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Saturday, July 20, 2002

Rethinking the Think Tanks

How industry-funded "experts" twist the environmental debate.

"You know us better than you think," boast the ads of Koch Industries, a conglomerate owned by reclusive billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. And it’s true: Most of us have unknowingly wolfed a burger ground from Koch beef, ridden on tires made from Koch’s Trevira polyester, or escaped the rain beneath a roof covered with Koch asphalt.

But there’s a darker side to the boast. Turn on National Public Radio most any afternoon, leaf through a newspaper or news magazine, watch a congressional hearing, or surf the Internet, and you will likely encounter the thoughts of Charles and David Koch (pronounced "coke"). The views will seem to be coming from an independent think tank–the Cato Institute or Citizens for a Sound Economy, for example. Yet behind these groups stands the brothers’ vast fortune: Koch Industries is the nation’s second-largest privately owned company and the largest privately owned oil company, with annual revenues of more than $30 billion. Charles cofounded Cato in 1977; in 1986 David helped launch CSE. The brothers are following in dad’s footsteps: Fred Koch was a charter member of the ultraconservative John Birch Society in 1958.

Today, Koch money–and cash infusions from corporate allies such as Exxon, Philip Morris, General Motors, and General Electric–funds industry-friendly messages that fill our airwaves and editorial pages, and influence outcomes in the halls of Congress and courtrooms across the country.

Consider, for example, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Washington, D.C.—based organization bolstered by periodic bursts of funding from both cofounder David Koch and brother Charles. CSE is often described as a "consumer group," but according to internal documents leaked to the Washington Post, 85 percent of CSE’s 1998 revenues of $16.2 million came not from its 250,000 members, but from contributions of $250,000 and up from Koch Industries as well as other corporations, including U.S. West and Philip Morris. [Read more]

A perspective by Curtis Moore of Sierra Magazine.

Posted by Richard
7/20/2002 08:55:39 AM | PermaLink

Drought Management

As about 1/3 of the nation struggles through a summer of extreme drought -- (hey, in the midst of the stock market crash and the revelations concerning Bush and Cheney's corporate corruption, has anyone polled the President to see if his views on global warming have changed any in recent weeks?) -- we need to remember that it is during times like these that people tend to put the biggest strain on natural resources.

Any effective and sustainable living practice should measure up to the test put to it by extreme periods of freeze and drought. While most air conditioners these days aren't affecting ozone in a manner akin to previous models, organizations such as the Union of Concerned Scientists point out that air conditioners alone (along with the car's that tend to use them in the hot summer months) are some of the most "un-sustainable" technologies at work in average American lives...if not used with conscious attention and informed caution.

Here's some more tips concerning water use during drought time (from the City of Toronto):

10 Tips to Outdoor Water Efficiency:

1. Lawns need about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water every week. Use a rain
gauge or other container to keep track of the water falling on your
lawn from both your sprinkler and rain. Remember, during humid
conditions, soil dries more slowly.
2. Be sure to water during the off-peak hours of between 11 p.m. and
8 a.m.
3. Pay attention to the weather. If it has rained recently, keep the
sprinkler in the tool shed.
4. Don't cut your grass too short. Three centimetres is a healthy length
and promotes good root growth. (By mid-summer, your lawn may appear
brown because grass tends to grow slowly, or stop, at this time. The
plants are still alive and with future rains will green up again.)
5. Leave grass clippings on your lawn; they provide natural nutrients
and moisture.
6. Recycle your rain. Disconnect your home's eavestrough downspout from
the sewer system and install a rain barrel. Use the water collected
in your rain barrel for lawn and garden watering.
7. Use a broom, not a hose, to sweep up debris or clean your sidewalks
and driveway.
8. Fill a small pool for kids to play in rather than running your
sprinkler for hours during the heat of the day.
9. Take a break; skip washing your car during hot spells.
10. Try planting vegetation that requires little watering. Ask at your
garden centre.

