Wednesday, December 30, 2009
...we've identified 65 different risks, including thousands of sick, sterile and dead "livestock", thousands of toxic and allergic reactions in humans, and damage to virtually every organ and every system studied in laboratory animals. We have now what I say is irrefutable, overwhelming evidence that the current generation of genetically modified foods are unsafe, should never have been approved, and should be withdrawn....They have no justification for keeping their "foods" on the market given the overwhelming evidence to date. GMOs may constitute one of the greatest health and environmental catastrophes we face, since they are deployed in the entire food supply.
Evidence on health dangers has prompted the American Academy of Environmental Medicine to say that according to animal feeding studies, GMOs are causally linked to immune system problems, organ damage, reproductive damage, accelerated aging, insulin disregulation, gastrointestinal problems and higher death rates. A study...by the Union of Concerned Scientists confirm(ed)...that genetically modified crops on average reduce yield.
A USDA report from 2006 showed that farmers don't actually increase income from GMOs, but many actually lose income. And for the past several years the US has been forced to spend $3-5 billion per year to prop up the prices of GM crops no one wants. They are not reliable. They are expensive. The take money away from more effective strategies - sustainable and organic methods have been shown to increase yields in some cases by 73 - 300%.
...the strategy we have adopted for eliminating GMOs from the food supply...is not to try and get the government to do it for us but to create a tipping point of consumer rejection against GMOs. We think that could happen with as little as 5 % of US shoppers (15 million people) avoiding GM brands. That will make GM ingredients a marketing liability...and force them out of the market. There are already 28 million people who buy organic food on a regular basis, 54 million who buy it occasionally. Most Americans say they would avoid GMOs if they were labeled.
To create this tipping point quickly, please share with your friends, family, colleagues, customers and suppliers the Non-GMO shopping guide
See, especially, the page WHY SHOULD I AVOID GMOs?
and, at Jeffrey Smith's site, The 65 Health Risks of GM Foods.
In India, they introduced Bt cotton [cotton engineered to contain bacillus thuringiensis, a pesticide that kills many insects and boll weevils] and it turns out that thousands of farm workers are reporting allergic reactions, rashes and itching after working in the fields - the same symptoms described by farmers in the US and Canada who were exposed to aerial spraying of Bt for gypsy moths. We know that Bt causes allergy and flu-like symptoms in humans but it gets worse. Indian farmers let animals graze the cotton after harvest only to have thousands of sheep, goats, cattle, and buffalo die. Out of shame and desperation many of the farmers then committed suicide. The UK Daily Mail estimated that 125,000 Indian farmers killed themselves because of Bt cotton.
The process of genetic engineering is so disruptive that by the time you've inserted the gene and grown the cell into a plant using cloning, you have hundreds or thousands of mutations up and down the DNA structure. We know that the GMO soy on the market has a soy allergen that's as much as 7 times higher than non-GMO and has an anti-nutrient that's about double.
Do yourself and your family a HUGE favor and learn all you can about this grand and foolish experiment that turns every American into an unmonitored lab rat. Stop buying into it.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
We are entering the Anthropocene, a new geological era in which our activities are threatening the Earth´s capacity to regulate itself. We are beginning to push the planet out of its current stable Holocene state, the warm period that began about 10,000 years ago and during which agriculture and complex societies, including our own, have developed and flourished
To avoid catastrophic environmental change humanity must stay within defined 'planetary boundaries' for a range of essential Earth-system processes, argue Johan Rockström and his co-authors in a Nature Feature. If one boundary is transgressed, then safe levels for other processes could also be under serious risk, they caution. Seven expert commentaries respond to this proposal in Nature Reports Climate Change.
(Click image for larger view) The inner green shading represents the proposed safe operating space for nine planetary systems. The red wedges represent an estimate of the current position for each variable. The boundaries in three systems (rate of biodiversity loss, climate change and human interference with the nitrogen cycle), have already been exceeded.
Stratospheric ozone layer
The stratospheric ozone layer filters out ultraviolet radiation from the sun. If this layer decreases, increasing amounts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation will reach ground level and can cause a higher incidence of skin cancer in humans as well as damage to terrestrial and marine biological systems. The appearance of the Antarctic ozone hole was proof that increased concentrations of anthropogenic ozone depleting substances, combined with polar stratospheric clouds, had moved the Antarctic stratosphere into a new regime. Fortunately, because of the actions taken as a result of the Montreal Protocol, we appear to be on the path that will allow us to stay within this boundary.
In the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, it was concluded that changes in biodiversity due to human activities were more rapid in the past 50 years than at any time in human history, and the drivers of change that cause biodiversity loss and lead to changes in ecosystem services are either steady, show no evidence of declining over time, or are increasing in intensity. These large rates of extinction can be slowed by judicious projects to enhance habitat and build appropriate connectivity while maintaining high agricultural productivity. Further research is needed to determine whether a boundary based on extinction rates is sufficient, and whether there are reliable data to support it.
Emissions of persistent toxic compounds such as metals, various organic compounds and radionuclides, represent some of the key human-driven changes to the planetary environment. There are a number of examples of additive and synergic effects from these compounds. These effects are potentially irreversible. Of most concern are the effects of reduced fertility and especially the potential of permanent genetic damage. As an example, organism uptake and accumulation to sub-lethal levels increasingly cause a dramatic reduction of marine mammal and bird populations. At present, we are unable to quantify this boundary; however, it is nonetheless considered sufficiently well defined to be on the list.
We have reached a point at which the loss of summer polar ice is almost certainly irreversible. From the perspective of the Earth as a complex system, this is one example of the sharp threshold above which large feedback mechanisms could drive the Earth system into a much warmer, greenhouse gas-rich state with sea levels meters higher than present. The weakening or reversal of terrestrial carbon sinks, for example through the ongoing destruction of the world´s rainforests, is another such interdependent tipping point. Recent evidence suggests that the Earth System, now passing 387 ppmv CO2, has already transgressed this Planetary Boundary. A major question is how long we can remain over this boundary before large, irreversible changes become unavoidable.
