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500 Ways to Make a Yoga Mat Sandwich

Food

 

The controversial “yoga mat” chemical used to make Subway sandwich bread has been discovered in nearly 500 items and more than 130 brands of bread, stuffing, pre-made sandwiches and snacks, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

 

In 1956, a New Jersey pharmaceutical and engineering firm discovered azodicarbonamide (ADA) could be used as a “dough conditioner” to make bread that would rise higher, stay soft and resilient and form an appealing crust. Photo credit: Environmental Working Group

 

EWG researchers found azodicarbonamide (ADA), an industrial chemical foaming agent, in many well-known brands, including: Pillsbury, Sara Lee, Shoprite, Safeway, Smucker’s, Fleischman’s, Jimmy Dean, Kroger, Little Debbie, Tyson, Nature’s Own and Wonder, according to ingredient data obtained for a new food database project due out later this year.

 

ADA is a synthetic substance used by plastics makers to generate tiny bubbles that make materials light, spongy and strong. These materials show up in flip-flops, yoga mats and many types of foam packing and insulation.

 

“It’s unacceptable that major food companies are using an unnecessary and potentially harmful chemical in their products, when it’s clear they can make food without it,” said Vani Hari, creator of FoodBabe.com, in a prepared statement. “These questionable additives are not supposed to be food or even eaten for that matter, but they do end up in the U.S. food supply and are consumed by millions of people, including children, every day.”

 

The information detailed in the EWG analysis was gleaned from research by FoodEssentials, a company that compiles the ingredients and claims made on foods sold in American supermarkets.

 

It was gathered before mid-February and represents a snapshot of ADA foods on the market. 

 

In 1956, a New Jersey pharmaceutical and engineering firm discovered ADA could be used as a “dough conditioner” to make bread that would rise higher, stay soft and resilient and form an appealing crust. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use as a food additive in 1962.

 

The World Health Organization has connected ADA to increased risk of respiratory problems and skin irritation in workers handling large quantities of the chemical.

 

Despite its 50-plus year circulation into popular foods, the additive has not undergone extensive testing to determine its health effects on people.

 

“ADA is just one example of an American food supply awash in chemical additives that can be mixed into foods with little oversight or safety review,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist and co-author for the analysis. “Americans have regularly eaten this chemical along with hundreds of other questionable foods additives for years. That is why we are putting together an online database that will enable consumers to make more informed decisions about the foods they eat and feed to their family.”

 

The FDA allows ADA in U.S. food in concentrations up to 45 parts per million, but it is not approved for use as a food additive in either the European Union or Australia.

 

EWG is calling on food manufacturers to immediately end ADA use in food. The organization plans to launch an online campaign to raise public awareness of the widespread use of this chemical in food and to urge companies that have been using it to immediately drop it from their ingredients.

 

Earlier this month, Hari spearheaded an online petition that collected more than 92,000 signatures asking Subway to remove ADA from its sandwich bread. Soon after, Subway announced it had started phasing out the ingredient and that ADA would be completely removed from its menu in the near future. 

 

“As my campaign has shown, social media and grassroots advocacy can shake up the food industry and produce real change on behalf of consumers,” said Hari. “I will continue to work with EWG and others to keep the pressure on to get these industrial chemicals out of our food.”

 

EWG recommends shoppers consult the following list of products to find out if ADA or other chemical additives are in their food and to take steps to reduce exposure to them.

 

