There are solutions to every issue. The answer lies safe and secure within each of our hearts. Unfortunately, it is surrounded with myths and fears and expectations. Take a chance, expand the boundaries of your world. Dare to learn what is going on around your community, dare to take responsibility for it, and dare to do something about it.

As I said in last week's article, Czechoslovakian activist and leader Vaclav Havel said that the true nature of revolt is to "attempt to live within the truth." He said we must step out of living within the lie, reject the ritual and break the rules of the game. Through this, he says, we can discover suppressed identity and dignity. What a feeling of satisfaction you are in for when you begin to live within the truth.

Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully
to preserve our precious planet.

-- Thich Nhat Hahn


1. The numbers about our water crisis as well as other environmental facts can be found in Biosphere 2000: Protecting our Global Environment, by Donald Kaufman and Cecilia Franz. It is published by Kendall/Hunt in Dubuque, Iowa.

2. To learn more about the Incinolet Electric Toilet, visit

3. Visit the World Wide Water page to learn more about water resources at

4. Visit the Water Quality Web Site at

5. For more details about wastewater, check out

6. For more water conservation information, visit!waterde.c19/12_95_6.HTM

7. Although we are all trying to reduce our consumption, if you have to consume, consider products that support sustainable living. Check out the Real Goods catalog at

8. For more on the works of Thich Nhat Hahn, visit nh%2C+Thich&id=

{Jackie Giuliano can be found flushing as little as possible in Venice, California. He is a Professor of Environmental Studies for Antioch University, Los Angeles, the University of Phoenix, and the Union Institute College of Undergraduate Studies. He is also the Educational Outreach Manager for the Ice and Fire Preprojects, a NASA program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to send space probes to Jupiter's moon Europa, the planet Pluto, and the Sun. Please send your thoughts and comments to him at GIULIANO@INTERRAMP.COM.}

The EnviroNews Service

| E-Mail:
A Project of the EnviroLink Network | Phone : (412) 683-6400
General Info: | Fax : (412) 683-8460

To un/subscribe, send an e-mail message to: with the word: HELP as the body of the message, and then follow the directions.

EnviroLink is a member supported non-profit organization, for membership information, visit: or call (800) 328-7211

* Healing Our World *
Weekly Commentary

Posted to the web: Sat May 24

By Jackie Giuliano


Why climb a mountain?
Look! A mountain there.
I don't climb mountain.
Mountain climbs me.
Mountain is myself.
I climb on myself.
There is no mountain
nor myself.
Something moves up and down in the air.
-- Nano Sakaki

We worry so much about our "jobs." Our jobs define us. They are what we do "for a living." But are they really what we should be doing to "live?" How many of us can say we are, as Joseph Campbell said, "following our bliss?"

Being so out of touch with the natural world, where our real identity should be, we are lost in between. When we are not working, we often feel empty, without value. Unless we are constantly doing something, we feel like we are "wasting time."

I was reminded of all this last night when I took my class on a hike in the hills of Malibu under the light of the full Moon. This is a class that is studying the Moon and its impact on our culture, art, literature, and science. They are considering the question "what if the Earth had no Moon?"

Nearly everyone put up such barriers to doing this field trip that I considered canceling it a number of times. The excuses were everywhere - "I work that night" or "I have a wedding s shower to go to" or "I am so busy with my other classes." Right up until a few hours before the hike, while getting confirmations from people on the phone, people tried to make me feel guilty that I was requiring all this work. One student told me of the "expensive" shift she had to give up at work. Another told me she was looking forward to it, but asked me if it was really "required." Bear in mind that it was not a far-away nature expedition I was planning - the location for the hike was 20 minutes out of town and you get to park at the bottom of the trail!

These are all good people, mind you, but they are all caught up in this frenzy in which we live, this frenzy that makes us feel that taking time to connect with nature is a waste and is taking away from our important commitments. I keep coming back to our misplaced connection with the natural world as a root cause of this - our "original trauma" as Chellis Glendinning puts it.