Around a quarter of the CO2 humanity produces is dissolved in the oceans. Here it forms carbonic acid, altering ocean chemistry and decreasing the pH of the surface water. Increased acidity reduces the amount of available carbonate ions, an essential building block used for shell and skeleton formation in organisms such as corals, and some shellfish and plankton species. This will seriously change ocean ecology and potentially lead to drastic reductions in fish stocks. Compared to pre-industrial times, surface ocean acidity has increased by 30%.
The ocean acidification boundary is a clear example of a boundary which, if transgressed, will involve very large change in marine ecosystems, with ramifications for the whole planet. It is also a good example of how tightly connected the boundaries are, since atmospheric CO2 concentration is the underlying controlling variable for both the climate and the ocean acidification boundary.
Freshwater consumption and the global hydrological cycle
The freshwater cycle is both a major prerequisite for staying within the climate boundary, and is strongly affected by climate change. Human pressure is now the dominating driving force determining the function and distribution of global freshwater systems. The effects are dramatic, including both global-scale river flow change and shifts in vapor flows from land use change. Water is becoming increasingly scarce and by 2050 about half a billion people are likely to have moved into the water-stressed category. A water boundary related to consumptive freshwater use has been proposed to maintain the overall resilience of the Earth system and avoid crossing local and regional thresholds ‘downstream´.
Land system change
Land is converted to human use all over the planet. Forests, wetlands and other vegetation types are converted primarily to agricultural land. This land-use change is one driving force behind reduced biodiversity and has impacts on water flows as well as carbon and other cycles. Land cover change occurs on local and regional scales but when aggregated appears to impact the Earth System on a global scale. A major challenge with setting a land use-related boundary is to reflect not only the needed quantity of unconverted and converted land but also its function, quality and spatial distribution.
Atmospheric aerosol loading
This is considered a planetary boundary for two main reasons: (i) the influence of aerosols on the climate system and (ii) their adverse effects on human health at a regional and global scale. Without aerosol particles in the atmosphere, we would not have clouds. Most clouds and aerosol particles act to cool the planet by reflecting incoming sunlight back to space. Some particles (such as soot) or thin high clouds act like greenhouse gases to warm the planet. In addition, aerosols have been shown to affect monsoon circulations and global-scale circulation systems. Particles also have adverse effects on human health, causing roughly 800,000 premature deaths worldwide each year. While all of these relationships have been well established, all the causal links (especially regarding health effects) are yet to be determined. It has not yet been possible specific threshold value at which global-scale effects will occur; but aerosol loading is so central to climate and human health that it is included among the boundaries.
Nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to the biosphere and oceans
Human modification of the nitrogen cycle has been even greater than our modification of the carbon cycle. Human activities now convert more N2 from the atmosphere into reactive forms than all of the Earth´s terrestrial processes combined. Much of this new reactive nitrogen pollutes waterways and coastal zones, is emitted to the atmosphere in various forms, or accumulates in the terrestrial biosphere. A relatively small proportion of the fertilizers applied to food production systems is taken up by plants. A significant fraction of the applied nitrogen and phosphorus makes its way to the sea, and can push marine and aquatic systems across thresholds of their own. A concrete example of this effect is the decline in the shrimp catch in the Gulf of Mexico due to hypoxia caused by fertilizer transported in rivers from the US Midwest.
Nitrogen and phosphorus cycles
Modern agriculture is a major cause of environmental pollution, including large-scale nitrogen- and phosphorus-induced environmental change. At the planetary scale, the additional amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus activated by humans are now so large that they significantly perturb the global cycles of these two important elements.
Human processes — primarily the manufacture of fertilizer for food production and the cultivation of leguminous crops — convert around 120 million tonnes of N2 from the atmosphere per year into reactive forms — which is more than the combined effects from all Earth's terrestrial processes. Much of this new reactive nitrogen ends up in the environment, polluting waterways and the coastal zone, accumulating in land systems and adding a number of gases to the atmosphere. It slowly erodes the resilience of important Earth subsystems. Nitrous oxide, for example, is one of the most important non-CO2 greenhouse gases and thus directly increases radiative forcing.
Anthropogenic distortion of the nitrogen cycle and phosphorus flows has shifted the state of lake systems from clear to turbid water. Marine ecosystems have been subject to similar shifts, for example, during periods of anoxia in the Baltic Sea caused by excessive nutrients. These and other nutrient-generated impacts justify the formulation of a planetary boundary for nitrogen and phosphorus flows, which we propose should be kept together as one boundary given their close interactions with other Earth-system processes.
Setting a planetary boundary for human modification of the nitrogen cycle is not straightforward. We have defined the boundary by considering the human fixation of N2 from the atmosphere as a giant 'valve' that controls a massive flow of new reactive nitrogen into Earth. As a first guess, we suggest that this valve should contain the flow of new reactive nitrogen to 25% of its current value, or about 35 million tonnes of nitrogen per year. Given the implications of trying to reach this target, much more research and synthesis of information is required to determine a more informed boundary.
Unlike nitrogen, phosphorus is a fossil mineral that accumulates as a result of geological processes. It is mined from rock and its uses range from fertilizers to toothpaste. Some 20 million tonnes of phosphorus is mined every year and around 8.5 million–9.5 million tonnes of it finds its way into the oceans. This is estimated to be approximately eight times the natural background rate of influx.
Records of Earth history show that large-scale ocean anoxic events occur when critical thresholds of phosphorus inflow to the oceans are crossed. This potentially explains past mass extinctions of marine life. Modeling suggests that a sustained increase of phosphorus flowing into the oceans exceeding 20% of the natural background weathering was enough to induce past ocean anoxic events.
