Our Stolen Future
may be done individually or in groups of no more than three people. If
working in a group, all of you should read the book, and have thought
about the answers before you meet and finalize the answers. All group
assignments must be signed by hand by each of the members of the group.
The signatures denote the agreement of the group that all members participated
in the preparation of the answers. All group members receive the same
assignment after you complete reading the book.
the term hormone. How do hormones work in general? Why are hormones
important in the proper functioning of our body?
Using the diagram on page 33 of Stolen Future, and the accompanying
text as well as the enclosed table (from the book, Molecular Biology
of the Cell by Alberts et al. ), arrange the following information in
a table similar to the one shown. You may have to refer to other sources
of the following quotations is from the page indicated. For each sentence,
underline the main phrases. Describe the context and significance of
each in a paragraph or so, explaining the main points. Be specific (with
incident was a clear sign that something was seriously wrong,
but for years no one recognized that these disparate
phenomena were all connected. (page 10)
This is a summing up of Chapter I. The authors describe a number
of events that occurred in various parts of the earth from 1950
to 1992. These events were:
- decreased mating in the Florida eagle population and a scientist's
conclusion in 1952 that 80% of Florida's eagles had become sterile;
- disappearance of otters in England in the late 1950s, suspected
to be due to pesticides, especially dieldrin;
- sterility in minks on ranches in Michigan in the mid-1960s, eventually
linked to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs);
abnormalities in herring gull chicks and eggs in Lake Ontario, suspected
as due to dioxin contamination of water (1970)
nesting behavior in
the list in class)
All these seemingly different but serious incidents have to do with
disruption of the way the reproductive hormone system works. They
are disparate as they happened in different parts of the world over
a several decades. The serious consequence is unhealthy, declining
populations and evolutionary consequences. That no one recognized
the common points is an illustration of how environmental phenomena
often manifest broadly and gradually, and the usual way in which
science is done, it is hard to see the commonalities and get to
the root cause. Systemic thinking as discussed in the midterm examination
is vital to comprehending environmental problems.
The ethos of science requires absolute and reproducible proof before
a result is acknowledged as a definitive fact. Early results in
environmental observations are usually vague because of confounding
from influences other than the agent under scrutiny. These facts
lead to a number of years having to pass before scientists agree
that an agent is harmful in small quantities in the environment.
In addition, this honest disagreement is used by vested interests
to obtain the influence of some scientists and the media to dispute
or underplay the harm.
containing estrogen mimics produce them according to a seasonal
pattern that fits perfectly with this strategy.
man-made estrogen mimics differ in fundamental ways from plant estrogen.
contrary to what many had thought, its greatest threat was not cancer.
The newly emerging hazard was its power to disrupt hormones. (p.
Given this exquisite sensitivity, even small amounts of a weak estrogen
may nevertheless spell big trouble. (p.
This issue is here to stay, and it is important to the human
prospect. (p. 258)
10, "Altered Destinies" is the central chapter of the book,
laying out all the dimensions of the problem. In 2-3 pages list the
main points of the chapter as your carry-away message about endocrine
disruption and the difficulties of our being able to address the problem
appropriately. How might the EPA set up a monitoring scheme for the
endocrine disruptor problems?
statement by many industries in the 1960s and '70's when faced with
the problem of environmental releases by factories was "Dilution
is the solution to pollution." In view of what you know what endocrine
disruptors, and using systemic thinking, in a paragraph or so, argue
clearly why "dilution" is not a good environmental strategy.