Contra Costa, Solano County, CA November 7, 2000 Election
Smart Voter

The Environment

By Martin Sproul

Candidate for United States Representative; District 7

This information is provided by the candidate
Miller's excellent environmental record could be improved in three crucial areas: by increased attention to the environmental destruction wrought by war, by not overlooking the disparate impact of pollution on those with little or no voice in American politics, and by raising awareness of the threat to the ecology posed by genetic engineering. Vote for Martin Sproul to highlight these needed shifts in environmental focus.
Congressman Miller's record on the environment is remarkably good. He has long been a leader in the fight to protect the wilderness and the nation's resources from exploitation and corporate greed. If only his party were as consistently principled as he is.

Let me start by reassuring voters who care about the environment that I would work to uphold and continue the tradition of environmental protection that Miller has established. However, to those environment-oriented voters who may think it unnecessary to consider a third party candidate in a race with so Green a Democrat, I ask you to consider the following three points:

One of the biggest threats to the environment domestically and around the world comes from war: both from the endemic strife and conflict in global trouble spots, and from preparations for war such as arms manufacture and production of weapons-grade fissionable material. U.S. weapons manufacturers often avoid liability for their pollution of the environment with, e.g., the highly toxic paint used on certain bombers. Past battlefields all over the planet are littered with toxic materials and unexploded bombs and land mines. These continue to kill people, poisoning and maiming women, children and the elderly. The U.S. refuses to support international efforts to end the use of land mines. Moreover, the U.S. military engages in such actions as the carpet bombing of Serbia, months of bombing of Iraq, and use of depleted uranium weapons in both theaters. The U.S. bombing campaigns in both theaters either released toxins or came dangerously close to causing nuclear and biological weapon disasters. The Danube, the source of drinking water for non-combatant nations, is still badly polluted from the war on Serbia. Miller apparently supports the idea that if we bomb civilians, expose them to toxins and radiation, arm violent rivals and leave their countries littered with U.S. ordinance, somehow this will win civilians over to democratic ideals of tolerance and freedom and make them blame their rulers rather than us, the obvious agents of death.

By better logic, Democratic legislators and administrations should accept their share of responsibility for the environmental racism visited on communities located near toxic polluters here in the U.S. Rulers in backward countries attempt to excuse exposure of their workers to toxins and the environmental destruction they visit on their countries by the supposed need to catch up with affluent consumer cultures. The prosperous and technologically advanced U.S. has no excuse for setting the wrong example, or for exporting its banned pesticides, acid rain, ozone depleting chemicals, greenhouse gasses, waste and pollution to other nations. U.S. consumption patterns and addictions contribute to the destruction of rainforests cleared for cattle, coffee, tobacco and coca production; domestic meth labs are major sources of pollution.

I don't want to dwell on the negative. But I will be much prouder to be an American when we overcome our own bad habits before we preach selectively to nations whose resources we want, and when we stop profiteering in weapons, drugs and toxins and start exporting our know-how and our clean, renewable peace-oriented technologies.

It is said that most voters don't care much about foreign policy. Yet, if voters do care about the environment, it is necessary to see that the environmental impact of public policies does not stop at borders or check the voter registration of victims. Political animals care only about those who bankroll them and vote in their interests. Moral human beings care about all persons affected by governmental policies, irrespective of their political affiliation, nationality, ethnicity, wealth or lack thereof.

A third threat to the environment is the release of genetically modified organisms (GMO's) into the environment by profit-minded biotech experimenters. Anyone who has dealt with glitch-prone modern software or deadly drug interactions can understand the need to be skeptical of biotech's assurance that there will be no harmful side-effects from "precision" reprogrammed DNA in drugs, foods, animals and humans. Once released, GMO's cannot be recalled: they constitute self-replicating pollutants. The already intractable problem of invasive species will pale in comparison to the problems yet to come from the wholesale alteration of the natural environment at the level of nature's blueprint. Politicians who depend on campaign contributions are muzzled; they won't mention this issue because they know that Wall Street is already hyperventilating about biotech being the next frontier for ambitious tech billionaires and a stampede of venture capitalists. Politicians content with the endemic corruption of the current political system do not want to alienate the next big industry source of campaign funds. Yet with research institutions broadly compromised by business ties and thirsty for industry grant money, political action is the only check and balance on this burgeoning development. I have long been out in front on this issue, raising its visibility, demanding more cautious investigation, testing and labeling of GMO's.

A vote for Martin Sproul on November 7th is not likely to disrupt Congressman Miller's tenure on the House Resources Committee. What you vote can do is prod Miller to pay more attention to neglected issues. The reason for the growth of environment-oriented third parties like the Natural Law Party is the failure of the Democratic Party to promote a comprehensive plan for management of natural resources, including transition to renewable energy sources and an environmentally sustainable economy. Many Democrats talk the environmental talk, but do not muster the political will to really get out front and lead. Political expediency is no excuse: global warming, e.g., does not wait for favorable public opinion polls. Our leaders must do more to understand the connections, then educate and lead the citizenry.

We must keep before our eyes the connections between war and pollution, between poverty and environmental racism. We must understand that issues of genetic alteration cut across many areas of crucial political concern: privacy, medicine, the environment, eugenics and bio-engineered weapons development. Either we demand political discussion of the issues involved or the decisions will be made for us. We run a real risk that our lives--and the life of many organisms on the earth--will be interfered with, medicated, tracked, manipulated or controlled by the test-tube brainchildren of un-elected technocrats intent on profit and power. That's if they are lucky and their experiments work. If the biotechies screw up, expect the weakening and destruction of nature, with unpredictable consequences that could last thousands of years.

Vote Natural Law on November 7th. Vote organic, vote sustainable, vote renewable. The laws of nature won't wait for the enlightenment of dinosaur parties. Nor should you.

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