Brand Name*Product
Aladdin BakersJumbo Bagels Cinnamon Raisin
America's ChoiceMuffin Sandwiches Turkey, Sausage, Egg & Cheese
AmigosTortillas
Archer FarmsSimply Balanced 100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
ArnoldBakery Light 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Sandwich Rolls, Wheat
Artichoke Basilles Pizza Co.Margherita Pizza
Artisan FreshJumbo Wheat Hoagie
Aunt Hattie'sOnion Buns
Potato Hamburger Enriched Buns
Aunt Millie'sHoney & Hamburger Buns
Whole Grain Bread
Bagel-FulsBagel Filled With Cream Cheese, Original
Baker's TreatBig Texas Cheese Roll Pastries
Ball ParkFlame Grilled Barbeque Chicken Slider
Flame Grilled Beef Sliders
Flame Grilled Cheese Burger Silders
Hot Dog Buns
Bell'sTraditional Stuffing
Betty CrockerPasta Caesar Salad
Suddenly Pasta Salad, Caesar
Big AzCheeseburger
BimboBread Crumbs
Double Fiber Bread
Large Wheat Bread
Sabor Chocolate
Toasted Bread
Toasted Bread, Original
Bon AppetitApple Danish
Blueberry Cream Pastry
Cheese & Berries Danish
Cheese Croissant
Super Cinnamon Roll
BridgfordCinnamon Pull-Apart Monkey Bread
Ready-Dough Frozen White Bread Dough
BrownberryChicago Hot Dog Rolls
Kaiser Sandwich Buns
Sandwich Buns, Onion
Sausage Rolls, Original
BunnyHot Dog Buns
Butternut1/2 Loaf White Enriced Bread
All Whole Grain 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Brown' N Serve Enriched Rolls
Deluxe Buns
Enriched Burger Buns, Sliced
Enriched Hot Dog Buns, Sliced
Hearty Rye Bread
Honey Wheat Bread
Italian Bread
Large Enriched Bread
Sliced Buns, Seeded
Whole Grain White Bread
Whole Wheat Bread
CastilloCastillo Croissants
CentrellaHot Dog Buns, Enriched
Restaurant Style Caesar Crotons
Chef M.J. BrandoGrilled Cheese Sandwiches, Cheddar
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Swiss
Clear ValueWhite Bread
CloverhillApple Danish
Cole'sCheesesticks
Garlic Mini Loaf
ConnellaBread Crumbs
Corfu Foods Inc.Hand Made Pita
Country HearthDakota Style 12 Grain Bread
Hearty Homestyle 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Hearty Homestyle Honey Grain 'n Oat Bread
Split Top Wheat Bread
Split Top White Bread
D'italianoItalian Bread
Day'n Night BitesCountry Sausge Muffin With Egg'n Cheese
Drake'sDanish Pastries Cheese
EarthgrainsHoney Wheat Berry Bread
Sliced French Premium Bread
Wheat Rolls
Entenmann'sRaspberry Danish
Essential Everyday5 Cheese Texas Toast
Garlic Bread
Garlic Bread Sticks
Garlic Texas Toast
European BakersOnion Rolls
White Sub Rolls
Farm RichFrench Toast Sticks, Cinnamon Sprinkle
French Toast Sticks, Original
Fiber OneHamburger Buns
Hot Dog Buns
Fleischmann'sSimply Homemade Baking Mix, Pretzel Creations
Simply Homemade No Knead Bread Mix, Country White
Simply Homemade No Knead Bread Mix, Italian Herb
Simply Homemade No Knead Bread Mix, Multi-Grain
Food ClubCaesar Restaurant Style Croutons
Garlic Cheesesticks
Garlic Dinner Rolls
Seasoned Restaurant Style Croutons
Strawberry Strudel
Stuffing Classics Cornbread Stuffing Mix
Texas Toast, 3 Cheese
Texas Toast, Garlic
French Toast Sticks
Garlic Bread Sticks
Texas Toast, 3 Cheese
Freihofer'sWhite Bread
Fresh GourmetPremium Croutons, Butter & Garlic
Premium Croutons, Cheese & Garlic
Premium Croutons, Classic Caesar
Premium Croutons, Garden Herb
Premium Croutons, Italian Seasoned
Premium Croutons, Parmesan Ranch
FurlaniGarlic Bread
Multi Grain Garlic Toast
Parmesan Garlic Toast
Texas Toast, Garlic
Texas Toast, Pizza
Texas Toast, Three Cheese
GatewaySoft Rye Bread
GimboConchas Fine Pastry
GolloGalletas De Huevo (Eggs Crackers)
