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The Immediate Benefits of Vegan Diet Might Shock You!

The Immediate Benefits of Vegan Diet Might Shock You!


Today, Americans are increasingly educating ourselves about the profound relationship between the foods we eat and the state of our health.

We are also becoming aware of the health risks associated with the consumption of genetically engineered foods and industrial herbicides and pesticides.

Consequently, we are taking charge of our health, eating organically-grown produce and turning away from conventional medicine and pharmaceutical drugs.

 

The old adage, "Let thy food be thy medicine:' is gaining popularity again. In the past fifty years, I have had the excellent fortune to befriend or communicate with many of the world's most innovative and honored complementary medical physicians who have used lifestyle modification to help improve or reverse serious medical conditions. Unfortunately, none of these individuals have received the credit they deserve.

As conventional medicine has been fully co-opted by the drug-based pharmaceutical paradigm, alternative health interventions have been either marginalized or ignored altogether.

Today, however, with more than 60% of the American population using a variety of modalities associated with a healthier lifestyle, including plant-based diets, nutritional supplementation, exercise, and stress management, there is now growing recognition that we as individuals have far more control over our health and the prevention and treatment of diseases than heretofore acknowledged.

This book represents a significant starting point in the reclamation of our health.

The information provided here derives from board-certified physicians and scientists whose lifetime work represents medicine's new frontier-in effect, the new paradigm that will eventually replace the old one.

From heart disease to dementia and Alzheimer's disease, from arthritis to multiple sclerosis, and from pain to fatigue, these doctors speak about how they have alleviated a wide variety of conditions in their patients.

The most frequent question asked by people who wish to take their health into their own hands, regardless of their stage of health or illness, is "Where do I begin?" Based on my fifty years as a nutritionist, dietary counselor, and researcher, I believe everyone benefits from a healthy, plant-based diet. I have observed that this is especially the case for those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and inflammatory diseases.

 I have conducted over 40 clinical trials, cumulatively enrolling approximately 20,000 participants, and I repeatedly see serious medical conditions either improved or reversed through lifestyle modification where conventional medical intervention has failed.

A healthy diet is a first and most important step for achieving these results.

Having a basic understanding about which foods and herbs build a stronger immune system, cleanse and detoxify the body, and ultimately rejuvenate the body's tissues is crucial to this process. All of these factors have been taken into consideration and included in the recipes in this book. I am also frequently asked to share my favorite recipes to strengthen health.

I have created a collection of delicious and wholesome vegan recipes that are often served as meals during the health retreats that I offer. One of my goals in writing Curing the Incurable?

Healing Through Natural Foods was to share some of the very best creations from my own kitchen, which not only dazzle your taste buds but also enhance your health in powerful ways. From comforting savory soups and inventive salads to mouth-watering entrees and decadent yet guilt-free desserts, this book is a wonderful guide for anyone looking to transition from the unhealthy American diet to foods that truly satisfy and energize the body.

In order to maximize nutritional benefit and accommodate individuals with food sensitivities, all the recipes are dairy-free, and many are raw (uncooked) and gluten-free. Although these original recipes are largely gourmet, each of them has been tested to confirm that anyone even those without any professional culinary training can prepare the meals easily at home.

We begin our journey by hearing some of the unique and inspiring stories of hope for the hopeless and then offer a comprehensive review of health foods and healing.

  • James Robinson
The Global Warming Potential in 2020 and Beyond

The Global Warming Potential in 2020 and Beyond


Today climate scientists and environmental activists refer to our postmodern era as the Anthropocene Age whenever they critique Western civilization’s impact upon the changing climate and the planet’s future ecological shifts and transformations. Indeed modern industry and technology are destroying the planet unwittingly.


Its carbon footprint is evidenced everywhere we look. But it has become so pervasive that it goes largely unnoticed. The food on our dining table has a history of greenhouse gas release. So do our mobile phones, computers, jeans and sneakers, and so much more. Aside from extreme weather events, we often fail to notice the immediacy and rate of these changes, such as the arrival of certain predatory beetles invading trees on our lawns or the arrival of a plant species in our neighborhood park that should only thrive in a different clime. Or the arrival of new blights decimating forests.

A five-year University of Delaware study predicted that 72% of Southern states’ needle green evergreen trees will disappear by 2050 due to the southern pine beetle. The insect is native to Central America, however, since 1990, milder winters have enabled the pest to migrate as far north as New Jersey and more recently onto Long Island. Massive tree die-offs are occurring throughout North America and other continents.

When Los Alamos National Laboratory, along with scientists from 18 other institutions and federal agencies, ran multiple global warming simulations to check and cross-check their results, the conclusion remained the same: climate change was the machine driving massive tree and forest die-offs. This includes the great boreal forest reaching around the planet’s northernmost clime and one of the most important and last natural resources that assure we have oxygenated air to breathe. Already it is being observed that peat in the world’s boreal forests is decomposing at an astonishing rate and releasing methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent and dangerous than carbon dioxide.

On the US Pacific coast, a jelly-like creature known as a pyrosome has migrated from its native warmer tropical waters off the Central American coast as far north as the Gulf of Alaska. Pyrosomes are an invasive species, as are many other organisms that are multiplying with increasing global temperatures. These zooids are now so plentiful that fish school populations are threatened. They interfere with the fishing industry and fisheries and as a consequence, the proliferation of pyrosomes has a direct adverse impact on communities and economies. In her book Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean, author Lisa Ann Gershwin writes, Gershwin further explains how the increase in jellyfish contributes to global warming.  On the one hand, jellyfish consume enormous quantities of diatoms and other plankton, which help sequester carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. Second, jellyfish excrete carbon-rich waste taken up by ocean bacteria. As the number of bacteria increases in parallel to blooming jellyfish populations, they are converted into miniature factories pumping out carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and further acidifying the oceans’ waters.

Or if you go to a market, would you notice that fish, including tuna and cod, are getting smaller? Fish too are directly affected by global warming. This was the conclusion of scientists at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia based upon empirical data. Warmer oceans mean less oxygen to sustain fishes’ bodily functions because “fish are constrained by their gills in the amount of oxygen they can extract from the water.”  The study estimates that 3.4 million metric tons of fish will be lost for each degree Celsius of atmospheric warming.

These several short stories reveal adverse effects happening at this very moment in the US alone due to global warming. They are among many thousands of others occurring across the globe. When we speak about climate change, the boundaries that divide national interests become irrelevant. Climate change and the heating planet is a global crisis of our own making. And very little is being done at either the political domestic and international levels to abate the sources and causes of this emergency.

Before the orgy of fossil fuel, exploitation and consumption switched into hyper-drive around 1950, there were 90 percent more fish in our oceans. There was 40 percent more phytoplankton, one of the most important manufacturers of our planet’s oxygen and an essential organism necessary to counter acidity caused by human waste and pollution. In less than 70 years, humans have already removed twice the number of trees still standing in the world’s forests and jungles. There would be three times more freshwater.

And there would be over 30 percent fewer greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. What is equally important to run through our mind’s imagination is the gloomy scenario that during this same 70 year period, as the resources to sustain human life dwindle, our population steadily increases. Since 1950 (2.5 billion people) it will nearly triple to 7.6 billion by 2020. The simple math is clear that humanity is headed towards extremely dark and frightening times in the very near future.

It is comforting to become complacent and simply consider the gradual decay and death of the planet’s ecosystems as unusual or freak coincidences. Rarely do we give thought about the deeper causal factors that point directly back to our individual and societal behaviors. Winters start later; spring arrives earlier. Prolonged rainfalls and extreme weather incidents are perceived as mere aberrations, as are months of excessive heat and drought. Scientists are fond of saying this is the new “normal” just as the mainstream media would have us believe that obesity and a shorter life span are new norms as well. But life continues. 

We passively accept the adverse changes subtlety affecting our lives. Assimilation and adaptation to inimical change are far easier and more comforting than waking up from our ignorance or denial of life-threatening problems. People simply say, “that was a weird year” or “the weather has been very strange lately,” and assume everything will return to a median range the following year.  Everything is supposedly cyclic, right? But the later years of normalcy don’t reappear. Each year witnesses new record-breaking weather events somewhere in the world. And this is part of what the Anthropocene Age reflects.

So what is meant when we say that humanity and all other species, and the very planet itself, have entered the Anthropocene Age? The Anthropocene means more than what humanity does today or has done in the past since the dawn of modern industrial society over two hundred years ago when the steam engine was invented. The term is not descriptive solely of our present century but refers to an entire age in geological time. The earlier Cenozoic Era started 65 million years ago after the extinction of non-flying dinosaurs and the rapid appearance of mammals.

Earlier geological ages also experienced catastrophic changes. The last and more recent Holocene era began at the end of the ice age approximately 11,700 years ago. But these changes were based upon natural geophysics and phenomena occurring within the planet’s geological systems.

Or they were accidental such as the case of an asteroid, roughly 6 miles in diameter, smashing into the Earth’s surface and overnight altering the atmosphere and global temperature, which gave rise to the Cenozoic Era.

The Anthropocene is also utterly unique in geological time. It is not only the geophysical rhythms altering the planet naturally. That was the case for the previous epochs. During the past two hundred years, a new agent of geological change has appeared: modern Homo sapiens and the emergence of an industrialized civilization alienated from Nature and its origins. And this agent has now become so pervasive and independent from its natural lifeline, so alienated from its natural home which brought it forth, that like the Cenozoic asteroid, humanity has morphed into an alien power affecting and reshaping all geo- and eco-systems that would otherwise keep the Earth in a natural state of equilibrium and balance. This is the era of Anthropos, the Greek word for “human” but also appropriately the name of a social robot designed to mimic human behavior by Media Lab Europe. It is a new geological age of our own creation.

In 1873, an Italian geologist named Antonio Stoppani observed that humans were increasing their influence upon the world thereby adversely affecting the Earth’s ecological systems.  He proposed that the planet was entering a new era in its geological history, which he called the “anthropozoic era,” the seventh geological age since the Earth formed in the Solar System as a cluster of gas and dust 4.6 billion years ago, and the eighth epoch during the age of mammals which began 65 million years ago.  During his lifetime Stoppani’s insights and predictions failed to take hold in the scientific community. Western civilization was still in the midst of the Enlightenment’s euphoric high over the sudden burst of scientific discoveries and the powers of reason over instinct. It was during this Age of Reason when Darwin’s theory of human evolution took hold of the intellectual imagination and gradually merged with utopian myths of infinite industrial and economic progress. The myth has since solidified into the Western consciousness, creating a worldview that today perceives our species as the masters and gods of creation, the supreme rulers of its terrestrial destiny.

