Prince Edward Island Farmers To Go Organic

This is an internesting article about the move from conventional farming to organic farming headed by the leaders of Prince Edward Island in Canada. I like the reference to the shiny new John Deere and the costs associated with conventional farming.

Gary Claudeheid, a long-time organic farmer and Green Party candidate, said people who argue that organic growing is not economically feasible fail to see the failing economics of conventional operations.

“Between 1950 and 1980, the Island lost 80 per cent of its farmers,” he said. “Between 1986 and 2001, it lost another 1,000. In the last five years, we’ve lost another 147. They are never taken into account.

“They like to point to the 750 farms on Prince Edward Island that are grossing over $100,000. But how much of that is left when they have to pay for a shiny, new, green John Deere machines, all the chemical fertilizer, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, sprout inhibitors and all the other chemicals they are using?”

Labchuk said her party would restore some of the economic sense to organic farming by removing the subsidies that support chemical-based farming and offering money and training to help growers’ transition to organic methods.

Plight of Polar Bears Affects Us All

Polar bears, like the one pictured here, have now been put upon the endangered species list due to global warming. In fact, fears for their survival have become so real by prominent environmentalists, that it has now been predicted that these Arctic carnivores may become extinct in the wild by the year 2050. The Arctic ice shelf, the bear’s hunting grounds, has been receding steadily for the past 30 years. The bears depend on large ice floes for both hunting and to bare their young, which occur in the spring. It has now been estimated that since the late 1970’s the total area of summer polar ice has declined more than 20 per cent and is accelerating each year at a much faster rate.

Polar Bear PlightPolar bears depend on a steady diet of Arctic ringed seals, walruses and fish, all of which are declining or moving to other locations further north. With a decline in these food sources, polar bears will have no choice other than either to adapt to their new environmental reality – or die. And that ‘adaptation’ may force the bears to add another possible food source to their hunting forays – Man. Eskimos and other indigenous people who also live in the arctic regions, and depend on the same food sources as the polar bears may find themselves on ursus maritumus’ shopping list, as the bears loose their natural fear and apprehension and begin to approach villages and other places of human habitation to find food. People working in the far north, including oil well drillers, scientists, and other people may also be at risk, especially if they are out alone and far away from others.

Even now, with a shrinking habitat, polar bears are coming closer to settlements and are even raiding garbage dumps in search of food. While most bears are omnivorous by nature, polar bears have formerly relied on the food chain to receive their traditional diet of fresh seal meat as well as occasional whale carcasses. With present changes in their natural environment, there have even been reports of bears attacking baby beluga and narwhal whales, previously a rarity.

It’s a sad fact that many folks aren’t concerned about polar bears becoming extinct, like the pre-historic cave bear did, as long as enough remain in captivity in zoos (like the orphan baby bear in the Berlin Zoo). The bears may possibly even become another exhibit in places such as city aquariums or marine world exhibits, like beluga whales and sea otters. The truth is, though, is that the demise of such animals may be an omen in regards to our long term future on this planet – often called an island we cannot leave.

The threatened demise of ursus maritimus is only one example of the dangers that global warming is bringing upon the earth. If most of the Arctic polar ice cap melts, seas will rise at least 3 to 7 meters and most coastal cities, even those in the Mediterranean area, will find themselves under water. Hundreds – perhaps thousands of other plant and animal species will also be endangered and this will eventually threaten the future of Mankind as well. As long as fossil fuels continue to be consumed at the present rate, as is evident in many large cities, the effects of global warming, including famine and violent weather patterns, will create havoc to all of the inhabitants of our planet. There still may be time to reverse some of this threat by an international concerted effort to develop alternative energy sources. If this doesn’t happen, then not only will the polar bear one day be no more; even Mankind itself may find itself as being on the endangered species list.

The Fire – This Time Doomsday Eco-Thriller Becomes Reality

A little more than thirteen years back, A T.V. movie entitled: The Fire Next Time gave a chilling preview of what the world might be like in the year 2017, as a result of the consequences of global warming and severe depletion of the earth’s ozone layer. The movie, directed by Tom McLoughlin, depicted an environmental disaster in the United States, with much of the Continental 48 states in a disastrous situation due to severe drought, literally burning by raging forest fires, or plummeted constantly by hurricanes and similar severe storms. The film’s main characters, a Louisiana family engaged in a dwindling shrimp fishing business, have both their livelihood and their home literally destroyed by a monster hurricane similar to Hurricane Katrina which hit the city of New Orleans and much of the U.S. Gulf Coast in August, 2005.

