Water and Plastics:

I want to talk about plastic pollution. Though all plastic food containers are an issue, let’s have a look at  single use plastic bottles.  It is estimated that annually 80 billion water bottles are used in the United States alone.  Roughly 80% of these water bottles end up as litter.  Furthermore only PET bottles can be recycled, and the rest are discarded into land fills for found littering our planet.  PET bottles make up 25% of plastic bottles used in the U.S.  Landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles alone. idswater.org

According to The Water Project,  it takes 3 liters of water to create 1 liter of bottled water.  When one thinks that people are dying of thirst, how can one be O.K. with the waste of water used to make water convenient for those that have clean water available to them when all they need to do is install a water filter and buy a reusable bottle..  

With increasing populations and global warming, the problem of available clean water will be more tenuous.  Increasing rights over water will will not only increase the cost of water, but violent altercations are likely to increase.  So, wasting water is not O.K.

The problems with bottled water do not end here.  Valuable resources are wasted in the processing and transportation of bottled water.  Transporting water is adding to global warming.

I could talk about plastic bags (100 billion a year), but in many ways it would be redundant, so here are some facts about plastic pollution in our oceans. According to Earth Day 2018’s call to end plastic pollution are several facts that everyone needs to think about.

Approximately eight (8) million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually.   This is equal to one garbage truck of plastic dumped into the ocean each and every minute in a day or 1440 loads a day.  Fishing boats are responsible for dumping large amounts of plastic into the ocean including nets which harms or drowns many sea mammals. Plastic bags have been seen in the deepest depths of our oceans.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Of the 8 million metric tons of plastic thrown overboard, 236,000 tons are micro plastics.   Microplastics are tiny pieces of broken down plastic that are smaller than your finger nail.  Fish, sea turtles, sea and coastal birds mistake these plastic particles for food.  Autopsies of fish and birds  show that many of these animals died of starvation–tummies filled with micro plastics.  

By 2020 it is estimated that 80 million tons of plastics will be thrown into the ocean, and by 2050 it is likely that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.  As we’re eating, poisoning, and responsible for oceans warming, I think it might be sooner then that. 

Five massive floating patches of plastic can be found around the world. Imagine a plastic debris field covering the state of Texas.  That is the size of the plastic patch that floats between California and Hawaii.  As “there is more plastic than natural prey at the sea surface of the Great Pacific Patch,”  Sea turtles feeding in this area, for example, “can have up to 74% (dry weight) of their diet composed of ocean plastics.”There are many island that have beaches of plastics, one in particular as the currents pushes the plastic ashore.

The likelihood that an increase of coral becoming diseased fr0m 4% t0 89% when coming into contact with marine plastic could result the death of extremely important ecosystem.  The coral reef is the home for 25% of marine life.

If you eat fish, you are likely  to have eaten plastic microfibers found  brown trout, perch, and cisco for example.

*references to the above information can be found at Earth Day 2018.

There are more extremely negative impacts on the plants, wildlife and even the human population. The water we drink, the air we breath and the ground we walk on are all contaminated with plastic by-products.  The damages caused by these contaminants are irreversible.  Though a useful product, plastic bottles are made from toxic compounds known to cause illness.  And these products take thousands of years to biodegrade.  As a result landfills never stop releasing the toxins into the air from all the plastic products we throw away.  In landfills, plastic interacts with water and forms hazardous chemicals. For more information, go to Conserve Energy Future.  

Burning isn’t a solution, for this releases poisons gases into the atmosphere and may have some deadly consequences. Both humans and other animals may suffer respiratory problems as a result.

In general, according to Conserve Energy Future , recycling plastic adds to many of the problems as doing so adds to pollution problems of plastic too.

So, what do we do.  First reduce buying disposables and replace these with environmentally friendly products whenever possible.  Use your voice to let companies know that despite your loving their product, you are no longer willing to use their product or eat their food unless their containers are environmentally friendly.   Choose wisely.  

Stop using plastic water bottles right now.  Buy a reusable bottle and filter your own water.  You will save lots of money doing this (a maximum  $0.10 per glass of water vs $1.00+ for bottled water).  It took time to train myself not to leave it behind, but it is doable.

Be aware that many coffee shops used disposable cups often composed with plastic as an insulator.  Many shops will fill your container. 

Do things like turn off the water while brushing your teeth, save a flush, shorten your showers or fill the tub half full.  A little here and a little there adds up.  And pass the word as difficult as this may be.  Be brave, be willing to be a little unpopular by letting people know how important it is to preserve this precious resource.  We’re doing this for ourselves and for everyone, including all the generations that follow us.

Lastly, since many people around the world have difficulty finding clean water, The Water Project is working with local partners in these water scarce areas to bring clean, sustainable water supplies to within 1/2 mile of villages in need.  Please help them.  For more information, go to The Water Project.

