Resisting President Butterfat

Photo credit to…Kermit?

Apologies for stealing the Kermit meme but this has been me since election night:

Me: Trump has stolen my sense of humor. I will never laugh again.

Evil Kermit Me: Trump is 300 pounds worth of material. Buck the fuck up.

Me:  There are no orange jokes or hair jokes left. Also, stop fat shaming.

Evil Kermit Me:  Fine. He has an alter ego named Patriotic Pepe. C’mon, that’s hilarious.

Me:  The most powerful man in the world pretending to be a racist cartoon frog is not funny.

Evil Kermit Me:  Dude. He sits on the toilet in his bathrobe and tweets crazy shit for days – why can’t you squeeze a joke out of that?

Me:  He’s trying to distract us. PAY ATTENTION.

Evil Kermit Me: *eye roll* You know how your dog gazes at you and you think you’re having a moment but then he suddenly turns around and licks his butt?

Me: Trump is a butt licker?

Evil Kermit Me: I’m just trying to say that I think you’re giving him too much credit. And, of course he’s a butt licker.


Evil Kermit Me:  Jesus. Are you out of Xanax?

Me:  *eyes darting* But…rising authoritarianism. RESIST!

Evil Kermit Me:  Get off Twitter and go outside.

Me:  I hate outside.

Evil Kermit Me:  The Resistance is lucky to have you.

Me:  Shut up. By the way, how do you open an off-shore bank account?

So, yeah, the Trump thing has made me a humorless stress ball over the past 3 weeks for many reasons, but mostly because I paid a little bit of attention in history class and it’s not fucking funny that Trump is cozy with actual Neo-Nazis who would happily tell my Jewish children to “get in the oven.” And no, it’s not a comfort to me that it’s Muslims and immigrants they’ll go after first, mainly because I’m not a heartless asshole.

I have a tiny platform where I advocate for science and after the election it seemed sort of pointless and frankly, like a losing battle, but then President Butterfat tweeted out something based on the conspiracy website, Infowars, and I felt myself snap out of it.

Alex Jones of Info Wars: Here is a massive lie about millions of illegal voters because I want website hits.

President Butterfat: *bleargh* Voter Fraud!

Rational Humans: Hey dumbass, you won.

President Butterfat:  *shifty eyes* I am not the president because of Russian hacking!!! *coughs up wig hair*

Rational Humans:  You seem awfully nervous.


Rational Humans:  Please stop pretending to be a cartoon frog, Mr. President.

And what does this have to do with science advocacy? Everything because those lovely conspiracy loons who Trump goes to for intel briefings are the same goddamned people who drive the anti-science crazy train. Infowars and Natural News are the same websites that are shared all over Facebook by people who are trying to spread fear about vaccines and GMOs. These websites and many more like them are run by the people who have been working for years to break down our trust in the institutions that are here for our protection – the CDC, the FDA, NIH, and so on. They’ve profited nicely off of fear and now they’ve got their very own commander-in-chief who is doing the same thing.

So, now I get to continue to do what I love, mocking the shit out of bullshit peddlers on the Internet, plus I can add another voice of resistance to the Trump kleptocracy or whatever he and Bannon and their little band of Neo-Nazi friends are planning. Better hold onto your wig, President Butterfat – because I’m in a much better mood.

Happy GMO-Free Halloween, Y’all

Every Halloween…

Me: I’ll stay home and hand out candy while you take the kids trick-or-treating.

Husband:  I hate you.

Me: Later, sucker.

For 2 solid hours:

Doorbell: BING BONG


Me: *sing-songy voice* Oooh! It’s Spider-Man and Elsa! Take 3 pieces! *shuts door*

Me: Motherfucking fuckity fuck. Make it stop.


Halloween is the worst. Kids turn into little basket cases in superhero unitards who run screaming in front of cars so you basically spend the entire night making sure they don’t die. Then you get to come home and fight about candy until Christmas because it’s 2016 and Sugar is Satan.

Health Bloggers: Sugar will kill you.

Everyone:  We’ve heard.

Health Bloggers: No, like, it will really, really kill you this time.

Everyone: How?

Health Bloggers: It alters your…MICROBIOME.

