Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eat Less, Enjoy Life More

It seems, despite Barack Obama’s best intentions, the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. This means we may have to all tighten our belts a little tighter. But the up side is that we should all come through this a little healthier.

The reason I feel so upbeat about this is that we have to admit we have collectively been eating just a little too much these past few years and eating less is going to have several benefits for us humans as well as for the planet. It might even put people in a frame of mind to find more ways in which we can be a little more considerate of our planet’s needs.

One of the best things we can do for ourselves that always translates to better health for Earth is to eat smaller portions. Not only will you see a decrease in your grocery bill, your body will reward you with better health and you will find that we are throwing less food away. The latest studies confirm that it's not carbs or proteins so much as the number of calories we consume that influences our waist lines most. Slimming down and keeping the weight off relieves all kinds of stress on vital organs, prolonging life.

Eating processed and refined foods also adds not only extra calories but unnecessary chemical additives and industrialized oils that are used for various non-nutrient purposes such as to color foods, making it taste better, and adding shelf life. These extras are not needed by the human body so why consume them? The extras I refer to are corn oil, soybean oil and too much sodium, which all contribute to high blood pressure. Refined grains raise glycemic levels, a cause of diabetes. Despite these health consequences, corporations such as General Mills and Pepsi think of all kinds of ways to persuade you to buy their products. Not because they are such staunch supporters of a healthier life style, but because the extra money you pay for them earns profits for their shareholders.

If at all possible, buy whatever you can in bulk. If you shun processed foods you will already be on your way to lessening the impact that packaging has on the planet. Many processed foods come in individual, or at least smaller, servings. Think about it, how much packaging does it take to wrap individual items to feed ten people as opposed to the amount of packaging required for one package that feeds those same ten people? Also, much of the packaging is made from plastic or plastic coated paper which comes from petroleum, and it all ends up in the landfill. Even if you are one of the conscientious few who recycle everything, it's far more environmentally friendly to purchase foods that don't have any packaging at all. Plus, you pay extra for the packaging.

Another way that will greatly help our physical health as well as financial health is to buy whole foods. The produce section provides the best source of nutrition in any grocery store and yet it is the most expensive. Many people don’t stop to think about how much the federal government subsidizes (with our tax dollars) the growing of corn and soybeans. These two items provide the lease amount of nutrition for the bulk they provide and they are the cheapest. What this means is that we may spend less but we are not getting any real nutrition for our dollar which leads to higher medical costs. Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, carrots and parsnips are all loaded with good nutrition. So are of kinds of whole grains and dried beans. If you can afford it, start buying your produce from the local farmers market. Not only will you know exactly where your food is coming from, you will be helping to support your local agricultural economy, not some giant agribusiness a thousand miles away that uses far too much fuel and time to get your so called ‘fresh’ produce to you.

Anyone who has visited this site regularly knows, this next topic is a favorite rant of mine. I promise I won’t rant this time, but we really do need to eat less meat. The biggest reason is that feeding beef cows, pigs and chickens is expensive, both financially and to the environment. Corn is one of the major sources of food for cows and they are not even built for it. Corn is used because it is more profitable for farmers to grow rather than the grass that cows naturally eat. Corn requires an extremely high amount of nitrogen fertilizer and this comes from chemicals which is based in petroleum. Simply because we have used so much chemically based fertilizers in the past, the natural state of our soils in the Midwest is depleted. Excess nitrogen fertilizer gets washed into the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River and is killing off a large portion of the sea life.

In addition to the dangers of using petroleum-based chemical fertilizers to raise the food for these animals, most animals for consumption are now raised on huge feedlots that produce tons of pollution that ends up in our waters and in our air. They and all the fuels used to feed and transport them contribute mightily to global warming.

Hopefully, that rant wasn’t too bad. Trust me, I could go on for pages.

The bottom line is to try to get more of your protein from eggs and beans. Search out eggs produced on pastures instead of giant hen houses. Eggs are still a nutritional bargain, even when they're $4.75 a dozen at the farmers market. Also work more dried beans and whole grains into your diet. Together they make a complete protein and they are much cheaper than meat. The next step up would be chicken. Chickens (look for "pasture raised") are much more efficient producers of protein than cows or pigs.

Fish, while being one my favorite foods, is becoming more and more expensive because there are fewer and fewer fish to be caught. Humans are rapidly destroying the oceans. If you must buy wild-caught fish, check first with a reputable rating agency such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium's "Seafood Watch program to make sure you are buying only fish that has been sustainably harvested. Otherwise, look for fish raised on farms in the U.S., such as catfish, tilapia, striped bass or shrimp. These have the further advantage of being cheaper than most wild-caught fish. Another excellent protein source is farmed shell fish such as clams, oyster and mussels. If you are pregnant, breast feeding or otherwise concerned about having enough Omega 3 in your diet, be assured that there are other sources besides fish.

