Monday, February 26, 2007
I should have a zoom lens at my front door tomorrow... much better for bird and critter photos!
Monday, February 12, 2007
This might hurt a little, but it’s for your own good. Put something between your teeth, bite hard, and watch (please, not for children - parental discretion advised):
What the Meat Industry Doesn’t Want you to See
Okay, still with me? Sorry to do that to you - but, hey, you’d rather know wouldn’t you?
Why am I sharing this? Aside from the horrific acts of cruelty, we need to realise the environment just can’t take this abuse any more (either). If you didn’t catch the recent release of the United Nation’s ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’ report on the effect of our diet on the environment, please take a look. This information is, as mentioned, coming from the United Nations - not an animal rights lobby, or a sandal-wearing band of hippies.
A few concise facts from GoVeg.com:
Would you ever open your refrigerator, pull out 16 plates of pasta and toss them in the trash, and then eat just one plate of food? How about leveling 55 square feet of rain forest for a single meal or dumping 2,500 gallons of water down the drain? Of course you wouldn’t. But if you’re eating chicken, fish, turkey, pork, or beef, that’s what you’re doing—wasting resources and destroying our environment.
Animals raised for food expend the vast majority of the calories that they are fed simply existing, just as we do. We feed more than 70 percent of the grains and cereals we grow to farmed animals, and almost all of those calories go into simply keeping the animals alive, not making them grow. Only a small fraction of the calories consumed by farmed animals are actually converted into the meat that people eat.
Growing all the crops to feed farmed animals requires massive amounts of water and land—in fact, nearly half of the water and 80 percent of the agricultural land in the United States are used to raise animals for food. Our taste for meat is also taking a toll on our supply of fuel and other nonrenewable resources—about one-third of the raw materials used in America each year is consumed by the farmed animal industry.
Farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population of the United States, and since factory farms don’t have sewage treatment systems as our cities and towns do, this concentrated slop ends up polluting our water, destroying our topsoil, and contaminating our air. And meat-eaters are responsible for the production of 100 percent of this waste—about 86,000 pounds per second! Give up animal products, and you’ll be responsible for none of it.
Many leading environmental organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the WorldWatch Institute, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, have recognized that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do. Whether it’s the overuse of resources, unchecked water or air pollution, or soil erosion, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth. The most important step you can take to save the planet is to go vegetarian. - GoVeg.com
Insofar as I just returned from a college lecture road trip, and heard the same carping all over again, I conclude that it's necessary for me to spell it all out a'fresh. I think of this not so much as a roster of "solutions" but as a set of reasonable responses to a new set of circumstances. (Not everything we try to do will succeed, that is, be a "solution.") So, for those of you who are tired of wringing your hands, who would like to do something useful, or focus your attention in a purposeful way, here it is.
Expand your view beyond the question of how we will run all the cars by means other than gasoline. This obsession with keeping the cars running at all costs could really prove fatal. It is especially unhelpful that so many self-proclaimed "greens" and political "progressives" are hung up on this monomaniacal theme. Get this: the cars are not part of the solution (whether they run on fossil fuels, vodka, used frymax™ oil, or cow shit). They are at the heart of the problem. And trying to salvage the entire Happy Motoring system by shifting it from gasoline to other fuels will only make things much worse. The bottom line of this is: start thinking beyond the car. We have to make other arrangements for virtually all the common activities of daily life.
We have to produce food differently. The ADM / Monsanto / Cargill model of industrial agribusiness is heading toward its Waterloo. As oil and gas deplete, we will be left with sterile soils and farming organized at an unworkable scale. Many lives will depend on our ability to fix this. Farming will soon return much closer to the center of American economic life. It will necessarily have to be done more locally, at a smaller-and-finer scale, and will require more human labor. The value-added activities associated with farming -- e.g. making products like cheese, wine, oils -- will also have to be done much more locally. This situation presents excellent business and vocational opportunities for America's young people (if they can unplug their Ipods long enough to pay attention.) It also presents huge problems in land-use reform. Not to mention the fact that the knowledge and skill for doing these things has to be painstakingly retrieved from the dumpster of history. Get busy.