Posted by Richard
7/20/2002 08:33:06 AM | PermaLink

Friday, July 19, 2002

Alaska on Thinning Ice

Alaska's glaciers have been shrinking even faster than scientists thought, producing more meltwater over the past half-century than any other icy region on Earth. The findings arose from a 10-year study by a team of Fairbanks glaciologists, who figured out a way to apply modern laser technology to the white-knuckle savvy of Alaska glacier flying. The meltdown doubled during the late 1990s and has flooded the ocean with enough runoff to raise global sea level as much as 0.27 millimeters per year, about one-hundredth of an inch, five scientists with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute reported today in the prestigious journal Science. If that sounds tiny, consider this: Spread over all the world's seas, this runoff amounts to about 8 percent of the recent rise in sea level.
(07/19/02) Anchorage Daily News

Glacier Melt in Alaska Increasing
(07/19/02) Seattle P-I

The great melt: Glaciers shrinking faster than we thought
(07/19/02) Seattle Times

Study Fuels Worry Over Glacial Melting
(07/19/02) Washington Post

Posted by Richard
7/19/2002 09:53:01 AM | PermaLink

Reasons to Become Vegetarian / Vegan Include...

Washington (AP) - A recall of contaminated hamburger linked to E. coli bacteria illnesses among 18 people is being expanded to 18 million pounds and 21 states, the Agriculture Department said Friday.

The beef recall by ConAgra Beef Co. of Greeley, Colo., expands a previous recall at the end of last month. E. Coli bacteria associated with the beef has sickened at least 18 people in Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming, the agency said.

ConAgra is cooperating with the Agriculture Department, officials said.

Two weeks ago, the company recalled 354,200 pounds of ground beef and nearly a month after a positive E. coli test at a Denver packing house raised the first sign of trouble.

E. coli is a bacteria found in the intestinal tracts and feces of livestock.

If it contaminates meat, it can lead to digestive illnesses and potentially death in humans. Health officials have been urging consumers to cook their ground beef to 160 degrees in the center to completely kill the pathogen.

Agriculture officials said there have been at least 17 confirmed cases of illness in Colorado, one in Wyoming and one in South Dakota. No one is currently hospitalized, although some people have been admitted and released, they said.

Testing is under way in other states as public health officials tried to establish the scope of the outbreak.

The voluntary recall is of beef trim which is used to make ground beef, as well as fresh and frozen ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7, officials said.

Posted by Richard
7/19/2002 09:47:27 AM | PermaLink

Thursday, July 18, 2002

The Sweet Sound of Birds

Science writer and fellow blogger, David Appell of the excellent (especially for global warming) Quark Soup checked in with me today via email. He wanted to let me know that he remains a happy VeganBlog reader but that THE CHIRPING BIRDS FREAK OUT HIS CAT and so he was exercising his democratic Internet right to vote for a cease and desist on the birds.

Now, while VeganBlog isn't one to laud one species over another, I certainly don't want quiet felines jumping out of their skins. I can imagine the sudden sound of a rainforest full of avian cackling might very well represent even the most bold puss's nightmare.

But, as a student of the Internet and multimedia (and bird lover), I also feel committed to blogging in as many dimensions as possible. So, for now, I throw out the request to readers and potential readers alike -- birds or no birds, sound or no sound? What would you like from this blog that you are not getting and what are you getting that keeps you coming back? The polling begins now. A simple email would do, or a comment to this post would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Posted by Richard
7/18/2002 04:37:43 PM | PermaLink

Sonar OK'd for U.S. Navy

I don't know why this story has me so mad, but it does. So what if the Navy is going to up the ante on making the oceans intolerable to live in for marine life and especially our large brethren the whales? It's not as if this hasn't been going on in the past -- it didn't make me rise up in revolt then, so why now?

Perhaps, after being bludgeoned for the past few years with story of disaster after disaster my defenses are down. Or perhaps I'm reacting with sensitivity not so much to the actual Navy tests but rather to the precedent that they set. Maybe I'm upset because beyond the oil spills, the toxic dumps, the overharvesting and the nuclear vessels, something in me still dreams into the oceans (likewise space) as a place free of the sort of political madness with which humans have attacked the land.

It must be the child in me that doesn't recognize the real threat in European and Russian submarines, the kind that would demand our technological screaming into the deep in order to save ourselves from absolute jeopardy.

But -- and it's just a thought -- I wonder how a ranking admiral (either American or not: they're all complicit in this after all), the big cheese on his block, would tolerate having his home blasted with this other new sonic weapon of the armed forces? I wonder if faced with obliterating confusion, pain, and then deafness said admiral would think the technology as having only a "negligible impact." Of course, an admiral's house would no doubt qualify as a "biologically important area" and so by his own rules, he'll never have to take the chance to answer the thought experiment flaunted here.