EPA: Thin Blue Line or Thin Black Line

In an attempt to understand and report on how Trump and Pruitt’s (now Andrew Wheeler) proposal regarding defunding the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) will affect our lives is enormously complex. I thought, I’ll just try and simplify this for us by making a list of many of the changes that may occur.  It’s important to note that at this time these are only proposals.  Congress will be writing the actual appropriations bills that will fund the bill, and if it passes the house and the Senate, the president must agree with the bill for it to become a Law. If the President vetos the bill, two-thirds of the Representatives and Senate must vote to  override the veto, and the bill becomes a Law.  

With regard to the Defunding EPA bill, there are many in the house and Senate that will be likely to have issues with several of these EPA cuts, and so we needn’t get all in a tither about this passing.  However, the President is pushing hard to get this passed.  We do need to stay informed, donate, sign petitions, go to town hall meetings, and march to let the government know that Defunding the EPA is a bad idea.  

Eliminating more than 50 EPA programs will result in 3200 people becoming members of the unemployed. What happened to creating jobs, I wonder.  I would also argue that we need to make our 21st century the Ecological Century focusing on changing to a green economy.  All of this money saved, some $347 million, will of course be allocated to building our military, moving ever closer to war, and The Wall which terrorists can take pictures of as they fly over it.  Note: we’re talking about $347 million a year.  Yikes!  Yes, I am cynical, because, if we don’t have our Federal Government actively involved, even dedicated, to protecting our rare tiny blue dot, there isn’t going to be a plan (planet) B, and delaying efforts to stop global warming from reaching a critical state needs to begin now. 

For those whom may not know, Scott Pruitt was the U.S. EPA administrator and did and does not consider CO2 to be the cause of global warming.  Since increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere are the direct cause of humans using fossil fuel supplied energy and carbon leaching of the soil, Pruitt was and is basically saying that humans have little to do with climate change–this despite the unquestionable scientific proof that comes from worldwide collections of data compiled for decades that show quite the opposite.  As most know, 95% of the scientists all over the globe say that the climate change we are experiencing right now is the direct result of COemissions.  This is a people caused problem.  The number of Environmental Policies such as clean air and water, use of chemical, gas emission, were deregulated.  He also spent huge sums of money on luxury items for himself which is why he no longer works for the EPA.

Now enter, Andrew Wheeler, the acting director of the EPA Chief in the Trump administration and former deputy to Mr. Pruitt.  Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist and the most vocal critic of the climate crisis in the White House.  He has the same interests at Pruitt in undoing many more environmental regulations.  More information to be included.

                                                   Turn up the sound.

               Scott Pruitt out – Andrew Wheeler in. Urgh Again!

Sadly, because a few scientists have either falsified data or created poor tests, thus claiming results that ultimately cannot stand the test of time, ‘Science’  is now viewed with suspicion.  An example of deliberately flawed findings that continue to cause serious problems is the false claim that vaccines cause autism.  Science, as with anything else is a work in progress, and fortunately it is a self examining discipline.  There are good tests, and tests that are questionable, but, bottomline, science has made our lives better and far more interesting than we could imagine.  We are, nevertheless, beginning to pay the price for many of our scientific achievements and technological advances.  Not our fault.  How could we predicted this future when the industrial revolution was in its infancy.

For me, the biggest scientific mistakes we have made were due to the idea that we could control nature.  We are discovering that this is impossible, and guess what, nature is rebelling.  The abused will at some point always act out.  And boy our tiny little planet is acting out.   The error behind this idea of control is equal t0 the idea of Manifest Destiny.  Just say’n.

Before everyone starts blaming . . . , realize that life is nothing more than an experiment, and often we don’t know the effects until way down the road.  Our responsibility is ultimately to make things right, once we recognize the detrimental effects of our decisions and actions.  This is one of the problems with defunding the EPA which will be discussed shortly.

It is also important to know that Science holds the solution to the enormous problems we face as a result of human created global warming.   We now are beginning to understand how nature actually works, and we are learning how to use nature to rectify or solve many of the problems we have created.  We are learning how to mimic nature so that nature itself is stimulated to work according to natural law once again.  Read the article in this blog, “Cow Save the Planet”, to get an idea of what I’m talking about.  Another example is related to the study of fractals – check it out – just google it.  If aggressive climate change research and development is not undertaken from this point on, we are doomed.

So what are the projected plans for defunding the EPA.

  1. Undoing environmental regulations that help to keep us and the environment as safe as possible is one such plan as the new administration wants to trim initiatives to protect air and water quality.  As with all things, revisiting many of the regulations already implemented is not a bad idea.  Some regulations may be obsolete, may need updating, or proven to be unnecessary expenditures.  The EPA is human created and so not perfect. Sometimes the EPA messes up, but this isn’t a reason to cut back on funding.  The dangers of turning back the clock to 1977 by defunding the EPA may include smoggy skies and polluted rivers..

Those who remember the bleak times when day ratings on how healthy it was to go outside kept increasing year after year in Los Angeles, New York and other urban environments were grateful when the EPA was created and blue skies returned.  There were days when we were told that it was best to stay in doors.  Fortunately we didn’t have “The Killer Fog That Blanketed London” for 5 days and killed 4,000 Londoners.