Our tentative modeling estimates suggest that if there is a greater than tenfold increase in phosphorus flowing into the oceans (compared with pre-industrial levels), then anoxic ocean events become more likely within 1,000 years. Despite the large uncertainties involved, the state of current science and the present observations of abrupt phosphorus-induced regional anoxic events indicate that no more than 11 million tonnes of phosphorus per year should be allowed to flow into the oceans — ten times the natural background rate. We estimate that this boundary level will allow humanity to safely steer away from the risk of ocean anoxic events for more than 1,000 years, acknowledging that current levels already exceed critical thresholds for many estuaries and freshwater systems.
For more of the story go to http://www.nature.com/news/specials/planetaryboundaries/index.html
by Fred Pearce
A single patent a century ago changed the world, and now, in the 21st century, Homo sapiens and the world we dominate have an addiction. Call it the nitrogen fix. It is like a drug mainlined into the planet’s ecosystems, suffusing every cell, every pore — including our own bodies.
In 1908, the German chemist Fritz Haber discovered how to make ammonia by capturing nitrogen gas from the air. In the process he invented a cheap new source of nitrogen fertilizer, ending our dependence on natural sources, whether biological or geological. Nitrogen fertilizer fixed from the air confounded the mid-century predictions of Paul Ehrlich and others that global famine loomed. Chemical fertilizer today feeds about three billion people.
But the environmental consequences of the massive amounts of nitrogen sent coursing through the planet’s ecosystems are growing fast. We have learned to fear carbon and the changes it can cause to our climate. But one day soon we may learn to fear the nitrogen fix even more.
A major international survey published in September '09 in Nature listed the nitrogen cycle as one of the three “planetary boundaries” that human interventions have disturbed so badly that they threaten the future habitability of the Earth. The others — according to the study by Johann Rockstrom, of the Stockholm Environment Institute, and 27 other environmental scientists – are climate change and biodiversity loss.
Nitrogen affects more parts of the planet’s life-support systems than almost any other element, says James Galloway of the University of Virginia, who predicts: “In the worst-case scenario, we will move towards a nitrogen-saturated planet, with polluted and reduced biodiversity, increased human health risks and an even more perturbed greenhouse gas balance.”
The problem is that we waste most of Haber’s fertilizer. Of 80 million tons spread onto fields in fertilizer each year, only 17 million tons gets into food. The rest goes missing. This is partly because the fertilizer is wastefully applied, and partly because the new green-revolution crops developed to grow fat on nitrogen fertilizer are also wasteful of the nutrient. The nitrogen efficiency of the world’s cereals has fallen from 80 percent in 1960 to just 30 percent today.
Artificial nitrogen washes in drainage water from almost every field in the world. It is as ubiquitous in water as man-made carbon dioxide is in the air. It is accumulating in the world’s rivers and underground water reserves, choking waterways with algae and making water reserves unfit to drink without expensive clean-up.
Most of the man-made nitrogen fertilizer ever produced has been applied to fields in the last quarter-century. Nature has some ability to reverse man-made fixing of nitrogen, converting it back into an inert gas — a process called denitrification. But last year, Patrick Mulholland of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee reported that the system is being overwhelmed. Many rivers in the U.S. are now so nitrogen-saturated that they are losing their ability to denitrify pollution.
Most of this excess nitrogen ends up in the oceans, where it is killing whole ecosystems. Excess nitrogen is the cause of the growing number of oxygen-depleted “dead zones” in the oceans, says Mulholland.
Why should a fertilizer kill? It is just too much of a good thing. It over-fertilizes the water, producing such large volumes of algae and other biomass that it consumes all the oxygen in the water [as it dies and decomposes], causing the ecosystem to crash. Coastal bays, inlets and estuaries around the world are succumbing.
The Gulf's Dead Zone
A study earlier this year found that algal blooms dump domoic acid, a neurotoxin, onto the ocean floor, where it persists for weeks. “The first signs are often birds washing up on the shore or seals acting funny, aggressive and twitching, looking as if they were drunk,” says Claudia Benitez-Nelson of the University of South Carolina.
What can be done? To meet the target cited in the Nature study requires a transformation of the world’s agriculture as profound as the transformation of energy industries needed to meet targets for cutting greenhouse gases. There is an urgent need, says Smil, to breed crops that are far more efficient at absorbing the nitrogen in fields, and for developing farming systems that manage nitrogen far better.
Luckily the potential is considerable. In China, where nitrogen application to fields is among the highest in the world, a study by a group of scientists led by Wilfried Winiwarter and Tatiana Ermolieva of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis found that better on-farm management of nitrogen could cut nitrous oxide emissions to the environment by 25 percent without damaging farm output.
Galloway says the flow of nitrogen through the environment can also be reduced by decreased emissions from burning fossil fuels — perhaps as a byproduct of efforts against climate change. And better sewage treatment in cities could convert nitrates that have passed through the human gut into safe gaseous nitrogen.
If anything exemplifies humanity’s growing impact on the planet’s life-support systems, it is the way we are overwhelming the nitrogen cycle. There are solutions. But for now we are hooked. As Smil put it: “In just one lifetime, humanity has developed a profound chemical dependence.”
POSTED ON 05 Nov 2009 IN Oceans Pollution & Health North America
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
As many of you know, planting trees can be a time consuming exercise. So what method do you use when you need to plant 3,500 trees? The answer is mechanical - and there a several options.
How to Plant a Tree
Darren demonstrates simple and economical methods of establishing new trees with minimum work. Learn about stimulating soil, using compost and mulching your trees from a permaculture perspective.
Staking 3,500 Trees
Join Darren Doherty on Taranaki Farm as he explains his process of staking out a forestry design. He details two new tree systems being developed on our farm.
Tree Pruning with Darren Doherty
An introduction to tree pruning in silviculture plus a brief segment on the use of our Caravaggi Bio 150 wood chipper / hammer mill.
