Wednesday, November 26, 2014

(#56-1) November 26 2014. The ‘we have only one earth, and we are doing it a lot of damage’ department.




I don’t regard myself as an obsessive environmentalist—but it seems to me that we should take a great deal more care of this earth of ours than we do. After all, it is the only one we have—and if we do screw it up, we’ll all die—and probably rather unpleasantly. Best avoided, don’t you think?

There is a whole group of people—mainly Right Wingers—who seem to think that the earth is so robust we can do what we like to it and it will recover. Why do they think that? It suits them politically. It’s all apiece of belittling government, opposing all regulations, and arguing that corporations should be allowed to do pretty much anything—with  competition being the only discipline.

Only there have been so many mergers and acquisitions that in many business sectors there isn’t much competition left.

The evidence is almost completely against such an attitude, but since such people don’t believe in evidence, they don’t either change their minds or moderate their opinions.

Since one cannot fight all the battles—and ‘environment’ covers so much—though I follow developments overall, I have tended to confine my focus to sustainable energy and the food chain. Here, since sustainable energy really does seem to be making amazing progress, my main area of concern is the food chain.

We seem to be doing bad things to the land through monoculture, and our industrial approach to farming generally, so are producing foodstuffs which look great, but which are substantially less nutritious than their predecessors. Frankly, that is serious enough in itself—but the possibility that Monsanto’s glyphosate is damaging to our health (and there is increasing evidence to that effect) is truly scary because glyphosate is pervasive and so extremely hard to avoid. If you haven’t heard of glyphosate, it is better known as Roundup. It is used just about everywhere for weed control. If is conclusively proved to be harmful to our health, we will have a nightmare of a problem on our hands. It will mean we have been poisoning ourselves for years. 

The argument that is constantly pounded in to us is that industrial farming, even if one does accept the disadvantages (and many do not)  is the only alternative to expensive food and widespread food shortages.

It is a compelling argument—and widely believed. But is it true? I have long wondered about it, but never did the necessary research because—as mentioned previously—although I am a concerned citizen, this sector is not one I focus on primarily. Nonetheless, every now and then I would run across a mention that suggested that monoculture is not the only way to go—and that other approaches may, in fact, not only be more sustainable, but be more productive. In short, given the same amount of land and water, alternative approaches could produce more in terms of both quantity and quality—and at lower cost. They also result in much healthier soil.

A recent article in quotes two major reports—one coming from the UN and the other from the Rodale Institute validating the alternative approach. Contrary to what Monsanto likes to argue, we can produce sufficient quantities of food by way of organic farming.

If that is the case, we are enduring the considerable negative consequences of industrial agriculture for no good reason. You also have to wonder why there is virtually no discussion about a matter which directly affects the health of over 320 million Americans—not to mention millions more abroad.

Right now, industrial farming based upon monoculture—combined with CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and extensive fracking—is producing:

  • Exhausted soil
  • Weeds that are increasingly glyphosate resistant.
  • Massive contamination of our rivers, lakes, and the oceans
  • Less nutritious food.
  • Food contaminated by glyphosate
  • Food contaminated by other pesticides and herbicides.
  • Food contaminated by fracking chemicals.
  • Massive abuse of animals.
  • Meat contaminated by antibiotics fed to animal to counter the negative effects of CAFOs.

Americans live sicker and die several years sooner than the citizens of most other developed nations.

Food for thought—no pun intended.

VOR words c. 641

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