Hop a plane and visit Beijing if you’d like to experience this.  China is now beginning to create it’s own EPA and implement regulations. How would you like to go to this wedding?

You may now risk your lives and kiss the bride.

Green peace has an excellent article about why China has this problem and what they are now doing about it.If you’d like to read this article , go to their Blogpost: Greenpeace East Asia


Extreme Pollution in China. Photo from Blog: Greenpeace East Asia.  A Before Picture would be nice.

2. Who will come to our aid in times of an environmental crisis?  President Trump believes that each state must take charge of  environmental issues and regulations for their state.  Unfortunately, the environment doesn’t have borders, and one can only imagine the political posturing that might occur as a result of an environmental disaster–disputes over what needs to be done, how to do what is needed, and who will pay for clean up.  Need I say more.  This is a Federal Government’s job.

An aside:  Weather is global.  Dust storms in the Sahara are why we have rain forests in South Africa.  Because of climate change and deforestation, scientists are discovering a change in the pattern of dust storms which will have an effect on the rain forests.  It is also projected that the rain forests will be gone my mid-century, which will result in the release of far more carbon into the atmosphere than we burning fossil fuels.  Furthermore, the water cycle, rain, absorption, evaporation will also change dramatically.  This will have local and global effects. So, EPA’s need to spring into action everywhere.  Rather than funding wars, you can imagine what I’d like to see done.

Another thought.  Imagine a governor wanting to create an alternative energy economy in an Fossil Fuel dependent State?  Though states do need to be involved, Environmental Protection, grants, research and development need Federal participation.

3.  Climate change programs will be eliminated, such as Obama’s, Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing CO2 emissions.

4.  Regulations said to hobble U.S. Oil drillers, fracking operations, coal minors, and farmers will be dismantled.  Many may ask, why farms.  Farms are not simply pastoral vistas waiting to be painted.  Back in the 1960s bird populations were dropping because of the use of DDT.  Today, worldwide bee populations are disappearing, blamed on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.  Friends of the Earth have stopped many large retailers from selling products containing neonicotinoids.   If you’d like to check out the EPA general scope of regulations for farmers, click here.

5.  Here’s a biggy.  Trump plans on trimming the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  This will end missions that observe the Earth’s oceans and carbon dioxide levels.  Really? With CO2 levels on the rise and ice caps melting which means islands disappearing, Florida underwater etc..  In my opinion, this cut is so transparent.  Pruitt doesn’t want anything that would prove he’s wrong about Co2 levels and global warming.

NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Earth science budget is on the cutting board–a mere $102 million gone.  

FYI:  Pruitt, now Wheeler,  wants Congress to determine if CO2 is a pollutant needing regulation. Huh!  Actually we already know that it is.  What a waste of money,  and guess who are the participants? Answer: republicans  and lawmakers from oil-producing states. 

6.  The Hill reports that slashes in funding for industrial waste cleanup through the Superfund program is on the table.  This means that if we to have an environmental catastrophe that requires clean up, e.g. coal waste slurry in rivers, the Feds won’t be coming to help.  And, since near everybody is downstream, who is responsible to clean it up as it travels across borders?  

It is far more important to have preventive measures in place as cleanup is far more expensive and may take decades to repair the damage done than the cost of implementing safeguards.

Also, region-specific environmental programs such as those monitoring pollutants, or determining the mass die off of fish in the Great Lakes for example are to be eliminated. Consider this.  The Great Lakes hold 20% of the fresh water in the world.  It is vastly important that The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT be in charge of helping to maintain the health of these lakes.  

Case in point. The Buffalo River, connected to Lake Erie by the Erie Canal, became an industrial dumping ground.  Pollutants from Lake Erie added to the problem.  In 1968 the River burst into flames as a result of its chemical makeup. Obviously the river was lifeless.  After decades and millions of dollars spent, including help from the Federal Government beginning during the Johnson administration, the Buffalo River is almost fully restored. More on this here.

7. 31% of the EPA’s Enforcement division budget will be cut.  This division is responsible for fining companies for polluting.

8.  The Energy Star appliance efficiency program which aims at reducing U.S. energy consumption is just one of dozens of programs being illuminated or targeted for funding cuts.

Considering that Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney considers green regulations to be a “waste of money” and Trump’s belief that little harm to air and water quality will result from these budget cuts, it’s no wonder that most of the people in the United States are concerned. So I say go out and march.  

My favorite line from all of this is, ‘Make America Gag Again’.  Thanks Conrad Schneider, the advocacy director at Clean Air Task Force.

Make our voices heard.  Environmental marches in Washington DC and around the country will be taking place.  My contribution is my labor, that is, I’m trying to make a difference by helping people to understand a variety of issues important to all of us.  I fund this, sort of, by designing t-s, signs and a bunch of other stuff to help get the word out there. If you’d like to check out what environmental paraphernalia is available from Earth and World Peace, click the link.  Check out other designers too.  My motto is get loud and march in peace.  