Keyline Plowing with Darren Doherty
Friday, December 18, 2009
Baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate), popularized by Arm & Hammer some 155 years ago, is derived from a natural occurring mineral, and is one of the safest and most versatile substances around. In fact, if you search for “baking soda” on my site, you’ll find a number of articles detailing its potential uses, including using it as a:
Few people realize, however, that baking soda also has potent medicinal properties. Taken internally, it helps maintain the pH balance in your bloodstream. This is likely the basic premise behind its recommended uses against both colds and influenza symptoms, and even cancer.
Many believe that Arm and Hammer Baking Soda is contaminated with aluminum even though the company that makes it claims it does not. We have been able to confirm that there are aluminum free baking sodas like Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda. If you have any information on this please add it to the comment section below.
Baking Soda as an All-Natural Cold Remedy
In their booklet “Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Medical Uses,” published in 1924, Dr. Volney S. Cheney recounts his clinical successes with sodium bicarbonate in treating cold and flu:
“In 1918 and 1919 while fighting the ‘flu’ with the U. S. Public Health Service it was brought to my attention that rarely anyone who had been thoroughly alkalinized with bicarbonate of soda contracted the disease, and those who did contract it, if alkalinized early, would invariably have mild attacks.
I have since that time treated all cases of ‘cold,’ influenza and LaGripe by first giving generous doses of bicarbonate of soda, and in many, many instances within 36 hours the symptoms would have entirely abated.
Further, within my own household, before Woman’s Clubs and Parent-Teachers’ Associations, I have advocated the use of bicarbonate of soda as a preventive for “colds,” with the result that now many reports are coming in stating that those who took “soda” were not affected, while nearly everyone around them had the “flu.”
According to the Materia Medica by Walter Bastedo, sodium bicarbonate taken internally can soothe your mucous membranes and dissolve thick mucus.
It’s worth noting that I have personally never tried this cold remedy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it worked, as maintaining proper acid-alkalinity balance in your body will have a beneficial impact on your natural immune system function.
If any of you have experience using baking soda as a cold remedy, I’d love to hear about it.
The administration is easy enough, and is harmless even if you should not experience relief from your cold symptoms. Simply dissolve the recommended amount of baking soda in a glass of cold water and drink it.
Recommended dosages from the Arm & Hammer Company for colds and influenza back in 1925 were:
- Day 1 -- Take six doses of ½ teaspoon of baking soda in glass of cool water, at about two hour intervals
- Day 2 -- Take four doses of ½ teaspoon of baking soda in glass of cool water, at the same intervals
- Day 3 -- Take two doses of ½ teaspoon of baking soda in glass of cool water morning and evening, and thereafter ½ teaspoon in glass of cool water each morning until cold symptoms are gone
Further dosing recommendations and instructions for taking sodium bicarbonate can be found in Mark Sircus’ book Sodium Bicarbonate – Rich Mans Poor Mans Cancer Treatment, which is also available in Kindle edition.
According to Arm & Hammer’s dosing instructions, do not exceed seven doses of ½ teaspoon per day, or three doses of ½ teaspoon daily if you’re over the age of 60. In addition, do not use the maximum dosage for more than two weeks.
The Potent Healing Power of Baking Soda
Unfortunately, despite all the evidence showing that baking soda indeed has enormous potential as an effective and non-toxic cancer treatment, conventional medicine is refusing to take notice, as baking soda will never be a huge profit center for any drug company.
Even worse, the industry tries to discredit or downright destroy those who dare bring inexpensive treatment options like baking soda to the forefront. Make no mistake about it, cancer treatment is big business, and for all the promises to find a cure, there seems to be an unwritten law somewhere stating it will only be studied and accepted if there’s big profits to be had.
Dr. Simoncini, who is an oncologist (cancer specialist), was ousted from the medical community when he refused to use conventional cancer treatment methods and elected instead to administer sodium bicarbonate.
This despite the fact that he’s been able to show that 99 percent of breast- and bladder cancer can heal in just six days, entirely without the use of surgery, chemo or radiation, using just a local infiltration device (such as a catheter) to deliver the sodium bicarbonate directly to the infected site in your breast tissue or bladder!
In his book Winning the War on Cancer, Dr. Sircus writes:
“Sodium bicarbonate is the time honored method to 'speed up' the return of the body’s bicarbonate levels to normal. Bicarbonate is inorganic, very alkaline and like other mineral type substances, supports an extensive list of biological functions.
Sodium bicarbonate happens to be one of our most useful medicines because bicarbonate physiology is fundamental to life and health.”
Many chemotherapy treatments actually include sodium bicarbonate to help protect the patient’s kidneys, heart and nervous system. It’s been said that administering chemotherapy without bicarbonate could possibly kill you on the spot.
Could it be that while mixing chemo poisons with baking soda, any improvements seen are the result of the baking soda, and not the toxic poisons? Dr. Sircus believes that may be the case.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Since 1997 and the onset of GSM telephony, more and more cellular antennas have been popping up in neighborhoods all around the world to support an ever-growing number of cell phone users.
In fact they have become so prolific in some parts of the world that they disappear into the landscape with the same subtlety as cars on the street. And those that don't 'disappear' are cleverly disguised as chimneys, flag poles, or water towers.
Full Signal talks to scientists around the world who are researching the health effects related to cellular technology; to activists who are fighting to regulate the placement of antennas; and to lawyers and law makers who represent the people wanting those antennas regulated.
Listen to audio clips at http://www.fullsignalmovie.com/news.html
Filmed in Eight countries and Six US states, Full Signal examines the contradiction between health and finance, one of the many ironies of the fight to regulate antenna placement.
It's an ordinary small town in England, but its residents claim they've discovered the secret that could save the planet. And with world leaders preparing to gather in Copenhagen in just over a week's time to debate how to do just that, the people of Todmorden in the Pennines this week issued an invitation: come to our town and see what we've done.