Look at the way we consume our planet's resources. The U.S., with 4.8 percent of the world's population, produces 21% of all goods and services, uses 33% of the world's processed energy and mineral resources, and produces at least 33% of the world's pollution. The average U.S. citizen, when compared to the average citizen of India, uses:

* 50 times more steel
* 56 times more energy
* 170 times more synthetic rubber and newsprint
* 250 times more motor fuel
* 300 times more plastic.

I thought about all of this as I led the group up a fire road overlooking the ocean. The Sun had set and we walked up the trail in twilight. People initially chatted among each other, but slowly, they started to get quiet. Their quiet was probably more out of concern that their instructor was taking them up a brush covered slope in the dark, but eventually, you could sense the calming that took place.

Soon, all you could hear was your own breathing and the crunch of the brush underfoot. I was acutely aware of my senses. My eyes, adjusting to the twilight, were noticing the shadowy images of the plants all around. The ocean breezes mixed with the fragrant smells of the native plants all around us. Sage, rosemary, chemise, chaparral, all combined to make a perfume that touched a deep note of re-membering. This was what it means to live. This is what we should be doing for a living - being a part of the natural world.

Rising into a smog filled sky.
How bright you are
Illuminating the shadows of my shadows.
I run into the darkness
So that I cannot see - to be hidden.
Yet under your light
I still see
soft shadows
delicate flowers.
My skin - smooth and creamy
under your protective glow.
I walk down the trail
Branches crunching under my feet.
I shouldn't be here
so much to do
no time.
But I belong here.
I hear the flowers calling
my true name
my destiny.

As we turned left at the top of the ridge, we saw the full Moon rising above the ocean! It was a sobering and remarkable sight. We continued until we could go no more. We reached the edge of the bluff and just stood and looked at the Moon. The ocean to our right, shadowy plant forms all around, the presence of each other - it was simple and powerful.

We talked about the Moon. I asked questions. But mostly, we just stood and experienced the moment.

We began our walk back. It was 9:15 pm, but you could easily see your way in the bright moonlight. No flashlights, no technology, just the memory of the path on the way up and the trust that we could make it back. Single file we walked, quiet, reflective.

At the bottom of the trail where the fire road picks up, we encountered the first house. A spotlight was glaring from the top of the house, pointing at the back yard and at us. It was a powerful assault on our "nature-tuned" senses. It seemed overly bright, obtrusive, intrusive, unwanted. Most moaned in disapproval.

All were moved by that one and a half hour experience, a chance to stop for a while and notice. There was no complaining, no rush to get to their cars. We all felt the desire to remain peaceful, away from technology. Getting into the car was difficult. It felt harsh and cold - a sensory overload.

So what can you do. Maybe it's not so hard. Here are some thoughts. 1. Just stop. That's right. Every now and then, just stop what you are doing and look up. Notice what is going on. Notice the lights and the electricity you are using. Notice what you bought this week and reflect on if you really needed it. Notice how much quiet time you spent with a loved one.

2. Don't do anything for 30 minutes each day except just "be". Be a human "being" for a change instead of a human "doing." Just be present with whatever you are feeling. Walk around the block. Feel the air. Resist the urge to do anything but be present in the world. It's hard.

3. Try to notice the Moon each day for a month. This is a simple way to get in touch with the Earth as a planet. Notice that your whole world is not your home or your car or your office - you live in a vibrant, alive universe.

4. Go for it and try to take a full Moon hike! There are easy trails everywhere, even in the biggest cities.

Try to do less this week. It is enough.