Bottled water, this is a touchy subject too. If you are fortunate to live in an area of the country where tap water tastes good and is thoroughly tested then by all means don’t buy bottled water. For those of us whose city tap water does not taste good, sorry, but we are going to buy bottled water. End of story. It is true that bottled water is outrageously expensive and Americans throw away something on the order of 80 million plastic water bottles every day, to say nothing of all the fuel being used to make the bottles and transport them from factory to store. But I need water and my tap water is salty.

Stop drinking soft drinks. These drinks, Coca Cola, Pepsi, etc, are loaded with sugar that rots teeth and helps make people (especially children) fat. Americans consume way too much soda. Plus, sodas are a major contributor to our plastic bottle and aluminum can nightmare. Diet sodas are only marginally better, in that you eliminate the sugar. But in the process you consume industrialized chemicals posing as sweeteners. Learn to like water again and watch how everyday foods begin to taste better and your weight begins to drop. I have been there and I know.

Eat out less. Restaurants may not want to hear this but they are a contributing factor to our weight problem. Their portions are way too big. Plus, food from restaurants and especially fast food joints is not particularly good for you. If you are using whole ingredients and healthy oils such as extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil, just about anything you make at home is bound to be more nutritious and likely cheaper than what you get eating out. Making food at home and sitting down to a meal at the dinner table also teaches valuable lessons to children and helps strengthen the family unit. Get your kids out from in front of the TV and into the kitchen helping you make dinner.

The final topic of our discussion today is gardening. There is a rise in the number of people starting their own gardens. At first is was attributed to higher gasoline prices of last summer which lead to higher food prices. Now that we are entering our second year of the economic downturn, your garden should be ready to start producing, provided you added plenty of composted kitchen scraps, animal manure and no chemical fertilizers last year. But it is never too late to get started. Keep feeding the soil and your plants will reward you with a much healthier diet than what you have been eating.

A kitchen garden will solve many of your budget and nutritional issues. Most vegetable seed packets cost less than $3 and typically contains more seeds than the typical home gardener will ever use. There is very little in the produce section or at the farmers market that you cannot grow yourself, including all your most expensive favorites: strawberries, blueberries, asparagus, rhubarb, artichokes. Some of these items will not grow as well in some parts of the country as in others. You need to learn things such as ‘Last Frost Date’, ‘First Frost Date’, your soil type, etc. All of these and many other questions that arise can be answered by following several of the myriad of gardening blogs on the internet. There are many passionate gardeners who are will to answer any question you may have.

It is amazingly easy to grow your own potatoes, beans, peas, and tomatoes. You can fill your pantry and your freezer with enough food for the whole year provided you have the space for enough plants. But even if you can’t grow enough to get through the winter you will have at least added healthful foods to your diet and you will have learned how to grow your own. If you don’t have room to grow anything, there are community gardens in almost any city. And if not in yours, then start one. You will be sure to find neighbors who are just waiting for someone to bring up the possibility.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Food Safety Program Needs Restructuring, Not Another Agency

In the wake of the recent salmonella outbreak that killed 9 people and sickened over 600 others, food safety concerns have become a pressing issue.

The Food and Drug Administration takes the brunt of the responsibility and is the most pressured to find the cause and correct it.

However, at least 15 agencies are involved in making sure food is safe under at least 30 different laws, some of which date back to the early 1900s. it doesn’t matter how old a law is as long as it works. And if those 30 laws work then they should remain in place. However, it seems there needs to be some re-thinking as to how often food gets inspected and by whom.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., have been proposing an overhaul of the nation's food safety structure for more than a decade. Food safety advocates agree.

I don’t believe we need another bureaucratic agency to add to the convoluted maze, just shore up practices already in place. The system will work if given enough inspectors with the proper guidelines and abilities.

The Department of Agriculture should inspect anything grown or raised on a farm, domestic and imported. The FDA should cover everything else that enters the human body (drugs, etc), domestic and imported. They need to agree on a schedule of inspections and they both need the ability to shutdown operations if a threat is discovered.

Obviously, an alert system needs to be in place to notify the general public of a possible contamination of food, possible source(s), and where the product was shipped. And this alert needs to take place within days of the discovery not months as is currently the case.

It seems reasonable that if any manufacturer has to face the possibility of a shutdown (cutting into their profits) then it would be in their best interest to ensure their product is safe.

Raw food inspections covered by USDA, this covers growers. Processed foods covered by FDA, this covers processors.

An additional safety net would be provided by the health department to inspect facilities and ensure workers are following safe food-handling procedures.