The geological sciences would have to wait another hundred years before a Dutch atmospheric chemist and Nobel Prize laureate who first observed the hole in the ozone layer, Paul Crutzen (image on the left), defined the Anthropocene Age as the arrival of a new epoch in Earth’s geological history. Crutzen observed that human activity had passed a threshold whereby it had become the dominating and overwhelming force shaping the planet’s internal systems and geology.

According to Crutzen and his college Eugene Stoermer, a biologist at the University of Michigan, it was towards the end of the eighteenth century that the Anthropocene Age commenced with the first scientific evidence of two greenhouse gases, CO2 and methane, being generated by human industrial society.  Today the definition has stuck and is rapidly becoming a household term.

But what does it mean for the Earth to have entered a new geological epoch?  To better understand the full significance of the Anthropocene as a new geological era, imagine for a moment that all humans suddenly disappeared from the face of the Earth tomorrow. Or imagine we have all been beamed up into outer space by an alien race to free the Earth from humanity’s destructive actions. Even with a humanity absent, for the next ten to fifteen thousand years, all subsequent geological and climatic events will have a direct or indirect relationship to past human activities. Our civilization’s footprints are so pervasive across the Earth’s geo- and atmospheric systems that they will linger for many millennia, well after our species goes extinct. And it is with this arrival of the Anthropocene that humanity has emerged as the primary perpetrator of ecocide, the ruler and destroyer of the planet’s environment, ecosystems, and habitats.

A former member of the Australian government’s Climate Change Authority, Clive Hamilton, writes, “The arrival of the Anthropocene contradicts all narratives, philosophies, and theologies that foretell a preordained and continuous rise of humankind to ever-higher levels of material, social and spiritual development.” In his 2017 book, Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene, Hamilton warns of the scientific hubris driving western nations to imagine we can geoengineer the weather, reduce the destructive threats of greenhouse gases, and assure the further growth of human capital and technological development to solve all of our civilization’s and planet’s problems as they arise.  For Hamilton, the Anthropocene demands that everything we have taken for granted about our civilization–economic development, globalization and trade, politics and foreign policy, social structures, and more–needs to be reevaluated.  More important there is an urgent demand for completely new relationship humanity must create with the Earth and other species. Finally, it is time for nations, their rulers, and the leaders of the industry to come to terms with the fact we are no longer able to turn back the geological clock.

If we limit our definition of the Anthropocene solely to climate change, we fail to grasp the larger picture and won’t recognize what is true as stake.  It is true that climate change has been the primary rationale for the term’s coinage. Yet humans are altering the planet’s geology, ecosystems and biodiversity in numerous other ways that are either indirectly related to the warming planet or something quite different. These other anthropogenic impacts and threats for human survival are more recent and coincide with the burgeoning of post-industrial technology and humanity’s desire to conquer, dominate and manipulate Nature solely for its own greed and needs. Modernity moves further away from the natural fabric of life upon which our lives depend for survival. This trend continues to increase, even among the younger generations, which now spend less time playing outdoors and more time in front of computers, television sets, and electronic games.

Richard Heinberg, a director at the Post Carbon Institute in California, warns that the continual expansion of modern civilization has long over-shot the Earth’s capacity to provide the necessary resources upon which our lives depend. This problem, argues Heinberg, is the result of a severe imbalance in our human systems.

The problem was first laid bare in 1972 when a group of MIT researchers released the now prophetic study Limits of Growth. The report accurately predicted many of the threats our societies face due to resource depletion, food production, manufacturing industries, overpopulation, rising pollution, etc.  It was the first important study to confirm that our civilization’s worldview that there can be infinite economic progress that depends upon finite natural resources is a recipe for catastrophic collapse.

For over forty years, leading ecologists have understood the human dilemma by systems thinking. In order to fully comprehend the big issues facing us, including our individual lives, it is imperative we put aside linear, rational thinking, and look at our problems systemically.  This includes the many ways we understand our own health and the available solutions to tackling the problems of disease.

Nothing in Nature is linear. Nature operates according to a systems theory. It is inherently holistic, meaning the whole of Nature is greater than simply the sum of its parts (individual ecologies) and there are numerous interdependent relationships between those parts. This is as true for recognizing the larger consequences of climate change as it is for understanding the environmental costs of species extinction, destruction of the planet’s ecosystems, mono-crop agriculture and the livestock industry, deforestation, massive mining operations and so much more. Unfortunately, our political institutions and the tunnel vision of private interests are unable to grasp the systemic outcomes behind their actions. If they were, there would no longer be climate change denialists in public office. For this reason, technology will not ultimately save us.


Our modern civilization is also reorganizing and shapeshifting the very DNA of terrestrial life.

The evolutionary tree of life, which required billions of years of change, innovation, adaptation, and development to bring forth the natural vitality of the world we live in today, is being transformed by technological alterations in a laboratory.

In an article appearing in Anthropocene Magazine, Andrew Revkin wrote that “the revolutionary genetic editing tool CRISPR is poised to imprint humans’ ambitions at least as profoundly as fossil fuels have changed the physical world.”  The tree of life, Revkin observes, and which Darwin envisioned, has been “utterly disrupted now that DNA sequencing allows a more complete view” of living organisms.Technology itself, including “green” technologies such as solar power and wind turbines, also relies upon resources that leave a carbon footprint.  Solar panels require the use of arsenic, aluminum, cadmium, copper, gallium, silver, tellurium, and other metals. Wind turbines require steel alloys, nickel, chromium, aluminum, and manganese. Most of these metals require mining, and all mining operations rely upon fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases.  Mining also contributes to the ecological depletion of trees, flora and advances soil degradation.  For sure, technologies will buy time. But none of them is the silver bullet to slam on the breaks of accelerated warming altogether. Perhaps one of the only promising solutions is an enormous scaling back on progress and development, which follows the old 1970s mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle.”  But such a policy is completely contradictory to the entire neoliberal economic machine that fuels corporate globalization and expanding markets. In short, climate change and the environment are moral issues, and free-market capitalism, according to Jerry Mander and founder of the International Forum on Globalization, is fundamentally amoral and without any human value other than currency.

Unfortunately, the nations of the world have yet to come to grips with the hotly debated long term ramifications of genetic engineering. Even less so, does science fully acknowledge the possible crises that may emerge through the interplay of released genetically modified organisms and abrupt climate change?  For example, the Second Green Revolution’s promise of more resilient crops to survive future pest and weed invasions and to produce higher yields from genetic engineering is rapidly crumbling.

If you visit any GMO soy field in the American Mid-West, mixed among the paler green soy plants you will observe taller, lusher and darker green plants or hogweed gradually dominating your view. Similar to microbial resistance to antibiotic therapies due to over-prescribing, superweeds are increasingly becoming resistant to Monsanto’s and the other agri-chemical companies’ toxic products.  Crops grown by chemical industrial practices, such as nitrogen fertilizers, an array of pesticides and herbicides, machine tilling, and higher demands for water, are turning out to be nutritionally inferior to their organic counterparts. They have also become more susceptible to pest invasions, which in turn requires further application of potent, toxic chemicals. Yields are decreasing. More frequent episodes of extreme drought and excessive precipitation due to global warming further compound the struggles farmers face. Our entire infrastructure of food security is over-taxed, severely stressed and more difficult to keep afloat as more fertilizers, toxic chemicals and water are demanded. This positive feedback mechanism–an initial chemical-based agriculture model that requires more of the same in order to keep pace with climate change–further drags down yields and creates additional economic and health stresses on people and families.

When we step back and take a look at our culture’s anthropogenic footprint, we must also take into account other activities besides burning fossil fuels.  Globally, tens of billions of tons of concrete, perhaps one of the most damaging substances on the environment ever invented, is used in construction and development.  Private corporations smelt huge amounts of aluminum annually, which is an energy-intensive process. Energy spent on aluminum production is today more costly than the actual cost of the metal. Our soil, our rivers, lakes and the oceans are littered in plastic. The latest study conducted in 2016 estimated approximately eight million tons of plastic are dumped in the oceans annually. Worldwide the US’ reliance on plastic continues to increase, and the plastic industry is petroleum-based. WorldWatch estimates that 4% of the petroleum consumed goes into the manufacturing of plastics. And the US leads the developed nations in recycling the least amount of post-consumer plastic. Over 90% of it, approximately 32 million tons, is simply discarded or dumped into landfills.

After water, according to Columbia University’s Earth Institute, “concrete is the most consumed substance on the planet.”  The rate of concrete production today is equivalent to every person on the planet consuming three tons worth annually.  Concrete manufacturing accounts for 5% of CO2 emissions during the heating process of limestone. And our planet’s landscape continues to be built upon concrete. Even as the Eastern seaboard remains under alert for sudden bursts in sea rise (six times the global average between 2011 and 2015), flooding and higher surges during tropical storms, the insanity of rapid construction along the coast continues unabated. “It’s amazing to see construction along the East Coast,” writes the University of Florida’s Arnoldo Valle-Levinson in Geophysical Research Letters. “That is the worst place to build anything.” He envisions the cities in the southeastern US becoming “Venice-like,” prone to tidal flooding, as global warming pushes forward.

Because Earth changes are driven by economic and industrial pursuits in the free-market, some researchers, such as Jason Moore at Binghamton University, argue our present age should be called the Capitalocene. For Moore and his followers, this is an age where our ecological degradation is being fueled by “inequality, commodification, imperialism and more.” Moore is certainly correct in many respects. However, the capitalist agenda is not the sole culprit now destroying the planet and human lives. Communist China is equally criminal, the world’s leader in greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to 30% of all anthropogenic CO2 released into the atmosphere. There are so many criminal defendants responsible for our climate catastrophes who are determined to keep the fossil fuel economy alive. In July 2017 the Climate Accountability Institute and its partners released a report charging only 100 corporations as being responsible for 71% of all global greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.  If our governments were in fact democratic and possessed any integrity, these firms would be held responsible for untold damage done to the environment, towns and communities and families.

Today there is a growing consensus among many thought leaders who have spent much of their lives in the environmental movement that only widespread systemic change will ward off the colossal human suffering looming before us in the not too distant future.

This requires forward-thinking action at every level of our modern society. And this begins with ourselves, dramatic changes in our own personal lives and then reaching out into our neighborhoods, towns, communities. “Even if our efforts cannot save consumerist industrial civilization,” notes Richard Heinberg, “they could still succeed in planting the seeds of a regenerative human culture worthy of survival.”  This systemic approach, coupled with a “moral awakening,” Heinberg believes, is the only real hope for survival before us.