GonnellaSandwich Rolls
Great ValueHoney Buns
Hot Dog Buns
Wheat Sandwhich Bread
Grissom'sHot Dog Sliced Enriched Buns
Harvest PrideAwesome Rolls
Seeded Italian Bread
Texas Toast Bread
Wheat Bread
White Enriched Bread
Hauswald'sEnriched Bread
Split Top Wheat Bread
Healthy Life100% Whole Grain Wheat Bread, Flaxseed
100% Whole Grain Wheat Bread, Sugar Free
100% Whole Wheat English Muffins
100% Whole Wheat Whole Grain Bread
High Fiber White Bread
Hot Dog Buns, Whole Grain
Italian Bread
Light English Muffins
Light Multigrain English Muffins
Soft Style 100% Whole Grain Bread
Hearth Of Texas Bread Company100% Whole Wheat Bread
Enriched Large White Bread
Extra Thin White Bread
Split Top Wheat Bread
Whole Grain White Bread
HoneyHot Dog Buns
HormelCountry Crock Homestyle Stuffing
Hungry-ManRoasted Carved White Meat Turkey
IhopFrench Toast Breakfast Sandwich, Egg, Canadian Bacon & Cheese
French Toast Breakfast Sandwich, Maple Sausage, Egg & Cheese
J. SkinnerCinnamon Craver's Roll
J.C. PotterSausage On A Bun
J.J. Cassone100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Rolls
Enriched Vienna Rolls
Italian Bread
Sliced Hero Rolls
Sliced Sandwich Rolls
Wheat Bran Sandwich Rolls
Jimmy DeanDelights Honey Wheat Flatbread, Bacon, Egg & Cheese
Delights Honey Wheat Flatbread, Turkey Sausage, Egg & Cheese
French Toast Griddlers
Muffin, Sausage, Egg & Cheese
Sausage, Egg & Cheese On A Muffin
Turkey Sausages Egg White & Cheese Whole Grain Bagel
Joseph CampioneAuthentic Hearth Baked Garlic Bread
Bread Sticks, Garlic
Cheese Stuffed Bread Sticks
Dinner Rolls, Parmesan Garlic
Garlic Bread, Authentic Hearth Baked
Garlic Mini Loaf
Texas Toast, 5 Cheese
Texas Toast, Garlic
Texas Toast, Parmesan
Key FoodSeeded Rye European Hearth Bread, Deli Style
Seedless Rye European Hearth Bread, Deli Style
Kid CuisineKc's Campfire Hot Dog
KrogerWhite Enriched Bread
White Hamburger Enriched Buns
L'oven FreshSplit Top Wheat Bread
LakelandHot Dog Buns Enriched
White Enriched Sandwich Bread
LewisHealthy Life Wheat Hot Dog Buns
Whole Wheat Sandwich Buns
Liberty HearthNew York Deli Kaiser Rolls, Poppy
Little DebbieCheese Danish Classic Pastry
Cinnamon Rolls With Icing
Cream Cheese Danish Pastry
Danish Pastry, Cherry Cheese
Honey Buns
MaglioStromboli, Philly Style Steak & Cheese
ManischewitzPumpernickel Bread
Mariano's100% Whole Wheat Bread
Asiago Cheese Focaccia
Bell Pepper Focaccia Muffins
Breadstics
Butterflake Rolls
Cheese Pizza Bread
Chefs Collection Italian Focaccia Half
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Club Rolls
Egg And Onion Brat Bun
Egg Dinner Rolls
English Muffin Bread
Fresh Tomato Focaccia
Garlic Bread
Ham Swiss Sub
Hamburger Buns
Hard Rolls
Hot Dog Buns
Italian Bread
Italian Specialty Bread By The Pound
Jalapeno Cheddar Focaccia
Jalapeno Cheddar Focaccia Muffins
Kaiser Rolls
Large Kaiser Rolls
Marble Rye Bread
Olive And Parmesan Chop Block Bread
Onion Rye Specialty Bread
Paisano Italiano Sandwich
Parisian Chocolate Croissant
Roast Beef & Cheddar Croissant
Rotisserie Chicken Salad Croissant
Rye Specialty Bread By The Pound
Salami And Provolone Chop Block Bread
Tomato Basil Chop Block Bread
Walnut Raisin Specialty Bread
Wheat Bread
Wheat Club Rolls
Wheat Dinner Rolls
Wheat Hamburger Buns
Wheat Hot Dog Buns
White Bread
Whole Wheat Specialty Bread
Marie Callender'sFlaky Croissant With Ham & Swiss
Flaky Croissant With Sausage, Egg & Monterey Jack
Spaghetti With Meat Sauce
Market StreetButterflake Rolls
Martin'sCinnamon Raisin Swirl Potato Bread
Hoagie Rolls, Unseeded
Long Roll, Potato Rolls