On this blog is Carl Sagan Essay, “Pale Blue Dot”  (very slightly edited) If you haven’t read it, do.  It is beautiful.  

We the people get to choose our fate. Stop EPA Funding.
        We the people get to choose our fate. Stop EPA Defunding.

Allan Savory and Schwartz’s Cows Save the Planet

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

Back in the 1950s, Allan Savory made one of the most difficult decisions of his life. As a young biologist assigned to set aside vast areas of lands for future National Parks in Africa, he was involved in moving indigenous people off their land.  Shortly thereafter the land began to deteriorate.  After studying the situation, Allan Savory determined that large herds of elephants were over grazing the land and something needed to be done.  As a result, 40,000 elephants were killed.  The land continued to deteriorate at an increasing rate.  Mr. Savory, to this day regrets this decision.  In his own word, he expresses his love for elephants and says that he will take this to his grave.  He tells this story in the video linked below.  

Restoration of Carbon starved soil will restore desertified lands and remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. Watch video Allan Savory
Restoration of Carbon starved soil will restore desertified lands and remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.  Watch video:  Allan Savory.  Go to Holistic Management: The Savory Institute for more information, and do donate it you can.

Since then, Allan Savory has dedicated his life to finding the solution to the increasing desertification of grasslands.  For me, his discovery of why the earth’s lands are turning into deserts, and how nature can heal itself with our help is one of the most hopeful remedies to stop  global warming where it stands now.  If we begin to implement his ideas now on a grand scale, it is possible to reduce the carbon dioxide levels to preindustrial times, and this cure can happen quickly, 10-20 years.  It is also vastly important that we take action quickly because  increasing desertification is causing, starvation, poverty, disease, and warfare particularly in Africa, right now.  This will become a worldwide condition if we don’t heal the earth, in this case, literally the ground we walk on.

Some of the greatest solutions to our problems are often so very simple, and this is one of those eloquent solutions.  Allan Savory discovered that what was needed to restore the grasslands were large herds of animal moving along the grassland, never staying in one place too long. They moved because they were not interested in eating their own fertilizing deposits, and they were also not interested in getting eaten, so they bunched together for protection, moving across the savannas, and running from one place to another when threatened, leaving the land able to restore itself.  They didn’t eat too much, they fertilized it, some pooped seeds, and they churned and dug holes in the earth allowing water to be captured.

A healthy grassland results in carbon rich soil.  Other than the obvious benefits noted above, it is the carbon rich soils that disappear when lands are overgrazed, when agricultural practices leave the soil bare, when droughts occur, and with deforestation.  Where does the carbon go?  Into our atmosphere where it binds with oxygen (CO2).  

Life exists because of carbon: carbon starved earth is dead, and, therefore, nothing grows.  If lands are left bare, carbon leaches out of the soil and adds to the CO2 levels in our atmosphere.  Without plants the CO2 level rises because the Carbon Cycle is broken.  

Most of us have heard that the rainforests are the lungs of the earth.  Indeed.  One can add to this by saying all plants are the lungs of the earth.  Breaking the carbon cycle destroys the recycling of both carbon and oxygen.  

Everyone whom took science classes in high school, learned about the carbon cycle, though ones memory like mine may be rusty.  The simplified version, which we all learned was that plants breath in carbon dioxide.  With the help of the sun, energy is transferred to the plant.  Chlorophyll (why plants are green), is where photosynthesis takes place, resulting in separating the Carbon and Oxygen molecules.  The Oxygen is returned to the atmosphere, and the carbon is stored in the plant and in the soil where it stays inert. The same thing happens in the ocean, however phytoplankton takes the place of the plant.  Phytoplankton respiration releases the oxygen back to the air, and their decomposition, returns the carbon to the ocean.  

Carbon Cycle

Soil Respiration Chart

Caron Cycle
                                                                                   Caron Cycle

Both Adam Savory and Judith D. Schwartz (Cows Save The Earth) discuss how we can return carbon to the soil without the naturally occurring large herds and their predators.  Enter cows and sheep.  This practice has been tested many times and it works.  Ms Schwartz, explains the process the following way.  Cows are the hole diggers and fertilizers: they are the catalyst that begin the processes needed to heal the soil.  A “microscopic choreography comes into play.  Worms, insects and microorganisms like fungi and bacteria aerate the ground, decompose waste, exchange nourishment (mycorrhizal fungi take glucose from plants and in return help plants assimilate nutrients), and break down rocks into mineral like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc that are essential to our health. (Cows Save The Planet, 2013, p 3).”  Termites play the same role as earthworms in marginal or arid lands.  If you have read Yacouba Sawadogo story on this blog, The Man Who Stopped the Desert, you will recall that Yacouba knew that if he dug holes and place dung in them, termites would find there way to these holes and begin to dig tunnels which capture water during the rainy season. The water was retained by surrounding these area with berms.  In each of these holes, trees were planted.  The end result was that he stopped the Sahara Desert from taking over his town.  This is now practiced in many such areas.