*

Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries.

Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest-running public radio program on alternative and nutritional health and a multi-award-winning documentary film director, including Poverty Inc and Deadly Deception.

 

  • James Robinson
More Food, Less Nutrition for Longevity

More Food, Less Nutrition for Longevity

All earthly life depends ultimately on plants - for plants are the only living organisms able to create life from inorganic matter. This is accomplished through the fascinating process of photosynthesis, by which plants utilize the sun's power in order to convert water, minerals from the earth, and carbon dioxide from the air into carbohydrates, proteins, and oils - the basic sources of energy of all living things. Science has not been able to reproduce this deceptively simple chemical conversion in the laboratory.

It has only gone so far as to develop various means of providing the plants with nourishment, so that they may draw an even greater supply of food from the soil. Soil is where nutrition begins. Soil contains the raw materials that yield shimmering fields of wheat, firm, golden stalks of corn, and juicy, plump strawberries. Decaying rock particles and rock dust form the bulk of topsoil, the surface strata that is the growing medium of most food plants.

The remainder of soil is mostly a mixture of decaying vegetable and animal wastes known as humus. Inside this rich topsoil is a complicated balance of living organisms that help the plant assimilate minerals and chemical compounds from rock particles. Funguses, bacteria, earthworms, and insects are among the many forms of life that feed on humus.

These minute animals slowly decompose plants left from the previous growing season, as well as animal carcasses and manure; they also serve to aerate the soil so that gases can be exchanged and water absorbed. As a result, sulfuric and carbonic acid is generated, which furthers the decay of rocks and releases their mineral contents, thus enriching the soil. 1

In the wild, nature maintains a constant ecological balance. Plants that have created life from the soil return to it in death, as do animals that feed on plants. Absorbed and processed by the soil, the dead are recycled into t~e living. In nature, there is no waste, no pollution.

Unfortunately, this perfect state no longer exists in the human food chain. For most of the 12,000 years since plants were first domesticated, farmers simply supplemented nature with organic fertilizers, and rotated crops or let fields lie fallow so that the soil's nutrients would not be depleted. The earth was not made to produce more than it was constitutionally able to bear. Then, early in the nineteenth century, a renowned German chemist named Justus von Liebig discovered that plants could be artificially fertilized with chemicals. To determine the chemical elements needed by vegetation, von Liebig conducted a series of brilliant experiments through which he discovered the chemical substances used by plants. He burned numerous species· of plants, analyzed the substances found in the ashes, and determined that soil was merely a mixture of these substances. If humans were to provide these chemical substances, he believed, plants would obtain all the nutrients they needed.

As scientifically sound as this conclusion may appear, it failed to take into account that soil is more than its mineral content. Von Liebig all but ignored the organic, living components of soil that are contained in humus. Being a laboratory chemist, he failed to understand that the myriad network of underground life - from moles, mice, and shrews to earthworms and microorganisms - is an indispensable, life-generating part of the soil.

To von Liebig's way of thinking, all that was needed were artificially produced nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash, three basic requirements of plants in natural form.

Death of the Living Soil By the time von Liebig's artificial fertilizers became generally available, farmers in the United States had already robbed the land of one-fourth of its topsoil as a result of poor soil management. 2 The seriousness of this loss becomes readily apparent when we consider that it takes nature 500 to 1, 000 years to replace a single inch of topsoil. Most of the early settlers and pioneers did not know how to conserve soil, and they did not bother to learn.

After all, the land was free or very cheap, and there seemed to be a never-ending abundance of it. " Get what crops you can out of the land, and when it's burned out and can produce no more, move on," was their credo. The wag~s of this random rape of the land were paid with a vengeance during the mid-nineteen thirties. Great dust storms boiled up over much of America's farmlands, blowing away clouds of black topsoil from recently plowed fields.

The prairies had been overgrazed, trees which had once broken fierce winds and held moisture in the land had been cut down years before, and the earth was dried out from over-cultivation. Thousands of "Okies" -impoverished farmers - were forced to leave their wasted farms and migrate to the still fertile earth of California and the Pacific Northwest.

Proper fertilization also involves more than the application of three concentrated chemicals to the roots of plants. More than a dozen minerals and trace elements are needed as well. Although these account for only one percent of a plant's·needs, minerals and trace elements are extremely important nutritional factors. Many human diseases result from diets deficient in these factors, which are often not obtained from foods grown in the chemically treated ground.

Chemical fertilizer manufacturers were quick to jump on the bandwagon when it was discovered that these elements were lacking in synthetic plant foods. They quickly mixed in a few, calling them such things as "power boosters".

All of these concoctions were totally imbalanced, for they did not stimulate a balance in the proportions that exist in nature. Consequently, the carbohydrate-protein ratio of many crops began to change for the worse, and vitamin content declined.

Today, most farmers, aware of the damage done by their ancestors, successfully combat the destruction of the soil by wind and water erosion. At the same time, they have found a new way to destroy the land- by forcing it to produce more than it should with chemical fertilizers.

Huge industrial farms, aptly dubbed "agribusinesses," have largely taken over the land of the small, conventional farmer who lived close to nature and consumed the crops produced. Today, the quantity of production is more important than quality, and most of America's farmlands have been polluted with artificial chemicals for the sake of profits. Ecological balance no longer exists on most farms. Today' s farmer tends to overplant a few limited crops, thereby depleting the soil of certain essential trace elements.

In the past, a farm was a self-contained environment. Today, the produce farmer buys meat from the butcher shop and milk from a store or dairy farm, instead of keeping cattle, chickens, and pigs. Because agriculture has become so compartmentalized, the farmer has sacrificed a readily available source of natural fertilizer - animal wastes. This is an unfortunate loss, for soil dressed with manure produces crops that are more nourishing and tastier than those grown in chemically fertilized soil. Chemical manufacturers insist on perpetuating the myth that there is not enough organic fertilizer to go around.

The facts do not bear this out. In fact, animal waste in the United States amounts to 2 billion tons annually, which is equivalent to the waste produced by half the world's population. 3 In other countries, manure is distributed to farms, an all-but-impossible task in the United States. Cows and pigs are concentrated in single feedlots that contain from 10,000 to 50,000 animals, and up to 250,000 chickens, and therein lies the problem. It would be prohibitively expensive to collect and transport all this natural fertilizer to fields where it is needed, thousands of miles away. Bags of chemicals, therefore, become cheaper, cleaner and easier to transport. So, instead of contributing to the food chain by a natural recycling process, animal waste is disposed of as sewage to pollute the nation's water systems. In less than a century, humans have upset the balance of nature by robbing the soil of nutrients that are never returned to it.

Even our waste is wasted. The widespread application of artificial nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash (known to farmers as NPK) brings about changes in the composition of soil which destroy or seriously disturb organisms that benefit it.

The presence of these organisms serves as a barometer of soil fertility.

If they cannot survive, it is a sign that the soil will not bear crops worth eating. The work of earthworms and microorganisms is essential, but these animals are destroyed by these' chemicals. Super-phosphate fertilizers tend to create acid conditions in which they cannot survive.

In Australia, nine-foot-long earthworms originally present in vast numbers were completely exterminated by this type of fertilizer. The destruction of living things in soil occurs because the ingredients in artificial fertilizers are so readily water-soluble. In nature, easily soluble fertilizing elements rarely occur. For example, humus harbors plant nutrients that dissolve in water very slowly, feeding plants at a rate that precludes the possibility of poisoning them and their living benefactors in the soil.

 

 

Notes 1. Balfour, C. B., The Living Soil, Devin-Adair, New York, 1952. 2. Borgstrom, George, " Food and Ecology," Ecosphere, The Magazine of the International Ecology University, 2 (No. 1 ): p. 6, 1971. 3. Environmental Science and Technology, 4 (no. 12): p. 1098, 1970. 4. Gerras, Charles, and others (editors), Organic Gardening, Bantam Books, New York, 1972. 5. The Statistical Abstract of the United States. Grosset & Dunlap, 1975. .... . 6. Thomas, Jr., William L. (editor),.Man 's Role in Changing the.Face of the Earth , University of Chicago Press, 1956. 7. Ibid. 8. Man in the Living Environment, The Institute of Ecology Report on Global Ecological Problems, 1971 . 9. Journal of the American Water Works Association, June, 19~0.

  • James Robinson
Food Fascists: GMO and Pesticide Manufacturers Down and Dirty

Food Fascists: GMO and Pesticide Manufacturers Down and Dirty

Richard Gale and Gary Null PhD

After decades of rearing hogs, Danish farmer Ib Borup Pedersen was alarmed at the growing incidence of malformations and biological defects among his newborn piglets. Deformities included gaps in piglets’ skulls, deformed bones, missing limbs and even a female piglet with testicles.  Never having witnessed such large numbers of deformed pigs before, Pedersen realized that it was after switching three years earlier to Monsanto’s GMO feed-- which had been grown with glyphosate--that these birth defects began to appear.  Pedersen had the piglets’ bodies sent to a Danish laboratory for analysis. The results were clear; there were high concentrations of Monsanto’s glyphosate pesticide, commonly known as Roundup, in the piglets’ organs.[1] The analyses’ findings were subsequently published in a recent Journal of Environmental and Analytical Toxicology,[2]

 

Pedersen’s experience is another blow against Monsanto’s public relations campaign to convince governments, farmers and consumers that Roundup is one of the world’s safest pesticides and poses no risk to animal and human health. For many years Monsanto has stood by this myth with fanatical religious fervor against all existing independent evidence to the contrary.

 

While there is an increasing number of studies in the scientific literature identifying the health risks associated with GMO consumption and glyphosate independently, no research has yet been conducted to assess the combined synergistic adverse effects of GMOs and pesticides in animal models and humans. The original foundation of agricultural biotechnology was to advance sales of pesticides by engineering crops to become immune to toxic spraying. While weeds and insect pests would be eradicated, the targeted crops would be spared, thereby allowing farmers to spray massive amounts of chemicals on soy, corn, cotton, sugar beets and other agricultural foods without injury. This was the assumption that led to the agro-genetic revolution.  Only during the past decade with more and more GM products in our diets, and more and more farm acreage being sprayed with glyphosate and other toxic pesticides and herbicides, are the long term health risks to animals, humans and the environment being more fully recognized within the scientific community.