Potato Bread, 100% Whole Wheat
Potato Bread, Sandwich
Potato Rolls
Potatobred Soft Cubed Stuffing
Marty'sLarge Rolls
MasterHamburger Enriched Buns
Hot Dog Enriched Buns
MckeeCheese Danish With Icing
Cinnamon Rolls
Mediterranean PitaBread
Met FoodmarketsGiant White Enriched Bread
Hamburgers Enriched Buns
Hot Dogs Enriched Buns
Mother'sGiant Enriched White Bread
Split Top Wheat Bread
Mrs Baird'sPastry Kitchen Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon Rolls, Cherry
Cinnamon Rolls, Original
Mrs. Cubbison'sButter & Garlic Croutons
Corn Bread Stuffing, Seasoned
Seasoned Croutons
Mrs. Freshley'sHoney Buns
Murry'sFrench Toast Bites, Cinnamon Blase
Nature's Own100% Whole Grain
100% Whole Wheat Bread
100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Rolls
100% Whole Wheat Thin Sliced Bagels
Butterbread
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Double Fiber Wheat Bread
Honey Wheat Bread
Hot Dog Rolls
Sandwich Rounds, Multi-Grain
Thin Sliced Bagels, Plain
White Wheat Bread
Whole Grain Bread
New YorkBread Sticks With Real Garlic
Hand-Tied Garlic Knots With Real Garlic
Texas Toast, 5 Cheese
Texas Toast, Garlic
New York DeliKaiser Rolls, Plain
Kaiser Rolls, Sesame
Old StyleCottage Potato Bread
One RepublicSkinny Buns
OroweatRaisin Cinnamon Bread
Palagonia100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Rolls
French Bread
Italian Bread
Mini Heros
Panino Italiano
Rolls
Sliced Italina Bread
PatrioticHoney Buns
PelmenBlueberry Perogies Peroguis Aux Bleuets
Mushrooms Champigons
Perogies, Cherry
Perogies, Potato With Cheddar Cheese
Perogies, Potato With Cottage Cheese
Perogies, Potato With Spinach & Feta
Perogies, Sauerkraut
Perogies, Sauerkraut Mushrooms
Perogies, Sweet Cottage Cheese
PillsburyArtisan Dinner Rolls
Artisan Pizza Crust With Whole Grain
Breadsticks, Original
Crusty French Loaf
Italian Bread
Pizza Crust, Thin Crust
Toaster Scrambles, Cheese Sauce, Egg & Bacon
Toaster Scrambles, Cheese Sauce, Egg & Sausage
Toaster Strudel Pastries, Apple
Toaster Strudel Pastries, Apple Cream Danish
Toaster Strudel Pastries, Blueberry
Toaster Strudel Pastries, Boston Cream Pie
Toaster Strudel Pastries, Cinnamon With Brown Sugar
Toaster Strudel Pastries, Cream Cheese & Strawberry
Toaster Strudel Pastries, Danish Style Cream Cheese
Toaster Strudel Pastries, Strawberry
Potmann's SelectSeasoned Croutons
RainboThin Sliced White Bread
Raybern's New York Deli StyleRaybern's New York Deli Style Philly Cheesesteak
Roast Beef Cheddar Melt
RhodesCinnamon Rolls, Cream Cheese Frosting
Roman Meal100% Whole Wheat Bread
Rosa BiancaGarlic Bread
Rosen'sSweet Hawaiian Rolls
Roundy's100% Whole Wheat Bread
Blueberry Bagels
Bratwurst Enriched Buns, Sliced
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bagel
Croissant Sandwiches
Croutons, Cheese & Garlic
Croutons, Seasoned
Deli Rye Bread, Seedless
Enriched Hot Dog Buns
Everything Bagels
French Bread
Garlic Bread, Original
Garlic Bread, Parmesan
Hamburger Enriched Buns
Italian Sausage Tortelloni
Meat & Fine Herbs Ravioli
Muffin Sandwiches, Ham Egg And Cheese
Muffin Sandwiches, Sausage, Egg & Cheese
Plain Bagels
Presliced Everything Bagels
Quarter Pound Chicken Sandwich
Select 9 Grain Bread
Texas Toast, Garlic
Texas Toast, Three Cheese
Wheat Bread, Split Top
Wheat Muffin Sandwiches, Turkey Sausage, Egg White & Cheese
White Enriched Bread
White Enriched Sandwich Bread
S.Rosen'sBlack Bavarian Rye Bread
Bohemian Style Rye Bread
Brat & Sausage Rolls
Enriched Hot Dog Buns
French Rolls, Italian Beef Rolls
Hawaiian Bread, Pineapple
