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Lissa Harris' Posts

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Porn activists go all the way to save the rainforest

Warning: The following article contains naughty words -- but we can't help it, as they're the whole subject of the story. It also contains links to websites that are, as they say, "not safe for work." So all you kids, go play Pokemon or whatever it is you do these days. The rest of you, consider yourselves warned. How much do you love the rainforest? Photo: National Center for Atmospheric Research. It's been nearly a thousand years since Lady Godiva, the original libertarian libertine, went on her famous naked horseback ride through the streets of Coventry to protest high taxes …

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A new GMO treaty is about to get tangled up in trade tussles

All but eclipsed by the somber anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will become international law today with little fanfare. Nonetheless, its entry into force could mark the beginning of a new era in international trade -- with potentially sweeping consequences for the environment. Fields of grain -- GMO barley, to be precise. Photo: USDA. The protocol is the first international convention to regulate trade in living modified organisms (LMOs), a subset of the more widely known (and in some circles widely reviled) category of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It spans 30 …

Read more: Food

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The economic heresy of Herman Daly

If economics is a religion, the World Bank is perhaps its grandest church. For the last half century, the venerable institution at 1818 H Street in Washington, D.C., has been dispatching its missionaries around the globe, spreading the theology of the free market to the heathens. And if economics is a religion, Herman Daly is its arch-heretic, a member of the high priesthood turned renegade. From 1988 to 1994, Daly was the World Bank's senior environmental economist, a lonely voice of dissent in an organization that frowns on unbelievers. During his six-year tenure, Daly, the economist-turned-ecovisionary whose works established ecological …

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Rewriting the book on economics

Joshua Farley, a researcher at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, didn't get into economics to make money. In fact, he tells me, he almost quit the academy altogether to go back to carpentry -- a far more lucrative career prospect. "When I graduated, there were virtually no jobs in ecological economics. I applied to the only job I saw. Three years later, I saw three jobs in ecological economics, one of which was the one I already had," he grins. "Now, if you look under ecological economics, there are a lot of jobs -- mostly at liberal arts colleges, …

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Ecological economist Robert Costanza puts a price tag on nature

The idea of slapping a dollar value on to an alpine meadow or the dappled green shade of a forest strikes a chill into the very bones of most environmentalists. Like love, nature is the kind of thing that money just can't buy. Or is it? A small but growing chorus of ecological economists are saying that perhaps the best way to protect nature is to figure out just how much it's worth -- in cold, hard cash. In their quest to integrate Adam Smith with Rachel Carson, these proponents of "ecosystem valuation" are infuriating many of their colleagues: both …