In under two years, Todmorden has transformed the way it produces its food and the way residents think about the environment. Compared with 18 months ago, a third more townspeople now grow their own veg; almost seven in 10 now buy local produce regularly, and 15 times as many people are keeping chickens.
The town centre is dotted with "help yourself" vegetable gardens; the market groans with local meat and vegetables, and at all eight of the town's schools the pupils eat locally produced meat and vegetables every lunchtime.
"It's a complete turnaround," said Pam Warhurst, a former leader of Calderdale Council, board member of Natural England and the person who masterminded the project – called Incredible Edible – and motivated her friends and neighbours to join in. "Our aim is to make our town entirely self-sufficient in food production by 2018 – and if we can carry on at the same rate as we've done over the past 18 months since we had our first meeting and set this initiative up, we're going to make it."
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Andrew Kimbrell, driven by his personal experience of the Coho salmon on the Pacific Coast, is on a quest for an economic ecology, a consideration of our economic system as subservient to and informed by nature. As a result of that afternoon in the river, he "began to imagine a world where the economist knows the salmon." For Kimbrell, the salmon embodies the qualities of nature abandoned and ignored by our competitive free market system, namely redistribution, reciprocation and gift-giving.
The Return to Sanity
by Andrew Kimbrell
"To live on the land we must learn from the sea." George Sumner
What can the salmon offer that will move us toward a new paradigm in economics? Can their homeward journey help us rid ourselves of the obsolete, dangerous, and somewhat pathological market mentality? To answer these questions we will need to look more closely at the "economy" of the salmon's life cycle.
When the Pacific salmon return to the rivers of their birth, they carry in their bodies a number of nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorous garnered from their ocean sojourn. In fact, isotopic analyses indicate that riverside vegetation near spawning streams receives 22 to 24 percent of its nitrogen-the nutrient that most commonly encourages plant growth from salmon. As a result, trees on the banks of salmon-stocked rivers grow more than three times faster than their counterparts along a salmon-free river.
Alongside spawning streams Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) have been found to take eighty-six years instead of the usual three hundred to reach 50 cm. in thickness. Research also shows that at least one-fifth of the nitrogen in the needles of Sitka spruce trees and other plants near spawning sites comes from the ocean via Pacific salmon carcasses. These same trees that have been
fertilized by the carcasses enhance the quality of breeding and rearing habitats for the fish by providing shade, sediment and nutrient filtration, and large woody debris.
It is not just the vegetation that profits from these nutrients. Muscle samples taken at these riversides from vertebrate herbivores (deer mice, voles, shrews, and squirrels) show increased levels of nitrogen compared with samples taken from animals farther away. The animals eating the salmon also help with the spread of these nutrients. It has been estimated that 70 percent of a black bear's annual protein comes from salmon. During a 45-day spawn each black bear catches about seven hundred fish and leaves half of each carcass in the forest. At 2.2 kg. per fish, this amounts to 120 kg. of nitrogen fertilizer per hectare of land. British Columbia's 80,000 to 120,000 bears could be transferring, through salmon carcasses and the bears' dung, as much as 60 million kg. of salmon tissue into the rainforest, accounting for half of the nitrogen fixed by old-growth trees
Salmon are also the principle source of food for the brown bear. And analysis of hair from grizzly bears, who became extinct in Oregon's Columbia River Valley in 1931, has shown that 90 percent of their diet came from salmon. Additionally, the salmon's eggs and carcasses are the major source of food for sea otters and several trout species. The carcasses also provide critical nutrient resources for aquatic invertebrate scavengers, detritivores, and aquatic microbes-organisms that in turn help enrich the nutrient capital of the wetland itself. And perhaps most crucial of all, 50
percent of the nutrients that young salmon receive comes from their dead parents.
In contemplating this "salmon economics" we find no trace of the self-interest and laws of supply and demand endemic to the human market mentality. What alternative economic values are taught by the cohos' life cycle and final journey? One value is redistribution. The riches of the ocean are redistributed to the wetlands and the rivers. It is an intricate, diverse, and egalitarian redistributive system, extending to the needles of the Sitka spruce, the muscles of the vole, the intertidal microbes, the bodies of the fry, and then even to the bear dung that becomes fertilizer for the trees farther inland.
We do, course, have redistribution in our current economy. Through taxation, for example, we redistribute wealth to aid those in need, whether the unemployed, elderly, disabled, or poverty stricken. But these programs are constantly under attack by free-market advocates and are often eliminated under the rubric of tax relief. Unfortunately, those defending these programs never amplify and undergird their argument by pointing to the natural and ecological archetype of redistribution as found in the salmon cycle and throughout nature. Redistribution is not only altruistic or an expression of largesse, it is the fundamental element in successful and sustainable natural economies. In sum, redistribution is the way nature survives and thrives. It is a kind of natural law. By contrast, the purported free-market laws of supply and demand are recent intellectual
constructs with no foundation in nature.
Then too, the salmon teach us about the value of reciprocity. There is a complex reciprocal relationship between the salmon and future animal and plant generations. As noted, the salmon's nutrients help the growth of riverside vegetation, which in turn provides shade, protection, and
nutrients for the growing parr and smolts, preparing them for their ocean journey and the repeating of the cycle. Moreover, the nutrients given to the animals help fertilize the trees, whose roots in turn protect the rivers and streams from erosion. Overall, it would be virtually impossible to
comprehensively describe the entire reciprocal interaction between the salmon and the life around them, from microbes through mammals.
As with redistribution, our current economy also contains many reciprocal elements. We pay our taxes so that we can have roads, schools, and other basics that will be there for us. We participate in civic associations, on zoning boards, or in local governments, with the assumption that our time
spent will benefit us, our families, and future generations. But perhaps more importantly, the vast majority of Americans' work is based on reciprocity. My research indicates that more than 70 percent of us get up every morning to take care of something or someone, not to make a profit by
selling something for more than we paid to produce or buy it.