Soil for legs
Axe for hands
Flower for eyes
Bird for ears
Mushroom for nose
Smile for mouth
Songs for lungs
Sweat for skin
Wind for mind
Just enough.
-- Nano Sakaki

1. The Utne Reader's March/April 1997 issue's feature article is about slowing down. Check out sample sections at

2. Check out Adbusters for ways to get off the consuming treadmill at

3. Go brain shopping at the EcoMall. Much environmental connections and information. It's at

4. Learn all about the Moon at

5. For downloadable software that allows you to keep track of the Moon with your computer, check out

{Jackie Giuliano can be under the light of the Moon in Venice, California. He is a Professor of Environmental Studies for Antioch University, Los Angeles, the University of Phoenix, and the Union Institute College of Undergraduate Studies. He is also the Educational Outreach Manager for the Ice and Fire Preprojects, a NASA program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to send space probes to Jupiter's moon Europa, the planet Pluto, and the Sun. Please send your thoughts and comments to him at GIULIANO@INTERRAMP.COM}

The Environment News Service is exclusively hosted by the EnviroLink Network. Copyright =A9 1997 ENS, Inc.

* Healing Our World *
Weekly Commentary

Posted to the web: Sun Jun 1


By Jackie Giuliano

Do you matter?
You are only one person, after all.
Only one.
What of the many others.
What of them.

Suppose something hurts you
but doesn't hurt them?
Should the thing be stopped
that hurt you . . .
but not them?

You are only one person.
Do you matter?
Why should something be stopped
If it only hurts you?

But wait!
Of course I matter.
If not me, then who?

They are me.
I am them.
We all matter.

-- Jackie Giuliano

I believe that we are summoned now to awaken from a spell. The spell we must shake off is a case of mistaken identity, a millennia-long amnesia as to who we really are. We have imagined that we are separate and competitive beings, limited to the gasp of our conscious egos, hence essentially fragile, endlessly needy. This delusion has brought us some high adventures, but also much suffering, and it will destroy us and our world if we don't wake up in time. -- Joanna Macy, "Awakening to the Ecological Self" in Healing the Wounds, the Promise of Ecofeminism, edited by Judith Plant.

A friend called me a few days ago - in tears and deep in despair. She is a kind soul, searching for a way to make her life consistent with the cycles of the Earth. She wants to make a difference, to teach others of her love for the planet. Not having ever gotten her undergraduate degree, she thought that if she took classes leading toward a degree in "conservation biology" that she could learn of the workings of the Earth and be a better teacher. She realized before she called me that she was wrong. That's why she was weeping.

Her "field biology" class went on a 4-day field trip to study the Earth's ecosystems and the life in them. What my friend didn't realize was that the traditional method of studying the Earth involves classifying and recording - and keeping your heart at a distance. Usually, any course of study with the words "conservation" or "management" in the title will be discussing the Earth's gifts as "resources." The way we study the world is deeply rooted in the processes that evolved during the Scientific Revolution, that time during the 15th and 16th centuries when the scientific worldview came into being, with humans acting, as Descartes said, as "masters and possessors of Nature."

Francis Bacon, an instrumental leader in the Scientific Revolution, said that nature had to be "hounded in her wanderings" and "bound into service" and made a "slave." She was to be "put in constraint" and it was the job of the scientist to "torture nature's secrets from her."

Was that just 16th century thinking? No, it is today's thinking as well, as my friend found out. During her field trip, the instructor had the class capture all manner of creatures. Liquid paper was painted on lizards to track their movement (this will probably, eventually, kill the animal as the toxins seep into its skin). They captured a number of small birds to "examine" and "classify" them. One bird died. Many other creatures lost their lives during those 4 days.

Over 5.7 million animals (3 million of them frogs) are dissected annually in the U.S. Studies have shown that there is no significant difference in test scores of students who dissect and those who do not. The desensitization, however, that everyone will experience is great. The relegation of another living thing to a "test subject" is akin to the classification of someone as the enemy, therefore legitimizing killing them during a conflict. Many war veterans describe their combat training as focusing on dehumanizing the enemy. Yet the "enemy" were people, just like them. When they returned home, how could they cope when they were taught that people were of no value?

My friend was horrified. How could this blatant lack of respect for life be possible among people who were studying the environment? She confronted her teacher, an extreme act of courage for my friend. Her teacher told her that the individual was not important. They were studying the creatures for the greater good of the species.


How many animals will needlessly suffer during such "study." And for what purpose? What did it teach the class in Michigan in 1991 when children, at the end of the school year, intentionally stomped on 35-40 gerbils that were kept as classroom pets?