 Annual runoffs of pesticides into rivers, streams, and reservoirs have complicated the extent to which humans are being exposed to life-threatening chemicals on a daily basis. It was never the mission of Monsanto and the cartel of agro-chemical seed companies to increase yields and produce drought-resilient crops. The evidence of higher GM crop yields was an aftereffect. However, data are now coming in from an independent agro-science community showing that the years of higher GM yields are short-lived and drop dramatically thereafter to levels far below those yields harvested from traditional, organic farming methods.

Glyphosate’s adverse effects on Pedersen’s piglets is only one example of the pesticide’s health risks. In a major paper published by Earth Open Source, “GMO Myths and Truths: An Evidence-Based Examination of the Claims Made for the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops,” Kings College molecular geneticist Michael Antoniou, molecular biologist John Fagan and GM Watch’s Claire Robinson outline the known health risks now shown to be associated with glyphosate:

  • DNA damage
  • Premature births and miscarriages
  • Birth defects including neural tube defects and anencephaly (absence of large parts of the brain and skull
  • Multiple myelomas
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Disruption of neurobehavioral development in children, including attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder[3]

Since the release of the study in the journal Entropy, a researcher at MIT and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists have discovered that glyphosate is in fact taken up by plants from the soil and found in our food—an accusation Monsanto continues to deny. The study says that the negative impact of glyphosate accumulation “is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”  In addition to being linked with problems ranging from cancer to infertility, a connection may also be made to the rising number of adults acquiring Parkinson’s Disease.

[4] A couple of earlier studies on individual cases found a correspondence between glyphosate exposure and the onset of Parkinson’s.[5] There are now growing concerns that glyphosate consumed by mothers and infants in GM tainted foods might be giving rise to the autism epidemic that continues to worsen each year and now stands at almost 1 in 50 children.

With each passing year, the body of scientific data challenging the safety of glyphosate expands. In several peer-reviewed studies conducted by researcher Andres Carrasco of the University of Buenos Aires, glyphosate was observed to cause teratogenic impairment of neural signaling and microcephaly, leading to craniofacial malformations.[6]

In early 2014, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study linking glyphosate runoff in Sri Lanka’s water systems to an epidemic rise in a fatal unknown chronic kidney disease or CKDu. Until recently scientists were unable to offer up evidence of what has been causing this new form of illness affecting the kidneys. Similar observations have been made in El Salvador and Nicaragua where more men die of CKDu than AIDS, diabetes, and leukemia. However, in each regional population studied, Roundup exposure is rampant. Sri Lankan scientists hypothesize that glyphosate, originally discovered to act as a chelating chemical in 1964, takes up toxic heavy metals and binds them in the kidney without the body’s detection. According to the researchers, the buildup of these heavy metals ultimately leads to kidney failure and death.[7]

In early 2014, the Ministry of Health in Cordoba, Argentina noted a dramatic rise in deaths from cancerous tumors-- twice the national average. It just so happens that the elevated rates of malignancies were being reported in those regions where GM crops and toxic agrochemicals are most readily used.[8]

GMOs’ health risks to animals and humans are also being reported more frequently in the scientific literature. Corporate agro studies claiming GMOs are safe will generally rely upon a research methodology that employs a variety of so-called “reference” diets to the animals under investigation.  These convoluted studies are designed intentionally to produce an abundance of data without any standard reference control group. This enables corporate scientists to conflate and distort results.  This common industry practice was recently exposed by Claire Robinson at GM Watch regarding a published DuPont study on the safety of its Roundup Ready canola. Robinson points out that “poor experimental design” is intentionally utilized to cover over toxic effects.

A new study in rats conducted by Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini at the University of Caen identified changes in gene expression in sperm cells capable of altering androgen and estrogen sex hormones.  The study suggests that glyphosate may be altering human reproduction.  The rate of male fertility in the US has been dropping steadily since GM foods started to saturate the average American diet.   Today, according to the American Pregnancy Association, 1 out of every 6 men in couples is infertile.[9]

Another major blow against Monsanto has been the republication of Dr. Seralini’s earlier paper showing a correlation between severe kidney and liver damage, advanced tumors and premature death in rats fed Monsanto’s NK603 maize in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe. Seralini’s paper has undergone more scientific review and scrutiny than any other study either proving or disproving GMO safety. With its republication, the paper should officially replace Monsanto’s flawed safety study purporting the health safety of its NK603 corn.[10]

Monsanto must rely on a veil of secrecy, claiming to protect its proprietary information, in order to avoid revealing to the public its actual data about GMO safety. In the absence of credible science to engage in an honest debate with the scientific community opposing the proliferation of GMOs, the company must resort to the lowest and most vicious tactics. Attacking the integrity of scientists, launching smear campaigns against GMO labeling advocates, organic farmers, cyberattacks on anti-GMO organizations, and threats of lawsuits against state governments and media outlets advocating or even suggesting mandatory labeling are becoming more frequent. For example, supporters of GMOs have recently pressured Reuters to fire veteran journalist Carey Gillam for reporting fairly on GMOs.[11] With approximately 50% of its revenues generated from the sale of GM seeds, it is highly unlikely that Monsanto will ever admit defeat. Rather it will use whatever means necessary, except acknowledging scientific evidence, to silence its enemies. Today Monsanto is scared to death over its future. Like any psychopathological madman or Wall Street banker, it will use whatever means available to preserve and expand its revenue markets, even if it means inflicting pain, suffering and even death upon Indian and Filipino farmers, rather than acknowledge its technology is a curse to humanity and the environment.

Fortunately, during the past six months, there has been a dramatic turning of the tide against Monsanto and other GM seed companies.  Around the world, the Big Ag giant is recognized as the most dangerous, most-hated corporation on the planet. The good news is that Big Agriculture’s imperial strategy for global food domination has been hit with setback after setback as national and local governments realize that genetically modified foods pose serious dangers to human and environmental health as well as national food security. Local populations and farmers who switched to GM seeds are becoming more vocal about the failure of GM promises and want to hold these private companies accountable.  Already ninety percent of UN member nations, including most of Europe, either require GM labeling or have banned GM crops.  Hungary officially prohibits GMOs in its national Constitution. In Brazil, the world’s largest producer of GM soy, the country’s leading conglomerate of soy traders, the Association of Vegetable Oil Industries, will no longer accept Monsanto’s Itacta soybeans.[12] Without having the blessing from the US government and the WTO, Monsanto’s sphere of markets would dry up. Therefore, the GMO industry, in collusion with the US State Department, has had to focus its attention on Africa and South and Southeast Asia, those regions that appear to be the most susceptible to accepting GMO myths. 

As nations take a step back and reconsider the threats of climate change and global warming to future food supplies, GMOs are steadily failing to hold up to their promises of higher yields and drought resistance. On the contrary, study after study leans towards the conclusion that GMO-based agriculture may be the most dismal failure since humans first started sowing seeds and harvesting crops. In June, the Guardian reported that the introduction of Monsanto’s Roundup Btbrinjal eggplant into Bangladesh is facing widespread collapse, with a failure rate of four out of five farms.[13] GMO soy and corn are rapidly losing their pest resistance. Bugs and weeds are turning into mega-threats to the future of yields of staple crops, which the industrial makers of processed foods depend on. Farmers in Latin America are demanding compensation from Big AG companies such as Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and Dow for unexpected financial duress and being forced to purchase larger quantities of pesticides in order to sustain their harvests. In Brazil, after only three years of GM Bt cultivation, pest resistance has been observed. Similar observations are being reported in Btmaize in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Philippines, South Africa, and the US, and in Bt cotton in Australia, China, India, and the US. Last month American scientists confirmed that rootworms destroying corn fields are no longer resistant to GMO corn.[14]

An article in India’s Hindustani Times states that “There are over 500 research publications by scientists of indisputable integrity, who have no conflict of interest, that establish harmful effects of GMO crops to human, animal and plant health, and on the environment and biodiversity… On the other hand, virtually every paper supporting GM crops is by scientists who have declared a conflict of interest or whose credibility and integrity can be doubted.[15] Monsanto’s Bt cotton in India has been particularly disastrous to hundreds of thousands of farmers. Aside from the oft-reported epidemic of farmer suicides who fall into debt and poverty after buying into Monsanto’s GM cotton—farmer suicides have now reached over 270,000—pest resistance is rampant, further weakening the natural immunity of GM plants and predisposing them to less serious pests.  India is also witnessing record numbers of cattle die-offs after grazing on post-harvest cotton plants. Regions with higher proportions of Bt cotton farming are confronting grim water futures because GM agriculture requires more irrigation than traditional farming methods.  Last March the Indian state of Karnataka banned Bt cotton seeds following pervasive crop failures.[16]

One of the most massive GMO failures, spanning a decade, has been the deplorable collapse of the introduction of GM corn in the Philippines. The decimation of Filipino corn farmers came to world attention following the release of the film “Ten Years of Failure” which follows the lives of farmers whose families fell into debt and poverty after the introduction of GM corn by the Philippine government in cooperation with the US government and Monsanto.[17] Intent on avoiding a similar fate to Brazilian corn farmers, a Brazilian court banned the release of Bayer’s GM corn. The ruling now establishes a new precedent that will make the approval of future GMOs in that country more difficult.[18] And China’s recent rejection of GMO corn importation has agro-giants further worried as one of their largest potential markets takes a step back to reevaluate the safety and environmental impact of GMOs.