This means that some foods will be inspected more than once. The bottom line is that all possible sources of contamination needs to be inspected, as the source of all tainted food has come from mis-handling of food and/or contamination of facilities.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Global Warming Equals More Snow?

I need new clothes. But first I need to know, do I stock up on shorts, sandals and t-shirts? Or, sweaters, overcoats, mukluks and gloves?

Stories of record snow falls and melting ice-caps. Stories of record droughts. Damn it, I’m confused.

Snow in Las Vegas? Snow in Houston? Snow in New Orleans?

Just a few months ago we were all told that our coast lines will dramatically change due to rapidly melting ice caps. And we are adding more carbon to the atmosphere at a faster rate than ever before thus heating up our planet.

Now we find out Mars is experiencing global warming as well. Has our behavior gotten so bad and far-reaching that we have affected a planets weather patterns over 55 million km away?

Here’s how some scientist try to cover the scientific community’s collective butts, the surprise with which we have greeted the extreme conditions only reinforces how our climate has changed over the years. Huh? They are telling us that such extreme weather as record snowfall in places that always gets snow and snowfall in places that usually never gets snow now only occurs every 20 years. When these occurrences used to occur every 5 years or so.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not buying it. I used to put more faith in science that I have of late. But putting too much stock in that old expression 'too cold to snow' may show a crack in their logic.

In the meantime, while scientist try to figure out what our future is going to look like, my garden is showing new life a full month ahead of schedule. Apparently, I am not the only one confused.

If this Global Warming trend keeps up, we are all going to freeze to death.

Excuse me, I need to shovel some Global Warming snow from my driveway. I wonder if there will be a market for fur-lined t-shirts.

Humor: Snow – Global Warming Alert!
Global Snow Job: Global Warming Plot to Take Over the World?
Global Warming Caused by Shoveling

Global Warming – Idling Cars Add to Air Pollution

Millions of people do it everyday. Sitting at a traffic light. Warming up in the drive way. Waiting for your order at a fast food restaurant. Idling cars add tons of pollution to the air we breathe.

About 30 states and dozens of municipalities have measures in place to limit the amount a vehicle can be left idling, typically around three to five minutes.

New York City has had a three-minute law in place citywide since 1971, but advocates say it is rarely enforced or advertised.

A new measure signed into law this month cuts the allowed idling time from three minutes to one minute around schools, and gives more city agencies the power to issue violations. It also requires an annual violations report so officials can track enforcement.

A new report by the Environmental Defense Fund estimates that idling cars and trucks produce 130,000 tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide each year in New York City, contributing to global warming. The group believes the one-minute idling limit next to schools is the toughest such law in the United States.

This is one of many ‘little’ thoughtless action’s we do everyday that if halted could prevent tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides from entering the atmosphere, not to mention the millions of gallons of gasoline we could collectively save.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Food Safety: How Serious Are We?

Part of being green involves how our food is grown. Agricultural practices are being increasingly scrutinized. How food is processed, what additional ingredients are involved for preserving and coloring are of great concern. Also, the marketing of food, especially to children, has come under fire.

The single most powerful force to express consumers concern over these matters comes from consumers themselves.

The Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture are tasked with protecting Americas food supply through inspections but are over burdened with the sheer amount of food to be inspected. There simply are not enough inspectors to do an adequate job. So, when salmonella or E. Coli are discovered it is usually by hospital personnel after the consumer has been sickened and widespread notifications typically only reach the nation’s consumers after deaths have been reported.

This mode of operation may be acceptable to bureaucrats who don’t want to budget money for more inspectors but it is not acceptable to the families of those people who died because some product inspections fell through the cracks of an overburdened system.

It is problematic to have food producers inspect themselves. One would think that reputation alone would be enough to prevent these companies from selling tainted products. But, as evidenced in the recent Peanut Corporation of America case, some companies appear to be more concerned with protecting their near-term bottom-line than the safety of the customers or the future of their business. This fact alone should disqualify them from having the final say as to whether or not their own processes and products are safe for the consumer.

Our current inspection system in America is broken and not enough is being done to correct it. Having a complex set of laws to govern food safety, as with everything else, is just ridiculously burdensome. But, since conscience is obviously not a powerful enough incentive for some corporate heads to protect consumers, we are forced to spend even more tax payer dollars to regulate and inspect them.

The problem is not limited to American grown and processed food. More than130 countries ship food to the United States. According to the FDA, the volume of food imports has been growing steadily – about 15 percent on average per year since 1991. Imported food now makes up more than 10 percent of the food Americans consume, according to the USDA.

The FDA was able to inspect only 0.7 percent of all imported food products in 2007, down from 1.1 percent the previous year. In 2006, that means the FDA inspected just 20,662 shipments out of more than 8.9 million that arrived in US ports – employing about 1,750 food inspectors for ports and domestic food-production plants.