Is it so great a step to go from harming an animal to harming a person? Studies suggest it is not. Compelling evidence exists showing that people who commit acts of violence against people have also committed acts of violence on animals during their youth. There is a significantly high incidence of cruelty to animals during their youth among serial killers and mass murderers. Here are some chilling examples (from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals web site):

* Patrick Sherrill, who killed 14 coworkers at a post office and then shot himself, had a history of stealing local pets and allowing his own dog to attack and mutilate them.

* Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped, stabbed, and mutilated a 7-year-old boy, had been widely known in his neighborhood as the man who put firecrackers in dogs' rectums and strung up cats.

* Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a San Diego school, killing two children and injuring nine others, had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often by setting their tails on fire.

* Albert DeSalvo, the "Boston Strangler" who killed 13 women, trapped dogs and cats in orange crates and shot arrows through the boxes in his youth.

* Carroll Edward Cole, executed for five of 35 murders of which he was accused, said his first act of violence as a child was to strangle a puppy.

* In 1987, three Missouri high school students were charged with the beating death of a classmate. They had histories of repeated acts of animal mutilation starting several years earlier. One confessed he had killed so many cats he'd lost count.

* Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer had impaled dogs' heads, frogs, and cats on sticks.

Of course, I am not suggesting that students who use animals in their classes will turn into serial or mass killers. But do you think it is too far off the mark to suggest that if we allow the desensitization towards the suffering of other living things to grow in us that we might suffer as well? Maybe we would find it easier to walk by the homeless person or ignore the suffering of the 60,000 children that die each day worldwide from diarrhea due to bad drinking water? It is something to think about.

These are further examples, as are the other issues we have been addressing in these columns, of how disconnected we have become from the natural world. Examples abound - even in the U.S. government.

The Federal Aviation Administration readily admits that before it will issue an order to the airlines to put a safety measure into effect, they conduct a "cost-benefit analysis." In this analysis, a human life is assigned a value of $2.4 million. If the cost of the safety measure will be more than the wrongful death lawsuits from those that would be killed, then the measure will not be recommended!

For example, if they determine that 10 people could die from a particular unsafe condition on an airplane, then the cost of putting the measure into effect would have to be less than 10 times $2.4 million or $240 million. If it would cost $300 million to put the safety measure into effect, then they would not recommend it. This is nothing less than obscene.

How have we come to this? How is it possible for some people to say that letting ANY amount of people die from a preventable mechanical issue is OK?

I told my friend to quit this program. There is no need - and there is no more time - for this kind of abuse to continue. She DOES NOT have to be a part of it. She DOES NOT have to go through any "rite of passage" in order to earn the right to teach compassion. She DOES NOT have to become part of an abusive, evil system in order to change it. She DOES NOT have to go against her heart and soul for anyone.

I told her that when she was ready to hear some recommendations from me about more compassionate programs, I would give them to her. That is the easy part.

The harder, and most important part, comes first: to sit with the pain of awareness, the pain of having seen cruelty - and been a part of it; to sit with the pain of being responsible - yet choosing to stop. I told her she has received a great gift and blessing - that of awareness, that of seeing into her heart, that of feeling that something must change.

She felt what Thich Nhat Hanh says we all need to stop and listen for: the sound of the Earth crying. Only when we hear that sound can we really be moved to act. And act we MUST.


1. For more about the dissection issue in the classroom check out

2. Read more about the use of animals in the classroom at the site of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at

3. Face the pain and fears and visit your local animal shelter. See the despair of the animals there and do something. Get a friend to adopt an animal or adopt one yourself.

4. Contact the authorities immediately if you see or suspect any act of cruelty to an animal (or to anyone). Don't assume that everything is OK. Act.

5. Investigate your local schools. Do they have programs involving animals? If so, have some meaningful meetings with school officials.

6. If you have children, encourage them to not participate in animal programs and support them if they choose to not participate. PETA has lots of information about how to do this.

