THE ENVIRONMENTAL CORNER:
a look at issues relevant to clean air, water, food,
and fairness to the creatures and plants
who have been here as long, or longer, than we have
and who share this environment with us
26 July 2007
I have been keeping my environmentally-focused pages in my Common Themes section for many years. But today, unexpectedly, while updating an unrelated page on my home page, I abruptly realized that I needed to transfer environmental issues to their own section.
Thus, I have created THE ENVIRONMENTAL CORNER, where these pages will be grouped together and easier to find. The URLs of earlier pages will not change, so if you have already bookmarked them, do not worry that you'll have to search for them all over again. Only their re-positioning to this new section will change.
A final note: back in early March 2007 I launched a new page on pathogens with annotated links by Guest-editor, Stanley Cooper. What I wrote at that time will serve as an introduction to why these pages are so important to me, why they are an integral part of Myth*ing Links, and why they now have their own section:This page looks at detailed, stunning scientific evidence concerning the pathogens in our food. I have named it: How & Why Are Pathogens Getting Into Our Food Supply: Cherchez la merde!. The page is a sobering collection of annotated links from Stanley Cooper, a man trained as a scientist and engineer. If you're wondering why spinach, peanut butter, lettuce, meat, and so many more foods are being contaminated, you don't want to miss this new page.
Why would a mythologist like me care about pathogens in food (aside from the fact that I eat food like everyone else)? Isn't that the business of biologists, molecular chemists, and other such scientists? Yes, of course it is -- my work is more focused on deities and demons from around the world.
Yet when I look at the impact on our lives of manure-spawned bacteria from inhumanely-raised livestock, at the "demonic" corporate greed that fosters such practices, and at the passionate environmentalists trying to open our eyes to the dangers, the boundaries blur between the denizens of science and the denizens of myth.
So this topic turns out to be very much my own turf and I am proud and grateful to be able to present Cooper's work. I hope you'll visit this page and explore the serious implications.
[Added 9 December 2008]: This important Reuters report from 21 October 2008 is entitled Crunch May Spur Rethink of Nature as "Free." What I especially like about this report is that it gives actual costs, not just theories. (Note: in my excerpts below, I am taking the liberty of combining single sentences into coherent paragraphs. Whoever wrote this piece has no concept of what a paragraph is. One short sentence is not a paragraph. Many sentences masquerading as individual paragraphs just create a choppy mess.)
Reuters - The worst financial crisis since the 1930s may be a chance to put price tags on nature in a radical economic rethink to protect everything from coral reefs to rainforests, environmental experts say. Farmers know the value of land from the amount of crops they can produce but large parts of the natural world - such as wetlands that purify water, oceans that produce fish or trees that soak up greenhouse gases - are usually viewed as "free." "Most of our valuable assets are not on the books," said Robert Costanza, professor of ecological economics at the University of Vermont. "We need to reinvent economics. The financial crisis is an opportunity...."
..."I believe the 21st century will be dominated by the concept of natural capital, just as the 20th was dominated by financial capital," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, told Reuters at the International Union for Conservation of Nature congress in Barcelona earlier this month. "We are reaching a point ... at which the very system that supports us is threatened," he said. Conventional economists often object it is impossible to value an Andean valley or the Caribbean. "We have struggled with nature-based services: how does a market begin to value them?" Steiner said.
Costanza helped get international debate underway a decade ago with a widely quoted estimate that the value of natural services was $33 trillion a year - almost twice world gross domestic product at the time.
Some economists dismissed Costanza's $33 trillion as an overestimate. Others pointed out that no one would be alive without nature, so its value to humans is infinite. "There is little that can be usefully done with a serious underestimate of infinity," economist Michael Toman said at the time.
But with the seizure of world money-markets bringing - for some, at least - an opportunity to rethink modern capitalism's basic tenet that greed and self-interest can counterbalance each other, more environmental experts hope to revisit nature's role in producing food, water, fuels, fibres or building materials. "The financial crisis is just another nail in the coffin" of a system that seeks economic growth while ignoring wider human wellbeing, said Johan Rockstrom, executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute.
Under standard economics, nations can boost their GDP - briefly - by chopping down all their forests and selling the timber, or by dynamiting coral reefs to catch all the fish. A rethink would stress the value of keeping nature intact. Rockstrom said bank bailouts totalling hundreds of billions of dollars might "change the mindset of the public ... if we are willing to save investment banks, why not spend a similar amount on saving the planet?" he said....
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has shifted from traditional gross national product to a goal of "gross national happiness", which includes respect for nature. And in U.N. talks on a new climate treaty, more than 190 nations are considering a plan to pay tropical nations billions of dollars a year to leave forests alone to slow deforestation and combat global warming. "We want to see a shift to valuing ecosystems," Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim said. Oslo has led donor efforts by pledging $500 million a year to tropical nations for abandoning the chainsaw and letting trees stand....
...A report sponsored by the European Commission and Germany in May estimated that humanity was causing 50 billion euros ($67.35 billion) in damage to the planet's land areas every year. And a 2006 report by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern said that unchecked global warming could cost 5 to 20 percent of world GDP, damaging the economy on the scale of the world wars or the Great Depression. A 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Report also said that natural systems were worth more intact than if converted. It said a Canadian wetland was worth $6,000 a year per hectare, and just $2,000 if converted to farmland. A hectare of mangrove in Thailand was worth $1,000 a year - producing fish or protecting against coastal erosion - against $200 if uprooted and converted to a shrimp farm.
Costanza, in a letter to the journal Science with a colleague earlier this year, said one way to value nature would be to set up a government-backed system to trade all greenhouse gas emissions and channel the revenues, estimated at $0.9-$3.6 trillion a year, into an "Earth Atmospheric Trust." If half the cash were shared out, each person on the planet would get $71-$285 a year, a big step towards ending poverty. The rest could go to renewable energy and clean technology.
--------Sourced from the Reuters InterActive Carbon Markets Community - a free, gated online network for carbon market and climate policy professionals.
Factory Farms / Industrial Agriculture Portal Page
Here is this
new section's index:
How & Why Pathogens Are Getting Into Our Food: Cherchez la merde!: by Stanley Cooper 7 March 2007.
Behind the Odors From Factory Farms: What the Nose Doesn't Know: by Stanley Cooper 19 April 2007.
Note: If you live near one of these huge farms filled with confined and stressed animals, you'll know what I mean. If you don't, your food supply, air, and water are still being seriously impacted. For openers, wind-born particulates are carried to urban centers; other factors put your water supply at risk, as well as your food.
Industrial Agriculture: General Information on Factory FarmsIndustrial Agriculture: Local Michigan Edition
Industrial Agriculture: USA / International Edition:
[Important: for a full listing of many Myth*ing Links reprinted articles, see above portal page, Factory Farms Index]
Industrial Agriculture: Food: We Are What We Eat
Farmers' Markets in the USA: forthcoming
Gardening with Native USA Plants: forthcoming, but see this fine link: http://www.plantnative.org/index.htm
Farming / Organic Eating: forthcoming, but see this excellent
Peaceable Kingdom: Transforming Our Relationships with Animals:
by Matthew Halteman, CalvinCollege / Grand Rapids, Michigan
Note: a complete Site Map as well as my email address
will be found on my home page.
This page created with Netscape 4.7.
Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and layout copyright © 2007 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
Page created and launched c. 10:45pm Thursday night, 26 July 2007
New piece added 9 December 2008 on re-thinking"free" when it comes to the abuse of nature.