Global warming and the so-called “greenhouse effect” are definitely issues being dealt with in our present time, 13 years after the above movie was first shown. Events happening in countries all over the world, give testimony to the present state of the earth’s environmental problems that appear to be getting worse as time goes on.

Numerous hurricanes have already created mayhem in the Caribbean. These events, combined with several typhoons and similar severe storms in Asia, have resulted in billions of dollars in property damages, economic loses, and hundreds of human lives. Huge forest and brush fires in California, Colorado, Arizona, and other western states, as well as in Australia and Southern Europe, have wrecked their havoc as well during the past few years.

Where is this all heading? Scientists and environmentalists have been warning us for some time that the continuous abuse of our environment by over use of petroleum based ‘fossil fuels’, including coal, fluorocarbons from aerosol cans, air conditioning systems and the like; would someday result in global warming, melting of glaciers and Artic/Antarctic ice caps, resulting in serious consequences to the inhabitants of this planet. Only recently, it was discovered that a huge Arctic ice shelf had broken loose off Alaska’s Northwestern coast after having been in place for more than 5,000 years. Polar animals, including whales, walruses, polar bears, and other artic creatures are now on the endangered list due to changes in their habit as a result of global warming.

This reality coincides with the recent documentary movie An Inconvenient Truth written and produced by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, in which the effects of global warming were graphically noted, and the dire warnings Mr. Gore is presenting are still being unheeded by many world governments, including his own. The movie must have effected many, however, as it received an Oscar at the 2007 Academy Award ceremonies in Hollywood California.

Alternative energy sources, such as hydrogen fuels, fuel cells, electricity produced by natural gas and hydro-electric generators, wind and solar power, just to name a few, will result in a much better environment and eventually reduce the damage created by over-use of fossil fuels. The technology exists, and at whatever the costs, it must be implemented before it is too late to reverse the present effects of global warming.

And if not, the consequences, as noted in The Fire Next Time, and An Inconvenient Truth will result in science fiction becoming a tragic reality, for you see, we are only looking at the world in ten years time. And you don’t believe this keep watching your TV’s to see what result might be in this year’s hurricane season. Many living in Florida and New Orleans, for example, are still picking up the pieces after previous bad storms, now attributed to the effects of global warming.

Herbicides and Pesticides in Intensive Farming

Herbicides and Pesticides in Intensive FarmingEnvironmental dangers from over use of herbicides and pesticides in commercial, intensive farming has been known for years. One of the first warnings of damages from the use of pesticides in modern agriculture came from American novelist Rachel Carson in 1962 with her book The Silent Spring. Ms. Carson’s thought provoking book portrayed a bleak future in regards to birds and other wildlife that were being killed or mutated due to the over use of both pesticides and herbicides by farmers. Though written more than 40 years ago, she predicted that the ongoing effects of these chemical agents would be so far reaching that people might one day experience ‘silent springs’ devoid of song and migratory birds that herald the changing of the seasons.

Though Ms. Carson’s warnings have not completely come to pass, the use of carious chemical agents, not only by agriculture but also by many people on their own lawns and garden plants, eventually find their way into the water that we drink, resulting in health hazards ranging from birth defects to cancer. Many studies have been made relating to environmental damage caused by these chemicals, some of the more common ones being sulfonylurea (SU) and atrizine types of herbicides which are used by farmers as ‘weed killers’ for crops such as corn and soybeans – both important food crops. These herbicides eventually find their way into ground water aquifers, and have been shown to cause a number of health problems in humans ranging from learning disorders to over aggressive behavior patterns. A well known pesticide, DBCP, was once wide used in American states such as California and Iowa. This pesticide, though now banned in most places still causes a number of diseases and health disorders, including male infertility (the main effect it was supposed to have on insects, rodents, and other pests).

In Iowa, for example, a study made in 1966, only four years after the publication of Ms. Carson’s book, it was found that more than half of that state’s ground water was already contaminated by weed killers. The situation in many other states in America is as bad or worse as intensive commercial farming methods still use many of these chemical agents in order to increase crop yields.

Organic farming methods, though still on a much smaller scale than that of commercial agriculture, is showing a better way to grow crops without causing harm to the environment. By changing to an organic lifestyle, including the care and maintenance of one’s own lawn and garden, people can help contribute to preserving our environment and improving our health as well. It’s a small start, but by eliminating insect sprays and weed killers on our own properties we can contribute to improving our planet’s eco-system.