An association between the rapid demise of bee populations and the neonicotinoid class of pesticides has already been proven in the scientific literature. European nations are now banning the use of neonicotinoids to protect domestic bee and other pollinator populations.  Recent studies reveal that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides likewise are contributing to the decline of honeybee populations. During the first week of August, Mexican beekeepers in the state of Yucatan won a victory to halt Monsanto’s plans to plant thousands of acres of Roundup-ready soybeans. After a careful review of the science, a Mexican judge ruled that GMO soy agriculture is an economic threat and incompatible with the state’s honey production, home for 25,000 families involved in producing 40% of Mexico’s honey exports. The ruling is having a rippling effect across other Mexican states involved in honey production.[19]

Big Ag’s only response to the failures of its genetic experimentation has been to increase the development of new GM seeds to compensate for the failures of the old ones. In addition to genetically engineering seeds to withstand every higher level of pesticides, new traits are being genetically engineered to withstand other toxic chemicals. In the US, millions of acres of farmland growing GM corn, cotton and soy are experiencing invasions of superweeds resistant to over-pesticide use.  As pesticide use increases, soil quality is further depleted and yield per acre drops dramatically. The economic costs to farmers are becoming unsustainable as expenditures to fight pests and weeds increase and harvests diminish.  A recent trend among farmers to revert back to traditional or organic methods is gradually taking hold. This aligns well with the last UN Commission on Trade and Development report warning against corporate dominated monoculture farming methods and promoting farm diversity and small scale organic farming as the most sustainable way to feed to the world’s population.[20]

Aside from glyphosate, other pesticides are being genetically engineered into new lines of GM Seeds. New varieties of GM cotton and soy are in Monsanto’s pipeline and will likely pass with minimal review through the USDA and FDA. These new GM strains now include resistant genes to the pesticide dicamba.  In addition to glyphosate’s long list of human health risks, dicamba, a known neurotoxin, has been linked to adverse reproductive and mental development effects.  Against strong public opposition, the US government will also likely approve Dow Agroscience’s new Enlist corn and soy strains, a toxic cocktail of glyphosate and the herbicide 2-4 D, best known as a major toxic ingredient in Agent Orange that “has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, kidney/liver damage, and birth and developmental effects.”[21] Agent Orange contamination has resulted in genetic abnormalities and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Its use as a bioweapon in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos is a sad reminder of the extremes the US willing to take at the cost of innocent lives to reach its foreign policy objectives. And now, out of desperation to preserve agro-chemical agriculture and the GM corporation's revenues, the US government will resurrect one of the most toxic agrochemicals known and introduce it into America’s food supply.

American acceptance of GMOs has been based upon the unproven hypothesis of “substantial equivalence” for over two decades. This ruling by the USDA during the early years of the Clinton White House gave GM seed companies a free pass to avoid submitting evidence provingGM food safety. Since the ruling claims that GMOs are identical to non-GMOs no compliance of safety regulations would apply. Therefore Big Ag firms do not have to worry over strict regulatory hurdles, which otherwise apply to other products such as pharmaceutical drugs, processed foods, pesticides, cosmetics, and chemical additives. However, a recent flurry of research is now showing “substantial equivalence” is patently false.  Alexandria University in Egypt, the Permaculture Research Institute and the Norwegian Center for Biosafety each found GMO crops to be fundamentally different from their natural counterpart. In addition, new studies are also showing that nutrient levels in traditional and organically raised crops are substantially higher than GM varieties.

Aside from the scientific evidence and popular blowback condemning GMOs, the agrochemical industry is facing other challenges. If the US government is unable to assume a leading role in the endeavor to save American agriculture from a major systemic collapse, nor support the agricultural sustainability and food security in other regions of the world, perhaps other nations will.

In recent months, Russia has assumed an international leadership role to confront the remaining uncertainties in the debate over GMO safety.  Russia has already placed a 3-year moratorium ban on GMO imports. Prime Minister Medvedev is on record stating that Russia can be “self-sufficient” with only organic farming. The government is now requesting the UN General Assembly to create an international GMO watchdog organization to monitor Big Agriculture’s activities to influence other nations to accept GM seeds and support independent research into the long term impacts of GMOs. Unlike the US, the Russian government values the voice of its people with over 75% of Russians preferring organic produce.[22] On the other hand, over 90% of Americans support GMO-labeling, yet Washington prefers to protect corporate interests.

However, the most important initiative Russia plans to undertake is the creation of an international and independent team of researchers from the US, UK, France, China, and Russia to conduct long term studies to determine once and for all GMO risks to human health, and whether or not GMO crops might be used as genetically engineered bioweapons to destroy ecosystems and threaten the lives of populations. The project is being launched by a Russian NGO, Genetic Safety Public Association, after it noted that a 2004 meeting of the NATO Committee on the Challenges to Modern Society discussed the topic of GMOs’ potential use as “genetic weapons.” If properly funded, this would be the most thorough international effort, without support from Big Ag corporations, to provide transparent, publicly available data to settle the question over GM safety.[23]

In conclusion, the good news is that GMO propaganda is increasingly being exposed as fallacious.  As time passes, more and more research will inevitably emerge to further damn Monsanto and the GM experiment.  It is only a matter of time before the false promises of GMOs will be exposed as orchestrated by Big Ag and the US government to control the world’s food supply.

This is not to suggest that GM foods will disappear. Rather we can expect an increase in a new volley of propaganda coming from private industry and the US government claiming GM industrial agriculture is an urgent solution to combat climate change and global warming, a global threat worrying national economies throughout the world. We can expect to hear more scientific denialism and junk science promulgated by the White House, the small gangs of scientific determinists funded by Big Ag and the pharmaceutical industry, and major media presstitutes. We can expect to hear ever wilder and more irrational claims about how GMO-based agriculture might reduce CO2 greenhouse pollution and save humanity.  In fact, this was Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent drivel at the US-African Leaders Summit in early August, urging African nations to “concentrate on existing farmlands to make them more productive” rather than expanding and developing new lands for agriculture. Kerry, who has repeatedly proven to be a worthy successor to Monsanto’s former mouthpiece Hillary Clinton, frequently regurgitates Monsanto propaganda during his foreign policy circus roadshows.  And expect new trade agreements, written by corporations such as Monsanto to be rammed through the international community by the US and its allies that espouse the Washington Consensus to enforce international acceptance of GMOs.

In short, out of desperation to reach global food dominance, the agro-chemical industry and the US government will be declaring a full food war against the peoples of the world.

Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries. Gary Null Ph.D. is the host of the nation’s longest-running public radio program on nutrition and natural health and a multi-award-winning director of progressive documentary films, including Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs, which is available for free viewing  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUd9rRSLY4A#t=24 

[1] Jeff Ritterman,  One Little Piggy Had Birth Defects: Is Monsanto's Roundup to Blame?  Truthout.org  August 8, 2014

[2]  Monika Krüger1, Wieland Schrödl1, Ib Pedersen2 and Awad A Shehata   Detection of Glyphosate in Malformed Piglets   J Environ Anal Toxicol 2014, 4:5 2014   http://omicsonline.org/open-access/detection-of-glyphosate-in-malformed-piglets-2161-0525.1000230.pdf

[3]  M Antoniou, J Fagan, C Robinson  “GMO Myths and Truths: An Evidence-Based Examination of the Claims Made for the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops,” Earth Open Source. June 2012  p. 66

[4]   “Roundup, An Herbicide, Could be Linked to Parkinson’s, Cancer and Other Health Issues, Study Shows”  Reuters.  April 25, 2013

[5]  Gang Wang, Xiao-Ning Fan, Yu-Yan Tan, Qi Cheng, Sheng-Di Chen   Parkinsonism after chronic occupational exposure to glyphosate.  Parkinsonism RelatDisord. 2011 Jul;17(6):486-7. Epub 2011 Mar 2 

[6]  Alejandra Paganelli , Victoria Gnazzo , Helena Acosta , Silvia L. López , and Andrés E. CarrascoGlyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling   Chem. Res. Toxicol., 2010, 23 (10), pp 1586–1595

[7]  ChannaJayasumana , SarathGunatilake and PriyanthaSenanayake   Glyphosate, Hard Water and Nephrotoxic Metals: Are They the Culprits Behind the Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology in Sri Lanka?   Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2014, 11(2), 2125-2147 

[8]  Dario Aranda  “Cancer Danger in the GMO Fields”  Pagina 12 (Argentina), June 23, 2014

[9]  http://americanpregnancy.org/infertility/maleinfertility.html

[10] Claire Robinson.  “Republication of the Seralini Study: Science Speaks for Itself.”   GMOSeralini.org  June 24, 2014  http://www.gmoseralini.org/republication-seralini-study-science-speaks/

[11] Ken Roseboro.  “Biotech’s Assault on Balanced Journalism”  Huffington Post, June 4, 2014  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-roseboro/biotechs-assault-on-balan_b_5432699.html

[12] ABIOVE, 30 July 2014 
http://www.abiove.org.br/site/_FILES/Portugues/30072014-154637-30_07_2014_release_soja_intacta.pdf

[13] Guardian Newspaper Report Admits Widespread Failure of GM Btbrinjal”  GMWatch  June 5, 2014

[14] Deirdre Fulton, GMO Corn No Longer Resistant to Bugs  Common Dreams  30 July 14

[15] Pushpa M Bhargava
 US is trying to control our food production  Hindustan Times, August 7, 2014
http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/analysis/us-is-trying-to-control-our-food-production/article1-1249456.aspx

[16]  “Karnataka bans Mahyco’s Cotton Seeds”  Business Standard (india)  March 28, 2014

[17]  “Ten Years of Failure, Farmers Deceived by GM Corn”  MASIPAG (Philippines)  October 16, 2013

[18]  “In Historic Ruling, Brazilian Court Prevents the Release of Transgenic Corn from Bayer”  Terra de Direitos (Brazil)  March 13, 2014

[19] Sweet victory for Mexico beekeepers as Monsanto loses GM permit” The Guardian, August 8, 2014  http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/aug/08/sweet-victory-beekeepers-monsanto-gm-soybeans

[20] UN Report Says Small Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World.”  Technology Water.  December 14, 2013  http://www.technologywater.com/post/69995394390/un-report-says-small-scale-organic-farming-only-way-to

[21] New Wave of Herbicide-Tolerant Crops Awaiting Likely U.S. Approval   eNews Park Forest  August 8, 2014  http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54647-new-wave-of-herbicide-tolerant-crops-awaiting-likely-u-s-approval.html

[22]  “World Needs UN GMO Watchdog – Russia”  RT June 5, 2014  http://rt.com/news/163852-russia-un-gmo-watchdog/

[23] Christina Sarich.  “Russian Activists Conduct Independent Studies Proving GMOs Could be Genetic Weapons.”  Natural Society 2014

 

  • James Robinson
What We Should Be Doing To Help The Environment

What We Should Be Doing To Help The Environment

By Gary Null, Richard Gale, and Helen Buyniski

The recent release of the proposed Green New Deal is a template, an outline identifying some of the most crucial issues facing the nation regarding climate change and a wish list of measures to address those issues. It contains a variety of inspired agenda items, many of which have been voiced by the Green Party and environmental fringe groups in Washington for over a decade. According to the Deal’s Fact Sheet, 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans support the Deal. Almost every Democrat throwing their hat into the 2020 presidential race backs it. And the Deal has gained wide approval in the climatology and atmospheric science communities; among hundreds of conservation, environmental, renewable energy, and social activist organizations; and within the younger generation. It has been a long time coming, and the question is whether it is too late. It is optimistic to think that we can reverse accelerating global warming trends and mitigate their impact by keeping the planet below the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 1.5 degree C warming mark for the next 12 years, and it is even more optimistic to think that Congress will be able to enact legislation like this without prioritizing the interests of the multinational corporations and lobbies that contribute to their re-election campaigns over the people who elected them.