7. Thich Nhat Hanh will be coming to the United States from late August 1997 to October 1997. SEE HIM! Check out him and his schedule at html&id=

8. Check out the work of Joanna Macy at

{Jackie Giuliano can be found trying to tolerate the ants in his house in Venice, California. He is a Professor of Environmental Studies for Antioch University, Los Angeles, the University of Phoenix, and the Union Institute College of Undergraduate Studies. Please send your comments to him at GIULIANO@INTERRAMP.COM}

The Environment News Service is exclusively hosted by the EnviroLink Network. Copyright 1997 ENS, Inc.

Date: Mon, 9 Jun 1997

* Healing Our World *
Weekly Commentary


By Jackie Giuliano

We have forgotten who we are.
We have sought only our own security
We have exploited simply for our own ends
We have distorted our knowledge
We have abused our power.

-- United Nations Environmental Sabbath Program

The ecological crisis is related to the systems of hatred of all that is natural and female by the white, male, Western formulators of philosophy, technology, and death inventions.

-- Ynestra King

These powerful, radical words suggest something that must be considered. Have women really come so far in the way our culture perceives them? Is involving more women and people of color in the workforce enough to insure equality? Or have the very ways we have been taught to think and learn been affected by the lack of participation of these marginalized people? Looking at how science has evolved without the full representation of women is revealing.

King proposes that the systematic denigration of so many people in the world including working-class people, people of color, women, and animals is the result of the basic dualism that lies at the root of Western culture. Is this too extreme a view? History can be interpreted to support this view.

Our separation from nature is clear and easily observable. The dualism between nature and culture is the foundation of the Western world. It is not too great a leap to suggest that this dualism has as its model the domination of men over women and other oppressed peoples.

Modern science represents itself as universal, value-free and able to arrive at objective conclusions about life. Yet how can any endeavor be free of judgement and completely objective? Studies have shown that a researcher will nearly always observe data and draw conclusions that fit within the boundaries of her or his expectations. After all, humans are thinking, feeling, subjective beings.

Vandana Shiva, a theoretical physicist and feminist scholar from India, observes that modern science claims to be a liberating force for humanity as a whole. Yet worldwide experiences do not support this claim. Science and technology are used throughout the globe as a political and economic force to bring "third-world" countries up to North American "standards." In these developing countries, in order to support this new set of values brought about by these "improvements," the separation from the natural world must, sadly, increase. Healthy, productive land is cleared for cattle ranches, the consumption of meat increases, and the production of local food ceases as production efforts are deflected to exportable goods.

Cancers that have been unknown until now in the lesser-developed countries are on the rise as people's lifestyles shift towards high animal protein diets and substance abuse (caffeine and tobacco). The increase in stress that accompanies a more consumer-oriented lifestyle, the quest for the "American Dream," results in higher blood pressure and an increase in circulatory diseases such as heart attacks and strokes which, together, kill 15.3 million people a year.

In a report released on May 2, 1997, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms that shifts in the lifestyles of the industrialized world, made possible by scientific and technological advances, have dramatically impacted the health of the world. Diseases of affluence are now rampant in developing countries, as they are in the West, and WHO estimates that cancers from these diseases will rise a remarkable 40% by the year 2020.

Scholar Sandra Harding wonders if science as practiced today is the liberator or the subjugator, or is it a "Western, male-oriented and patriarchal projection that necessarily entailed the subjugation of both nature and women?"

These are important questions to ask and they must be considered if learning about our world, in or out of the classroom, is to be conducted in a connected and inclusive manner.

Have Women Been Excluded?

Have the fields of science been dominated by men and has the male or patriarchal mindset influenced our culture and our connection to the natural world? The answer is clearly "yes."

The U.S. National Science Foundation's collection of data on the presence of women in science says so much, just in the title. The volume is called "Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering." Women continued to be classified as "other" along with the numerous disenfranchised groups of our society. The numbers below (from the 1994 report) are very revealing.

* Males are three times more likely to pursue a career in science, math, or engineering than females.