Initially, Allan Savory didn’t like domesticated cattle, however, they are proving to be an invaluable resource to restoring the grasslands.  The Massai are a nomadic people living in Southern Kenya and Tanzania.  They herd their cows in bunches continually moving them.  This mimics nature in that the Massai take the place of the predators  The Massai protect their cattle from predators by housing them overnight in pens.  As a result of this practice, the land stays healthy.

There are many testimonials given by people using this and similar methods: both environmental and economical benefits are evident.  One rancher noted how his land, The Two Dot Lane and Livestock Company in Harlowton Wyoming, now contained hundreds of new plant species along with a diverse and abundant wildlife population.  During the 2011 flood in Harlowton, his parcel was the only one that didn’t suffer from flooding and erosion as the land was able to absorb the water.  The soil is now carbon rich.

Soil restoration can and needs to be done everywhere — watersheds, in one’s community, in an abandoned field.   These could be community projects.

There are many more stories of this kind.  Do support this endeavor, I believe this can help to save our planet.  Check it out for yourself.  The Savory Institute and Holistic Planned Grazing.  Know that by my talking about this method as a solution to global warming, I am not suggesting that we ignore the problems of using fossil fuels.  We need to continue inventing, creating, and implementing clean energy technology.  All efforts to clean up our earth are important, including picking up our litter.

“Upon this handful of soil our survival depends.  Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter and surround us with beauty.  Abuse it and soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it (Vedic Scriptures, around 1500 BC).”

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.”

Some statistics and other problems related to a carbon dead soil.  Unless noted, the following comes from Cows Save The Planet (CSTP).

  1. According to Savory, two thirds of the world’s grassland have disappeared “causing traditional grazing societies to descend into chaos.”
  2. The depletion rate of topsoil is ten times in the U.S. and forty times in China faster than it is generated, some 83 billion tons a year.
  3. Carbon dead soil affects the minerals necessary for health.  For example, since the 1960s, calicium in apples has decreased by 50%:  phosphorus, iron, and magnesium more than an 80% reduction.  What once was “An apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away” now requires four or five apples a day.
  4. “Every 1% increase in soil carbon holds an additional 60,000 gallons of water per acre.”  Limits damage from erosion and supports microbial life (CSTP, p 6).
  5. Messing up the carbon cycle messes up the water cycle, nutrient cycle, and energy cycle.
  6. Carbon dioxide level in 2016 was 400 parts per million (first time in recorded history)- above 350 ppm the climate becomes destabilized.
  7. Between 1989 and 2008 soil respiration increased by about 0.1% per year Bond-Lamberty, B. & Thomson, A. Nature 464, 579-582 (2010) In 2008, the global total of CO2 released from the soil reached roughly 98 billion tonnes, about 10 times more carbon than humans are now putting into the atmosphere each year by burning fossil fuel.
  8. “In the past 150 years between 50 and 80 percent of organic carbon in the topsoil has gone airborne(CSTP. p 12).”
  9. Savory and others believe that if we restore 1/2 of the world’s grassland, the CO2 levels would be lowered to pre-industrial concentrations.
  10. Last, it does need to be said that the methane issue associated with cows burbs and farts are not a problem.  Though methane is a green house gas, it breakdowns very quickly in the atmosphere.  Furthermore, large concentration of methane measured at feedlots are due to how cow manure is collected and stored

Holistic Planned Grazing is an additional way toward stopping  our planet from becoming uninhabitable.  Perhaps it may even heal some of the damages that have been done.  I don’t want us, our species, to be the one’s that created  near total annihilation of our one and only home in this segment of the universe.  Let nature keep that job.  

With love and respect to all.

Addendum: I have recently learned (early 2019), that a new generation of ranchers and farmers are using Savory’s ideas, only they call it No Till Farming and Cover Farming.  I don’t know if many of these people have ever heard Mr. Savory.  

These advents are similar yet quite different in technique, however, the results are similar, i.e. increasing the productivity of the land, the enrichment of the soil (carbon now where it belongs, in the soil,. and the return of many beneficial insects, bird and animal populations etc..

It is not difficult to imagine that these ideas have come to be practiced for a few reasons.  These people are environmentalists as they are keen observers of the land, of what works and does’t work.

Despite their love of the land, overtime, their livelihoods became increasingly threatened due to poor soil management.  They had focused their attention above the ground, their crops,  but they hadn’t paid any attention to what was happening under the ground.  Many probably didn’t have a clue about the Carbon Cycle.  I don’t know. All I know is that they were ripe for new ideas, and new ideas were in the ether–initially Adam Savoy’s.