Everyone: *screams*

Health Bloggers:  And gives you all of the cancers.

Everyone: *gasps*

Health Bloggers:  Buy my all-natural, GMO-free shit and uh, my coconut oil.

Everyone:  *moo* Take our money.

I have no idea if sugar will truly kill you above and beyond the usual death you catch from missing nutrients or obesity. Maybe it does. What I do know for sure though is that it causes cavities and that it gets on my last nerve when I have to negotiate how many pieces my kids can eat each day. It also annoys me that I taught them to count so now my kids know when I’ve stolen the good stuff out of their little plastic pumpkins.

There is a silver lining to Halloween this year though. Thanks to about 10 killjoy food activists with a lot of time on their hands, some candy companies have pledged to make their candy GMO-free. THANK GOD. We are experiencing a true Halloween Candy Renaissance.

10 Bored Food Activists: We are an army who can write one thousand letters and call candy companies all day long about GMOs.

Candy Company: These are scary food activists. We better alter our entire business based on the 10 people who care about GMOs in Halloween candy.

Everyone: We care about literally everything more than we care about GMOs in Halloween candy.

Candy Company:  Look! We did it. We have GMO-free Halloween candy.

Everyone: Seriously. We don’t care.

10 Bored Food Activists:  Haha! *dialing* Also, here are 1000 letters about evil sugar.

Candy Company: But we fired American farmers for you!

10 Bored Food Activists:  Later, suckers.

So, this Halloween will be just like every other Halloween – fun for the kids and a nightmare for the dog and me. But the candy is the same thing it always was – candy. It may have a shiny new Non-GMO marketing label designed to trick you into thinking there’s something healthy happening under that wrapper but remember, GMO-free candy isn’t any better for you. It’s tasty and fun to steal from your kids while they sleep but it won’t make your kids any smarter or your hair any shinier. It will also rot your teeth and make you gain weight if you eat too much. GMO-free chocolate will still kill your dog and you can still choke to death on a GMO-free gumball. And on that cheerful note, Happy Halloween, y’all!


Not being able to see should make it even more interesting this year.




GMO Mosquito Conspiracy Nuts: What’s Your Vector, Victor?

A goddamned mosquito just bit me on my face in my own house because I live in Florida and it’s impossible to get away from these little fuckers. Now, we’re about to get a tropical storm so there will be lots of standing water around and there will be a bunch of mosquito sex and mosquito babies and I will have to wear Deep Woods Off just to walk the dog.
Mosquitoes are always a problem here in Florida – we’re used to it. The sound of the mosquito truck driving by at night, spraying whatever magic poison they’re spraying, is oddly soothing believe it or not because you think maybe you won’t get eaten alive while you’re getting the mail. Floridians are also accustomed to the threat of all the nasty diseases that mosquitoes carry and the staph infections people get when they scratch the bites (this is pretty common and it’s gross).

[Florida tourism officials should pay me to write the I-95 rest stop brochures.]

We walk around all greasy and stinking like oven cleaner, sporting festering sores from old bites, trying not to think too hard about that shit coming out of the magic mosquito trucks because we sort of don’t want to know. We just want these nasty little motherf*ckers and their babies to die. And now, with the GMO mosquito, there might be a way to kill a bunch of the ones that carry Zika without drenching ourselves and our children in chemicals but of-fucking-course, the same groups who hate DEET and the mosquito trucks and vaccines and GMOs and probably toilet paper are thrashing around all apoplectic about the idea of a genetically modified bug coming to the rescue because they either don’t understand it or they don’t want to risk positive press about something that’s a GMO (gasp).

The GMO mosquito was genetically modified by scientists at a British company, Oxitec (now owned by a company called Intrexon which sounds like an evil Spider-Man corporation so great job on that one, guys.) Anyway, these scientists modified the mosquito that carries a bunch of nasty stuff like Zika, Dengue, yellow fever, etc., to pass along a gene to its offspring that so that the offspring will die before they mature. Oxitec only releases male mosquitoes (which don’t bite), the males find the females (which do bite), they mate, have babies and the babies die. Sad for mosquito moms and dads, good for human moms and dads (and human babies) because that causes the mosquito population to collapse. Fewer mosquitoes means it’s way harder to transmit diseases. Kill the vectors and the virus goes away. What’s your vector, Victor? (I cannot say ‘vector’ without thinking that.)

