Archive for September, 2012

Nature Ramble

And now for something completely different.

We’re off to Mongolia.

Most wild horses today are feral descendants of domesticated ancestors. However, the Mongolian wild horse has never been domesticated and is the only remaining truly wild horse on Earth.

Mongolian Wild Horses

Ancient cave paintings show that humans hunted these creatures as far back as 20,000 years ago. However, since then the climate has naturally warmed as we move into an interglacial period. This has caused their habitat to shrink and the horses have had a decreasing population for millennia.

After the Second World War, all wild Mongolian wild horses died indirectly due to wartime habitat destruction or directly through being hunted for food by desperate German soldiers.

The existing zoo populations also diminished, and by 1945 only 31 horses remained. Of these, 9 were able to be bred and we have carefully brought their population up to 1800 today. Of these, 300 have been reintroduced to nature reserves in Mongolia and China at the places where they were last seen in the wild.

They are now fastidiously protected and the species is expected to recover.

Source: Listverse

Saturday Satire on Eco-Crap

Make you Fink on Friday

I have been thinking lately, and regular readers will know that when I do, the results can be nasty.

I am going to tackle Russia today.

But not in a Cold War style. James Bond already did that.

Since the Second World War, the mere mention of Russia (or as it was then the USSR) brought shivers to the spines of many a patriot.

But the Iron Curtain faded, rusted and then tumbled and with it the Cold War as we knew it.

But with the American Empire crumbling… Oh, you think it’s not, then you must watch Fox News. Believe me, it’s crumbling on the edge of a cliff and about to topple into an abyss of a depression like we’ve never seen before. America’s problem is a myopic view that the American Dream is alive and well; sorry, but it’s a really sick puppy. America fell into the trap set by the bankers and corporations heedless of the welfare of the people.

Sure America had a brief heyday in the 60s & 70s, but that’s gone.

Russia is the only country in the world to buck the system; to turn it’s back on a couple of things that have made me think that maybe, just maybe, Russia is on the right track in some respects.

In the mid-1970s Russia banned microwaves. Now you may think that is pretty silly, until you look at the latest reports on how they f**k-up food beyond all recognition. More recent studies have shown that microwave ovens totally alter the structure of food, so much so, that it isn’t food anymore.

Yes, Russia made a good move.

Microwaves should be banned globally, but of course that’ll never happen. The microwave oven market is big. Corporations like this because there’s a lot of profit. Because the corporations run America, America will continue to have microwave ovens and obesity, yes, microwave ovens are a part of the obesity problem.

Yesterday, I read of another move by Russia.

Russia suspends import and use of American GM corn after study revealed cancer risk

  • The European Food Safety Authority orders review in to the research, conducted at a French university
  • Russia’s decision could be followed by other nations
  • Experts at the University of Caen conducted an experiment running for the full lives of rats – two years
  • The findings found raised levels of breast cancer, liver and kidney damage
  • The same trials also found minuscule amounts of a commonly used weedkiller, Roundup
  • Both the GM corn and Roundup are the creation of US biotech company Monsanto

Russia has suspended the import and use of an American GM corn following a study suggesting a link to breast cancer and organ damage.

Separately, the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA), has ordered its own review in to the research, which was conducted at a French university.

The decision by Russia could be followed by other nations in what would be a severe blow to the take-up of the controversial technology.

Cancer risk? A farmer shows two corncobs of genetically engineered corn by U.S. company Monsanto, right, and two normal corncobs from Germany, left

Historically, biotech companies have proved the safety of GM crops based on trials involving feeding rats for a period of 90 days.

However, experts at the University of Caen conducted an experiment running for the full lives of rats – two years.

The findings, which were peer reviewed by independent experts before being published in a respected scientific journal, found raised levels of breast cancer, liver and kidney damage.

Read more

Opinion:

The world is beginning to wake and smell the coffee.

People who are concerned with their health should be pressing the government to enforce product labeling.

 

 

Change the World Wednesday – 26th Sep

Yes, I know it’s Thursday, I’m a day late; and that doesn’t worry me one bit. I took the day off yesterday as a recovery measure; a combination of exhaustion and a very cold day. I didn’t even go to work.

The south of Brazil has been hit with snow and many have had the house roofs destroyed by wind and hail; they showed hailstones the size of golf balls on TV last night, house roofs looked as though they had been peppered by a huge shotgun. Many crops were decimated as well, as this is the primary zone for cool-temperate farming, so we can expect higher prices.