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

The Pale Blue Dot: Homage to Carl Sagan

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

On October 13, 1994, Carl Sagan (American astronomer, cosmologist,astrophysicist, astrobiologist and author — Cosmos and more) gave a public lecture at Cornell University reflecting on the Voyager 1’s photograph of the earth taken on February 14, 1990 (13 years after its launch).  Voyager 1 had travelled 6 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) from earth when Carl Sagan asked NASA to turn Voyager’s camera toward our home and photograph it.  Thank you!

images-30Pale Blue Dot

The following are excerpts of this magnificent lecture.  If you wish to read the entire lecture, just google it.  It is my suggestion that one needs to revisit The Pale Blue Dot often to remind ourselves of how fragile our planet is, and how amazing it is that we have had the privilege to live where life thrives.

The Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

“That’s home.  That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.

. . . every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child. . . every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there on the moon of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

“. . . how frequent their misunderstandings.  How fervent their hatred.  Our imagined self- importance.  The delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic card.  In all this vastness there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

Like it or not, for this moment, the earth is where we make our stand.

There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceit than this distant image of our tiny world . . . it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the blue dot.  The only home we’ve ever known.”

Voyager 1 Launch – Sept. 5, 1977 –
Voyager 1
              Voyager 1
Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan 








Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

Essay: Thoughts on Climate Change, GMOs and more

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

According to E.O. Wilson, (biologist, researcher in sociobiology, biodiversity etc.) we know very little about our planet, tens of thousand species are unknown to us.

Everything exists for a reason, even if it’s an evolutionary experiment that doesn’t work. Which of these animals, bacteria, insects, fungi, plants are crucial to the health of the ecosystems that they live in?  Which may cure certain cancers or Parkinson’s disease, etc.?  All of these and more possibilities are going to disappear if we don’t do something to change the environmental path we are on NOW.  Why is it we treat our planet and all that lives on it with such disregard that we ultimately destroy the only thing that we can live on.  It doesn’t make sense.

In our society, there are quite a few that believe that God will fix the problem, and therefore nothing needs to be done. And of course there are climate change deniers or people who don’t believe that we humanoids are causing global warming. First, God’s not going to fix it. Get over this. What about free will and being stewards?  That’s in the Bible too.  It is our responsibility.  

Our brain has evolved in linearly with our technologies which, as evidence by the nuclear threat and global warming, have had extremely dangerous consequences.  In part, it will be technologies that will help save us from the latter threat.  We can choose to use technologies to help or to destroy.  

Once upon a time, not long ago, the earth had lived in a reasonably balanced state for quite a few thousand years.  The carbon cycle (more on this later) remained stable, and as a result, life was given the chance to thrive.  That is no longer the case.  There are also some brilliant natural solutions to part of the problems we face.  These will be talked about in this section.

All of this began innocently enough as industrialization came into being, despite early warning signs: toxic rivers, plenty of belly up  fish, and deadly fogs in London were clear signs that the byproducts of an industrialized life had detrimental effects on the environment.   And, yes, they took measures to fix those problems.  At the time, the earth seemed to big to imagine that what we were doing could, especially in such a short amount of time, result in today’s fight for our lives.  

Though we had known for a long time that the rain forests are the lungs of the earth, it hasn’t stopped people from cutting them down.  Time and time again, greed and big money interests ‘win’ the battles over environmental wisdom.  

Then too, there is the dodgy topic of overpopulation.  One almost has to whisper this else knives be thrown.  We casually talk about how by the year of . . . the population will be 6 billion folks on our planet.  Though questions of sustainability is on the minds of concerned people, and many are attempting to figure out new technologies to sustain such a large population, does anyone think about what happens after 6 billion: 10 billion, 20 billion?  For GMO’s haters, GMO’s will be a part of our future, and may be the only answer to feeding an increasingly human take over of the earth.  Frankly, I’d prefer trying to figure out a way to make Global Zero Population Growth rather than large families something to celebrate.  Don’t misunderstand me, I understand the appeal of having a large family for those who want them.  However, what will their future look like.  I talk to expectant mothers all the time, and many simply don’t think about what their kids are inheriting.  A world of starvation will not be pretty.

SBLotusbMind you, we have been genetically modifying all sorts of things not long after humankind picked up a spade.  For example, apples originally came from Afghanistan.  They were very small and not particularly tasty.  How many varieties do we have today?  Long before laboratory manipulation of genes came into being, we created many new types of apples, as well as roses, breeds of dogs, etc..  Do you think it’s possible that plants have manipulated us to become more diverse as a species?  Check out Michael Pollan’s book, Botany of Desire: A plant’s eye view of the world (good read).  Think about everything that’s new before jumping on any no bandwagon.  For example, GMO’s. Yes, I think it’s better to eat organic vegetables for many reasons, though I do question if organic vegetables will be able to sustain our growing population.  Caution is warranted and we’re going to find out the effects, if any to eating these plants.  Yes, if some people get cancers or other maladies from eating these foods, that would be awful.  Is there a greater good scenario that comes out of this.  We don’t know yet.  And, if I am only thinking for myself, I would certain be happy to try a nut without oxalates – I don’t even know if a nut would be a nut without oxalates, but I sure do miss eating them. Life is one big experiment.  Whether one likes it or not, there has been great good that has come from the Industrial Revolution, unfortunately, if we don’t do something quickly, the negative consequences will be catastrophic. 

