News from the Center | April 2023

Larry Glass, NEC Board President
Caroline Griffith, NEC Executive Director

Let’s Not Fall Into The DOOM LOOP

As the climate continues to spin further out of control at an accelerating pace, governments may become overwhelmed by the consequences to the point that their efforts to address the root causes of the climate collapse will have to be diverted in order to deal with the catastrophe at hand. According to a recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, this has the potential to create a self-perpetuating cycle that is referred to as a “Doom Loop,” in which one negative action triggers another, which triggers another, and so on.

It’s obvious that the climate crisis is already imposing mounting, unsustainable costs to countries and states as they are forced to deal with increasingly destructive storms, wildfires, floods, famines, armed conflicts, and forced human migration. As the cost of addressing all this is snowballing, it has the possibility of forcing governments to dial back, or possibly even abandon, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address other root causes of climate change, which then will create even larger economic burdens for the future. 

The “Doom Loop” reactions can cause drastic budget shortfalls and could force governments to make tough decisions about what does and doesn’t get funding which could very well mean less revenue for infrastructure, schools, and social services. It will actually impact the entire community but, as with everything else, the people who can least afford it will be hit the hardest first.

Policymakers will face tough financial decisions, and governments shouldn’t forget about the economic benefits of investing in long-term sustainability and conservation. During tough budget negotiations, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that officials decide to cut funding from climate programs that would actually help their cities reduce emissions and avoid even worse floods and wildfires in the future. 

It’s up to us to keep our eyes on the future, both the near future and far, and continue to work towards pre-emptive transformational change, just like those visionaries of the past who took to the streets on the first Earth Day. Some call this a “hope spiral”, a pattern in which positive climate actions trigger other positive actions. We’re at a point where things could go either way, so please join us in pushing for the climate actions locally that could be the starting point of something good, the beginning of the hope spiral. 


We recently discovered a new book called Toxic Exposure by Dr. Chadi Nabhan, a cancer specialist. The good doctor has been working for years treating patients that were exposed to glyphosate (AKA Roundup) and developed Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. When scientists like Dr. Nabhan speak out or disclose their findings, the chemical companies (specifically Bayer) wage a campaign of attacks and disinformation about the supposed safety of these toxic herbicides. We now know that the chemical glyphosate has been found in the urine of about 80 percent of the American public, and despite the chemical industries’ claims, glyphosate lingers in our food and water supply for long periods of time.

Like seemingly everything else in our society, the widespread use of this particular chemical is all about money. Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” genetically modified seeds, which are resistant to the herbicide, are a case in point. The use of this chemical skyrocketed with the introduction of the seeds, despite the environmental and economic harm they caused to farmers worldwide.

The book reveals the saga of corporate malfeasance that is unfortunately way too familiar. A corporation develops the herbicide, sells the herbicide, and makes billions. The corporation discovers herbicide does way more than just killing weeds but, rather than pull it from the marketplace, it attacks its critics and whistleblowers with disinformation and slander in an attempt to sweep it all under the rug. Yet Bayer has spent over $11 billion in jury awards since 2016.

The EPA has been very reluctant to restrict these dangerous chemicals, which is probably driven by economics and influenced by power. Dr. Nabhan points out that there are situations where large corporations are able to influence or bend the science, when they’re able to lobby for their own interests. And the Dr. asserts that Monsanto (Bayer) has played a major role in this —for example, by ghostwriting scientific articles that are favorable to its products. They find “authors” for these articles who are major scientists and thought leaders, and there’s no way you would find out anywhere in the article that Monsanto had an influence in the writing or that there was any financial reward involved.  For many of you who have concerns about these and other supposedly “safe” chemicals we urge you to read Dr Nabhan’s book.

No Salmon Season This Year

It was announced in mid-March that the Pacific Fishery Management Council was planning to cancel this year’s salmon season in California due to crashing Chinook salmon population. Last year, fall-run Chinook returns on the Klamath River were only 22,000, the fourth lowest in the last 40 years. The Chinook are in trouble due to a variety of factors – dams and water diversions being high among them. This is another testament to the need to take down the dams on the Klamath and the Eel Rivers as soon as possible, and to stop the water diversions that result in low water levels and high water temperatures downstream, a deadly combination for this culturally and ecologically important species. The good news is that the removal of the Klamath dams is moving steadily forward with four of the dams expected to be removed by 2024. The Eel River dams will hopefully follow shortly thereafter, though that timeline is still in the works. It will be exciting to see the hard work of Tribes, activists and environmental organizations pay off, we just hope it happens soon enough for the salmon.