This mosquito is awesome and I want to release thousands in the ditch behind my house but here is what the whiny fuckwits  who oppose it are saying:

Friends of Earth: Waaaah, the mosquitoes might mess up the ecosystem. What will birds eat? We just don’t knooooow. *handwringing*

Answer: It’s an invasive species. Florida doesn’t need it. Birds will eat another type of mosquito or bug because -oh dear god -have you people ever been to Florida? The whole fucking state is bird food.

Center for Food Safety: People might ingest the mosquito. That makes it food so we should definitely get involved in this. For food safety reasons. *shifty eyes* This has nothing to do with our careers being based on demonizing genetically engineered food. We swear. *whistles*

Answer: First of all, don’t eat fucking mosquitoes and if you do happen to eat a bunch of mosquitoes, what’s the difference between eating a traditional gross mosquito and a GMO mosquito when you swallow it and it goes into your stomach? Does the Center for Food safety think you become a mosquito? If I eat my Goldendoodle, will I become a dog?

Institute of Responsible Technology’s Jeffrey Smith: Mosquito saliva could change the gene pool of future generations. I don’t know what that means but I am a ballroom dancer who wrote a book about seeds so I am an expert.

Answer: Oxitec only releases the males which don’t bite. Also, WHAT?  Smith is trying to scare people with remote, made-up bullshit about bug spit when there is a mosquito causing real life diseases that humans are getting here in Real People World.

Joseph Mercola:  Zika is a fraud and GMO mosquitoes will give you herpes. Also, a Zika vaccine will kill you and the spraying will give you autism. Luckily for you, I sell bug spray in my huge online store.

Erin at Health Nut News:  Joe Mercola is my boyfriend so you should buy his bug spray. And my book.

Answer: Mercola and Erin are wrong about everything. Whatever they say, do the opposite. Mercola’s entire career is based on undermining trust in the CDC, the FDA, and family doctors. These two are public health menaces who make money off of scaring people. Period. Look at Mercola’s store and at how many times he’s been in trouble with the FDA and the FTC for making shit up. He sold $4000 tanning beds for anti-aging. (I can’t even make a joke about these two.)

Mike Adams of Natural News:  Conspiracies are my jam. Yay for Zika which is a hoax just like AIDS and climate change. Big Pharma something..something..bleargh. By the way, buy my DEET-free bug spray at my huge online store! It’s better than Mercola’s!

Answer:  A person who gives credence to conspiracies about Sandy Hook and calls AIDS a hoax should not be a go-to person for guidance on mosquito control. Or medical advice. I wouldn’t even ask this guy for directions to the Jiffy mart.

So, here we are. Zika is spreading in Florida. Women who are pregnant are worried. This is a real problem that’s happening right now and the scientists and grown-ups are trying to address it but the conspiracy nuts who legitimately believe essential oils cure everything are doing to their best to make it impossible by trying to scare people about every possible solution. From the GMO mosquito and aerial spraying to DEET or a hypothetical vaccine, all they have to offer us is fear, lies, or a link to their online store. Meanwhile, people are getting sick and I have a fucking mosquito bite on my face.





Boring Words and Scary Barcodes: Everybody Whines about the Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill

IMG_1201The U.S. Senate passed a mandatory GMO labeling bill this week based on a compromise (gasp) and everybody is unhappy so, hooray for bipartisanship! The bill lets companies disclose genetically engineered ingredients through a QR code, words, or pictures. The reactions from anti-GMO activists and various parties involved in the GMO Labeling Wankfest have been great:

Anti-GMO Activists: *whining* We have spent one gazillion dollars and all the years of our lives demanding a mandatory GMO label. But we don’t want that one – it has boring old words.

Organic Consumer Association:  But we wanted skulls and crossbones! A GMO label is supposed to say ‘CONTAINS TOXIC SLUDGE’, goddammit!

Center for Food Safety: QR Codes? Labels with boring words? Poor people and mothers are too stupid to read boring words or use phones. This is discrimination!