Kaiser Buns
Marble Rye Swirled
Multi Grain Bread
Rye Bread
Rye Bread, Caraway Seeds
Rye Bread, Unseeded
Wheat With Oat Bran Buns
SafewayCornbread Stuffing Mix
Five Cheese Garlic Toast
Sara LeeBlueberry Crumble Breakfast Bread
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Breakfast Bread
Center Split Deli Rolls, White
Cinnamon Breakfast Bread With Raisins
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
Cinnamon Rolls
Classic Dinner Rolls
Deluxe Bagels, Blueberry
Deluxe Bagels, Cinnamon Raisin
Deluxe Bagels, Plain
Hearty & Delicious 100% Whole Wheat Deli Rolls
Hearty & Delicious Center Split Deli Rolls, White
Honey Wheat Bread
Soft & Smooth 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Soft & Smooth 100% Whole Wheat Hot Dog Buns
Soft & Smooth Hamburger Buns, White
Soft & Smooth Hot Dog Buns, White
Soft & Smooth Wheat Hamburger Buns
White Bread
SchmidtEnriched Bread
Enriched Hamburger Rolls, Sliced
Rye Bread
Wheat Rolls
Whole Grain White Bread
Select SignaturesSpicy Chicken Sliders
ShopriteBangles Whole Wheat
Cinnamon Bread
Country White Bread
Enriched Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Enriched Honey Wheat Bread
Enriched Light Hot Dog Rolls
Enriched Light Wheat Bread
Enriched Round Top White Bread
Garlic Bread Sticks
Garlic Dinner Rolls
Hot Dog Rolls
Italian Bread
Onion Bagels
Poppy Bagels
Potato Hamburger Rolls
Premium Bread
Premium Bread With 100% Stone Ground Wheat
Sandwich White Bread
Sesame Bagels
Sliced Hearth Baked Plain Bagels
Split Top White Bread
Swirl Rye Bread
Texas Toast Garlic
Wheat Bread
SimplyaddwaterPremium Challah Bread Mix
Smucker'sUncrustables Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly Sandwich
Uncrustables Peanut Butter & Grape Spread Sandwich, Reduced Sugar
Uncrustables Peanut Butter & Rasperry Spread Sandwich
Uncrustables Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jam Sandwich
Uncrustables Peanut Butter & Strawberry Spread Sandwich, Reduced Sugar
SnacksIced Honey Buns
StorehmannSplit Top Wheat Bread
White Bread
Sun-MaidRaisin Bread, Cinnamon Swirl
SunbeamEnriched Buns
Grill'n Griddle Bread
Hot Dog Buns
Large, Enriched Bread
Texas Toast Enriched Bread, Thick Sliced
Super BreadGiant White Enriched Bread
Hamburger Enriched Buns
Honey Wheat Bread
Hot Dog Enriched Buns
Raisin Bread
TastykakeGlazed Honey Buns
Honey Bun
Iced Honey Buns
The Bakery At WalmartGlazed Yeast Donuts
Jumbo Croissant
Toufayan BakeriesBagels Blueberry
Cinnamon Raisin
Everything Bagels
Mini Bagels, Cinnamon Raisin
Mini Bagels, Plain
Pre-Sliced Bagels, Whole Wheat
Pre-Sliced Mini Bagels, Whole Wheat
TuranoBrat & Sausage Rolls
Extra Long French Bread
French Rolls
Gourmet Sandwich Rolls
Italian Bread
Kaiser Rolls
Old Fashioned Italian Bread
Soft Sub Rolls
Wheat French Rolls
Wheat Rolls
Tuscan GardenCaesar Gourmet Restaurant Style Croutons
TysonMini Chicken Sandwiches
Mini Chicken Sandwiches With Cheddar Cheese
Mini Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
Unger'sPuff Pastry Shells
VachonCarrot Cakes
Valu TimeWheat Bread White Enriched Bread
Van De Kamp'sEnriched Hot Dog Buns Sliced
Village Hearth100% Whole Wheat Bread
Cottage Bread, Wheat
Honey Wheat Bread
Light 12 Grain Bread
Light Italian Bread
Light Wheat Bread
White Brat Buns
Weight Watchers Smart OnesEnglish Muffin Sandwich, Canadian Style Bacon
English Muffin Sandwich, Egg Whites & Cheese
Homestyle Turkey Breast With Stuffing
White CastleCheeseburgers
Microwavable Hamburgers
White RoseStuffing Mix
WonderLight Wheat Bread
Potato Hot Dog Buns
Texas Toast Bread