Briefly, there are ways in which we can help nature to begin to heal itself, and one has to do with reestablishing the natural way that the Carbon cycle operates in our environment. Carbon dioxide (too plentiful in the atmosphere = global warming) with the help of the sun is processed in plants, photosynthesis, breaking the bonds between Carbon and Oxygen.  The carbon is retained in the soil and oxygen is released in the atmosphere.  Carbon rich soil results in creating a soil ecosystem that supports a diverse population of thousands of beneficial organisms, and water is absorbed into the soil, resulting in an above ground oasis.  Many habitats have been completely restored in only a few years. It is suggested that the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could be reduced to below pre-industrial numbers using this method to be discussed shortly.  This does not mean that emission of CO2 and other poisons into the atmosphere also need to be curtailed.  See article entitled, Meet Allan Savory and read Cows Save the Planet by Judith D Schwartz. 

Meanwhile, back to GMOs.  This is not to say that anything goes or that we don’t need to keep an eye on what’s going on in the GMO world.  The morality of some of experiments must be addressed, e.g. turkeys  that cannot walk because their breast are too big–never mind what we might be ingesting because we really like white meat.  In so saying, one needs to consider the potential benefits.  Manipulating genes are curing some cancers and so on.  The thing is, we have a brain that reaches for the stars, and because of this you cannot stop humans from trying new things all the time–some will be great, and others terribly flawed.  Ethical issues need to be balanced with the common good, and inhumane practices, in my opinion, need to be outlawed.  Making a mouse chirp seems an unkind way to treat a mouse, particularly if it’s done just to see what happens, which seems to be the case here.  On the other hand, there maybe some unintended consequences that prove to be extremely beneficial, at least for the human population.  We don’t know.  Meanwhile, as long as animal experimentation exists, I hope the mouse is treated well and loved. 

If God exists, I believe s/he or it, would be very unhappy with our treatment toward this rare and fragile miracle called earth. It is all about the Mystic Law of Cause and Effect.  If we do nothing significant in a short time to change the direction we have caused, the effects of humankind climate change may be extinction.  If you believe that you go to hell after you die, think again, hell is already here.  The despair one experiences when watching their child die of starvation is hell.  If you think you are immune.  Think again.  Imagine what will happen when worldwide hunger, diminishing drinkable water, and refugees from disappearing lands, or uninhabitable regions descend on the few areas left that will be able to temporarily sustain life.  Imagine the suffering.

There really is hope.  There are great causes happening all over the world that point to restorative concerns of environments, some species coming back.  Next time I write, I will tell  you about some of the great strides that have been taken to stop the progression of climate change.  We don’t have to be doomed.  

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

  Post Here

Cafe Press

A Plea to Get People Working To Fix our Planet

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

As a Nichiren Buddhist, it is my goal to help end suffering and bring happiness to all human beings.  Our practice involves  protecting our environment too.  Now, most of us focus on helping people, and though this is my mission too, my specific area of interest is the environment and has been for over forty-five years.  If we don’t change our path, imagine the suffering of everything that will come.

Our planet is a rare jewel in the universe–a very tiny speck that just happened to fall into a fertile area for life to exist, and yet we have treated it as if it is indestructible as if there is somewhere else to go. If quantum mechanics notion of parallel universes is true, perhaps their are places to go.  This habitable zone is called the Goldilocks zone, a metaphor from the fairy tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”– not too large, not too small, not too hot, not too cold, ah! “just right.”

We’ve lost many of our natural wonders to pollution, over-use, littering and so on and on and on.  We have even lost our night sky in much of the world from light pollution, which is known to upset migratory paths of birds and insects. I remember looking up at the Milky Way (our galaxy) as a kid in Los Angeles.  Imagine that, in Los Angeles.  I wonder how many people even know what the Milky Way is or that it appears in our sky.  The Milky Way is our solar system.  In other words, we have lost touch with the natural world, and, as such, we haven’t given it much regard until now: now that the effects of our actions are being felt by all of us whether recognized or not, i.e. climate change which are directly connected to our actions.  A coming soon article in this section, entitled Meet Allan Savory and read Cows Save the Planet by Judith D Schwartz, discusses how humankind has depleted our soil of carbon, resulting in an increasing rate of desertification throughout the world and contributing to rising CO2 levels in our atmosphere equal if not greater than the Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.  The cure for this is quick and simple, and, for the most part, nature does the work.  