US Right to Know: *hisses* They will reap what they have sown. I will FOIA you all. And, um, here’s my resume.

The Non-GMO Project:  *Tries to sell butterfly logo on Craigslist*

Stonyfield Yogurt:  *crying* Why does everybody hate us? We just wanted to sell more yogurt.

Whole Foods: We do not care if anyone hates us because we have 14 billion dollars.

The Food Babe:  How does this affect me? I am bored. I will blackmail Stevia now. *tweezes eyebrows*

Bernie Sanders: *channels Glenn Close* I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan. *tweets pictures of Coke and M&Ms*

Pro-GMO Activists: *frowny faces* But we wanted to see Vermont become Venezuela. Boo.

Science Journalists: *teary-eyed* You mean this wasn’t about a consumer’s right to know stuff? This is so confusing.

Amy:  Ha ha. Taste it, Bitches.

Just kidding about the last. Sort of. I like compromise and bipartisanship so I think it’s awesome when everyone is miserable. Labeling is useless but this issue isn’t going away so let’s just get it over with, move on, and enjoy watching people act like they’re too stupid for QR codes. It’ll be fun! It’ll also be fun to see how the antis will play this. Mandatory labeling was never about a consumer’s right to know what’s in their food – that was just the way it was marketed. Who would argue against consumer’s wanting to know stuff, right? Well, now they will know and guess what? It’s not enough. This label was always about either an outright ban or just, you know, selling some yogurt at Whole Foods.

So, here’s the breakdown of misery:

The Gardening with Goats and Hoes Anti-GMOers

The Gardening with Goats people aren’t going to be happy until there’s no such thing as agricultural technology. Tech is an affront to Jesus, Princess GAIA, Fran Drescher’s husband, random deities – no matter who or what they worship – Labels with Boring Words and QR codes are, like, totally insulting to their dreams of ancient grains and gingham jam jars. One of these Goat People is Bernie Sander’s pal, Jeffrey Smith (the genius behind the Vermont labeling law) and he thinks seeds grow better if you talk dirty to them plus he literally thinks he can fly. (Yes, a serious contender for president consulted a flying carpet guy on legislation – 2016 is so weird.) Doesn’t matter though because QR codes and boring old labels with words are not going to get it done for these guys. They want that icky shit banned. Science be damned. Speaking of Bernie:

Bernie Sanders Accidentally Demonstrates Why GMO Labeling is Stupid

Bernie’s picture of M&Ms and Coke on Twitter this week says everything you need to know about why GMO labeling is stupid. He’s all, “Waaah! Look how hard these labels are to understand!” Let me try to slow this down for stubborn old Bernie:

The genetically engineered ingredients in your Coke and M&Ms are not the problem with your Coke and M&Ms. The problem is that they are COKE AND M&Ms. Even if they did not contain genetically engineered ingredients, they would still be the exact same COKE and M&Ms. In other words, you’re still eating shit.

Still confused? The label doesn’t tell you anything. Also, NOBODY CARES. The people who are running around, slobbering about their right to know, don’t eat that shit anyway. And they don’t actually care about the environment or they wouldn’t be fighting against GMOs in the first place. Environmental concern, just like the right-to-know bullshit, is just another way to market the idea of labeling – then banning – GMOs. (By the way, the sugarcane industry here in Florida thanks anti-GMOers for throwing business their way by vilifying the GMO sugar beet. We love our green algae beaches.)

Anti-GMO Activists with Skin(Cash) in the Game

Finally,  we have the good ol’ U.S.A. capitalist anti-GMOers like Whole Foods and Stonyfield Yogurt who just wanted to gain some market share. These antis are the organic industry folks who sold out to the Big Food companies behind the new bill. Or something. It’s kind of boring. Anyway, these poor slobs aligned themselves with the Goats and Hoes crew to try to make GMO labels mandatory so that they could scare people into buying more organic cookies and yogurt. I think their bosses at Big Food were finally like, “Yo, lose the crazypants friends,” so they sucked it up and compromised on the Labels with Boring Words and QR Codes. They’re not happy. Goats and Hoes hate them – they’re calling them traitors. It’s sad. Not really. Taste it, bitches.



