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Rachel Smolker
Rachel Smolker is a codirector of Biofuelwatch, and an organizer with Energy Justice Network. She has researched, written and organized on the impacts of biofuels, bioenergy and biochar on land use, forests, biodiversity, food, people and the climate. She works with various coalitions, national and international including the Mobilization for Climate Justice, Climate Justice Now and others opposing market-based solutions to climate change and other "false solutions". She is the daughter of one of the founders of Environmental Defense Fund and participated in a protest against that organization because of the key role EDF played in advocating market based solutions to climate change. She has a Ph.D. in ecology/biology from the University of Michigan and worked previously as a field biologist, gaining first hand experience with the complex balance between the needs of people and the ecological systems they depend upon. She is author of "To Touch A Wild Dolphin" (Doubleday 2001) and lives in Vermont. A list of publications is available on request.

Entries by Rachel Smolker

A Thousand Angry Women Say No to Genetically Engineered Trees

(0) Comments | Posted April 20, 2015 | 8:00 AM

On March 5th, a thousand angry women descended on a facility in Brazil where the biotechnology company, FuturaGene, was growing genetically engineered eucalyptus trees. Later that day, a meeting of the Brazilian Biosafety Commission (CTNBio) was scheduled to announce their decision about whether or not to allow...

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After the Flood: Reflections on Climate and Corporate Control

(3) Comments | Posted October 31, 2014 | 4:52 PM

The most important event this past week in New York was not the 400k People's Climate March, nor the UN Summit, nor any of the Climate Group-backed events around the city. Not even Leonardo DeCaprio, Sting or Al Gore. The most important event was Flood Wall Street. The reason it...

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Columbus Day and the Colonization of Land, Trees and Genes

(1) Comments | Posted October 13, 2014 | 6:41 PM

I spent the past several days participating in the Indigenous Environmental Network Campaign to Stop GE Trees Action Camp in the Qualla Boundary, homelands of the Eastern Band Cherokee in North Carolina. Participants included members of tribes across the Southeast, who came to learn about plans...

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After the Climate March, Then What? Flood Wall Street

(1) Comments | Posted September 18, 2014 | 9:14 AM

This coming week in New York City promises to be interesting. Ban Ki Moon has called for the UN Climate Summit where President Obama and other heads of state will likely call for voluntary measures and vague aspirations at the beck and call of the corporations that currently have a...

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Cellulosic Ethanol: Firsts, Failures, Myths and Risks

(5) Comments | Posted September 11, 2014 | 5:25 PM

Wires have been buzzing with news about the "first" commercial production of cellulosic biofuels, a project of POET and the Dutch State Mines (DSM) in Emmetsburg, Iowa that is to produce ethanol from corn stover.

There have actually been several "firsts" already, testament to the fact that...

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Vermont Protest, People's Climate March and Robin Williams

(0) Comments | Posted August 14, 2014 | 8:56 AM

A few days ago, I had the good fortune to be able to participate in a protest march in Vermont's capitol city of Montpelier. The action was partly an expression of exasperation over the fact that the state is cramming a GazMetro fracked gas pipeline down our throats in spite...

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Is Toxic Algae Good for You?

(1) Comments | Posted August 8, 2014 | 3:35 PM

While the recent shutdown of Toledo's municipal water supply due to toxic algae is in the news, it seems a good opportunity to say a word or two about the growing risks that are being taken by a biotechnology industry busy at work using genetic engineering and synthetic...

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Vermont: The Little State That Could?

(5) Comments | Posted February 26, 2014 | 8:01 AM

I am fortunate to live in the tiny state of Vermont, a state that has boldly led the way on so many issues it's hard to list them all. We were the first to pass same-sex marriage and to take serious steps to make health care accessible to all. We...

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Where's the Lorax When We Need Him?

(2) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 11:52 AM

It's a shame that the Lorax and his message "Who Will Speak For The Trees" has been relegated to the realm of children's cartoons and fantasy. Especially as trees, forests and ecosystems appear to be right smack in the epicenter of swirling debates about climate change. What those debates seem...

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Geoengineering The Sky is Not 'Normal'

(29) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 4:40 PM

In the wake of the climate negotiations in Warsaw, the consensus appears near universal: the international process is not going to deliver, and it is up to countries and communities to go it on their own. For some, that means taking serious and dramatic steps to reduce emissions. For others,...

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Typhoons, Climate Negotiations and a Reality Check

(4) Comments | Posted November 11, 2013 | 3:39 PM

The latest round of climate negotiations are opening just as we are hearing the stories and viewing images on the news coverage of the devastation wrought on the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda).  Coincidentally, the last round of climate negotiations, COP 18 in Doha were similarly punctuated by a...

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Biofuels and Biomass Lose Favor: Investors Beware!

(3) Comments | Posted July 22, 2013 | 11:58 AM

Having spent the past eight years or so of my life fighting back against large-scale commercial and industrial bioenergy, it feels good to finally see the tides turning, albeit slowly, maybe not always for the right reasons, and perhaps too little too late. But consider that in just the past...

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Genetically Engineered Trees and Glowing Synthetic Plants? No Thanks

(32) Comments | Posted May 24, 2013 | 10:57 AM

This week in Asheville, N.C., the IUFRO "Tree Biotechnology" conference will meet. And the attendees will be met: by protests. Public opinion is unequivocally opposed to genetically engineered trees. When the South Carolina-based tree engineering company, ArborGen recently applied for deregulation of their freeze tolerant eucalyptus, APHIS responded...

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Geoengineering Is a Dangerous Solution to Climate Change

(20) Comments | Posted March 22, 2013 | 5:30 PM

As the realities of global climate change become ever more alarming, advocates of technological approaches to "geoengineer" the planet's climate are gaining a following.

But the technologies that are promoted -- from spraying sulphate particles into the stratosphere, to dumping iron particles into the ocean, to stimulate carbon absorbing...

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Laugh or Cry? Obama's New Commitment on Climate Change

(27) Comments | Posted January 28, 2013 | 2:54 PM

In his inaugural address, President Obama spoke eloquently about his intent to address climate change, saying: "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations." Following on, the right-wing deniers predictably flew into a...

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Doha, Forests and the Production Tax Credit: On Track to Burn, Baby, Burn

(2) Comments | Posted December 13, 2012 | 5:04 PM

Last Saturday, the annual UN Climate Talks, held in Doha, concluded, once more without any meaningful achievements. The U.S. government was amongst those that ensured that there would be no new climate treaty until at least 2020 and that they would thus not be bound by any restrictions on carbon...

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A 'Sustainable' Military?

(8) Comments | Posted December 4, 2012 | 2:35 PM

This past week, the U.S. Senate voted to strike language from the National Defense Authorization Act that would have limited military use of biofuels by requiring that they only purchase biofuels at costs comparable to petroleum fuels. Further, they amended the bill to allow defense spending on refinery...

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