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Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I strongly suggest that we begin thinking and talking about the effects that will be felt in 50 years or 25 years. We don't have to lose sight of the effects that will be felt in 100 years but we need to shift our focus to a shorter time frame. The reality of climate change is right now, in our lifetimes.
Action would have to be radical -- but climate change can be slowed.
Everybody in the United States could switch from cars to bicycles.
The Chinese could close all their factories.
Europe could give up electricity and return to the age of the lantern.
But all those steps together would not come close to stopping global warming.
A landmark report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released Friday, warns that there is so much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that even if concentrations held at current levels, the effects of global warming would continue for centuries.
There is still hope. The report notes that a concerted world effort could stave off the direst consequences of global warming, such as widespread flooding, drought and extreme weather.
Ultimately eliminating the global warming threat, however, would require radical action.
To stabilize atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide — the primary contributor to global warming — CO2 emissions would have to drop 70% to 80%, said Richard Somerville, a theoretical meteorologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.
Such a reduction would bring emissions into equilibrium with the planet's ability to absorb carbon dioxide. The last time the planet was in balance was more than 150 years ago, before the widespread use of coal and steam engines.
What would it take to bring that kind of reduction?
"All truck, all trains, all airplanes, cars, motorcycles and boats in the United States — that's 7.3% of global emissions," said Gregg Marland, a fossil fuel pollution expert at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
Closing all fossil-fuel-powered electricity plants worldwide and replacing them with windmills, solar panels and nuclear power plants would make a serious dent — a 39% reduction globally, Marland said.
His calculation doesn't include all the fossil fuels that would have to be burned to build the greener facilities, though.
Trees could be planted to absorb more carbon dioxide. But even if every available space in the United States were turned into woodland, Marland said, it would not come close to offsetting U.S. emissions.
"There is not enough land area," he said.
The United States accounts for nearly a quarter of the carbon dioxide released each year, according to government statistics. China, in second at about 15%, is gaining fast.
If the rest of the world returned to the Stone Age, carbon concentrations would still rise.
Carbon does not dissipate rapidly. Some is eventually absorbed by oceans and plants, but about half stays in the atmosphere. And there is no easy way to get it out.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Charles Krauthammer:Iraq is their country. We midwifed their freedom. They chose civil war.
"We midwifed"? No. You, you asshole. Your fault. You and your friends who thought it would be cool to try out your experiments in New American Muscularity on the darkies. Shut the fuck up about freedom. We know you weren't interested in freeing anyone - you were interested in kicking raghead ass after 9/11, and fulfilling some fucked-up post-Cold War vision of American hegemony. How surprised you are that those "freed" to serve your agenda don't want to stick to the script. What a fucking shock - your boy George announces we're on a "crusade" to overturn the political order in the region, and goddammit, that political order just won't lay down and die. Instead, Iran can raise the price we are paying to stay in Iraq faster than we can raise the price Iran must pay to oppose us.Among all these religious prejudices, ancient wounds, social resentments and tribal antagonisms, who gets the blame for the rivers of blood?
You, you vicious little troll. You knew going in that Iraqi society was such a tinderbox, but proceeded anyway? Or you didn't inform yourself first? Recklessness or gross negligence, which is it? It's like performing elective surgery with no medical training and then blaming the patient for choosing to die. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq was a foreseeable trainwreck. Everyone who supported it at any time deserves a share of the blame, but above all it must be laid at the feet of those, like Krauthammer, who insist to this very day that it was the right thing to do.
And of course now they are lying us into another war and it seems like the media is going along again. W.T.F.
Note to CNN: I hate you.
Note to Wolf Blitzer: You also are a despicable, vicious little troll.