Amy and Julie Celebrate Nobel Laureates Day


This is a (mostly) true story about how Julie and I reacted to the exciting news that Nobel Laureates were uniting to tell Greenpeace to knock it off with their GMO opposition:

Julie:  *bounces* I have scoop. Over 100 Nobel laureates are getting together to tell Greenpeace to stop being assholes about GMOs and Golden Rice.

Amy: *seal claps* I love Golden Rice. Maybe Greenpeace will finally stop being assholes about it.

Julie: *rolls eyes* Greenpeace will never stop being assholes about GMOs and Golden Rice.

Amy:  *cries*

Julie:  Buck up, Buttercup. This will be huge news.

Amy:  Yes! Nobel laureates telling Greenpeace to stop being assholes about Golden Rice will be the biggest story ever!

Julie:  The laureates are even giving a press conference in D.C.!

Amy:  Oh my god. This is so huge.

Amy and Julie:  Hooray for Nobel laureates! This will change everything!

Day of Nobel Laureate Announcement…

Amy:  *wakes up early* It is Nobel Laureate Day! It is just like Christmas!

Julie:  *calls Amy* Happy Nobel Laureate Day!

Amy and Julie:  *Stream press conference*

Amy:  I cannot wait to see Twitter reactions.

Julie:  I cannot wait to read all of the front page stories.

Amy:  *refreshes Twitter*

Julie:  *refreshes Twitter*

Amy:  *refresh*

Julie:  *refresh*

Amy:  Maybe reporters are busy writing their stories.

Julie:  Yes! There will be 100 front page stories tomorrow.

The Next Day…

Amy:  Where are the front page stories?

Julie:  There are no stories.

Amy:  *cries* The is the worst Nobel Laureate Day ever.

Julie:  I am going to go fight with people on Twitter.

Amy:  I am going to go write passive-aggressive satire about Greenpeace.

The End

In other words, it was just another day in the world of GMO drama. We were naive to think this day would be any different, after all, the National Academy of Sciences came out with a report a few weeks ago that should have put an end to the nonsense coming out of the anti-GMO camps but it didn’t. The usual suspects just followed the same old script:

Most Prestigious Scientific Organization Ever in Existence: GMOs are fine. This argument is stupid. Knock it the fuck off.

Anti-GMO Activists: *rend garments* Seralini! Lumpy Rats! Monoculture!

Scientists: *massive collective sigh*

Anti-GMO Activists:  *foam at mouth* Shills! Monsanto! Bleeaaarrrrgh! *hack up hairballs*

News Organizations: *snore* This again?

Why we thought the Nobel Laureate announcement would be some huge breakthrough is the big mystery. God himself could come down from a mountain holding an ancient tablet carved with the words “GMOs are fine. Knock it the Fuck Off.” and these people would not care. Here’s how the big Nobel laureate announcement basically went:

109 Nobel Laureates: GMOs are fine. Knock it the fuck off. Oh, and this bullshit of yours could be killing people. Love, Literally the Smartest People Alive

Anti-GMO Activists: *yank out eyelashes* Nobel Laureates are stupid! Shills! Monsanto!

Nobel Laureates:  *massive collective sigh*

News Organizations:  109 Nobel laureates? Never heard of ‘em.

Julie and I cried (not really) but there was a silver lining because the only rebuttal that anti-GMO activists had besides the “Monsanto Shill Slow Jam” was a press release which claimed that an academic paper by a known GMO-skeptic had shown that Greenpeace and other GMO opponents had nothing to do with stalling Golden Rice. (It didn’t show that at all but that’s another story.)

Greenpeace:  *whining* This paper proves that our massive, well-funded campaign against Golden Rice was meaningless.

Paper’s Cited Sources: That’s not what we said.

Greenpeace:  Yeah huh. The one gazillion dollars we’ve spent fighting GMOs and Golden Rice have totes been a waste. *sticks out tongue*

At least it’s been amusing to watch these people pass around an article that tells the world how fucking useless they are. So, there’s that.

