Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chickens and Bees

So, I have been saving up a whole lot of ranting, so much that I have not really been able to sort it into any kind of coherent post. I may just blurt out a brief thought by thought rant one of these days.

However, on my mind right now are chickens and bees.

As most people who come across this page are likely to agree, chickens are pretty cool critters. Taken care of, they can be very friendly and quite intelligent. Chickens are also a fine source of food, either in their meat or from their usually daily egg production. While providing this food, chickens are happy to feed partially off of our non-meat household table waste (pigs are also a great waste disposal favorite of mine). Chickens also provide a certain amount of spiritual benefit, when well cared for. Walk into a room full of happy nesting chickens some early evening, most any human soul would be uplifted by their gentle song (keep a wary eye on the roosters tho). One may find this song to be intially chaotic, but speaking softly to the hens will tend to bring a certain cohesion, allowing one to be a sort of conductor. Its a pretty amazing experience if one is open to it.

Bees are another fascinating, tho far more overlooked, creature. Honeybees pollinate our flowering plants and vegetables in the spring and summer time search for food and honey stores. This pollination allows for the production of a large percentage of our global food supply. While other flying insects play a role in pollination, honeybees do the vast majority of the work in assisting human food production. Obviously they are the only flying insect to provide us with vast quantities of vital natural sugars in the form of honey. This vital insect is also experiencing a massive die-off in North America (I am not sure about globally). While the reasons for this die-off are unclear, I tend to blame chemicals and atmospheric clutter (electromagnetic fields, microwaves, etc etc), what is important is that we must stop leaving the responsibility for honeybee stewardship primarily to large scale business interests. Small farmers and acreage owners HAVE to consider either maintaining small honeybee colonies, or at least endeavoring to grow flowering plants and vegetables as well as severely restricting our chemical insecticide use.

Having said all this, my parents are looking at increasing their egg production and are interested in maintaining a couple of bee colonies on our two properties. As such, I am looking for local (to Alberta) natural heritage chicken breeders and honeybee breeders. I would be exceedingly grateful for any leads in either of these areas.

Peace to all, be wary in this dark world and bring light where you can.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Overlooked Solutions

Keeping to the "common sense" theme of the last couple of posts, I came across this article today. Paraphrasing, it seems that scientists have discovered that a type of volcanic rock, peridotite, has strong CO2 sequestering potential. Now, I am in favor of carbon sequestration as one part of managing our emissions, however it would seem that perhaps common sense has once again been ignored.

Why do I say this? Well do a little search engine wandering and look at all the various solutions presented to deal with the greenhouse gas quandary. How many times do you see forests mentioned?

Forests are the planet`s lungs, it`s atmospheric filter. Forests are what altered pre-human atmospheric conditions to the modern state which supports our lives, and so many others. Every day they breathe in tons of carbon dioxide and every day they exhale oxygen, which we humans need in order to live. For centuries now, we have been hacking down huge amounts of forest; to burn for heat and to cook, to clear for farmland, to clear for settlement, etc. Indeed, the last big environmental push was the 90`s bid to save the rainforests. Is it just me or did that kind of fizzle out?

Are not vast tracts of rainforest being lost still to clear-cutting for single season pasturage, and more or bigger cities and for roads interlinking them? Are not huge amounts of boreal forest being cut down to service the paper and lumber industries, or to build roads to oil exploitation sites? Has not a huge portion of the Rocky Mountain conifer forest been lost to insects able to thrive thanks to global climate change, be it man-made or solar caused? Have forest fires not increased thanks to a drier climate in western North America? Sadly, I do not have an idea as to the condition of forests in Russia/Siberia, China, Eastern Europe, etc. I would love to see a graph that showed greenhouse gas increases, alongside global de-forestation activity. I bet they line up nicely over the last hundred years.

Furthermore, I bet one would find correlations to freshwater loss or degradation as well.

Now contrast all of these questions with a few other thoughts. Just how much forest acreage is re-planted every year? Re-forestation was implemented 20-40 years ago and second growth forest (and sometimes 3rd growth) is now being harvested in many places. One will notice that the size and quality of timber has decreased in these 2nd and 3rd growth forests. I have my ideas as to the reason for this, however that is off the point of this post. What are the chances that these young forests are "breathing" anywhere near the same quantities of carbon dioxide as their more mature ancestors? I do not actually know the answer to that, but I think I will see if I can find out. Perhaps others should as well.