It took no time for the Deal’s co-authors, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Democrat Senator Ed Markey, to be broadsided with disparaging criticisms by corporate leaders and political opponents, including old rank-and-file Democrats. The critics include the President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, fossil fuel backer Terry O’Sullivan, who labeled the report a “fantasy manifesto” that will create “divisions and inequality.”  Billionaire Michael Bloomberg called it “pie in the sky.” And Pelosi and her multi-million dollar corporate colleagues are simply clueless about the “Green Dream or whatever they call it,” as Pelosi dismissed it. But there are plenty of legitimate criticisms too, and progressives would be wise not to let their desire to see pro-environmental legislation enacted at last blind them to the very real problems with Ocasio-Cortez and a legislative blueprint that could very easily become as much of a giveaway to multinational corporations as the Affordable Care Act was to insurance companies.

The Green New Deal largely relies on precedent upon the idealism behind great accomplishments in the US’ history when the nation succeeded in mobilizing to tackle difficult challenges that critics argued could never be accomplished.  Examples include FDR’s transformation of the private auto and manufacturing industries to meet military needs during World War 2, Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, and the achievement of JFK’s promise to reach the moon before the end of the 1960s. Although Washington remains strait-jacked by the interests of the finance and energy lobbies, at the local level, constructive change is happening. Over one hundred cities across the country have issued statements pledging to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.1 Unfortunately, their dateline targets are far off track, and the best case, Hawaii, is looking at reaching 100 percent clean energy efficiency in another 26 years. Farmers are forgoing energy-intensive chemical agriculture and transitioning to organic. And the public is becoming increasingly more aware and educated about their energy usage and slowly changing its consumption habits. Nevertheless, compared to other developed nations, the US lags far behind in reaching realistic targets to address the IPCC’s 1.5-degree prediction, which is overly conservative. Absent the IPCC’s statistical limitations, the actual time frame, according to most independent climate scientists, is direr. We may have only 7 years to get off fossil fuels.

However, reaching the Deal’s goal is potentially doable if the country’s industries and finance giants get behind it. Sweden already gets over half of its energy from renewables. In 2015, Denmark’s wind farm industry reached 140 percent of energy demands. In 2016 Portugal reached a milestone by operating for four days without any fossil fuels.2 Due to its favorable clean energy geothermal resources, Iceland generates the cleanest energy per capita in the world; almost 90 percent of its total energy needs are satisfied by non-fossil fuel sources. Costa Rica has managed to run for over two months on 100 percent renewables. In 10 years, Uruguay’s unique public and private sector partnerships now supply 95 percent of its national energy needs with renewables.3 Many other nations are also making aggressive efforts to power themselves exclusively with clean energy.  And where does the US stand?  According to the US Energy Information Administration, for 2017, non-fossil fuel sources only accounted for a dismal 20 percent of energy consumption.  And still, 34 percent of fuel for our electric power sector relies on coal! 4 While getting off fossil fuel dependency is absolutely critical, the US’s electricity production only accounts for 28 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions (GHEs). While switching to renewable energy for electrical power needs is very likely achievable, the obstacles to reach the IPCC target are enormous.

In our estimation, several stumbling blocks may make it impossible for the US to eliminate fossil fuels during the next dozen years. Aside from opposition within the Democratic Party by corporatists such as Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Steny Hoyer, the cost to overhaul all industry, manufacturing, and current and new technological developments would be astronomical. A Republican-aligned think tank, the American Action Forum, recently published a report estimating the Green New Deal would cost between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over ten years, though the lion’s share of that sum relates to the Deal’s provision of jobs and healthcare for all, rather than its environmental measures. Eliminating carbon emissions from the power and transportation sector, the group said, would “only” cost between $8.3 and $12.3 trillion over a decade. The national debt is already almost $22 trillion and growing. Since Trump took office, the debt has increased $2 trillion, and there is no indication it will shrink. Increasingly extreme weather and its aftereffects will only further raise the debt.

A closer examination of these numbers is required. The “official” price tag of the “War on Terror,” which has laid waste to the Middle East over the last 20 years, creating an endless supply of future enemies by slaughtering entire villages full of civilians via depersonalized drone warfare, recently climbed north of $6 trillion,5 and an investigation last year turned up an eye-popping $21 trillion in fraudulent budgeting by the Pentagon and the Department of Housing and Urban Development6. Thousands of whistleblowers are swept under the rug by the Defense Department’s Inspector General every year in their efforts to call attention to waste and fraud within the wealthiest military in the world. The first-ever attempt to audit the Pentagon, performed last year, was an embarrassing failure, revealing $6.5 trillion had simply vanished.7 The US spends nearly $1 trillion a year on “defense”8 – and while no one would suggest dismantling the American military, there are thousands of bases sprinkled around the world in countries the US does not belong, with undeclared conflicts raging in 134 countries.9 Surely some of this largesse could be repurposed to save the planet.

There is always money in the budget for war, which currently eats up more than half of every dollar spent by the US government, despite the fact that the US is not facing any credible military threats from state actors. Despite the evidence-free charges it meddled in the 2016 election, Russia does not pose a threat to the US – indeed, Russian President Vladimir Putin in a recent speech expressed frustration that Russia was “banging on a locked door” regarding friendship between the two nations, rendered all but impossible with every round of draconian sanctions imposed as a form of legislative virtue-signaling by congressmen eager to demonstrate their allegiance in Cold War Part 2.10 Even China prefers to flex its muscles economically, rather than militarily, spending trillions to build its Belt and Road throughout the developing world and amassing allies by funding large infrastructure projects – where the US has historically bullied poorer nations into submissions through military force. The Green New Deal would merely take roughly the yearly expenditure on the War on Terror and use it for constructive, rather than destructive, purposes. Troops returning from costly and destructive foreign wars could even be put to work planting trees or building infrastructure, much as environmental projects are undertaken in less wealthy nations.

Because that scary $12.3 trillion figure is the cost if the Green New Deal were undertaken in the typical American fashion of rolling out grand legislation. If environmental reforms were enacted the way other countries work, the figure would shrink dramatically. Unfortunately, Ocasio-Cortez is open about her wish to work with “business interests” to get the job done, just as Barack Obama was willing to work with the insurance companies to pass the Affordable Care Act, resulting in a ruinously expensive and flawed plan that forced Americans to buy health insurance they could not afford while subsidizing a tiny sliver of the population. Healthcare costs did not go down – they skyrocketed – and healthcare quality certainly did not improve. Involving corporations with their profit-above-all value system guarantees the Green New Deal will enrich wealthy conglomerates like Bechtel and Halliburton. These will receive the big contracts for building renewable infrastructure, repurposing existing infrastructure, etc. but will contract the work out to other, smaller companies while keeping most of the money as profit. The smaller companies will then outsource the jobs (constructing solar panels in the desert, say, or planting a hardy forest on now-barren disused farmland) to poorly-paid local firms while keeping most of the remaining money as profit. The poorly-paid local firms will then do the jobs with the cheapest materials and shoddiest standards in the hope of retaining whatever funds are left for their CEOs and investors. This is the American way, and it is why any grand infrastructure or rebuilding project costs so much.

If enacted along the lines of past grand projects like the Affordable Care Act, the Green New Deal will essentially be a giveaway to the big corporations Ocasio-Cortez claims to oppose, with her champagne socialism, neoliberal economics degree, and an unhealthy affection for the trappings of wealth and power. It is no secret that the very real climate catastrophe we all face has been weaponized by multinational interests interested in pushing global governance measures as the only “solution” to the climate change problem. Too often, this has made those rightly suspicious of the motives of government and the ruling class also doubt the existence of climate change, in a form of guilt by association. But taking action on a grand scale need not be ruinously expensive or involve an authoritarian clampdown on the rights of the individual. China assigned 60,000 soldiers to plant enough trees to cover an area the size of Ireland last year11 with an aim toward eventually upping their forest coverage from 21 percent to 26 percent by 2035. Even Bangladesh – one of the poorest countries in the world – began planting one million trees in 2017 after rural deforestation had so denuded the countryside that farmers were dying from lightning strikes at high rates, copying a similar program in Thailand.12 India set a world record – twice! – using millions of volunteers to plant trees in order to bring its forests in line with the commitments it made under the Paris Agreement. With modern technology like “seed bombing,” a single airplane or drone can plant 900,000 trees in a day, dropping seeds encased in ready-to-grow soil bundles. This technology is already used in Africa, and it has advanced significantly beyond simply dropping seeds indiscriminately – modern seed bombing drones are equipped with imaging capability to ensure the seeds go where they are most likely to thrive.  None of this requires outsourcing, subcontracting, slicing and dicing profit margins, or any of the typically American approaches to the problem, and it will save billions.

Relying on the government to do the right thing almost invariably leaves one disappointed. If it was not Ocasio-Cortez pushing cooperation with the business community as an integral part of the Deal, it would be another congressperson. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and the US Chamber of Commerce – the “business lobby” – is so massive it’s difficult for lawmakers to see outside its edges. Add in the size of the “energy lobby” and it’s easy to see how lawmakers find it difficult to conceive of taking large-scale action in a way that does not primarily benefit large corporations. The voice of the people has not been heard in Washington in decades, and it’s doubtful it would be recognized if it was heard.

Moreover, although the US is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases (15 percent of global total emissions), China far surpasses us at 30 percent. Together with the European Union (10 percent) and India (6 percent), these four regions account for over half of all GHEs. The bottom 100 countries combined only contribute to 3.5 percent. Launching a universal, global environmental Marshall Plan may well be beyond humanity’s means. If we consider that China is currently constructing a single sprawling megapolis that will cover over 83,000 square miles — larger than Great Britain or New England — it is impossible to imagine how such a humongous urban operation could not be unsustainable and fossil-fuel dependent. The booming city of Jing-Jin-Ji will be the heaviest concentration of human beings on the planet, housing upwards of 130 million people, or the equivalent of the combined populations of the world’s four largest cities: Tokyo, New Delhi, Shanghai, and Sao Paulo. And all of these residents will want the conveniences of a modern, western lifestyle: more cars, more meat on their tables and more energy-consuming luxuries.

