Hazel Henderson, environmentalist and futurist writer, dies at 89

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Returning home from the park in the mid-1960s, Hazel Henderson used to bathe her young daughter in ink. Ashes will fall from the sky in New York City as it is burned with rubbish, and the horizon will disappear behind a yellowish fog. Some days the air was so dirty it was hard to breathe, and for a while there was ink and fog Mrs. Henderson could talk.

“You know, dear, you’re going to be a nut about this pollution,” she later recalled her husband. “Now why don’t you talk to the mayor and leave me alone.”

Mrs. Henderson, a housewife of British descent who grew up hearing stories about the toxic “London Fog”, took her advice, Mayor Robert F. Wagner wrote letters to Jr. – as well as to local TV and radio stations – during the launch. A successful campaign to get air-pollution readings published in the evening news.

She won new restrictions on air pollution with the support of other mothers while handing out leaflets as she walked through the park, especially after the city was plunged into fog on Thanksgiving weekend in 1966.

“We got what we wanted,” he later told the Australian Financial Review.

Mrs. Henderson has been campaigning for social change for decades, turning air pollution into a broader issue of environmental justice, gender equality and economic development. A self-proclaimed “independent, self-appointed futurist,” he has written nine books, published a syndicated newspaper column, and lectured around the world, influencing political activists such as Ralph Nader, who mentioned his work in 2000 when he ran for president. As party nominated candidate.

He was 89 when he died – or “became virtual,” as he put it – May 22. His death was announced in a statement from Ethical Markets, a media organization founded to promote the “evolution of capitalism”. The statement did not say where or how she died, but said she had colon cancer, according to Nader, who interviewed Miss Henderson earlier this month on her weekly radio show.

An avid writer and environmentalist, Mrs. Henderson never graduated from college and worked outside of an established organization. “I always knew I was unemployed,” he once told the St. Petersburg Times. “I was fired from my job for disobedience.”

But as he builds a long career as a godfly thinker, he argues that economic growth must be balanced with environmental protection and that “think globally, act locally.” The Christian Science Monitor once described him as “a great innovator of new ways of thinking who would not be bothered by critics calling him a crank.”

Through Citizens for Clean Air, an environmental group he helped organize in New York in 1964, he lobbied for new local, state, and federal pollution laws to address the pollution caused by automobiles – “the internal combustion engine should be in a museum,” he declared. – as well as power plants and trash incinerators. According to historian Adam Rome’s book, The Genius of Earth Day, the group has more than 20,000 members, about 75 percent of whom are women.

“Politicians said there would be no interest!” Mrs Henderson told the Sydney Morning Herald she recalled her early campaign for new pollution control. “The mother and baby’s car crashed into City Hall, and one councilor did not dare vote against it. It was very mild and politically motivated. “

As part of her crusade against air pollution, Mrs Henderson taught herself economics, preferring to drop out with business executives and academics who insisted that it was only a matter of time to deal with dirty air. He became an outspoken critic of economic orthodoxy, comparing the field to “brain damage” and condemning the use of metrics such as GNP as a measure of national success.

Instead of GNP, he suggested his own report card for factoring in the country’s economy, literacy rate, longevity, child development and other metrics.

Mrs. Henderson shared her views with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (DN.Y.) in 1967, after arranging a helicopter ride around New York “to show him,” she later said, “all the sources of air pollution and why our group The National GNP has proposed amendments. ” The trip apparently made an impression: as he ran for president the following year, Kennedy lamented in a speech that the nation “seems to have surrendered personal superiority and community values ​​only in the accumulation of material things.”

The GNP, Kennedy added, “does not measure our intelligence or courage, nor our wisdom or education, nor our compassion or our devotion to our country. It summarizes everything except what makes life worth living. And it can tell us everything about America, but why are we so proud that we are Americans? ”

Mrs. Henderson later published a book, including “The Politics of the Solar Age” (1981), in which she discussed “defroking the priesthood of the economy”, arguing that “three hundred years of snake oil” had led to high inflation and unemployment. As well as a planet on the brink of depleted natural resources and environmental disasters.

“One might even say that the useful ‘invisible hand’ designed by Adam Smith has become a clumsy, careless ‘invisible foot’ for a growing number of Americans, trampling on social, humanitarian and environmental values,” he wrote. A new economic system driven by renewable energy sources.

New York Times reviewer Langdon Weiner writes, “Henderson writes in a lively, well-known, deliberately offensive style about issues that are important to all of us. German-British economist who believed that “the little one is beautiful.” “Those who are tired of the yoke of the liberal economy and driven by the current conservative nostrum will find much to think about here,” the winner added.

Some academics were more critical of her work, not of what Mrs. Henderson cared about.

“Economists have called my analysis erroneous and irrational,” he wrote in a follow-up book, Building a Win-Win World (1996). “I’ve learned to interpret it as evidence that I’m hitting the house.”

For the most part, he was born on March 27, 1933, in Bristol, England, to Hazel Mustard. (Some sources say he was born in Clevedon, a nearby town.) His father was a businessman, and his mother was a proto-environmentalist who grew her own fruits and vegetables, raised her own chickens, and bought fish from the local farm.

After graduating from high school, Mrs. Henderson has worked as a switchboard operator, salesperson and hotel clerk. She married Carter Henderson, a former London correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, in 1957, when she moved to New York. Their marriage ended in divorce.

Mrs. Henderson wrote for publications from Harvard Business Review to The Nation and was a colleague or board member of think tanks, including the World Business Academy, the Worldwatch Institute, and the Council on Economic Priority. In the late 1970’s, he was an advisor to the US Office of Technology Assessment and served on a panel of the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering.

As support for green energy waned during the Reagan administration, Mrs. Henderson became involved in the so-called “socially responsible investment movement” to serve on the advisory council of the Calvert Social Investment Fund. “It was like crossing the Rubicon for me, like deciding to be part of capitalism,” he said.

She founded Ethical Markets Media in 2004 with the support of her second husband, Alan K. Her husband, founder of an electronic Wall Street trading platform called AutEx, died in 2016. Survivors include a daughter from his first marriage, Alexandra Leslie Camille Henderson; And a grandson.

“Don’t doubt for a moment that a small group of dedicated citizens can change the world,” Mrs. Henderson liked to explain to her friend Margaret Mid, an anthropologist. “Actually, that’s the only thing that ever happened.”

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