Tuesday night we were hit by a cold front. After an extremely mild – hot winter (hottest and driest in 40 years) here in Rio de Janeiro, in fact most of Brazil has suffered with very low humidity extremes. Last week/weekend (I’m not sure of the day now) in my part of the city we had 14% humidity, some of the world’s deserts are more humid. Officially now we are in Spring, and the weather has decided to be winter. We went from a hot summer’s weekend (39/40°C) to winter temperatures (15/19°C) in the space of  24 hours.

Weird weather, unseasonable changes, extremes… Now tell me there is no such thing as global warming. I’m not apportioning the blame here, just saying it’s here.

Botijão de gás

My kitchen gas just ran out. Luckily, the water had boiled to make coffee, so it wasn’t quite the disaster it could have been. I was rather pleased, I had anticipated the gas would quit sometime in August, and here we are at the end of September; that’s five months from one gas bottle for all my oven heat. A bottle of gas costs about R$39 (currently that’s about USD2o).

I always buy a spare the month after I change the botijão. Most Brazilians don’t do that. Their gas runs out and they have to ring and wait for a delivery, usually about a half hour. Then there is the problem that most Brazilians don’t have money for that eventuality and have to wait for the next pay day.

On with the challenge. Actually this isn’t much of a challenge for me, because most things I don’t even have.

Life is so much less complicated here in Brazil, which is one of the reasons I love it here.

This week, if you are moving into Autumn, choose one task from this LIST and accomplish it. Of course, we’d like to hear all about it.

 

Or …

If you are moving into Spring, choose a task from this POST. Again, we’d like to know what you chose to do and how you did it.

 

Or …

If none of those activities appeal to you, choose a previous challenge from the list HERE. And yep … tell us about it!

Well, I have to look at the second option, because we’re heading into spring.

  • I don’t spring clean – check
  • I don’t even have a closet to clean out, and I don’t have things to throw out – check
  • No smoke detectors, so no batteries – check
  • No air filters – check
  • Spring garden and compost – check
  • No landscaping – check
  • Walk, I don’t walk, I hobble where possible – check
  • No drier, so clothes are always dried outside – check
  • No air blower, Brazilians use water, I use a yard broom – check
  • No grass, no mower – check
  • No ceiling fan, I use two portable ones, need cleaning – check
  • No fireplace, no damper to close – check

So after all that, my total contribution will be to clean both fans. Like I said, life is so much simpler here.

Have a great week everyone.

 

Label GMOs

Big question…

Why?

Answer…

Because your government was brought out by the corporations!

Monday Moaning

August issue

The Countryfile poll the BBC won’t talk about

The BBC is quick to cover pro-GM stories but they stay silent when 79% of people said no to GM trials in a Countryfile magazine poll

A few weeks ago the BBC heavily promoted its flagship Countryfile programme’s coverage of pro-GM research. The story was carried on news bulletins, the Today programme and presenter Tom Heap wrote an article on the BBC’s website.

The public is changing its mind about GM was one of the messages. But they are not but evidence that they are not is not something the BBC want to share. Even when it comes from the magazine associated with its own Countryfile programme.

 Throughout August, Countryfile’s online magazine ran a poll asked: Should GM crop trials be allowed to go ahead?

The result; 79% No (6144)       21% Yes (1680)          Total 7824

There is process that might be called “polliticks” and an earlier poll conducted by Com Res for the Independant showed that 64% of people would support GM trials if they would lead to a reduction in pesticides.

People are hardly likely to vote against that proposition but with the Countryfile poll voter numbers massively outstripping the Com Res poll by nearly 8 times, it seems that it is a better indication of the state of concern about GM in the British public.

Especially as it’s backed up by the MSN poll on GM, showing 67% do NOT want GM in this country (2,256 votes) with similar results from Which? IGD and Food Navigator in the last 12 months.

Consumers, farmers and producers are not interested in GM. There is no market for it here or indeed in most of Europe.

Maybe the BBC could start to reflect this in its coverage’

http://www.countryfile.com/poll/should-gm-crop-trials-be-allowed-go-ahead

http://www.igd.com/index.asp?id=1&fid=1&sid=8&tid=30&cid=1487

http://news.uk.msn.com/the-big-question/the-big-answer-gm-crops-should-not-be-grown-in-britain

http://www.foodnavigator.com/Legislation/Poll-results-Ban-on-GM-crop-proves-popular-among-FoodNavigator-readers

Source: gmeducation

Opinion:

This is just another case of where the mainstream media are treating the people like mushrooms… kept in the dark and fed on bullshit!