Surprisingly, surveys seem to indicate that the Chinese are better-educated about climate change than the average American. After last year’s record-breaking heatwaves, droughts, deadly flash floods, and a category 5 typhoon, 94 percent of Chinese polled said they believe climate change is happening now and 66 percent believe it is anthropocentric.  Seventy-three percent are willing to pay extra for climate-friendly products.  Yet similar to average Americans, the Chinese are not changing their consumption habits to adapt to the new climate reality. Likewise, similar to the US, the Chinese government is eager to press forward with unsustainable growth projects that will increase rather than decrease emissions.13

Among the other stumbling blocks the Green New Deal faces is that Washington has unfortunately almost reached its goal of being totally energy independent. While we produce the most energy in the world, we also consume the most per capita.  The US has also risen to the third-largest fossil fuel exporter, after Saudi Arabia and Russia. Together, these three nations account for 38 percent of the world’s total oil.14 At the same time, the US still needs to import petroleum, predominantly for our auto and transportation demands. Although the US now produces about 11 million barrels per day, it consumes almost 20 million barrels daily.15 For natural gas production, the US is king, and is expected to reach over 90 billion cubic feet per day of production, according to the EIA.16 Trump’s abhorrent policies have revitalized the coal industry and escalated production. Worse, the oil and coal industries are the recipients of monstrous corporate welfare to the tune of $20 billion in annual government subsidies.17

Jeremy Brecher properly notes that “global warming has rightly been called history’s greatest market failure. Correcting it cannot be left to the market.”18 Unlike the faux urgency for building a silly wall on the border, climate change is a national emergency. It is a planetary emergency. Therefore, when thousands of large and small coal-gas-oil related companies reap enormous windfalls, employ almost 1.1 million workers  — compared to under 374,000 working full- or part-time in solar and 102,000 at wind firms — there is zero incentive for any of these major greenhouse gas emitters to leap off the gravy train and shift to cleaner, renewable forms of energy.19

A second major obstacle to the Green New Deal is that all of our leading institutions, politicians, legislative policymakers and opinion leaders, think tanks and foundations, and the mainstream media that is controlled by these institutions, are not going to truthfully challenge the paradigm of free-market capitalism and the myth that constant economic growth and expansion will better society. This means we only have more toxic pollution, urban sprawl, destruction of the environment and habitats, and depletion of natural resources to look forward to, and with it, warmer seasons and more extreme weather events such as superstorms, droughts, wildfires, and floods.

This may be the 3,000-pound gorilla in the room. We are caught in the perpetual cycle of earning more in order to buy more and accumulate more debt. The transition of weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels to increase investment in renewables and the new technologies necessary to meet the IPCC benchmark means a tradeoff for a much slower or no-growth economy in order to reach a more sustainable and livable future.  It may require up to $10 trillion to re-engineer entire industries and infrastructures in order to reach anything close to zero emissions. Yet with America’s new wealthy class of 11 million millionaires governing private industries, investments and policy-making to keep the capitalist engine churning, enactment of the kind of green agenda proposed and demanded today is unlikely. Again, there is no incentive for the ruling elite to cut back on consumption. The legions of lobbyists in Washington will make every effort to scuttle the Green New Deal and ensure it is dead on arrival. The ruling class has no allegiance to nationality. It is the most unpatriotic class in the nation. When the stresses of climate change get tough or their personal security and assets are threatened, the ruling class has the means to pick up and move elsewhere.

Furthermore, the ruling class and the conservative populace — even those educated enough to agree on anthropocentric climate change – lean heavily upon Libertarian values, which means smaller government and more freedom for the free market. Looking at the Green New Deal from any angle, it is clear this plan will require handing over enormous power to Washington. Trust in all branches of government has already eroded to a level where even true progressives doubt anything good can come out of the duopoly in Washington. Therefore, a sizable percentage of the public will be deeply suspicious of the government’s will and competence in executing any legislation that emerges from the Deal’s current outline.

The free-market economy is polluting everything, creating seas of plastic, landfills of toxic junk, and stores of computers and electronic equipment. Forests and ecosystems are being leveled to expand growth. There is little to no time to dramatically change our steel, auto, and high tech industries. And private industries and the population’s collective consumption behaviors will not change overnight. While we commend the Green New Deal’s authors and the progressive caucus that backs it, we encourage the public not to become passive with high expectations that Washington is willing or capable of solving the climate crisis. There are no saviors. Blind faith should not be directed towards the compliance of Washington, nor to new technologies developed to pull us through.  We live in remarkably tense times, but drastic times require drastic measures. In fact, the Deal may not be radical enough. Gutting our military expenditure — the largest fossil fuel consumer as well as the top recipient of our tax dollars — and the Washington Consensus’ cowboy adventurism to instigate regime changes as the world burns are absent from its wish list.

Are there any solutions that are doable without the body politic of government standing in the way?  Reducing GHEs can no longer be regarded as solely a challenge for government and private industry. It is the responsibility of every individual.

First, the public must become deeply and consciously aware of the climate problem and how our lives and culture contribute to global warming. We must also become deeply and consciously aware of how our lives will change as the world deteriorates. Our education system has been a complete failure in teaching people about the basic science of climate change and the immediate and long-term impacts of global warming.  Nothing we can do will efficaciously change the melting of the Arctic ice, the warming oceans and environmental dead zones, multi-gigaton methane burps from the thawing permafrost, the decimation of insect populations that will contribute to national food crises, rising coastal waters and the next season of record-setting wildfires in the Western states. The next category 5 super-hurricane could be the final straw for many Floridians and residents living along the Gulf. Industrial over-consumption is depleting our aquifers. There are in fact hundreds of canaries in the coal mine, not just one.

Second, every person and family can begin to gradually transition to eating a plant-based diet. This does not need to be an abrupt change. We can start by going meatless for a single day every week and then increase the days. The agriculture industry generates anywhere between 10 and 40 percent of GHEs, primarily methane and nitrous oxide, depending upon which metrics are being used in the equations. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that livestock production accounts for about 14.5 percent of all human-caused emissions.20 In the US, 42 percent of agricultural emissions come from the raising of livestock, and globally it accounts for approximately 16 percent of all human-induced GHEs.21 When storage, transportation, and distribution of meat and produce are added, the CO2 footprint rises substantially. Imagine the footprint of a single bushel of tomatoes traveling from a California farm to a Maine supermarket.  If a sufficient number of people also purchase more locally-grown food, this too would have an impact. These are two efforts — a meatless diet and buying locally — that every American can adopt in order to be part of the solution rather than the problem.


Finally, if it is within your financial means, find ways to increase your reliance on renewable clean energy sources. If you can install solar panels to get off the grid and become energy self-sufficient, it will pay off in the long term.

Although there remains considerable debate on whether or not our global civilization has reached a “peak oil” moment, oil prices will unquestionably increase steadily in the future.Third, our consumption behaviors are traveling on a high-speed rail off a cliff. We have the will to make conscientious choices about our buying habits. There is only one solution to this and that is to downsize, purchase only what is essential for our needs and find other ways to increase the quality of our lives.  Before making a purchase, consider the item’s carbon footprint before it reaches your hands. As the world gets warmer and the economic and social stresses of life increase, inevitably a time will arrive when people will be forced to downsize. It will no longer be a matter of choice.

What the nation can do collectively is adequate if vaguely summarized in the Green New Deal. During a press conference following the report’s release, Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez were clear that the plan at this time does not include any “individual prescriptions” for the issues outlined. The details and following legislation will be developed following Congressional vote and approval and the creation of a Congressional committee to develop the solutions. However, the Deal is clearly defined as a “national, industrial, economic mobilization plan.” It will take years for the US to become “greenhouse gas emission neutral.” The report notes that it will require “massive investment” to reduce existing and future greenhouse gases. It acknowledges it is crucial to develop and install “a national, energy-efficient smart grid,” upgrade our entire infrastructure, the residential and industrial base for “state-of-the-art energy efficiency,” and eliminate GHE from the agricultural industry. The report also includes the need for expanding education and training for such a nationwide mobilization effort.

The report also finally acknowledges that America’s energy grid is a disaster. The majority of people and even most politicians are unaware our energy and power infrastructures are sorely inefficient.  In an analysis conducted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories to evaluate US energy consumption, 59.1 percent of electricity generation was “rejected energy” — energy lost due to inefficiencies in power plants, engines, buildings, etc.22 Almost all of this “rejected energy” is generated from coal, natural gas, and petroleum. In the Livermore report, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal barely contributed to any infrastructural energy loss.23 And yet Washington, and the Trump administration in particular, find it economically feasible to subsidize these fossil fuel industries for their ineptitude, negligence towards energy efficiency and exorbitant waste. Even Ocasio-Cortez seems to believe progress can be achieved by working with these monuments to inefficiency. This is naïve at best, and disingenuous at worst. In a true capitalist system – such as our president pays lip service to at every opportunity – the best performers come out on top. Why, then, does the government continually prop up failed systems, from energy to banking? This money would be better invested in finding sustainable alternatives.

A simple fact that opponents of the Deal in private industry, Wall Street and climate change deniers fail to understand as a rule is that the enormous costs for implementing a New Deal are already here. And they have been increasing annually due to rising frequency and damages from extreme weather events due to humanity’s messing with the atmosphere and environment.  NASA conservatively reported $91 billion lost in damages due to climate change episodes in 2018 alone.24 And the federal government’s most recent National Climate Assessment warns we will rapidly reach $500 billion per year in economic losses due to sea-level rise and worsening weather, droughts, storms, floods and fires.25

Next, it is sheer negligence that the federal and state governments have failed to upgrade our public transportation system. The US falls far behind even banana republics in its inefficient rail system compared to high-speed 200-plus mph rails in China, France, Japan and elsewhere. Creating a new high-speed rail system across America may be too optimistic at this time; nevertheless, upgrading our trains between major urban hubs is perfectly doable immediately. This would mean high-speed rails between Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas and Houston, and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas for starters. High-speed trains between these city hubs would significantly reduce the carbon footprint of transportation and could even be faster than airlines after considering time spent at airports. It could also be accomplished at the state level through public-private partnerships. In addition, a tax incentive could be added for those who use public transportation.

Finally, the nation needs to act immediately upon a national reforestation program and roll back Trump’s regressive orders to further devastate public land and ecosystems to increase corporate profits. Forests and trees are recognized as perhaps the most important natural resource to offset carbon emissions. China and India are making huge advances in reforesting their nations. China has reserved an area four times the size of the United Kingdom for reforestation. There are few areas on the planet with large swathes of forest canopies. Most are located in northern Canada, the Latin American countries in the Amazon basin, Scandinavia and Russia. Therefore, we would recommend a national conservation corps to start an aggressive reforestation campaign. If India can hold the world record in planting 66 million trees within a 12 hour period in 2017, and a single 53-year-old New Delhi resident can plant 1,100,000 trees in a single year, the US could reforest ourselves easily in a short period of time.