A triple pox upon the Navy's house. (I'll deal with the terrestial sonic weapon -- which, by the way, the writer William S. Burroughs completely anticipated decades ago -- another day. One unfathomable wrong a's orders.)
Washington, D.C. -- The Bush administration is letting the Navy use a powerful low-frequency sonar that can detect enemy submarines but which environmentalists fear will harm whales, dolphins and other marine mammals.

The Navy says the $300 million system, intended to sweep 80 percent of the world's oceans, is important to national security because other nations such as Russia, Germany and China are developing super-quiet submarines to avoid traditional detection.

The Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service granted the Navy a five-year exemption from the Marine Mammal Protection Act, allowing what opponents maintain will be "harassment" of marine mammals with the intense low-frequency sonar.

The Navy, which plans to use the new sonar on two warships, will be required to visually monitor for marine mammals and sea turtles and to turn off the sonar whenever any such creatures are detected in the area. The original plans called for four ships but were scaled back due to budget constraints.

"Marine mammals are unlikely to be injured by the sonar activities and ... the sonar will have no more than a negligible impact on marine mammal species and stocks," agency officials said in a statement Monday.

The exemption for the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System, or Surtass LFA, is due to be reviewed on an annual basis.

Whales are particularly susceptible to sonar interference because they rely on sound for communication, feeding, mating and migration. According to the Navy, each of the sonar's 18 speakers transmits signals as loud as 215 decibels, equivalent underwater to standing next to a twin-engine F-15 fighter jet at takeoff.

Environmentalists say, however, that with the convergence of sound waves from each of the speakers, the intense effects of the system would reach farther, as if the signals were 235 decibels.

"The Bush administration has issued a blank check for the global use of this system," said Michael Jasny, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Today's decision is far too broad to provide any meaningful protection for whales, dolphins and other marine life."

Fisheries officials outlined protective measures calling for Navy personnel to visually scan for marine mammals and sea turtles and to shut down the sonar whenever they are detected. Detection is expected to be almost 100 percent effective from a distance of 1.1 nautical mile away.

The Navy says it will restrict the sonar's routine use to at least 12 nautical miles away from coastline and outside biologically important areas.

The intense low-frequency sonar can travel several hundred miles, and the transmissions are on the same frequency used for communication by many large whales, including humpbacks.

Some biologists believe whales are irritated by sounds louder than 110 decibels and that a whale's eardrums could explode at 180 decibels.

Environmentalists' fears are partly based on the Navy's deployment of a powerful mid-range sonar in March 2000 during a submarine detection exercise in the deep water canyons of the Bahamas.

At least 16 whales and two dolphins beached themselves on the islands of Abaco, Grand Bahama and North Eleuthera within hours. Eight whales died. Scientists found hemorrhaging around the brain and ear bones, injuries consistent with exposure to loud sounds.

Twelve Cuvier beaked whales beached themselves in Greece during NATO exercises in 1996 using the low-frequency sonar, but the whales decomposed before scientists could investigate.

Posted by Richard
7/18/2002 04:16:02 PM | PermaLink

Will You Write a Letter to Help Save a Life?

Emergency! Urge Animal Control to Stop Selling Dogs to WSU
Washington State University (WSU) recently had its supply of live animals cut off from a local shelter because the dogs were being used in repeated, painful surgeries. However, another county's animal shelter continues to supply dogs to WSU. City officials will meet on July 25 to discuss ending this dog trade.

Help Stop the Modern-Day Slave Trade
A research company in South Africa plans to build a holding facility to imprison baboons to sell to labs. It plans to capture and separate from their families between 300 and 1,000 animals. When baboons are caught in the wild, they wait without food or water, often for days, in cages or tied to trees. They are then warehoused in overcrowded crates, shipped to labs, isolated, mutilated, and at some point over the miserable years, killed.

Courtesy: PETA Action Alerts

Posted by Richard
7/18/2002 03:42:40 PM | PermaLink

French Cows Adopt a Piglet

Everyone get out your copies of Charlotte's Web and the Babe movies -- it's time to wonder at another darn pig and strike up the enthusiasm to save this oinker! A pox upon the hunter that would come after this boar to finish the job... and, hey, how about a hand for the friendly (and much maligned) cows?
Rouen, France (Reuters) - A wild pig orphaned when hunters killed its mother has found a new family -- with a herd of cows where he is suckling happily in northern France.