In spite of our disappointment that this wasn’t nearly as exciting to other people (or news outlets) as it was to us, the laureates did an incredible thing in using their influence to shed light on an important humanitarian issue (Vitamin A Deficiency) and calling out the organizations making it more difficult to address.  It’s still early so maybe this story will get some traction; maybe a breakthrough in the GMO debate will still happen because they took a stand. No matter what, the laureates have our deepest admiration. And we were just kidding, it was actually a pretty great Nobel Laureate Day, even if it didn’t get the parade it deserved..

The Unofficial Recap of Dialogue 2016: Great Transformations

I just got to spend 3 days inside of a Tom Robbins’ novel, the Breakthrough Institute’s Dialogue 2016: Great Transformations. Like a Robbins novel, it was brilliant, inspiring, and unexpectedly sweet at times. It was also occasionally Still Life with Woodpecker weird (in a good way) with environmentalist royalty and real-life anarchists. Robbins isn’t a fan of technology so he might hate this comparison.

The conference was held in Sausalito, California which might be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. There were all of these gorgeous eucalyptus trees scattered around and I heard someone complain about them being an invasive species that needed to be removed which is so California. Here in Florida, our best invasive species is the python somebody dumped in the Everglades after it snacked on the family pitbull.

Dialogue 2016 was a gathering of academic heavy-hitters, scientists, journalists, economists, and activists. And me.

Random Brilliant Person: I have a Ph.D in Everything. What did you study?

Amy:  Psychological Approaches to Literature.

Random Brilliant Person: *blinks*

Amy:  I know how to write stupid shit about boring books.

Random Brilliant Person: I have written 6 boring books.

Amy:  I have a blog.

The people at this conference really were brilliant and I mean brilliant as in “Let’s Gossip about Nobel Laureates” rather than the “Hugh Grant Enjoys That Salad” kind of brilliant. Esoteric conversations over turkey sandwiches are a given. (Calling conversations “esoteric” is my new thing after hanging with this crowd.)

My favorite part of the whole event was the tribute to Sir David MacKay, a man who made me look at renewable energy differently. Check that – a man who made me think about renewable energy at all. I’ve written about him here but it’s better to watch his Ted Talk or read his book, Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air. MacKay passed away this year and I’m so sorry I didn’t get to meet him in person. The Breakthrough Institute honored him with the 2016 Paradigm Award for his contribution to the global conversation about energy. It was obvious by the emotion in the room how much he was admired and loved by the people who knew him and worked with him. I felt honored to witness it.

On a side note, Oliver Morton, a senior editor at the Economist, made some touching remarks about MacKay. Before he spoke, he used rhythmic snapping for a really long time to get everyone’s attention and it seemed like most people in the room knew what the hell he was doing. Maybe that’s an ecomodernist thing. Snapping. I should try it with my kids. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet Morton and have this conversation:

Amy: I’m sorry for talking during your snapping. It was very rhythmic.

Morton: I am an editor at the Economist. I am used to people not understanding me.

Amy: I am also sorry for staring at your mutton chops. They are so interesting.

Morton:  I am busy being sad about Brexit. Please do not bother me about my interesting facial hair.

The next day was jam-packed and the highlight was definitely listening to Dan Kahan who is a Professor of Law and a Professor of Psychology at Yale because…why not? He talks about 500 mph so I’m assuming that’s how fast he thinks and how he had time to become Professor of All of the Subjects. It was a blast to listen to him talk about group identities and tribes and biases. I left his session feeling slightly immobilized and wrong about everything.  I’ll have to read more of Kahan’s work because there wasn’t enough time to process. I also got distracted with figuring out who he reminded me of which is sort of a Dark Crystal version of Conan O’Brien, Superman, and Jim Carrey. In a good way.

The next thing, the reason I was there, was my panel, Ecomodernism and the Left which should have been called Ecomodernism and the European Left with Snarky Asides from Amy. The 2 guys on my panel were science writer, Leigh Phillips, and Swedish professor, Rasmus Karlsson. They are uber-intellectuals and I could listen to them debate equality all day long but I didn’t have a whole lot to contribute to that conversation. I satirize anti-vaxxers and mock corporations with imaginary marketing meetings – I don’t spend a lot of time considering the relationship between economic growth and equality. Maybe I should but it’s hard to make that funny.