This is what I term "the care economy," which I contrast with "the profit economy." Teachers, doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen, social workers, and all those working in government and the public-interest community, including those protecting our fellow creatures and the natural world, will not make more or less profit depending on how much they produce. They are the care economy and are paid a flat-rate salary for their service. Firemen will not pick one house to save and turn down another based on making a profit for saving the more expensive house. Teachers will not pick one child to teach over another because they will be paid more for teaching the richer child.
After a natural disaster, animal rescuers save mutts and purebreds with equal energy without wondering whose owner will pay more.
The tragedy of September 11, 2001, provided a graphic contrast between the profit and care economies. During and after the terrorist attacks Wall Street closed down, and there was a virtual halt in trading for days as brokers looked to foreign investment until they could assess whether it was safe and profitable to invest once again in America. Meanwhile, from the very first the care economy was fully invested. Emergency workers, police, and fire personnel worked tirelessly and under great personal risk for days and weeks as did health professional, government, and nonprofit
organizations. Everyone seemed to grasp intuitively the reciprocal nature of this sacrifice, to understand that the greater community can function only when each of its members gives in this way, knowing that it will be reciprocated should tragedy strike elsewhere. The fate of each is wedded to the care and skills provided by the other.
The care economy, though it represents a solid majority of us and we all depend on it, is not privileged in our society. Even progressives often call it the "service" economy, which is more suggestive of entry-level restaurant workers than of the vast majority of Americans who are part of this care economy. Instead, America is often portrayed as the land of "entrepreneurs," where "the business of America is business." Never do we hear in defense of reciprocation that it is a fundamental principle of natural economic life and has the imprimatur of eons of successful natural economies behind it, whereas the market system with its profit mandate is just over two hundred
years old and is already unsustainable.
Along with redistribution and reciprocation, the salmon teach yet a third economic value-gift-giving. Unlike the self-interest of the market, embodied in legal contracts, gift-giving affirms a sense of community, charity, reverence, and a spontaneous sense of the relationship between humans and
the natural world. In a way it is the antidote to the market system. As ethicist Thomas Murray explains:
Gifts create moral relationships that are more open-ended, less specifiable, and less contained than contracts. Contracts are well suited to the marketplace, where a strictly limited relationship for a narrow purpose-trading goods or services-is desired. Gifts are better for initiating and sustaining more rounded human relationships, where future expectations are unknown, and where the exchange of goods is secondary in importance to the relationship itself.
Salmon provide the ultimate relational gift-a gift for the otters, the bears, the rainbow trout, their own offspring, and a gift for all of us who witness and learn from them. This gift is an eternal promise, always kept if not sabotaged by the intrusion of humans and their technology. It is an intrinsic aspect of the very being of the salmon, not given in calculation of receiving something in return. There are so many in our society who give without looking for a return: the teacher staying late to help a student, the neighbor helping the elderly couple next door, those millions giving their time, work, and money to help in a cause they believe in or to help others more needy than themselves. This generosity represents a major sector of our economy but is usually marginalized as exceptional altruism instead of being understood for what it is-an essential part of the economy of all living systems.
One additional and critical economic lesson of the salmon I will mention is the profound importance of the local. Salmon provide remarkable instruction about the fundamental value of place. Father Thomas Berry has spoken about the importance of the "smell of home," the odor of place. No creature better embodies this teaching than the salmon. An Alaskan Fish and Wildlife study found that just one drop of water from the home stream of salmon added to 250 gallons of water will take these salmon in the direction of that water.
It is impossible not to be astonished by the great odyssey of the salmon and their uncanny ability to ultimately find the exact stream or even rivulet of origin and to mate there, with all the redistribution, reciprocation, and gift-giving going to that local place and its environs.
Every Thanksgiving, when tens of millions crowd the airplanes and jam the roads, we catch a glimpse of the homing instinct, however alienated, that survives in each of us. Mobility is prized and privileged in our society (just think of the automobile, which embodies the glorified values of
autonomy and mobility-ergo "auto-mobile"). And this is a necessary attribute of the supply-and-demand market economy, which may cause extreme dislocation many times in our lives as we-purported human commodities-move about, often involuntarily, to find work, economic survival, or increased opportunity. Although this dislocation corresponds to the logic of capital, it is not
what most of us seek. Reminiscent of the salmon's journey is the yearning we still carry for home, place, and community.
Moreover, in economic terms the idea of the local is becoming ever more important. For millennia human economics was local, but over recent decades we have seen a massive expansion in the global economy. Now transnational corporations - obeying the call of the market, whose only motive is profit and their own self-interest - roam the world in search of resources and markets for their products. They forcibly bring down trade barriers and any protections that localities might have against this economic onslaught. Corporate-led globalization brings a corresponding contraction, and destruction, of the local economies it replaces. The corporate enclosure of these local communities and eco-systems devastates the natural world, homogenizes cultures, disrupts communities, and deprives their members of any meaningful control over their lives.
How is this process to be halted and reversed? The salmon give us the answer: local production for local consumption. Note that the salmon travel freely as they grow and become mature but always ultimately return to provide their local community with what it needs. I like to think of this as a kind of internationalism based in the local as opposed to the homogenizing juggernaut of market-based globalization. Internationalism allows each of us to travel and learn from all peoples and cultures and geographies, but unlike globalization it understands that the purpose of this travel is to return and nourish the local with a diversity of knowledge and experience.
Fortunately we are beginning to see a rebirth of the local around the world in food and energy production, local currencies, and emphasis on local governance. To those who inevitably will state that this localization is contrary to the ersatz laws of free trade and the market we need only point
to the salmon and note that localization corresponds with the laws of nature.