 

Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD page for more related news on this topic.

 

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Brazilians living in The Netherlands organized a demonstration in solidarity with rainforest protectors and against the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro on Sept. 1 in The Hague, Netherlands. Romy Arroyo Fernandez / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Tara Smith

Fires in the Brazilian Amazon have jumped 84 percent during President Jair Bolsonaro's first year in office and in July 2019 alone, an area of rainforest the size of Manhattan was lost every day. The Amazon fires may seem beyond human control, but they're not beyond human culpability.

Bolsonaro ran for president promising to "integrate the Amazon into the Brazilian economy". Once elected, he slashed the Brazilian environmental protection agency budget by 95 percent and relaxed safeguards for mining projects on indigenous lands. Farmers cited their support for Bolsonaro's approach as they set fires to clear rainforest for cattle grazing.

Bolsonaro's vandalism will be most painful for the indigenous people who call the Amazon home. But destruction of the world's largest rainforest may accelerate climate change and so cause further suffering worldwide. For that reason, Brazil's former environment minister, Marina Silva, called the Amazon fires a crime against humanity.

From a legal perspective, this might be a helpful way of prosecuting environmental destruction. Crimes against humanity are international crimes, like genocide and war crimes, which are considered to harm both the immediate victims and humanity as a whole. As such, all of humankind has an interest in their punishment and deterrence.

Historical Precedent

Crimes against humanity were first classified as an international crime during the Nuremberg trials that followed World War II. Two German Generals, Alfred Jodl and Lothar Rendulic, were charged with war crimes for implementing scorched earth policies in Finland and Norway. No one was charged with crimes against humanity for causing the unprecedented environmental damage that scarred the post-war landscapes though.

Our understanding of the Earth's ecology has matured since then, yet so has our capacity to pollute and destroy. It's now clear that the consequences of environmental destruction don't stop at national borders. All humanity is placed in jeopardy when burning rainforests flood the atmosphere with CO₂ and exacerbate climate change.

Holding someone like Bolsonaro to account for this by charging him with crimes against humanity would be a world first. If successful, it could set a precedent which might stimulate more aggressive legal action against environmental crimes. But do the Amazon fires fit the criteria?

Prosecuting crimes against humanity requires proof of widespread and systematic attacks against a civilian population. If a specific part of the global population is persecuted, this is an affront to the global conscience. In the same way, domestic crimes are an affront to the population of the state in which they occur.

When prosecuting prominent Nazis in Nuremberg, the US chief prosecutor, Robert Jackson, argued that crimes against humanity are committed by individuals, not abstract entities. Only by holding individuals accountable for their actions can widespread atrocities be deterred in future.

The International Criminal Court's Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has promised to apply the approach first developed in Nuremberg to prosecute individuals for international crimes that result in significant environmental damage. Her recommendations don't create new environmental crimes, such as "ecocide", which would punish severe environmental damage as a crime in itself. They do signal, however, a growing appreciation of the role that environmental damage plays in causing harm and suffering to people.

The International Criminal Court was asked in 2014 to open an investigation into allegations of land-grabbing by the Cambodian government. In Cambodia, large corporations and investment firms were being given prime agricultural land by the government, displacing up to 770,000 Cambodians from 4m hectares of land. Prosecuting these actions as crimes against humanity would be a positive first step towards holding individuals like Bolsonaro accountable.

But given the global consequences of the Amazon fires, could environmental destruction of this nature be legally considered a crime against all humanity? Defining it as such would be unprecedented. The same charge could apply to many politicians and business people. It's been argued that oil and gas executives who've funded disinformation about climate change for decades should be chief among them.

Charging individuals for environmental crimes against humanity could be an effective deterrent. But whether the law will develop in time to prosecute people like Bolsonaro is, as yet, uncertain. Until the International Criminal Court prosecutes individuals for crimes against humanity based on their environmental damage, holding individuals criminally accountable for climate change remains unlikely.

This story originally appeared in The Conversation. It is republished here as part of EcoWatch's partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Author, social activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein speaking on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20, 2018. Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Natalie Hanman

Why are you publishing this book now?

I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

The book collects essays from the last decade, have you changed your mind about anything?