"He arrived in early spring. He's got a warm welcome from the cows," said cattle farmer Andre Vieillard. The young boar, about 10 months old, was taking milk but the cows had to lie down to make sure he could feed, Vieillard said.

"Apparently he is happy here and as far as I'm concerned will stay with the cattle herd until September," said Vieillard, who is rapidly becoming a celebrity in the village of Fleury-la-Foet along with the piglet and its adoptive family.

But Vieillard said he was a little bit worried about what will happen in a couple of months.

"Afterwards, the hunters will be back."

Posted by Richard
7/18/2002 03:39:56 PM | PermaLink

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Dolphins Nearly Extinct in British Waters, Fishing the Cause

Bottle-nosed dolphins could become extinct in British waters within a decade, a report has warned.

An organisation which represents 47 wildlife trusts across the UK said the mammals are dying out as increasing numbers are caught in fishing nets.

The bottle-nosed dolphin population in Scotland's Moray Firth is estimated to have fallen to about 130 - and is believed to be facing further decline.

The population in waters off Cornwall, in south west England, is believed to have dropped by two-thirds in the last 10 years to about 350.

Now, The Wildlife Trusts are calling for tougher laws to protect the species and its habitats.

Director general, Dr Simon Lyster, said: "Our marine environment is in much more trouble than people realise.

"We are still fishing in ways that result in the deaths of hundreds of dolphins and porpoises each year, and in the destruction of precious and rare marine habitats."

The report said that a record 500 dolphins were found stranded on UK shores in the last year.

Effective protection

Post mortem examinations found that the majority had been injured or drowned in nets.

The Wildlife Trusts' marine policy director, Joan Edwards, said: "The system of marine conservation in the UK is woefully deficient.

"The enormity of these problems demands immediate action and commitment from national and local government to ensure effective protection of the marine environment."

The report - entitled Our Dying Seas? - also calls for the creation of a single government ministry to manage marine resources.

There have been several warnings in recent years about the threat to the future of Scotland's dolphin population and the dangers posed by fishing nets.

The dolphins attract thousands of tourists to the Moray Firth area each year, bringing with them about £750,000 for the local economy.

Last month, police said salmon poachers' nets were the main threat to the dolphin pod.

Pollution and overfishing have also been highlighted as threats to the dolphins.

'Biologically diverse'

A fishing ministry spokesman said many of the proposals suggested by The Wildlife Trusts were covered by a package of initiatives announced in May.

"We are working to deliver a vision of clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas," he said.

"The government recognises the sense of urgency expressed by this report, and welcomes The Wildlife Trusts' work to highlight these issues.

"But to develop a strategy to safeguard the marine environment for generations to come involves consultation and discussion with all stakeholders."

Posted by Richard
7/17/2002 09:38:47 AM | PermaLink

A Power Struggle: Electric vs. Spiritual

Under a sky as wide as the world, Willard Rhoades comes to the lake to heal himself.

He wades into turquoise waters frigid with snowmelt, like countless Native American ancestors before him. Tribal lore has it that the Creator bathed in Medicine Lake, and it remains a place of raw spiritual power to elders such as Rhoades, 83. A dunking, he believes, washes away sickness of body and soul.

Now a big energy company has come to tap a different kind of power at Medicine Lake. Tempted by the geothermal energy that lurks beneath the volcanic wild lands of California's far north, Calpine Corp. hopes to harvest megawatts from generating plants only a few miles from the sacred lake. Exploratory drilling is to begin this week.

Tribal elders question whether the relatively meager energy to be drawn from the Earth justifies wounding a ruggedly beautiful landscape, a place of deep spiritual value to its first inhabitants: the Pit River, Modoc, Shasta, Karuk and Wintun tribes. [Read more]

By Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times

Posted by Richard
7/17/2002 09:17:53 AM | PermaLink

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

De-listing of Wolves Sought

The following story is priceless and saddening for revealing the insanity with which states like Montana are reacting to the successful reintroduction of wolves into the wild. Unfortunately, the EPA (who has orchestrated the introduction) is little better. All involved appear to have little ethical commitment to either wolves in general or any particular wolf found "trespassing" where he/she does not belong.