Q. Does economic growth drive equality or does equality drive economic growth?

A. Zzzzzz…?

The panel got a little dicey during the Q&A when a slightly rage(y) man yelled at Leigh and me to stop “trashing the left” which…oops. Yeah, we’ve done that. Leigh kind of apologized for calling people “Granola Druids” which is hilarious and way better than when I called them “dicks.” I understand what Ragey Guy is saying and he’s probably right – trashing someone’s beliefs may not be an effective way to win them over. I’ll have to circle back to Superman O’Brien to analyze that further but the next session got me fired up and ready to start trashing again so sorry, Ragey Guy, some of these Granola Druids are dicks.

The session following mine was a discussion about industrialization in the 21st century. Lack of access to cheap energy is one of the obstacles to overcoming global poverty – it’s difficult to operate a factory and create jobs if you don’t have electricity or if electricity is a huge percentage of your costs. On the flip side, growing energy demands negatively affect the climate so how is that addressed? That’s the billion dollar question but one of the panelists, Samir Saran, vice president of the Observer Research Foundation, made a comment that global poverty was a climate change mitigation strategy. That’s a strong statement (and accusation) – keeping people poor, without access to energy, is one of the ways to address climate change? I doubt anyone on the Green Left would agree with this and maybe it’s not true (Dan Kahan has ruined all of my convictions) but the idea that that anyone, especially on the left, would intentionally adopt policies to keep people poor is abhorrent. So, brace yourself, Ragey Guy, if I decide I agree with Saran.

I can’t recap everything because it would take forever but I have to mention my friend and co-writer, Julie Kelly, and her panel. It was basically about ecomodernism and the political right which was the mirror image of my panel. The contrast was awesome.

Audience Members: Please be philosophical and tell us how you truly care about environmental issues.

Conservatives: Fuck that. We’re doing a cost-benefit analysis first.

Also, I think that someone gave the poor guys on Julie’s panel some bad information because they thought she was just a “housewife” so they apologized for getting too wonky. They obviously didn’t understand her political background or the fact that she can write a Wall Street Journal article at the same time she kicks your ass. She has the Vermont GMO labeling bill memorized and she might be the only person on the planet to read the National Academy of Science report on GMOs, cover to cover. So, wonky is not a problem for her. The guys were also lost when she offered to get the executive editor of National Review a glass of water if he’d publish one of her pieces. Funny women are confusing. The panel was interesting though and oddly enough, Julie and my socialist co-panelist, Leigh Phillips, found some areas of agreement when it comes to energy poverty. This is why I find ecomodernism hopeful.

Other notable/embarrassing moments for me were exchanges with Pandora’s Promise director, Robert Stone, and then later with Environmental Progress’ founder, Michael Shellenberger.

Amy:  Hi, Robert Stone. I’ve been dying to meet you. I am the one who wrote the ridiculous review of Pandora’s Promise.

Robert Stone:  There were exactly 1000 ridiculous reviews of my movie. How much wine have you had?

Amy: I have had all of the wine. I am the one who said nuclear energy has a White Guys with Sweater Vests problem.

Robert Stone: *blinks*

Amy:  I should look for more wine.

Later that night…

Amy: I have had all of the wine. I am an environmental activist. *cries*

Michael Shellenberger:  We are going to commit civil disobedience tomorrow and have a sit-in in front of Greenpeace offices.

Amy:  I did not bring an outfit for a sit-in plus I need to go to the spa for a scalp massage.

Michael Shellenberger:  *blinks*

Amy:  I am the worst environmental activist so I better drink the rest of this wine. *cries*

The trip went by too quickly and I’m still processing so I may do a follow-up piece. I also need to write a second, more serious article about a couple of the scientists I met there and the work these women are doing.

I’ve spent most of my time since Friday trying to figure out where ecomodernism is going as a movement – if it’s even a movement at all. It’s a difficult thing to define because there are so many competing viewpoints and philosophies, which is one of the things I find appealing, the lack of dogma. The common threads though are humanism and optimism. Everyone who attended Dialogue cares about the environment, most are concerned with climate change, many are optimistic, but everyone involved cares deeply about the welfare and future of humanity. I think this is ecomodernism’s strength and appeal and why it will continue to grow as a movement – or whatever it is.

