Tag Archives | Ecology

The Industry of Hunger

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Vandana Shiva on Al Jazeera English explains how, as mega-chains venture into industrial farming, they have created an epidemic of hunger- and generated billions in profit.

New Delhi, India – In November 2011, when the UPA government announced that it had cleared the entry of big retail chains such as Walmart and Tesco into India through 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, it justified the decision saying that FDI in retail would boost food security and benefit farmers’ livelihoods.

But the assurance that FDI in retail would ease inflation did not resolve the political crisis the government was facing; it deepened it. Parliament was stalled for several days of the Winter Session, after which the government was forced to withdraw its decision.

The story of FDI in retail goes back to 2005, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agriculture agreement with the US, along with the nuclear agreement.

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Is It Too Late? The Retreat of Arctic Sea Ice Is Releasing Huge Fountains of Methane

Arctic Ice MeltKeep in mind that methane affects the atmosphere in multiple ways, and that another major Ice Age might be what’s really in the works. Steve Connor reports in the Independent:

Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane — a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide — have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

In an exclusive interview with the Independent, Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

“Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter.

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Occupy Goes Rural

OccupyRuralLilac writes on the Earth First! Newswire:

Rural land use in the US has followed the pipeline of the American Dream. Since the Great Depression, farm ownership has fallen by two thirds. Today, half of farm sales come from 2% of farms. Meanwhile, timber companies increasingly exploit low wage labor, by-passing the unions at saw mills, and selling their product overseas. Mountaintop removal is yet another way corporations have found to destroy the environment while hiring fewer workers. The accumulation of land and etiolation of the work force has led to an economic and ecological tipping point that coincides with the crisis of capitalism. The product is a friction and energy that forms an unrecognized centrifuge of the Occupy movement.

Rural areas paint a picture of worsening economic conditions, shifts in climate, droughts and floods, farmer paralysis and ensuing chain reactions throughout the country. Their narratives unravel a context of rising prisons, persecution in the cities, and rampant dispossession and repression at home.

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How Did We Get to 7 Billion from 1 Billion People in Just 200 Years? (Video)

Via NPR:
It was just over two centuries ago that the global population was 1 billion — in 1804. But better medicine and improved agriculture resulted in higher life expectancy for children, dramatically increasing the world population, especially in the West. U.N. forecasts suggest the world population could hit a peak of 10.1 billion by 2100 before beginning to decline. But exact numbers are hard to come by — just small variations in fertility rates could mean a population of 15 billion by the end of the century.
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The (Unexplained) Death of Bats

BatVia New Times:
The abandoned iron mine at Mine Hill in Roxbury used to provide a winter home for 3,000 bats -- the largest bat hibernaculum in the state. The last time Jennie Dickson, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, counted, there were about 100 bats there. "That's not good," she said. For the past five years, the bats of the eastern United States have been dying in like numbers — one of the worst environmental catastrophes in recent years. What biologists like Dickson knew was that the dying bats could be found with an off-white fungus on their nose and wings. What was causing the die-off was uncertain ...
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7 Billion People and Counting: Concerns From Around the World

PopulationGreat roundup of opinion found in the Detroit Free Press:
What’s the biggest issue facing humanity as the global population reaches seven billion? Montreal’s Le Devoir newspaper asked for an answer from correspondents around the world. Here are the replies, including a link to that from the Free Press. Note the recurring theme of fresh water, not a problem here in the Great Lakes region, but a critical issue for millions of people in many regions.
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Thousands of Dead Birds Wash Ashore in Ontario

WaterfowlVia CTV:
Thousands of dead birds will be collected from an Ontario shoreline on Monday as the province's Ministry of Natural Resources tries to determine what killed the waterfowl. Officials estimate as many as 6,000 dead birds have washed up on the Georgian Bay's shoreline. The carcasses are scattered along a nearly three-kilometre stretch near Wasaga Beach. "You just want to cry," resident Faye Ego told CTV Toronto on Saturday. Authorities speculate that the birds may have been killed by a form of botulism after eating dead fish. Locals said they noticed some dead fish on the beach a few weeks ago and a few dead birds earlier in September. During Monday's cleanup, crews will be trying to tally up the total number of dead birds on the shoreline ...
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5,000 Years of Sustainability

Rice FieldWhile we currently venerate technology as the panacea for our catastrophic environmental ills, what if we could contextually approach and learn from sustainable civilizations that thrived in the distant reaches of North America’s past? Jude Isabella writes on Archeology:

A re-evaluation of evidence along North America’s western coast shows how its earliest inhabitants managed the sea’s resources stone walls serve as evidence that early peoples cultivated the intertidal zones to build clam gardens and fish traps

When the tide is out, the table is set. —Tlingit proverb

The tide is going out at Gibsons Beach, in the Strait of Georgia on Canada’s west coast. When the tide is low, it’s easy to spot rock walls in the intertidal zone, the area of shore land that’s exposed during low tide and hidden when the tide is in. A person can look at this beach for years and never understand that apparently random scatterings of piled rocks were actually carefully constructed to catch food from the sea.

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