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Showing posts from August, 2013

Back to the Future

August 29, 2013 – Since growing green manure makes such great sense, I finally decided to incorporate it into my permaculture approach to growing veggies.Unfortunately, I didn’t know that hairy vetch – my green manure of choice – doesn’t fix nitrogen in the soil until spring.I’ll be piling leaves and pine straw on top of the hairy vetch in November, so this time around I’ll only gain the organic vegetative matter, moisture retaining capacity, and soil aerating qualities of the vetch.Still, I look forward to the day when I can allow the vetch to grow to full maturity.
The reason for that is that cover crops, i.e. green manure, fix enough nitrogen to fertilize one year’s entire crop of even a heavy feeder like corn.In fact, last year the average cover-cropping corn farmer in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas enjoyed an average yield of 122 bushels per acre, despite the drought.Those not employing a cover crop grew only 106 bushels per acre, on average.That’s according to the Natural …

EPA: The Way It Was

August 26, 2013 – Time was when I thought of the EPA as the good guys.Industry – the bad guys – would once again imperil the water we drink, or the air that we breathe, and the EPA would ride to the rescue.Something happened ( I believe it’s described as the Bush II administration), and the EPA began to excel at twiddling their thumbs, and little else.Though twiddling may have lost its luster, I’m still not sure their hearts are really into protecting the environment.
Case in point: the new regulations issued by the EPA last week that will reduce air pollution created by “fracked” wells.But, you say, isn’t it the EPA’s job to issue those very regulations?Indeed it is, I reply.Everyone knows that’s their job, except – apparently – the EPA.Otherwise, why did the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia have to order them to take action?Yup.You see, the Environmental Protection Agency is tasked by law with reviewing pollution standards once every eight years.I know you’ll find thi…

Congressional Hearing: Whadja Say?

August 22, 2013 – During the past two years, Henry Waxman (D-CA), Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member, andBobby Rush (D-IL), Energy and Power Subcommittee ranking member, have sent 21 letters requesting a hearing on climate change and the latest science bearing on the issue.Recipients Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman, respectively, have steadfastly ignored these requests.The one exception occurred in March of this year, at which time Waxman and Rush received a response.
Upton and Whitfield have now scheduled what is being called a “major hearing” on climate change for September 18.The leaders of 13 federal agencies have been invited to testify, among them Gina McCarthy of the EPA, Ernest Moniz of the Dept. of Energy, Chuck Hagel of the Defense Dept., and State Dept. Secretary John Kerry.Each letter of invitation asks nine questions about the amount of time, money and resources dev…

The Hotter It Gets, The Hotter It Gets

August 19, 2013 – Back in the halcyon days of warnings about a far off event called climate change (as opposed tothe actual occurrence of climate change, which is what we’re stuck with now), Americans were warned that if certain tendencies in the climate asserted themselves, they would encourage the climate’s unpredictability, thereby leading to more change.When an action leads to results that reinforce the original action, a feedback loop has been established.Say, for instance, that a student who dislikes school because he gets poor grades, decides that because of his disliking school he’d rather play soccer with friends than study for a test.The consequences are quite predictable: because he doesn’t study for the test, he performs poorly on the test, leading to an even greater dislike of school.That’s a feedback loop.
In the early days, right after World War II, all that scientists knew was that the earth was warming.Because everyone they told wanted to know why our planet was gettin…

When It Hits the Fan

August 15, 2013 - Our behavior continues to indicate that we believe ourselves to be in control of our world.Not to pick on the president, but he’s just announced plans for updating the electric grid.The reason he’s doing that is that, just as the vast majority of Americans are unable to imagine a world without electricity, neither can he.Or maybe he can, and that’s the problem: people sometimes suffer from “kill the messenger” syndrome, and he absolutely does not want to be the bearer of that particular piece of bad news.
What most Americans want to believe, of course, is that we can have our cake and eat it, too.Burn coal, but not suffer from the consequences of doing so.Eat food made toxic by RoundUp, but not suffer the consequences of doing so.Drive cars, but not suffer the consequences of doing so.Feed farm animals with GMO foods, but not suffer the consequences of doing so.Drill for oil in the Arctic, but not suffer the consequences of doing so.
What will those consequences one da…

Killing Us Slowly

August 12, 2013 – Are you demanding locally-raised, pasture-fed meats?Do you protect yourself and your family by eating animals raised in a non-industrial environment that doesn’t depend upon the constant administration of low levels of antibiotics?If you do, you’ll be relieved that you do after you read this article.If you don’t, I’m about to give you a lot to think about.
Here’s the deal: animals like pigs and lambs and cows generally know what to eat.Pigs, the little darlings, are omnivorous – like us.Lambs and cows are vegetarians.Allowed a general diet, they pick up all the nutrients they need along the way, including trace minerals.They’re healthy, so you’re healthy.What’s inside of them winds up inside of you.Healthy, happy animals make good food.Make sense?
It takes only a little imagination to surmise what the outcome might be when animals are confined in cramped, filthy quarters and fed monoculture diets of genetically modified (GMO) corn and soy.But I never imagined this: cal…

American At Last

August 8, 2013 – It’s getting a little hot in here, don’t ya think?I mean in the United States, because of all the protesting goin’ on.Unless I’m badly mistaken, it’s starting to look like Americans are really getting mad.From California to Maine, citizens of this blessed country are exercising their rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression.The government, whether it’s state, local, or national, is doing nothing about protecting the environment, and we want it to do something.Americans have finally found their voice.
In California, more than 200 protesters were arrested while they were peacefully demonstrating outside a Chevron refinery that caught on fire a year ago.At least 15,000 residents of Richmond, CA went to the hospital for respiratory complications as a result.(You may have heard that Chevron was fined $2 million after months of failed negotiations between the oil company and Richmond’s City Council.)
In Salmon, Idaho, 19 members of the Nez Perce Tribe were a…

Be the Change

August 2, 2013 – Much is being made of a literature review published on Tuesday, in which scientists conclude that violent behavior will increase as the temperature does.(Sixty articles are included in the review.)Group behavior will show a 56 percent increase in violence, individual behavior will show a 16 percent increase.There is little of a surprising nature about the study, in my opinion.My beef centers more on the way the study is being reported.
Time and again we’re being told that “people,” “human beings,” “humanity,” or “humankind” will behave this way.Speaking on behalf of the 50% of humankind which rarely resorts to violence, I’d like to voice my serious exception to this manner of reporting!What a pile of crap.More and more women are being victimized by men who barely qualify to be called human, yet we are lumped in with these same perpetrators.If men are expected to take responsibility for their inhuman behavior, we must all be clear about their degree of responsibility.