When I look back, I don't think I placed enough emphasis on the challenge climate change poses to the left. It's more obvious the way the climate crisis challenges a rightwing dominant worldview, and the cult of serious centrism that never wants to do anything big, that's always looking to split the difference. But this is also a challenge to a left worldview that is essentially only interested in redistributing the spoils of extractivism [the process of extracting natural resources from the earth] and not reckoning with the limits of endless consumption.

What's stopping the left doing this?

In a North American context, it's the greatest taboo of all to actually admit that there are going to be limits. You see that in the way Fox News has gone after the Green New Deal – they are coming after your hamburgers! It cuts to the heart of the American dream – every generation gets more than the last, there is always a new frontier to expand to, the whole idea of settler colonial nations like ours. When somebody comes along and says, actually, there are limits, we've got some tough decisions, we need to figure out how to manage what's left, we've got to share equitably – it is a psychic attack. And so the response [on the left] has been to avoid, and say no, no, we're not coming to take away your stuff, there are going to be all kinds of benefits. And there aregoing to be benefits: we'll have more livable cities, we'll have less polluted air, we'll spend less time stuck in traffic, we can design happier, richer lives in so many ways. But we are going to have to contract on the endless, disposable consumption side.

Do you feel encouraged by talk of the Green New Deal?

I feel a tremendous excitement and a sense of relief, that we are finally talking about solutions on the scale of the crisis we face. That we're not talking about a little carbon tax or a cap and trade scheme as a silver bullet. We're talking about transforming our economy. This system is failing the majority of people anyway, which is why we're in this period of such profound political destabilisation – that is giving us the Trumps and the Brexits, and all of these strongman leaders – so why don't we figure out how to change everything from bottom to top, and do it in a way that addresses all of these other crises at the same time? There is every chance we will miss the mark, but every fraction of a degree warming that we are able to hold off is a victory and every policy that we are able to win that makes our societies more humane, the more we will weather the inevitable shocks and storms to come without slipping into barbarism. Because what really terrifies me is what we are seeing at our borders in Europe and North America and Australia – I don't think it's coincidental that the settler colonial states and the countries that are the engines of that colonialism are at the forefront of this. We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism. We saw it in Christchurch, we saw it in El Paso, where you have this marrying of white supremacist violence with vicious anti-immigrant racism.

That is one of the most chilling sections of your book: I think that's a link a lot of people haven't made.

This pattern has been clear for a while. White supremacy emerged not just because people felt like thinking up ideas that were going to get a lot of people killed but because it was useful to protect barbaric but highly profitable actions. The age of scientific racism begins alongside the transatlantic slave trade, it is a rationale for that brutality. If we are going to respond to climate change by fortressing our borders, then of course the theories that would justify that, that create these hierarchies of humanity, will come surging back. There have been signs of that for years, but it is getting harder to deny because you have killers who are screaming it from the rooftops.

One criticism you hear about the environment movement is that it is dominated by white people. How do you address that?

When you have a movement that is overwhelmingly representative of the most privileged sector of society then the approach is going to be much more fearful of change, because people who have a lot to lose tend to be more fearful of change, whereas people who have a lot to gain will tend to fight harder for it. That's the big benefit of having an approach to climate change that links it to those so called bread and butter issues: how are we going to get better paid jobs, affordable housing, a way for people to take care of their families?

I have had many conversations with environmentalists over the years where they seem really to believe that by linking fighting climate change with fighting poverty, or fighting for racial justice, it's going to make the fight harder. We have to get out of this "my crisis is bigger than your crisis: first we save the planet and then we fight poverty and racism, and violence against women". That doesn't work. That alienates the people who would fight hardest for change.

This debate has shifted a huge amount in the U.S. because of the leadership of the climate justice movement and because it is congresswomen of colour who are championing the Green New Deal. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaibcome from communities that have gotten such a raw deal under the years of neoliberalism and longer, and are determined to represent, truly represent, the interests of those communities. They're not afraid of deep change because their communities desperately need it.

In the book, you write: "The hard truth is that the answer to the question 'What can I, as an individual, do to stop climate change?' is: nothing." Do you still believe that?