Hot – and Getting Hotter! The Earth Heats Up from Global Warming

It’s a hot time in this old world all right! New scientific studies are showing worrisome findings that the earth’s temperatures are reaching the warmest they’ve been in over a million years. That’s bad news for the 6.5 billion inhabitants of this planet, as well as for most of the animals who inhabit it – especially those inhabiting colder regions. These studies show that the earth’s temperature has been rising rapidly, in the area of nearly 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.2 degrees Celsius in the past 30 years alone. The average surface temperature is now around 15-16 degrees Celsius; and if it rises another 1 degree C. serious, possible irreversible effects will occur, so said a researcher from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The higher temperatures are mostly being caused by human induced heat from burning forest land for crop planting, as well as exhaust emissions from automobiles and coal and oil burning power facilities, the researcher, James Hansen, noted. Another researcher, Alan Robock from Rutgers University, noted that further temperature rises of 2 to 3 degrees Celsius will make the earths temperature the same as at was around 3 million years ago, when the ocean levels were about 30 feet higher than they are today.

What this means for all of us, including Wally the Walrus and his pals is that life will be quite different on old Terra Firma, especially in the Earth’s Arctic regions, where effects of global warming are becoming even more accelerated. Arctic regions, where polar ice and snow actually reflected the suns rays, now have areas of dry land and open water which are absorbing solar heat. Animals such as Wally and his friends, as swell as Polar Bears, seals, and other Arctic creatures could even become extinct within the next hundred years.

How are these changes effecting people living in other areas, including here in Israel, is becoming evident with different weather patterns and temperature changes. For example: those hot, sultry, summer days (and especially nights) used to come only in about mid to late July. Now, we feel them in mid June! Winter temperatures are warmer as well, with far too many balmy, even summer-like days in mid-January. It might not be long before average summer temperatures in Israel may be similar to what they are now in countries like Kuwait and Dubai!

If the oceans do rise, even 10 or 15 feet, large coastal cities will have massive problems, especially those on the coast of large oceans including New York City, Antwerp, Hong Kong and Tokyo, may find themselves partially under water. Even Israeli coastal cities will not be immune, as some of this water will eventually find itself into the Mediterranean.

It’s not too late to try to reverse some of these trends, although these efforts will drastically affect the lives of most people with use of fossil fuels being either severely curtailed or even banned altogether. For creatures like Wally, however, these efforts may be too little – too late.

Green Clean – Organic Cleaning Compounds Becoming More Popular Despite Higher Costs

Want to clean your house with worry of harming our environment? Then try organic and bio-degradable housecleaners instead of harsher commercial products. More and more ‘earth friendly’ cleaning compounds are appearing in both specialty shops and organic products stores these days. Though more costly (in America, organic and ‘natural’ soaps and cleaning compounds cost at least 50% more than standard brands like “Mr. Clean” and Ajax), people concerned about the effects of commercial detergents, bleaches, window cleaning fluids, and even furniture polish, are willing to pay the price, in order to help the environment. The ‘green’ products, alleged to contain these bio-degradable and environmentally friendly ingredients, note plant-derived essential oils and other similar compounds which can be disposed in the normal manner (i.e. in the garbage or down the drain or toilet) without worrying whether they will pollute the soil or water supplies.

The only problem at present, as noted by a spokesman for the American based Organic Consumers Association, is that these products have not yet been certified by U.S. Government regulatory bodies, such as the FDA and Federal Trade Commission.

Labels of many organic cleaning products, though claiming to contain ‘all natural’ and organic ingredients, still have not been officially proven to be so. If the products are noted to be “bio-degradable” for example; and without such ingredients as phosphates, chlorine bleach, and other similar ingredients, they still lack certification by an official government body to back up these claims.

A number of standard ingredients, such as phosphates for example, are actually natural, since they come directly from the ground and are not altered in their chemical composition. Many standard Israeli cleaning compounds, as well as soaps and detergents, contain phosphates and other similar compounds. Natural cleaning products are less available in Israel, though some of the older brands, utilizing ‘natural’ basic ingredients, like sand and soda ash, have been around for years.

With an annual American market of more $100 million per year for organic soap and cleaning products; more and more of them will eventually be sold in Israel as well. Families who still have grandmothers around, can testify that you can make your own ‘organic’ cleaning products, and be assured of what they contain. Some of these old favorites include using vinegar instead of window cleaner or drain cleaning products. Vinegar, in fact, has been used by women as a vaginal douche since time immemorial. Baking soda, also a favorite “old wives” cleaning product, has a variety of uses; from brushing teeth, to cleaning the sink and bathtub.

Even organic cleaners are not completely ‘friendly’ however; and one still has to be cautious when using – especially when small children are in the home.