For a renown news source like the  Britain’s BBC this is shocking, disgusting and entirely underhand.

It shows that the BBC is obviously under government control in a policy of “tell the people only what we want them to know.”

The people’s right to know, the idea that the media is to inform, that the media is honest are not important. The media exists to do the government’s bidding.

The idea of truth, has become superfluous.

The poll conducted by Countryfile showed that the people were decidedly against GM crops, 80% nearly. But that figure didn’t please the powers that be, “so we’ll just put that in the drawer and forget about it.”

 

Nature Ramble

Not so much a ramble today, more like a ‘float.’

And we’re doing it under Los Angeles.

This is an interesting story, in that it shows how we have callously built over nature and then rediscovered it, even to the extent of it becoming a tourist attraction.

The Los Angeles river lives again

LA’s concrete storm drains conceal a living, breathing waterway that has rarely been explored – until now

Concrete jungle: the LA river flows under Burbank Boulevard. Photograph: Michael Owen Baker/Los Angeles Daily News/Zumapress.com/Alamy

A scorching morning in the San Fernando valley and I am driving up and down Balboa Boulevard, parks and fields either side of the motorway, lost. The talking GPS on my dashboard has lapsed into silence, defeated by an arcane destination with no zip code. I spy a park attendant emptying a bin and pull over to ask directions. He eyes me, baffled. I wonder if he is deaf and repeat the question. He still looks confused. “Did you say river?” Yes, I reply. Where is the river? He shakes his head. “What river?”

I find an elderly woman with a straw hat walking her terrier and ask the same question. She looks puzzled. “What river, honey?” The river I am supposed to kayak, I reply. She looks at me compassionately, as if I have sunstroke. “I don’t think you’re in the right place.”

But I am. Swishing below, all but invisible from the park and motorway above, is the Los Angeles river. A river with water, fish, tadpoles, birds, reeds, banks, a river that flows for 52 miles skirting Burbank, north Hollywood, Silver Lake, downtown and Compton and empties into the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach. A regular river, except that to most Angelenos it’s a secret. I ask three other people and receive the same blank looks until finally a park ranger confirms that, yes, there is a river at the bottom of a ravine all of 150ft away.

There, amid the reeds, bob a dozen little green and red kayaks, and people wearing helmets and lifejackets are clambering inside them. It is the inaugural season of LA River Expeditions, a pioneering effort to reclaim a waterway that vanished from the city’s consciousness almost a century ago. “Welcome,” says George Wolfe, the group’s founder. “I hope you’re ready for adventure.” We push off into the current.

Until recently this excursion would have been considered not just mad but illegal. City authorities encased the river bed in concrete in the 1930s, turning it into a flood-control channel that was a byword for contamination and forbidden to boaters. For decades it languished all but forgotten, save for Hollywood using its storm drains in films such as Grease and Terminator 2. Now, however, it has formally opened to boating tours, specifically kayaks and canoes. Activists hope it is the first step towards transformation. “It’s a milestone, and hopefully there are more to come,” says Charles Eddy, a board member of Friends of the LA River, and part of this expedition, as he navigates his kayak through brambles. “If you think of the river as a blank palette, people will create all sorts of wonderful things.”

Kayakers paddle under the Woodley Avenue bridge in Los Angeles. Photograph: ZUMA Wire Service / Alamy/Alamy

The kayak excursions are the latest twist in California’s water wars, a saga immortalised in Roman Polanski’s 1974 film Chinatown, a neo-noir exploration of intrigue and treachery with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway set during the state’s 1930s battles over land and water rights. The river, fed by streams from the Simi hills in Canoga park, originally provided food, water and transport for Gabrielino Indians and Spanish settlers. After the US seized control from Mexico the city’s water needs outgrew the river. An aqueduct completed in 1913 directed water from the Owens river in the Sierra Nevada mountains to LA, ending dependence on the LA river. Disastrous flooding prompted its conversion – desecration, some critics would say – into a glorified drainage ditch. And so it remained for decades, a butt of jokes, a rubbish dump, out of sight and mind except when used as a backdrop for Hollywood car races and chases….

….

