Archive for » March, 2010 «

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 | Author:

Can Australia be saved? This is really a scary thing to consider. I did not even really know about Australia’s serious drought and salinity problem until we started talking about it in class. And to think that this drought has been going on for many years now is a very concerning thing. I read about the drought and the effects that it is having on the people but it did not really hit home until I saw that little clip in class about the family and their farm and how there used to be a lake right near them whereas now there is nothing but desert.

It is really upsetting to know that a couple hundred years ago, before we settled in Australia, the land was doing just fine. Then, we come along and completely mess up the ecosystem by planting crops which have roots that are far too small and introduce livestock which eat far too much. Why did we just sit around and let devastation like this just occur (and it is happening all over the world…)? It is because of lack of education. On one hand, the people may not really know what they are doing and what the impacts are of their actions. People sure did not know 40 years ago that CFC’s would cause a hole in the ozone. But, when they did figure it out, there were steps taken to correct the problem and today, the ozone hole is shrinking. So, there is always hope. Farmers need to be educated on how to plant properly so as to minimize dryland salinity and desertification. They should be introduced to the concept of drip irrigation and of planting native trees in the vicinity of their crops so that it may act as a natural fertilizer and be able to (in Australia’s case), minimize the dryland salinity.

It seems simple enough, educate the people on the effects of their farming practices and how they can change them to better the ecosystem. But, it is actually a very hard thing to change a person’s way of life. Even if they understand the impacts of their practices, they may still not care to change. But I believe that if at least a handfull of people were informed every day about something harmful to our environment that they can change by maybe even doing something small, like refusing to buy bottled water any more, then we can change the world and save places such as Australia. 

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 | Author:

So, I went and saw “Tapped” last week, and it was a very interesting documentary. It was really depressing learning about how companies such as Nestle and Coke can be so cold hearted about how they extract or process water. In Nestle’s case, they pull out natural ground water in rural towns in places like Maine, and they sell it back to the people at 19 times the cost of regular tap water (and, what really freaks me out about this is that the government has no real jurisdiction over a company if it bottles and sells the water in the same state)…Companies such as Coke and Pepsi don’t even get their water from spring or “fresh” water areas, they just purify tap water and sell it for a remarkably high price and Americans just eat it up (or in this case, drink it up), without even thinking about the consequences of their actions.

These water bottling companies extract water during severe droughts, they are self-regulated (meaning the government does not demand or insist that they test it themselves), and the bottles that the water comes in could in fact carry harmful products that may cause fertility issues and cancer. Every time a person buys a bottle of water, they are essentially supporting the bottled water companies. The reason Americans like bottles water so much is because it is fast and simple. It is something that we can just take with us on the go and simply throw it away later so we do not have to wash it. This is like the epitome of laziness and Americans want things to be fast and simple. Also, the problem is that when people are done drinking from their plastic water bottle, most do not simply try to find a recycling bin to put it, so they either throw it in a regular trash can where it would end up in a land fill, or they simply litter and have those plastic bottles traveling, sometimes all over the world, to wreak havok environmentally in the oceans and beaches.

All-in-all, people just need to stop buying bottles water. The public needs to be educated more in this issue, and we can start changing what we drink “one sip at a time.” I know I would have to be hard pressed to ever buy a bottle of water again.

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Friday, March 19th, 2010 | Author:

That is basically what I thought when I watched Food Inc. I could not believe some of the things that I was seeing. As we discussed in class, there were a couple key issues that struck me the most. The first was the way factory farms were run and how they treated the animal, the employee, and the customer. The second was how much of a stranglehold the Monsento corporation has on agricultural products.

I already knew a great deal about factory farming before seeing this movie, but this really opened my eyes even wider to the fact that so many animals are being mistreated and so many employees are in such danger of disease and mistreatment by the corporations that emplay them. It is necessary, and the going will be very hard, but there should be no such thing as factory farming. It is just really unfortunate that America eats so much beef, and meat in general. Because naturally, we should not have this much meat at our disposal and it will be very hard to cut back enough to where we have enough meat but have all free-ranging animals.

The other issue, about the Monsento corporation essentially being a monopoly over agriculture, was something that was very eye-opening. This is one of the things that I was not as familiar with. They are like a lumbering giant that cannot be stopped, at least not easily. The best way to stop them would be to stop buying from their company, but there is barely any compitition to purchase from. These issuses have really made me more aware of the food industries and what is around me. This movie has been such an eye-opener that I will begin to change my lifestyle, at least a little, to try to change the world one meal at a time.

And, I must also say that I am quite pleased that Chipotle gets most of its meat from free-range animals and is no longer under McDonalds….It makes me feel slightly better about eating there.

 Vs.  

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Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 | Author:

Can mountaintop removal be stopped? That was the first question I had on my mind as I sat listening to the speakers last week discussing the issue of mountaintop removal. It is a very scary thought to know that there is such single-minded destruction happening so close to our own back yards. The Appalachian mountains are the closest effected from MTR. These mountains are considered ecological “hot spots” due to their vast store of plants and animals in both the precious hardwood forests and the streams of the Appalachian mountains. Mountaintop removal mining is systematically destroying the environment in which these plants and animals thrive by completely uprooting the top of the mountain and dumping the resulting debris into valley’s and streams. The fact that MTR is so environmentally damaging is not even the worst part of the MTR impact. For the people who live close to the mining sites, the drinking water has been contaminated, they are exposed to deadly airborne toxins, there is the constant threat of deadly flooding or a sludge leak, and the MTR method of mining has left many jobless and poor in an already struggling economy.

So, the big question; can mountaintop removal be stopped? I believe it can but there would, of course be very hard work ahead. The most pressing reason why MTR is so prevalent is because of our very unhealthy dependence on coal. If we could cut our dependence by limiting our use of energy and also finding alternative, renewable energy, to work with then we would not even need coal mining. But that goal is quite far off in the future. At the moment, we need to work with getting our congressmen to support bills and legislature to stop or hinder MTR itself. It is really quite upsetting that people of influence know of what MTR is and the destruction that it trails in its wake, but they will still do nothing about it.  

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