A few facts to think about:

1) While Montana officials are up in arms over the "hundreds of wolves" that are "killing machines" coming to a town near them (the whole language smacks of the way white racists speak about blacks moving into the neighborhood), we're really talking about two hundred wolves roaming an extremely large, unpopulated wilderness area. Further, wolves (like grizzlies and cougars) are not "machines" -- though state and federal administrators would "manage" them as such. Rather, they are highly sentient and emotional beings capable of a rich and complex social life. They are extremely important aspects of any functional ecosystem -- remember?, this was why after a century of extinction practices by the same farmers who are crying "foul" now that the government decided to re-introduce them. In other words, while wolves do kill wild animals and some livestock in order to survive, they do so in a wholly sustainable manner that ends up HELPING the general environment, not hurting it. Similar to the press given "killer sharks," it is amazing to see how the people using such language never come to accept or realize that human beings alone are the real killing machines. Their ability to plan, organize, and exterminate in mass-genocidal campaigns of great effectiveness makes the work of one hundred wolves appear as mere child's play.

2) Montana wants $4000/elk -- where did this figure come from? I would love to see it justified. In any event, less anyone be confused that Montana is concerned for their elk population and is threatening the federal government with this bill in order to curtail wolves in the name of beneficient elk (a beautiful and noble species by the way), they are not. Simply, Montana's hunters and travel-boards are exerting irrational pressure upon wolves as a scapegoat for their fears that an important tourist industry of elk HUNTING will soon be jeapordized. But what these groups fail to realize is that wolves generally only take either sick, elderly or young deer and elk -- exactly those that Montana's hunters have NO LEGAL interest in and certainly no trophy prize desire for! As to wolves hurting the populations, again, it is the hunters who are taking the most viable adults and who are capable of harming local populations...wolves were introduced as systemic cleansers.

3) I've commented upon the nonsense policies of the EPA so much here regarding their "Shoot the wolves, save the cows" policy that I won't tire readers with my diatribe once again. However, language like this from the EPA's Ed Bangs is important and disgusting: "We've killed eight entire packs since 1987. And the agency is prepared to kill wolves who kill livestock or attempt to set up new packs in places they're not welcome, like the agriculturally-dominant plains." Generally the agency talks about the "problem wolf" or "two" in order to downplay the type of management that they are truly engaged in. No, the EPA is shooting entire packs at great expense in order to save a handful of sick cows worth next to nothing on the marketplace and ensure that ranchers don't make too much noise, so as to have higher political authorities force the closure of the program.

In other words, these wolves being killed are simply martyrs in a political game over which they have no say or control. If they die, their species may continue. But not because it has any recognized right to do so but rather because it is politically expedient to have them at this time. However, this fair-weather fan policy is no real friend to the wilderness and its language makes clear that the moment voting populations bail on the issue, or enough money changes hands, the slaughtering will not be so well-intentioned.

4) Where is the education for ranchers and state reps in the Northwest? Anyone with information on this is invited to contact me!
Helena- Concerned about what they see as an elk-hungry, exploding population of wolves in the state, a group of lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. Judy Martz Monday asking the state to push for more control over wolves and thousands in federal dollars to pay for the elk wolves eat.

Reps. Dan Fuchs, R-Billings, and Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman, and Sens. Mike Sprague, R-Billings, and Jack Wells, R-Bozeman, called wolves and other large predators like mountain lions and grizzly bears "killing machines."

"But the distinct thing about the wolf is - it's a killing machine and a breeding machine all rolled into one," the letter reads.

The lawmakers, who represent the chairman and vice chairmen of both the House and Senate Fish, Wildlife and Parks committees, are concerned that before the lengthy federal process of taking the wolf off the federal endangered species list will be over, wolf numbers in Montana will have swelled to the point of nuisance, if not outright danger, said Fuchs.

Wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone Park in 1995 as part of a federal effort to replant the animals in Yellowstone and the lands round it.

Wolves are native to the park, but were exterminated early in the last century. As part of the wolf reintroduction plan, the federal government manages the wolves - and killing one is a federal offense - until the wolf population reaches a certain point.

"They're territorial," Fuchs said. "Each litter has to search out some new territory, so they're going to be moving all over outside the park."
Already, Fuchs said, wolves are making their presence known. He cited one late-season elk hunt that has been cut back extensively, he believes, to fewer elk as a result of hungry wolf packs.