Over recent decades there has been a growing interest in the field of ecological economics, a field that infuses certain ecological realities into current economic thinking. Much good work has been done in this area, but perhaps it is time to reverse the adjective and noun in ecological economics
and call it economic ecology, not privileging thereby human economy but recognizing that our economic needs fit into the larger "economy" of our eco-systems. The tendency in ecological economics can be to "greenwash" capitalism or socialism. By contrast, an earth economics would base the allocation of resources primarily on ecological principles, including those so beautifully embodied in the salmon life cycle and other of the earth's living systems. It is a call for the economist to truly meet and learn from the salmon, a call for an economics of earth that is based not on the abstractions of thinkers but on the study of, and wonder at, its creatures.
This new and important discipline is not without its precedents. Indigenous societies were never based on market economies but on a mix of reciprocal service and exchange, redistribution of resources, and gift-giving in local situations. These societies based their economic behavior-redistribution, reciprocation, gift-giving, and localization-on the archetypal patterns of the natural systems around them. To survive we must follow their lead, and without delay. We must learn and integrate the great economic lessons of the salmon.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Soda Springs, USA, operated by Monsanto.
Source: The Center for Land Use Interpretation
Idaho black rock phosphate, and phosphorus in general, is a finite and limited primary plant nutrient. Monsanto, instead of leaving it alone so it can be conserved and made available for use by generations of America's sustainable and organic farmers, turns it into the herbicide Roundup.
Next to clean water, phosphorus will be one the inexorable limits to human occupancy on this planet” wrote Bill Mollison in Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual more than 20 years ago .
Peak Phosphorus barely registers alongside it’s more gregarious, attention-getting bigger brother, Peak Oil. Yet, the implications are even more dramatic. While both peaks are associated with massive food shortages, unmitigated Peak Phosphorus would easily win the award for best disaster.
… a global production peak of phosphate rock is estimated to occur around 2033. While this may seem in the distant future, there are currently no alternatives on the market today that could replace phosphate rock on any significant scale. New infrastructure and institutional arrangements required could take decades to develop.
While all the world’s farmers require access to phosphorus fertilizers, the major phosphate rock reserves are under the control of a small number of countries including China, Morocco and the US. China recently imposed a 135% export tariff on phosphate rock essentially preventing any from leaving the country. Reserves in the U.S. are calculated to be depleted within 30 years. Morocco currently occupies Western Sahara and its massive phosphate rock reserves, contrary to UN resolutions. – Western Sahara Resource Watch
From the Times Online:
Researchers in Australia, Europe and the United States have given warning that the element, which is essential to all living things, is at the heart of modern farming and has no synthetic alternative, is being mined, used and wasted as never before.
Massive inefficiencies in the “farm-to-fork” processing of food and the soaring appetite for meat and dairy produce across Asia is stoking demand for phosphorus faster and further than anyone had predicted. “Peak phosphorus”, say scientists, could hit the world in just 30 years. Crop-based biofuels, whose production methods and usage suck phosphorus out of the agricultural system in unprecedented volumes, have, researchers in Brazil say, made the problem many times worse. Already, India is running low on matches as factories run short of phosphorus; the Brazilian Government has spoken of a need to nationalise privately held mines that supply the fertiliser industry and Swedish scientists are busily redesigning toilets to separate and collect urine in an attempt to conserve the precious element.
Dana Cordell, a senior researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology in Sydney, said: “Quite simply, without phosphorus we cannot produce food. At current rates, reserves will be depleted in the next 50 to 100 years.
Human excreta (urine and feces) are renewable and readily available sources of phosphorus.
Urine is essentially sterile and contains plant-available nutrients (P,N,K) in the correct ratio. Treatment and reuse is very simple and the World Health Organization has published 'guidelines for the safe use of wastewater, excreta and greywater.
More that 50% of the worlds’ population are now living in urban centers, and in the next 50 years 90% of the new population are expected to reside in urban slums. Urine is the largest single source of P emerging from human settlements.
According to some studies in Sweden and Zimbabwe, the nutrients in one person's urine are sufficient to produce 50-100% of the food requirements for another person. Combined with other organic sources like manure and food waste, the phosphorus value in urine and feces can essentially replace the demand for phosphate rock. In 2000, the global population produced 3 million tonnes of phosphorus from urine and feces alone.
Friday, December 4, 2009
The Laws of the Pharmaceutical Industry
The main principles governing the pharmaceutical “business with disease.” It is not in the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry to prevent common diseases – the maintenance and expansion of diseases is a precondition for the financial growth of this industry.
1 The pharmaceutical industry is an investment industry driven by the profits of its shareholders. Improving human health is not the driving force of this industry.
2 The pharmaceutical investment industry was artificially created and strategically developed over an entire century by the same investment groups that control the global petrochemical and chemical industries.
3 The huge profits of the pharmaceutical industry are based on the patenting of new drugs. These patents essentially allow drug manufacturers to arbitrarily define the profits for their products.
4 The marketplace for the pharmaceutical industry is the human body – but only for as long as the body hosts diseases. Thus, maintaining and expanding diseases is a precondition for the growth of the pharmaceutical industry.
5 A key strategy to accomplish this goal is the development of drugs that merely mask symptoms while avoiding the curing or elimination of diseases.
This explains why most prescription drugs marketed today have no proven efficacy and merely target symptoms.
6 To further expand their pharmaceutical market, the drug companies are continuously looking for new applications (indications) for the use of drugs they already market. For example, Bayer’s pain pill Aspirin is now taken by 50 million healthy US citizens under the illusion it will prevent heart attacks.
7 Another key strategy to expand pharmaceutical markets is to cause new diseases with drugs. While merely masking symptoms short term, most of the prescription drugs taken by millions of patients today cause a multitude of new diseases as a result of their known long-term side effects. For example, all cholesterol-lowering drugs currently on the market are known to increase the risk of developing cancer – but only after the patient has been taking
the drug for several years.
8 The known deadly side effects of prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the industrialized world, surpassed only by the number of deaths from heart attacks, cancer and strokes (Journal of the American Medical Association,April 15, 1998). This fact is no surprise either, because drug patents are primarily issued for new synthetic molecules.