For all the Deal’s good points, it will go nowhere if the legislation that results is larded with giveaways to the same industries and corporations that led us to environmental and economic ruin in the first place. Ocasio-Cortez’s desire to liaise with these actors may be born out of a genuine desire for cooperation, but it is more likely her Democratic Socialism is being used as a more palatable face for the same rapacious neoliberalism that has created all the problems the Deal purports to solve. While we wait for the government to get its act together and legislate its way out of this mess, we would be wise to begin solving as many problems as we can ourselves even as we hold our government representatives’ feet to the fire.

NOTES

1 Steinbrecher, Stephanie. “100 US Cities are Committed to 100 Percent Clean, Renewable Energy.” Sierra Club. 5 Dec 2018. https://www.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2018/12/100-us-cities-are-committed-100-percent-clean-renewable-energy

2 Osborne, Samuel. “Sweden phases out fossil fuels in an attempt to run completely off renewable energy.” Independent. 24 May 2016.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sweden-phases-out-fossil-fuels-in-attempt-to-run-completely-off-renewable-energy-a7047306.html

3 “12 Countries Leading the Way in Renewable Energy.” Click Energy. 10 Aug 2017. https://www.clickenergy.com.au/news-blog/12-countries-leading-the-way-in-renewable-energy/

4 US Energy Information Administration. “Where Greenhouse Gases Come From.” Energy and the Environment Explained. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=environment_where_ghg_come_from Retrieved 27 Feb 2019.

5 Watson Institute of International & Public Affairs. “Costs of War.” Brown University. https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar Retrieved 27 Feb 2019.

6 Skidmore, Mark and Andy Henion. “MSU scholars find $21 trillion in unauthorized government spending; defense department to conduct first-ever audit.” MSUToday. 11 Dec 2017. https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/msu-scholars-find-21-trillion-in-unauthorized-government-spending-defense-department-to-conduct/

7 Syrmopoulos, Jay. Audit: Pentagon Cannot Account for $6.5 Trillion Dollars in Taxpayer Money.” MintPress. 8 Aug 2016. https://www.mintpressnews.com/audit-pentagon-cannot-account-6-5-trillion-dollars-taxpayer-money/219246/

8 Cordesman, Anthony. “US Military Spending: The Cost of Wars.” Center for Strategic & International Studies. 10 Jul 2017. https://www.csis.org/analysis/us-military-spending-cost-wars

9 Turse, Nick. “America’s Secret War in 134 Countries.” The Nation. 16 Jan 2014. https://www.thenation.com/article/americas-secret-war-134-countries/

10 “Putin: Russia is not an enemy of US, but it will not be banging on a locked door.” FARS News Agency. 21 Feb 2019. https://www.msn.com/en-ae/news/other/putin-russia-is-not-an-enemy-of-us-but-it-will-not-be-banging-on-a-locked-door/ar-BBTTCfE

11 Osborne, Samuel. “China reassigns 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in bid to fight pollution.” Independent. 13 Feb 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-tree-plant-soldiers-reassign-climate-change-global-warming-deforestation-a8208836.html

12 “Bangladesh plants 1 million trees to cut lightning toll.” Straits Times. 24 Jan 2017. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/bangladesh-plants-1-million-trees-to-cut-lightning-toll

13 Jing, Lin. “Does the Chinese public care about climate change?” China Dialogue. 21 Sep 2018. https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/10831-Does-the-Chinese-public-care-about-climate-change-

14 Wilson, Robert. “Which Countries Produce the Most Fossil Fuels?” The Energy Collective Group. 31 Jul 2014. https://www.energycentral.com/c/ec/which-countries-produce-most-fossil-fuels

15 Gaffen, David and Ayenat Mersie. “US crude oil output hits 11 million barrels per day for first time ever.” Reuters. 18 Jul 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-oil-eia/us-crude-oil-output-hits-11-million-barrels-per-day-for-first-time-ever-idUSKBN1K81XT and US Energy Information Administration. “How much oil is consumed in the United States?” Frequently Asked Questions. 3 Oct 2018. https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=33&t=6

16 US Energy Information Administration. “Short Term Energy Outlook.” Analysis & Projections. 12 Feb 2019. https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/natgas.php

17 Roberts, David. “Friendly policies keep US oil and coal afloat far more than we thought.” Vox. 26 Jul 2018. https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/10/6/16428458/us-energy-coal-oil-subsidies

18 Brecher, Jeremy. “The Green New Deal can work – here’s how.” AlterNet. 25 Feb 2019. https://www.alternet.org/2019/02/the-green-new-deal-can-work-heres-how/

19 2017 US Energy and Employment Report. Energy.gov. January 2017. https://www.energy.gov/downloads/2017-us-energy-and-employment-report

20 Gustin, Georgina. “Factory Farms Put Climate at Risk, Experts Say in Urging Health Officials to Speak Out.” Inside Climate News. 23 May 2017. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/22052017/factory-farms-cafos-threaten-climate-change-world-heath-organization

21 Friedman, Lisa et.al. “The Meat Question, by the Numbers.” New York Times. 25 Jan 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/25/climate/cows-global-warming.html

22 Fares, Robert. “Is the US Energy Independent?” Scientific American. 31 Oct 2016. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/is-the-u-s-energy-independent/

23 ibid.

24 Zorn, Justin Talbot et.al. “A Green New Deal is fiscally responsible. Climate inaction is not.” Guardian. 25 Feb 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/25/green-new-aoc-deal-fiscally-responsible-climate-inaction

25 Irfan, Umair. “3 big takeaways from the major new US climate report.” Vox. 24 Nov 2018. https://www.vox.com/2018/11/24/18109883/climate-report-2018-national-assessment

  • James Robinson
Simple Steps to Changing Your Health in 2020

Simple Steps to Changing Your Health in 2020

How to let go of what’s holding you back

Most of us would like to make positive changes in our lives, but old habits and beliefs are hard to shake. The way our minds work is a big part of the reason why.

Memories of the past dominate our subconscious thoughts, playing and replaying in our heads like videotapes. If these mental tapes tell us that a cigarette will help us relax, then it will be difficult to quit smoking…if the tapes tell us that overeating cheers us when we’re depressed, then it will be difficult to lose weight…and if the tapes remind us that previous attempts at self-improvement failed, we might not try again.

To move past our mental videotapes and change our lives for the better…

Choose a goal and go. Decide what change you wish to make…determine what you can do at this very moment to get the ball rolling in that direction…and take this action now, even if it is very small.

Example: When I decided to film a documentary, I started doing research immediately, even though I hadn’t yet secured funding, distribution or a camera crew.

Making immediate progress toward change makes ambitious goals seem achievable. The feeling of accomplishment and momentum created by this initial progress can help eliminate doubts about your capacity for change.

Take a step toward your goal each day. When you look at yourself in the mirror each morning, take a moment to be pleased about the progress you have made toward achieving positive change…then decide what you will do today to build upon that progress.

Example: If your goal is to lose weight, you could resolve to find a healthy new recipe on the Internet today and prepare it for dinner tonight.

Choose reality over fantasy. Take the time you’re tempted to spend dreaming about changing your life and use it to make some changes instead.

Example: Don’t waste the evening staring at the TV, wishing you were a novelist. Start writing.

Turn off unhelpful automatic responses. Our natural reactions might seem appropriate to us at the time, but they can stand in the way of making positive change.

Common change-inhibiting reactions include feeling inadequate…being judgmental…obsessing over past mistakes…blaming others for problems…being impatient…procrastinating…and not listening to input from others.

If you are uncertain what counterproductive natural reactions stand in your way, start a journal and keep notes on which of your responses don’t seem wise in hindsight. Patterns will emerge.

Pick one to eliminate. When you catch yourself turning to this counterproductive reaction, think Stop. Take a deep breath, then try a different response to the situation. Expect this to feel uncomfortable at first.

Example: If you often are impatient, you might say to yourself, I’m not going to get upset about the length of this supermarket checkout line. I’m going to choose a magazine off the rack and calmly read it until it’s my turn.

Once you have broken one problematic pattern, take aim at another.

Find a support team. No one but you can bring positive change to your life — but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Meet with a professional counselor, join a peer support group or befriend someone who has made the change that you wish to achieve.

Example: Hire a financial planner to help you start saving.

Review the day’s progress each night. This forces us to confront missteps and allows us to enjoy the progress. Consider how you would have lived this day if you were not making changes…then consider how you actually lived it. Try to create a headline for your day.

Example: If your goal is to become more assertive, a headline might be, “I stood up for my department in the monthly budget meeting.”

Incorporate sacrifice and service into your regular routine. Find a way to give back every week. Donate time to a charity…or help a friend in need. Helping other people improve their lives will increase your confidence that you can improve your own. And volunteering can connect you with your community, preventing loneliness and depression.

Find perspective. Our fearful minds can make our problems seem more daunting than they really are. When your challenges seem insurmountable, pick up a newspaper and read stories about people who have much larger problems…or volunteer to work with those who are seriously ill or homeless. There probably are many people who would gladly trade places with you.

Know that you are being watched. A silent spiritual witness is with you at all times. You can think of this witness as God or as your higher self. This witness is watching even when you are alone, so you cannot get away with backsliding to your old ways. This silent witness always is there to provide support and strength, so there is never a reason to feel alone or afraid.

Share your growth. Tell a supportive friend about the changes you are making in your life. The positive feedback you receive should help you maintain your momentum.

Burn the bridge to your old ways. Once you achieve a positive life change, mentally burn the bridge you have crossed. If you ever catch yourself backsliding to your old habits, remind yourself, I can’t go to that place anymore. The bridge is gone.

Example: Someone who has burned the bridge to her former angry outbursts might think, I’m not going to get angry with my husband. I burned that bridge. I’m going to tell my husband that I love him, then suggest that we sit down together and solve our problem.

Make your fears fear you. Our fears stalk us, keeping us on the defensive and preventing us from taking chances and making positive changes. We need to stalk our fears instead.

List your fears, and target one. Rather than hide from it, seek opportunities to confront it directly on your terms.

Example: Confront a fear of public speaking by standing up in front of a group of close friends to make a toast.

Sometimes you will fail, but that does not mean the fear has won — you can keep stalking it until you succeed. Select a new fear to confront each week.

 

 

 

 

 

  • James Robinson
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