The letter said each elk is worth about $4,000. Fuchs said that figure came from both the game farm industry and what Fish, Wildlife and Parks has estimated the replacement cost of one elk to be.

To that end, the lawmakers say they're ready to push for new laws in the 2003 Legislature that would bar the state from agreeing to take over management of the wolf until a handful of criteria can be met.

Among other things, lawmakers want the federal government to kick in 80 percent of the cost for managing wolves, even after the animals have been de-listed and can be legally hunted in Montana.

They want Washington, D.C., to reimburse the state for hunting losses due to elk and deer who were killed and eaten by wolves.

They want the state to act quickly, Fuchs said, because wolf populations are on the rise and by the time the slow, de-listing process is complete - which isn't expected until 2004 at the earliest - hundreds of wolves could be all over the state.
Fuchs said the letter was supposed to be dropped in the mail Monday.

Ed Bangs, wolf recovery specialist for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, said he completely agrees with the lawmakers that wolves rebounded quickly after their reintroduction into Yellowstone National Park seven years ago and will likely have enough wolves this December to begin the process of taking the wolves off the federal endangered species list. Bangs said he estimated the wolves could be off the protected list by 2004.

But, he said, the agency has no intention of letting the wolves swell to uncomfortably large numbers and stresses this to farmers, ranchers and city-folk. "We've killed eight entire packs since 1987," Bangs said. And the agency is prepared to kill wolves who kill livestock or attempt to set up new packs in places they're not welcome, like the agriculturally-dominant plains.

For now, most wolves are on public land.

Montana, with 123 wolves, has the smallest population of wolves of all the states where wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone in 1995.
Before the states can take over management of the wolf, all three - Montana, Wyoming and Idaho - must pass certain laws and have a state-level wolf management plan ready. Idaho's management plan is already finished, Bangs said. Montana's is nearly finished and appears to be a good plan. But Wyoming just started theirs, Bangs said, which is why, although the wolves will technically have reached their "population goal" this December, they cannot be turned over to the state for management.

Suzanne Laverty, the western field representative for the Defenders of Wildlife, the private group that has paid ranchers for livestock lost to wolves, said she thinks some of the lawmakers wants are ridiculous - like the federal reimbursement for elk killed by wolves.

"I bet hunters don't pay $4,000," she said.

By Jennifer McKee, Billings Gazette

Posted by Richard
7/16/2002 10:44:46 AM | PermaLink

I'd like to give a plug out for this organization that provides veterinary care for stray and injured animals. Recently, they have had to spend a large portion of their budget in order to provide numerous operations for two extremely sick animals in their care. I think it speaks volumes that these people would press on with what is normally interpreted as "fiscal madness" and not give up on either of the two. Their website is sure to evoke a number of feelings from even the most cold amongst us, and I urge you to visit it and, if possible, contact them with whatever assistance you can provide. Thank you.

Posted by Richard
7/16/2002 10:06:30 AM | PermaLink

Navy Use of Sonar OKd Despite Risk to Whales

The Bush administration on Monday gave the Navy permission to "harass" and potentially injure whales, if necessary, in conducting exercises with a powerful new sonar to hunt for super-quiet submarines.

The Navy asserts that no whales will be killed by the intense underwater noise because of elaborate safety precautions. But scientists and environmentalists worry that marine mammals, especially those that slip undetected into the safety zone around the sonar equipment, could suffer life-threatening injuries.

Navy officials say the sonar system is needed to protect U.S. warships--particularly aircraft carriers--from a new breed of diesel submarines. Advances in stealth technology by German, French, Swedish and Russian manufacturers have led to submarines that can barely be heard, officials said. In granting the go-ahead, the National Marine Fisheries Service of the Commerce Department agreed to exempt the low-frequency sonar system from the Marine Mammal Protection Act after determining that it would have a "negligible impact" on any species.