After passing a concrete bridge with graffiti-daubed arches and a shopping trolley half-buried in mud, we enter a wilderness that seems a world removed from the freeways and urban sprawl above. “We call this the Grand Canyon,” says Wolfe, showing his flair for advertising, as we paddle through a mini-gorge 15ft tall. Nature slowly asserts itself. To our left are wild fig trees, descendants of those planted by the Indians, to our right potentially deadly ricin-producing plants. Further on, hallucinogenic jimson weed. “Around the next bend is the Apocalypse Now bit,” says Wolfe. We encounter “fish sticks”: improvised traps made by unknown hands to trap carp, tilapia and other species. A discourse on how to make the traps is drowned out by a passenger jet roaring low overhead, briefly breaking the spell.

The sense that this is something special returns as we moor our boats and slosh ashore, inspecting plants, a turtle shell, a cascade, before resuming the journey. It is difficult to believe that the 405 freeway, the gridlocked bane of LA motorists, is just a mile away. Three hours later we return to where we started, a swampy bank, and moor the kayaks amid some ducks. The tour is over. We saw nothing that would excite David Attenborough. But we glimpsed another LA, one not consumed by automobiles, or turned into a strip mall, where nature and human optimism thrive in a watery realm, an ever so slightly mystic river.

Read the rest

 

Saturday Satire on Eco-Crap

An environmentalist dies and reports to the pearly gates. St. Peter checks his dossier and says, “Ah, you’re an environmentalist–you’re in the wrong place.”

Thinking that heaven could never make an error, the environmentalist reports to the gates of hell and is let in.

Pretty soon, the environmentalist gets dissatisfied with the environment in hell and starts implementing eco-friendly improvements. After a while, global warming, air and water pollution are under control. The landscape is covered with grass and plants, the food is organic, and the people are happy. The environmentalist has become a pretty popular guy.

One day, God calls Satan up on the telephone and says with a sneer, “So, how’s it going down there in hell?”

Satan replies, “Hey, things are going great. We’ve got clean air and water, the temperature is better and the food tastes better, and there’s no telling what this environmentalist is going to fix next.”

God replies, “What??? You’ve got an environmentalist? That’s a mistake–he should never have gotten down there; send him up here.”

Satan says, “No way. I like having an environmentalist on the staff, and I’m keeping him.”

God says, “Send him back up here or I’ll sue.”

Satan laughs uproariously and answers, “Yeah, right. And just where are you going to get a lawyer?”

Make you Fink on Friday

This is reblogged from: expertofnone

It’s a fantastic piece, as in fact most of her posts are, don’t be shy about heading over there to see.

Certainly makes you think.

“We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days”…

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the “green thing.” We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it just sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?

We didn’t have “green things” in my day

Popcorn is Dangerous

Microwave Popcorn, a hazard to your health

At least the microwave variety is.

Don’t you just love that smell of molten butter that permeates through the house as your corn pops in the microwave?

Here’s the shock.

That smell can kill you.

Seriously.

That wonderful sweet cloying smell that makes you want more popcorn is

Diacetyl

an ingredient in the flavouring.

Diacetyl and acetoin are two compounds that give butter its characteristic taste, that’s why it is used in margarine, or margarine simply wouldn’t have a flavour.

The United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has suggested diacetyl, when used in artificial butter flavoring (as used in many consumer foods), may be hazardous when heated and inhaled over a long period.

Workers in several factories that manufacture artificial butter flavoring have been diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare and serious disease of the lungs. The cases found have been mainly in young, healthy, nonsmoking males. Lung transplantation is the only known cure for bronchiolitis obliterans.

While several authorities have called the disease “popcorn worker’s lung”, a more accurate term suggested by other doctors may be more appropriate, since the disease can occur in any industry working with diacetyl: diacetyl-induced bronchiolitis obliterans.” – Wikipedia

‘Popcorn lung’: Wayne Watson wins $7.2m in US court

A US man has been awarded $7.2m (£4.4m) in damages after claiming he developed “popcorn lung” from inhaling the artificial butter in microwave popcorn.

A Colorado jury agreed with Wayne Watson that a popcorn manufacturer should have had warning labels that the bag’s fumes were dangerous to inhale.

Defence lawyers argued that Mr Watson’s problems stemmed from years of working with carpet-cleaning chemicals.

He developed respiratory problems in 2007, after regularly eating popcorn.

“Popcorn lung” is a form of irreversible obstructive lung disease that scars the lung and makes it difficult for air to flow out.

Read more

Opinion:

Another case of the industry not telling the consumers what they are eating and the side effects.

.

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