The common sense, albeit perhaps only partial, solution that I see here is simple. Get off our asses and plant trees. Do everything we can to slow the cutting of our forests. Create green jobs oriented around developing and strengthening our forests, instead of around exploiting them. Clearing brush to protect from forest fires also provides a fantastic source of compost, natural gas and hot water. Of course we can still use wood, we just need to do it a whole lot smarter. Use wood where it makes sense, and not where it makes sense to use something else. Recycle lumber. Burn smarter, research rocket stoves, thermoelectric stove fans and high efficiency furnaces. And start growing industrial hemp!! LOTS of it. The seeds are some of the best food available to us, and the fibres also some of the best available to us. Develop industrial hemp plantations in de-forested regions where the trees are not returning. Be sure these plantations are as ecologically beneficial, or at least neutral, as possible. Recycle lumber. Form small salvage and reclamation teams that help others tear down old buildings, and then share the salvaged lumber amongst yourselves...or sell it. Find out when your local theatre company is trashing their sets and salvage lumber. The professional companies often have lots to scrap after the closing of shows. Support local woodlots and small scale mills. Recycle lumber.

Sure, let`s look at new ways to sequester carbon (I would love to see carbon sequestered as carbon fibre in farm implements, for example, however let`s think a lot more before trying to compress CO2 into underground caverns as it has not always worked so well with natural gas) but please let`s not ignore the solutions that nature devised all on its own, simply because we are addicted to some of the products they contain.

Just some things to consider.

Peace to all.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

People and Responsibility Update

This is part of what I was talking about in my last post.

Now, I realize this was just one person out of millions...but it is FAR from an isolated occurrence. I have been hearing this sort of comment all over the place for the last few days, from all different sorts of people.

Maybe I am wrong, maybe we do need culling...

Friday, November 07, 2008

People and Responsibility

I have been wondering what is wrong with people. So many of us tend to ignore common sense or have some kind of personally skewed definition of what it even is. I wish I was a better writer/researcher because I would love to write a 21st Century response to Thomas Paine's "Common Sense". For any who have not heard of it, as I had not until a few months ago, it was a letter to the people during the build-up to the Emancipation of the American colonies and the forming of the USA. I believe all, even non-Americans, should choose to devote a bit of time to reading and later revisiting this timeless plea for common sense.

However, we live in an even more complicated world now. Distractions run rampant; television, shopping, toys for kids of ALL ages, food, games, fucking, travelling to Istanbul for 3 days so we can talk like we know the place, etc, etc, etc. For some reason, especially (from my small experience) in the US and Canada, millions and millions of people seem to devote themselves to an almost anti common sense lifestyle. I have moments of being as guilty of this as anyone, but I sure as hell try to avoid it. However, part of the problem is how easy it has been made to ignore common sense.

Part of what led me to today's rant was wondering just how many people think about what happens to products which are not sold. We have monstrous buildings full of contraptions of all sorts. Can they all get sold? Could they even all be taken apart and rebuilt into new products? How many are just scrapped? I saw a comment somewhere which stated that "the law of supply and demand dictates that all products will be sold at some point, at some price". I can't help but be reminded by such people, that most of the world's population once KNEW the world was flat. When did we become so totally devoted to such pseudo-scientific knowledge paradigms?

Is it not closer to common sense to think that research should definitely occur on a grand scale, but that development should be need-driven instead of market-driven, especially when we see how much energy is divested in CREATING markets AFTER product development?

The other thing that led to today's rant is the reaction to Tuesday's election. Over and over I have heard references to the new President-elect as a Savior, a Messiah, even as a King. I cannot help but react with astonishment and a little bit of disgust. Any President, any world leader, any dictator, any politician, any shadowy power just a human being. They have only that power and that control which WE hand over to them (or which we beg them to take). For such an "advanced" society we certainly provide a lot of reasons to support an elitist belief that most of us are just basically mindless chattel. Why must we keep trying to raise up Kings and looking for Saviors?

Why can we not see that in real common sense are all the answers we need? We have a world in which we can have comfort for all, a balance between labor and leisure. We must remember the value and reward of physical labor. We must ignore the temptation to attain wealth by little other activity than scheming and denigrating others, living or non. Of equal importance, we must help others too weak to stand up to it on their own, and stand up to those who blatantly accept that temptation!

We cannot keep living with our heads in the sand, waiting to be led to glory and salvation. To continue to do so WILL lead to the destruction of all we know, all we need.

As I have said before and will keep saying, yes we need leaders, but we do not need to find leaders, we need to BE leaders. And we need to use common sense.

Peace to all.