The decision came after years of internal debate and a startling study that blamed another Navy sonar system for inner-ear bleeding, other injuries and disorientation that drove 16 whales to beach themselves in the Bahamas. Scientists are not sure whether most or all of the whales died. [Read more]

By Kenneth R. Weiss and Tony Perry
Los Angeles Times

Posted by Richard
7/16/2002 08:00:43 AM | PermaLink

Monday, July 15, 2002

Quick Related Food Facts by Steven Best


Over half of the water consumed in the U.S. is used to irrigate land that grows livestock food to produce a pound of meat takes 2,500 gallons of water, the same amount an average family uses for all combined household purposes in a month; it takes 100 times more water to produce a pound of meat as it does to produce a pound of wheat to produce a day's food for one meat eater requires 4,000 gallons of water. It takes 1,200 for a lacto-ovo vegetarian, and 300 gallons for a vegan. It takes less water to produce a year's worth of food for a vegan that to produce a month's food for a meat eater at present, over 13 trillion gallons of water are being drained from the Ogallala aquifer each year, the vast majority of which is used to produce meat. More water is taken from the Ogallala aquifer each year than is used to grow all the fruits and vegetables for the entire country. At present rates (for 1987), the Ogallala aquifer will be exhausted in 35 years, making the high plains of the U.S. uninhabitable for human beings. In the last twenty years (since 1987), Texas has used up one-quarter of its entire supply of ground water, most of it to grow sorghum to feed cattle.


Nature requires 500 years time to create one inch of topsoil; in the last two hundred years, America's croplands have shrunk 75%, from 21 to 6 inches of topsoil; 4 million acres of cropland are lost to erosion in the U.S. each year, an annual loss of 7,000,000,000 tons 85% of this loss is directly related to livestock raising a pure vegetarian diet uses less than 5% of the soil as a meat-based diet


Since 1967, the rate of deforestation in the U.S. has been one acre every five seconds; at the present rate, the U.S. will be completely stripped of its forests in 50 years (as of 1987). At its own rate, the tropical rainforests of Central America will be destroyed in 40 years (as of 1987) as of the late 1980s, the world was losing 1,000 species a year, a figure projected to rise to 10,000 in the 1990s (over one species an hour) species extinction is directly related to rainforest destruction (half of the earth's species live in the tropical rainforests); the main cause of rainforest destruction is the creation of "grazing land" used to import fast food hamburgers of the 260 million acres of American forest converted into land now used for beef production, over 200 million acres could be returned to forest if the land was used directly to feed people instead of animals. For every person who switches to a vegan diet, an acre of trees is saved every year


Animals outweigh human beings on earth by 4 to 1; every 24 hours animals used to produce food create 20 billion pounds of waste, 250,000 pounds a second; one cow produces as much waste as 16 human beings much of this waste ends up in the oceans, streams, rivers, and lakes, depleting the oxygen levels of the water and polluting the water; animal waste is high in nitrogen which can cause brain damage or death to infants animal waste accounts for more than ten times the amount of water pollution as attributable to human beings; the meat industry dumps more than three times as much harmful waste in the waters than the rest of the nation's industries combined


The value of raw materials consumed to produce livestock is greater than the value of all oil, gas, and coal consumed in the U.S. The production of meat, dairy products, and eggs accounts for one-third of the total amount of raw materials used for all purposes. Growing grains, vegetables, and fruits accounts for less than 5% of raw material consumption the least efficient plant food is almost ten times as energy efficient as the most efficient animal food

WHAT'S IN YOUR "MEAT"? (i.e. your decomposing, carcinogenic, fear-laden, tortured flesh)

Rat feces cow urine cow pus chicken and cow manure (a "beef fattener" with e-coli contamination) "rendered" cows and sheep (recycled animal parts, diseased "downers," and road kill added to animal feed) euthanized animals from human societies, etc. radioactive isotopes insecticides lethal euthanasia drugs such as sodium penabarbitol chemicals like phosphorous to mask putrefaction

Steven's homepage is available as a link on the left. Great reading for those interested in philosophy and animal rights!

Posted by Richard
7/15/2002 08:39:10 AM | PermaLink

Sunday, July 14, 2002

Why do Republicans Hate Environmental Groups?

The issues of Forestry and Forest Services are complex and certainly have their particular Dems on the take too -- not every timber producing state is Republican-led. Still, as one looks over the 2000-2002 donation figures for Agribusiness/Forestry, a not too unexpected tale emerges from the data: the people who pay to play in this industry, pay to play Republican. Therefore, all the recent Republican hubbub about greens and environmentalists "causing" wildfires through conservationist strategies, needs to be re-evaluated in the context of the funding provided to pay for those speechs.

The following screenshots are taken from, which has tabled the figures from the Federal Election Commission.

Posted by Richard
7/14/2002 09:26:21 AM | PermaLink