* Although women constitute 51.2% of the population and about 46% of the workforce in all occupations, only 22% are in science and engineering occupations. v * Women earned 29% of the science and engineering doctorates, yet the majority were in positions that have been traditionally accepted as "appropriate" for women. Fifty nine percent were awarded in psychology, 38% in biological sciences, 35% in social sciences, 19% in mathematics, and 9% in engineering.

Why is this so? The report has clues:

* Higher percentages of females than males reported having been advised not to take senior mathematics in high school.

* Faculty who teach undergraduates are overwhelmingly male in civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering, and sociology, geology, and physics. Female students find very few role models.

* Math and science teachers treat girls and boys differently in the classroom. Boys get more eye contact and attention from teachers than girls. When boys give the wrong answers, teachers challenge them to find the correct one. Girls get sympathy. When there are lab experiments, boys tend to operate the equipment and girls take data and write reports.

* Loss of self-confidence in girls seems to begin around the 7th grade and continue through high school. Although males and females performed comparably in science and math courses, females tended to underestimate their abilities. This lack of confidence accelerates and females begin taking fewer and fewer math and science courses.

It is evident that women have not had a full role either in participating in the practice of science or, as history shows, in the development of its methods and ideologies. The worldview that provides the basis for science as it is practiced today is a male one. How science might have evolved if there had been full female participation is unknown. However, it is vital to realize that science, and our view of the natural world, has been formed with a male perspective and is based on the male experience.

Whether or not the dominance of a male perspective in science has been a negative influence is more difficult to "prove," at least by traditional, patriarchal methodologies. Certain factors do suggest that the disconnected worldview may have come from the patriarchal influence.

Can We Really Be "Objective"

Speculation abounds about the affect that the lack of participation of women in the development and practice of science has had. Since so many of our behaviors have evolved in an atmosphere of cultural influences, it is difficult to say what is really male and what is really female. This is an important context to understand, since our subjugation of nature and the parallel to the treatment of women can illuminate the path toward healing.

The challenge may be to demonstrate that the way we treat nature and women are really, as feminist scholars Alison Jaggar and Paula Rothenberg have said, acts of systematic subordination and not just the results of coincidental misfortune.

If one assumes that the experiences of women are different from the experiences of men and that the major systems of thought in our culture are based on men's experiences, then the fundamental assumptions that have been made about how the world works should be challenged.

In general, modern culture assumes that males possess natural intelligence, are logical, objective, active, independent, forceful, and courageous. Women have been assumed to be emotionally responsive, obedient, kind, dependent, timid, self-sacrificing, and incapable of abstract thought. These assumptions are so ingrained in culture that it is difficult for children and their parents to escape the subtle and insidious indoctrination from film, literature, television, advertising, and the very language we use every day.

Modern science was founded those traits assumed to be male. It claims to be dispassionate and objective. While those who practice this form of science see these traits as admirable, others feel that objectification is a root cause of our disconnection from the natural world and each other.

Shiva classifies modern science as "fragmented" and "reductionist" because it allows us to know nature only by excluding other "knowers and other ways of knowing" and it removes nature's capacity for creative regeneration and renewal by speaking of it only in terms of fragmented and inert matter. The very terminology we use to speak of our "use" of the natural world is revealing. We enter "virgin territory" and "rape" the land.

Francis Bacon, an instrumental leader in the Scientific Revolution, said that nature had to be "hounded in her wanderings" and "bound into service" and made a "slave." She was to be "put in constraint" and it was the job of the scientist to "torture nature's secrets from her."

This field of study is enormous, but the presentation of some key principles will help provide clues as to how environmental education must be adjusted to take these biases into account. No one idea is probably the cause for the oppression of either women or nature, but provocative insights can come from an examination of these thoughts. Below are some of these key principles.

Women are often identified with nature. Feminists who believe that the fundamental cause of oppression is the biologically based domination of women by men feel that men have sought to enlist women and nature in the service of, as Ynestra King says, "male projects designed to make men safe from feared nature and mortality."