Our (people concerned about our environment) campaign to stop continuing on the path of self-annihilation that we are on needs to be very loud.  It’s the people that are going to get government to act.  Many changes are already occurring overseas.  However, we all need to act fast and do more. If we can make enough noise with enough people, they won’t be able to ignore us. In essence, if they choose not to move and move quickly and if we choose not to take action, then down the road we all may well be seen as mass murderers of an entire planet and near all that lives on it. The majority of us are good people, some greedy, some frightened of change, many controlled by big money, some just plain lazy and so on.  Regardless, it is my belief that Buddha Nature is within all, and the Wisdom of the Buddha is ours, and so a human revolution for the good is possible.  In order to do disrupt the path we are on, we are going to have to tackle big issues, oil, population growth, changing economics, turning lawns into meadows, changing our method of farming, etc. – no easy task. Everyone, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, and social class can get involved and work together, after all we’re all equal from the earth’s point of view, and mine too.  It is always so wonderful to see all people working together after a collective crisis. No one is asking how much money do you make, or segregating jobs. No one cares how much education one has when they’re digging people out of collapsed buildings.  Let’s stop the destructive path we are  before we get into crisis mode, and let’s unite as one to save the planet.  Everyone has something to offer toward making the changes needed, respect all.  Else I am afraid will end up being a dog eat dog world–the law of the jungle. It doesn’t have to be.  I have faith in our abilities to do something great.  I have faith in the human heart to start doing the right thing for all.

I know we can all learn to work together in harmony with each other, treating all with dignity and respect as we must learn to treat our planet the same. We are here as stewards, let us act as such. Let’s get started.  Each day we waste is one day closer to crossing over the line of nothing we can do.  It is up to all of us.  These and other items related to this movement are available at Cafe Press Earth and World Peace

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

The Amazing Story of Yacouba Sawadogo

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

If you have not heard of this wonderful man, you are in for a treat. I’m only going to give you a brief synopsis of his story.  Links to learn more, to buy or rent his video will be given at the end.

Yacouba Sawadogo comes from a semi-arid region between the Sahara Desert and the savannahs.  For many years the Sahara Desert was creeping ever closer to the town that he lived.  Farm lands were disappearing and people were in a desperate way.  Droughts and famine were frequent and widespread. One day, Yacouba began digging hole as one would to plant an orchard.  Since he was doing this during the dry season, off season for planting, the other farmers and towns people ridiculed him: considering him insane.  Despite this, he continued day after day, using this ancient African farming practice called Zai, pronounced Zaaaa I which he had heard about from family members.  He filled each Zai hole with manure and other biodegradable material to provide nutrients and to attract termites.  Tunneling termites help to break up the soil and retain water.  Seeds of trees, millet and sorghum were planted. Yacouba also  built a small wall, called cordons pierreux, made of fist-sized stones to keep the rainy season’s water from running off.  

          Reforestation 1975 -2005

Unknown-10As a result of his twenty year efforts, a 30 acre forest with over 30 species of trees was established and effectively stopped the desert.  Since then he has shared this technique with thousands of farmers whom are using this technique to stop desertification, and to provide food for their villages and towns.  A man who was ridiculed became revered and today is considered a genius.  He has spoken to many dignitaries including President Obama.  Sadly, his forest is being sold off to developers and Yocouba wishes to buy his forest to preserve it but doesn’t have the funds.  To read more about this, go to http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/09/soil/mann-text/6

There are many videos of Yocouba Sawadogo on youtube.  Watch the trailer for the film The Man Who Stopped the Desert  Yacouba Sawadogo

The Man Who Stopped the Desert is available for rent or to purchase at Amazon.com

When making recommendations of any kind, I receive no funds for doing so.  Yocouba Sawadogo rocks.

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

More on Bees Bleeezzz

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

I Love Bees BannerAccording to SumOfUs, a worldwide organization dedicated to “forge a new, sustainable path for our global economy” by encouraging people whom care about these issues to help “hold large corporations accountable for their actions,” a new major study linking the pesticides, particularly neonicotinoid (neonics), on the loss of over 300,000 bee colonies in France.  Scientists fear extinction.  The manufacturer, Bayer, and other corporations are doing everything they can to stop the ban.  If you are interested in saving bees by banning the sale of neonics, sold at many places in the U.S. too, go to the following for more information.   Help Save Bees Bleeezzz

There’s another problem for bees, bumble bees and butterflies looming on the horizon, and that the merger of two large corporations, Bayer (the bee slayer) and Monsanto (the Butterfly-Killer.  The treat to pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, would be due to even more crops sprayed with pesticides by this mega-corporation. Furthermore, this merger makes this the largest seed and pesticide company in the world, “giving them un precedented control over our food supply,” according to Friends of the Earth.  If other large scale chemical corporations such as Dow and Dupont, for example, follow suit, control over are food supply could reach 75%.  For more information and to help stop Bayer and Monsanto merging, get in touch with Friends of the Earth.

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

Great Barrier Reef

News Flash:  Earth Justice has just reports that nearly 25% of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral has died this year due to rising sea temperatures.  🙁  The probability of climate change and concomitantly the ‘green house’ effect being the cause is very high. Despite this, governments in the area are still actively pursuing dirty energy projects.  For more information go to the following link. This may be your pay it forward project. Great Barrier Reef: Earth Justice

In America, action on making coral reefs National Monuments is urgent  Go to.  Coral Reefs as National Monuments