All synthetic molecules need to be detoxified and eliminated from the body, a system that frequently fails and results in an epidemic of severe and deadly side effects.
9 While the promotion and expansion of diseases increase the market of the pharmaceutical investment industry - prevention and root cause treatment of diseases decrease long-term profitability; therefore, they are avoided or even obstructed by this industry.
10 Worst of all, the eradication of diseases is by its very nature incompatible with and diametrically opposed to the interests of the pharmaceutical investment industry. The eradication of diseases now considered as potential drug markets will destroy billions of investment dollars and eventually will eliminate this entire industry.
11 Vitamins and other effective natural health therapies that optimize cellular metabolism threaten the pharmaceutical “business with disease” because they target the cellular cause of today’s most common diseases - and these natural substances cannot be patented.
12 Throughout the more than one hundred year existence of the pharmaceutical industry, vitamins and other essential nutrients, with defined functions as cofactors in cellular metabolism, have been the fiercest competition and the greatest threat to the long-term success of the pharmaceutical investment business.
13 Vitamins and other effective natural health therapies that effectively prevent diseases are incompatible with the very nature of the pharmaceutical “business with disease.”
14 To protect the strategic development of its investment business against the threat from effective, natural and non-patentable therapies, the pharmaceutical industry has – over an entire century - used the most unscrupulous methods, such as:
(1) Withholding life-saving health information from millions of people.
It is simply unacceptable that today so few know that the human body cannot produce vitamin C and lysine, two key molecules for connective tissue stability and disease prevention.
(2) Discrediting natural health therapies. The most common way is through global PR campaigns organized by the Pharma-Cartel that spread lies about the alleged side effects of natural substances – molecules that have been used by Nature for millennia.
(3) Banning by law the dissemination of information about natural health therapies. To that end, the pharmaceutical industry has placed its lobbyists in key political positions in key markets and leading drug export nations.
15 The pharmaceutical “business with disease” is the largest deception and fraud business in human history. The product “health” promised by drug companies is not delivered to millions of patients. Instead, the “products” most often delivered are the opposite: new diseases and frequently, death.
16) The survival of the pharmaceutical industry is dependent on the elimination by any means of effective natural health therapies. These natural and non-patentable therapies have become the treatment of choice for millions of people despite the combined economic, political and media opposition of the world’s largest investment industry.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Linked by Michael Levenston at City Farmer
Soldiers of the Soil: A Historical Review of the United States School Garden Army
By Rose Hayden-Smith
4-H Youth Development and Master Gardener Advisor,
WINTER 2006, 20 pages
“Every boy and every girl should be a producer. Production is the first principle in education. The growing of plants and animals should therefore become an integral part of the school program. Such is the aim of the U.S. School Garden Army.”
With these words, the federal Bureau of Education (BOE) launched the United States School Garden Army (USSGA) during World War I. The USSGA represented an unprecedented governmental effort to make agricultural education a formal part of the public school curriculum throughout the United States.
While agricultural education for rural youth had been a government goal for several years, efforts to teach agricultural education to urban and suburban youth had been slower to take hold. The USSGA represented a shift in federal policy by strongly targeting urban and suburban youth.4 Using patriotic appeals (and no small degree of coercion), the government sought to enlist the aid of youth to raise food for America.
The USSGA exemplifies how Americans mediated competing urban and rural values during a period of rapid change and national transformation. Through the USSGA, positive values attributed to America’s rural past were recast and articulated in the largely urban milieu of gardening. Gardening itself offered a new synthesis of the urban and rural, as new techniques and methods pioneered by urban-led scientific agriculture blended with traditional rural folkways. The USSGA’s
curriculum reflected new educational philosophies that schooled urban youth in tasks traditionally associated with rural life.
After Armistice was signed in November of 1918, the National War Garden Commission, Food Administration, and Bureau of Education published “victory” editions of their manuals, revised posters to reflect Allied victory, and encouraged Americans to continue gardening. Gardening was needed to rebuild the world. However, despite these efforts, the USSGA was dismantled soon after Armistice was signed. Its cousins, the Liberty/Victory Garden and Woman’s Land Army programs, suffered the same fate, and quietly disappeared. Urban and rural Americans still gardened, of course, but Uncle Sam didn’t ask them to.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Dave has been talking to folks all over the planet (Argentina, Russia, Mexico, West Indies, Africa about the potential of alcohol fuels.
I just got off of a Skype call with Dave and was blown away by the news he had to share. He's involved in talks with Ford Motor Co. about investing in a program to develop community alcohol cooperatives and they're interested. Much to my surprise, Indiana, where I live, has 121 alcohol gas stations (though none in my hometown of Bloomington...maybe we can change that).
I also didn't know that millions of vehicles on US roads today can be fueled entirely on alcohol and that most of them were made by Ford. Hmmm.
Did you know that most cars on the road today (those with fuel injectors) could run gas with as much as 50% alcohol with NO modifications? I didn't until minutes ago. Our city councilors, (who just approved a Peak Oil Task Force report - see Bloomington Preps for Peak Oil) would be thrilled to know that all city vehicles could be 100% supplied with alcohol from the city's waste treatment facility.
I know what I'll be discussing in our next Transition Bloomington meeting and in future meetings with Council members. Stay tuned.....
Meanwhile if you are new to this subject check out Dave's Busting the Alcohol Myths at his website.
Friday, November 27, 2009
In Peak Moment’s very first field production, bicycle enthusiast Galen Shumacher takes us for a spin on a three-wheeled “tadpole.” This human-powered vehicle (HPV), built for competition by the Chico State University HPV club, has two wheels in front and a single in back. Janaia’s unrehearsed ride shows that it’s easy to learn, comfortable to ride, stable, highly maneuverable, and fun! Galen also shows us the improved model being built for the upcoming competition. (P.S. they won!)