In terms of the carbon, the individual decisions that we make are not going to add up to anything like the kind of scale of change that we need. And I do believe that the fact that for so many people it's so much more comfortable to talk about our own personal consumption, than to talk about systemic change, is a product of neoliberalism, that we have been trained to see ourselves as consumers first. To me that's the benefit of bringing up these historical analogies, like the New Deal or the Marshall Plan – it brings our minds back to a time when we were able to think of change on that scale. Because we've been trained to think very small. It is incredibly significant that Greta Thunberg has turned her life into a living emergency.

Yes, she set sail for the UN climate summit in New York on a zero carbon yacht ...

Exactly. But this isn't about what Greta is doing as an individual. It's about what Greta is broadcasting in the choices that she makes as an activist, and I absolutely respect that. I think it's magnificent. She is using the power that she has to broadcast that this is an emergency, and trying to inspire politicians to treat it as an emergency. I don't think anybody is exempt from scrutinising their own decisions and behaviours but I think it is possible to overemphasise the individual choices. I have made a choice – and this has been true since I wrote No Logo, and I started getting these "what should I buy, where should I shop, what are the ethical clothes?" questions. My answer continues to be that I am not a lifestyle adviser, I am not anyone's shopping guru, and I make these decisions in my own life but I'm under no illusion that these decisions are going to make the difference.

Some people are choosing to go on birth strikes. What do you think about that?

I'm happy these discussions are coming into the public domain as opposed to being furtive issues we're afraid to talk about. It's been very isolating for people. It certainly was for me. One of the reasons I waited as long as I did to try and get pregnant, and I would say this to my partner all the time – what, you want to have a Mad Max water warrior fighting with their friends for food and water? It wasn't until I was part of the climate justice movement and I could see a path forward that I could even imagine having a kid. But I would never tell anybody how to answer this most intimate of questions. As a feminist who knows the brutal history of forced sterilisation and the ways in which women's bodies become battle zones when policymakers decide that they are going to try and control population, I think that the idea that there are regulatory solutions when it comes to whether or not to have kids is catastrophically ahistorical. We need to be struggling with our climate grief together and our climate fears together, through whatever decision we decide to make, but the discussion we need to have is how do we build a world so that those kids can have thriving, zero-carbon lives?

Over the summer, you encouraged people to read Richard Powers's novel, The Overstory. Why?

It's been incredibly important to me and I'm happy that so many people have written to me since. What Powers is writing about trees: that trees live in communities and are in communication, and plan and react together, and we've been completely wrong in the way we conceptualise them. It's the same conversation we're having about whether we are going to solve this as individuals or whether we are going to save the collective organism. It's also rare, in good fiction, to valorise activism, to treat it with real respect, failures and all, to acknowledge the heroism of the people who put their bodies on the line. I thought Powers did that in a really extraordinary way.

What are you views on what Extinction Rebellion has achieved?

One thing they have done so well is break us out of this classic campaign model we have been in for a long time, where you tell someone something scary, you ask them to click on something to do something about it, you skip out the whole phase where we need to grieve together and feel together and process what it is that we just saw. Because what I hear a lot from people is, ok, maybe those people back in the 1930s or 40s could organise neighbourhood by neighbourhood or workplace by workplace but we can't. We believe we've been so downgraded as a species that we are incapable of that. The only thing that is going to change that belief is getting face to face, in community, having experiences, off our screens, with one another on the streets and in nature, and winning some things and feeling that power.

You talk about stamina in the book. How do you keep going? Do you feel hopeful?

I have complicated feelings about the hope question. Not a day goes by that I don't have a moment of sheer panic, raw terror, complete conviction that we are doomed, and then I do pull myself out of it. I'm renewed by this new generation that is so determined, so forceful. I'm inspired by the willingness to engage in electoral politics, because my generation, when we were in our 20s and 30s, there was so much suspicion around getting our hands dirty with electoral politics that we lost a lot of opportunities. What gives me the most hope right now is that we've finally got the vision for what we want instead, or at least the first rough draft of it. This is the first time this has happened in my lifetime. And also, I did decide to have kids. I have a seven year old who is so completely obsessed and in love with the natural world. When I think about him, after we've spent an entire summer talking about the role of salmon in feeding the forests where he was born in British Columbia, and how they are linked to the health of the trees and the soil and the bears and the orcas and this entire magnificent ecosystem, and I think about what it would be like to have to tell him that there are no more salmon, it kills me. So that motivates me. And slays me.

This story was originally published by The Guardian, and is republished here as part of the Covering Climate Now partnership to strengthen the media's focus on the climate crisis.

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