You’ve probably heard of this guy already here or here, but if not, Daniel Suelo deserves a shout-out. He’s lived 9 years in a cave in Utah, surviving on dumpster diving, foraging and occasionally hunting, and he blogs about it here.
The BBC reports on the rising cost of basic staples, such as wheat, soy, rice and corn. Surprisingly, corn is the least affected of those mentioned. For the last few months, corn used for biofuel has been blamed for the violence and protests over the cost of food. It was said that the land cleared for the biofuel production was leaving less room to grow food, and while this is true, it is the least liable of the trifecta affecting food prices.
The main culprits?
Increased population (It is estimated to reach 9 Billion by mid-century)
Increased Wealth in China and India (The trade and technology booms have hugely increased the number of wealthy- even middle class- citizens. This means they are adding meat, dairy and grains to their diets that may not have been before)
Brazilian protesters destroy GM crops
Mar 7, 2008
SAO PAULO (AFP) — Around 300 women rural residents in Brazil burst into a property owned by the US company Monsanto and destroyed a plant nursery and crops containing genetically modified corn, their organization said.
The women were protesting what they saw as environmental damage by the crops.
They trashed the plants within 30 minutes and left before police arrived at the site in the southern state of Sao Paulo, a member of the Landless Workers’ Movement, Igor Foride, told AFP.
The Brazilian government had “caved in to pressure from agrobusinesses” by recently allowing tinkered crops to be grown in the country, he said.
In Brasilia, a protest by another 400 women from an umbrella group, Via Campesina (the Rural Way), was held in front of the Swiss embassy against Syngenta, a Swiss company that is selling genetically modified seeds in Brazil.
The demonstrators called attention to an October 2007 incident in which private guards working for Syngenta killed a protester taking part in an occupation of land owned by the company.
Via Campesina said in a statement that “no scientific studies exist that guarantee that genetically modified crops won’t have negative effects on human health and on nature.”
It added that on Tuesday, another 900 of its members had entered a property owned by the Swedish-Finnish paper giant Stora Enso and ripped out non-modified eucalyptus saplings they claimed were illegally planted.
Not only is this an example of common citizens standing up for what is right, but it is an example of empowered women in a culture that does not condone it, organizing and acting! What a great story.
The concept of GM food is a hotly debated one, but if you’re asking my opinion, nature had it all figured out long before we got here and it just isn’t wise to tell her she’s wrong.
Today is Focus the Nation Day!!!! YAY!
My powerpoint presentation is available here for those of you too far away or two busy to come listen to me prattle on about how great and fun and exciting urban sustainability is.
The Associated Press reports that deforestation in Brazil has risen sharply over the past 5 months and photos from google earth affirm their story.
Most of last year’s destruction happened in November and December and was concentrated in the three Amazon region states of Mato Grosso, Para and Rondonia.
Reportedly, Natives have been working in conjunction with google earth in order to spread word on the atrocities and stop the encroachment on the land they need to survive.
Concerned about Global Warming? Deforestation is one of the biggest causes of climate change. Without massive forests, soaking up all the toxins we pump into the atmosphere they simply collect like a blanket.
What is Clear Cutting?
According to wisegeek.com, clear cutting is described as “a logging practice which involves completely clearing an area of trees, regardless as to their size and usability.”
What’s so bad about it?
In the United States we have seen first hand the side effects of clear cutting.
*Floods- the root base of trees and undergrowth soak up huge amounts of water. Without them the water runs into rivers or whatever happens to be lowest elevation
*Mudslides- the root base also holds soil in place, preventing soil from becoming mud
*Stream Temperature- with all the cool rain rushing straight to rivers, the base temperature of the waters drop, making some species of fish and wildlife unable to survive or breed
*Wildlife-forests provide home to millions of species in every area of the world. Without their habitat, they die. Period. In the example of Brazil, not only the animals, but native people starve when animals are driven out or killed and there are no resources to eat, build with or live in.
*New growth- once clear cutting has occurred, the soil dries out, making microbiological life necessary for new plant and animal life almost impossible
Controlled cutting, selective cutting or sustainable timber.
No one is suggesting that we stop using wood. Trees are one of our only sustainable resources. What is necessary is that we be more mindful of how and why we use timber.
Many logging companies have already taken steps to alleviate and protect their livelihood. By planting trees where trees are cut, we give the soil time to rejuvenate and offer some plant life to hold the soil in place. This is a sustainable practice and just makes plain sense.
Just as people grow vegetables and fruits, we should be using farm land to grow trees as opposed to disrupting what few natural forests we have left. In some places this practice is already being done, but with education and support this can become the norm instead of the exception.
In honor of Focus the Nation Day, January 31st, The College of Saint Rose will participate in the National Teach-In. They will host a day full of events centering around environmental sustainability, urban sustainability and the student/faculty role and involvement in solutions to Global Warming and scarce resources.
In Dining Room 1:
“The Inconvenient Truth” will play all day on repeat starting at 12pm
In Dining Room 4:
1pm A Panel Discussion on “Local Green Businesses” with Katie Centanni, David Hess, Nancy Gold
2pm “Local Foods and Environment” with Christopher Kennah
3pm “A discussion of the Scientific Basics of Climate Change” with Jacquie Smith.
In the Touhey Forum:
1pm “Cherished Tradition or the Environment?” (open forum about the annual Halloween toilet papering event)
2pm “Sustainable Practices” with Candice Redden
3pm”An Ideas Forum” with Prof. Paul Benzig
4pmWind Power!! with Dan Bernadette.
Questions, please email:
Director of Community Service
The College of Saint Rose
This news is a few weeks old, I think but I forgot to post on it. This year a $2500 car will be released in India.
Specs: 60 miles an hour, 54mpg, no A/C or radio, seats 4, cute as a button.
Apparently there was some controversy at the opening with 6 female protesters outside in opposition to the land aquired for the plant:
These were activists from a forum of left-leaning individuals and organizations that calls itself the Delhi Solidarity Group, holding a protest against the “forcible” land acquisition at Singur, West Bengal, for the Tata plant to produce the Rs 1 lakh car.
Just a few more notes on Intentional Community. I am planning some sort of trip for the spring and I would really like to visit some intentional communities or sustainable communities. I want to see how they run, how people like it, how efficient they are and of course, to pick up some ideas for my own. Enjoy!
DiggersAndDreamers (out of Britain)
You are probably all sick to death of reading about cordwood building, but I can’t get enough. So here is a two part mini documentary on one man’s adventure.