Tom Robbins said:

“To achieve the impossible; it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought.”

To me that’s what this gathering was about – a group of people who are stretching their thinking to solve impossible world problems; problems that many are refusing to even acknowledge, much less trying to solve. Imagine what we could achieve if more people were thinking the unthinkable…

So, thanks for having me. It was wonderful and weird and I can’t wait to do it again.


The Struggle is Real: Scenes from a Food Prison


A short story from Julie Kelly and Amy Levy:

Gary Hirshberg is the founder and chairman of Stonyfield Yogurt, as well as the head of a group called Just Label It that promotes GMO labeling. If there was an award for the most arrogant self-promoter in the food movement, he would win hands down and that’s saying a lot because the competition is fierce.

Several years ago, Hirshberg sold most of his company to Dannon, which was great for him but bad for everyone else because it afforded him the time and money to lecture all of us about food.  A man who has made a fortune off the American food system refers to it as an unjust system that is “food apartheid, food slavery and food prison.”

He is as smart and shrewd of a food company executive you will find. A few years ago, Hirshberg realized he could promote his organic yogurt – and himself – as the face of the GMO labeling crusade. He’s used this issue to achieve rock star status among foodies. He’s given a TED talk, appeared on Dr. Oz and even testified on Capitol Hill.

He also appears to be a frustrated actor because he loves to be in front of a camera, listening to himself talk or play a funny character. His latest video is filmed in your typical American grocery store, er food prison, when none other than Gwyneth Paltrow emerges from her jail cell in the dairy aisle to interact with an actual human being.

We can only imagine the discussion that led to the production of this video

Very Important Meeting at Just Label It Headquarters

Yogurt Executive:  I am not famous enough. Let’s make a commercial

Yogurt Lackey: I thought you wanted to label GMOs.

Yogurt Executive:  That’s what I meant.

Yogurt Lackey: What is our commercial about?

Yogurt Executive:  It is about how women are too stupid and frazzled to understand how a QR code works.

Yogurt Lackey:  That is brilliant. Women like being stupid and frazzled. Who should be in our commercial?

Yogurt Executive:  Me.

Yogurt Lackey: Of course. Who else?

Yogurt Executive:  A really white woman.

Yogurt Lackey: Naturally. You must mean Gwyneth Paltrow.

Yogurt Executive:  Yes. She is the whitest. Also, she will make me famous.

Yogurt Lackey:  Who else?

Yogurt Executive:  Another white woman, except tired and with spoiled, well-fed children.

Yogurt Lackey:  Yes, all women who are afraid of GMOS and are too stupid and frazzled to use a QR code love Gwyneth.

Yogurt Executive:  We should film the commercial in a scary American Food Prison.

Yogurt Lackey:  Walmart?

Yogurt Executive:  Gross, no.  Stupid, frazzled women and Gwyneth Paltrow do not shop at Walmart. It has to be an upscale American Food Prison.

Yogurt Lackey: What should the stupid, frazzled white woman with nasty children be doing?

Yogurt Executive:  She will walk through the American Food Prison aisles with her ungrateful children and be overwhelmed by the literally thousands of food choices all around her.

Yogurt Lackey: Having so many food choices in American Food Prisons can be very stressful. Is this where she should show how she is too stupid and frazzled to understand a QR code?

Yogurt Executive: Exactly. She will pull out her $600 smart phone to demonstrate how stupid and frazzled she is and then her psychotic children will deliberately smash food in the aisles of the food prison.

Yogurt Lackey:  This is so relatable. All women understand the struggle of being stupid, frazzled, and having awful children who throw watermelons when they are bored.

Yogurt Executive:  That’s when Gwyneth Paltrow will appear from the giant dairy section and pretend to know what a can of food is so that she can borrow the $600 phone since she left hers in her Range Rover.

Yogurt Lackey:  All women will love this commercial because they are stupid and frazzled and want Gwyneth to borrow their $600 smart phone in the aisles of an upscale American Food Prison.

Yogurt Executive: I just am doing my part to change an unjust food system for stupid, frazzled women with too many choices at upscale grocery stores, I mean, food prisons. Oh, and getting famous.

The End