The "women's spirituality" movement embraces the concept of the Earth as a living system where cooperation was a stronger force in evolution than competition. This is a very different view of the world than that offered by mainstream "modern" biology. Competition for resources is usually the main theme in discussions of the evolution of life. Virtually all species are discussed in terms of the "survival of the fittest." Our language is filled with references to this belief, such as "only the strong survive" and "it's a dog-eat-dog world." Nature films on the Public Broadcasting Service, a very popular form of entertainment in the 1990's, invariably will show animals fighting, eating each other, or suffering from lack of resources. Rarely do they show the cooperation and compassion that takes place in the system.

Here are some examples:

* The many forms of plants whose seeds cannot germinate unless they first pass through the digestive tract of an animal who eats them.

* The powerful social forces at work in an elephant herd, including the way that the young are cared for and the concern for the individual. Entire herds of elephants will slow down for an ailing youngster and they will all grieve for a dead comrade.

* The anguished cry of a female harp seal that watches as her baby is clubbed by a fur hunter with a spiked stick and skinned alive on the ice flows of the Arctic. The mother will cry over the skinned carcass for hours.

Ecological feminism calls for a dynamic theory of the person, both for males and females, where the self is a larger entity that includes the non-human and natural world. If one defines one's self as being part of the non-human world as well as the human one, then the thought of harming an ecosystem or a river or even a tree would be as unthinkable as cutting off one's own limb.

Women have been at the forefront of virtually every political and social movement to reclaim the Earth. Women will often feel the effects of degradation of the Earth before men. This connection is seen most dramatically in the lesser-developed countries, but the phenomenon exists worldwide.

* Women do almost all of the world's domestic work and child care, mostly without pay.

* Women do more than half the work associated with growing food, gathering fuelwood, and hauling water.

* Women provide more health care with little or no pay than all the world's organized health services combined (they also do 60% of the world's work in general, yet own only 10% of the world's property and earn 1% of the world's income).

The worldwide economic value of women's domestic work is estimated at $4 trillion annually, an amount which is not figured into any country's gross national product. Women are most likely to come into contact with toxins in the form of pesticides and toxic wastes than men.

Even in SoutherN California, I have witnessed this spectacle unfold. In Beverly Hills and Sherman Oaks, two very affluent areas, a veritable army of nannies, usually always Hispanic females, take the rich, white babies out for walks in their strollers. At the same time, hundreds of gardeners, usually always Hispanic, or sometimes Asian, males, are gardening using gasoline-powered leaf-blowers, cutting lawns with gas-powered lawn mowers, and spraying pesticides on lawns. These women, and the children in their care, are exposed to this onslaught of toxic pollution every day.

We must stop allowing women's voices to go unheard. We must all accept the responsibility to invite women to tell of their experience in the world. We all have to learn of the female experience and create a new experience that includes women.

Inclusive programs must be developed that invite women to participate and that heal the breach that has been created. If science continues to speak in terms of "mankind's" quest for dispassionate, objective views of the universe that remove all sensory expression, then the world will continue to appear as a separate, isolated place. Neither men nor women will feel wholly included in the discussion or the analysis. We must insist that all fields include women in discussions from which they have been excluded for far too long.

And we must stop accepting the propaganda that suggests that "you have come a long way, baby."


1. Check out the work of Vandana Shiva in her new book, Biopiracy.

2. For an ecofeminism bibliography, visit

3. Check out the ecofeminism web site at

4. Read definitions of ecofeminism at

5. You can see the statistics for yourself in the National Science Foundation document called Women, Minorities, and Persons With Disabilities in Science and Engineering at

6. The World Health Organization can be found at

7. Visit a women's bookstore in your town. You will find amazing resources.

8. For a comprehensive list of links to "women and science" sites, visit

9. For a good list of feminist and woman's resources, check out

{Jackie Giuliano is a Professor of Environmental Studies at Antioch University, Los Angeles, the University of Phoenix and the Union Institute College of Undergraduate Studies. He is the Educational Outreach Manager for the Ice and Fire Preprojects at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Comments are welcome at }
Ph: 412-683-6400
Fx: 412-683-8460