The Safe Food Act, reintroduced by Rep. Rosa De Lauro (D) of Connecticut and Sen. Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois, calls for a single food safety agency and standardized procedures to govern American food safety. The bill requests $650 million more in appropriations for the FDA's food inspection program.

The bottom line is that we can continue to write laws, but all that does is make Congress feel they are needed. What the consumer needs is for corporate America to give a damn about the health of the very people who keep them in business, the consumer. Short of placing the full attention to and protection of food safety above profit we need more inspectors. Inspectors with the ability to immediately shutdown production, inspectors that will not be paid off for favorable reports, inspectors with the integrity and attention to their duties in order to regain consumers faith in the food that we buy.

Do we need something on the scale of an “amber alert system” for food warnings? If more food could be inspected then we would not need to rely on hospital staff or mass media to warn the general public of food contamination.

A new national food safety and labeling poll conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center reveals that, by a huge margin, consumers are concerned about food safety, and they want the government to inspect the food supply more frequently and to publicly disclose where food safety problems arise.

While 73% polled currently regard the overall food supply as safe, nearly half (48%) said their confidence in the safety of the nation’s food supply has decreased. A bare majority of Americans feel the government is doing all it can to ensure food safety (54%). Eighty-three percent of respondents are concerned with harmful bacteria or chemicals in food and 81% are concerned with the safety of imported food.

It is clear, something needs to change. We cannot force people to adopt healthier eating habits, and short of forcing people to stay abreast of current events we cannot warn people quickly enough about tainted food to prevent more illnesses and death. We can however beef up our inspection system.

Our very lives could depend on it.

Further Reading:
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Preparing food safely in your home
Food Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts

Friday, February 13, 2009

Vilsack Laying Groundwork for USDA Reform

In his speech this week before National Association of Wheat Growers, Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture chief, told farmers to start developing other sources of income because the era of crop subsidies may be nearing an end.

Part of his plans for the new USDA Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets (USDA-OESM) is to promote a far more diversified income base for the farm sector while at the same time promoting more agriculturally-sustainable practices. This could mean that windmills and biofuels will eventually be a part of their income. Also, he alluded to organic agriculture playing an increasing role.

I am all for any plan that would promote food- and fiber-producing activities that are more climate-friendly. OESM Head Sally Collins says, "Where we go from here will alter the discussion of how the country thinks about natural resources."

As an indication that his plan is in the works, the USDA just announced a pilot project that will let wheat, corn and soy farmers who receive subsidies to plant vegetables on their so-called "base acreage," a practice that is currently illegal -- to set the stage for this kind of transition.

Tom Vilsack is a strong proponent of renewable energy and developing the nation’s alternative fuel industry, particularly ethanol and other bio-fuels as a way to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil. He is also a staunch supporter of rural growth.

It seems this re-direction of the USDA just may be the answer we are looking for.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Monsanto, You Are Striping Away Our Roots

Monsanto is in the process of cleansing rural America of non-corporate farming. But they are not alone. Corporate livestock production is doing their share to purge rural families of their livelihoods and funnel any remaining pennies into their multi-national coffers. Through the leverage of big money, rural people are losing control of their local public institutions as corporations gain influence over local economies and local governments.

I would really like to believe that these over-zealous and blindly self-serving corporate interests do not realize the effect their corporate creep is having on rural America, but I suspect I would be wrong.

The imposition of corporate control over these precious irreplaceable rural resources, including rural people and rural culture, has but one purpose, and that is to feed the wealth of corporate investors. Investors, by reducing rural America to an accounting balance sheet, has created several irrefutable side-effects: we are losing our diversity and our independence.

This phenomena is not unique to America. It is taking place around the world. Outside investment, badly needed in many parts of the world, is the enticement that allows corporations to buy their way into a community promising to stimulate the local economy and expand the tax base. Then slowly, like a cancer, guts it out, sucking the local economy dry by sending all the profits back to a corporate headquarters.

Corporations like to boil things down to its lowest common denominator making their product more easily manageable. For Monsanto’s part in ‘bringing the rural farmer into the fold’ is to use genetic engineering of food crops to create seeds that will guarantee better results while making the seed immune to their own herbicidal formula. In order to buy this seed, farmers are required to sign a contract that states no seed from this years crop can be collected and used for next years crop. This ‘intellectual property rights’ contract ensures Monsanto will sell the farmer more seed next year.

They are serious enough to take farmers to court. One farmer in Covington, Tennessee is believed to be the first farmer to have gone to jail for saving and replanting Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy seed in 1998. Ralph spent four months behind bars and must also pay the company 1.8 million dollars in penalties.

In total, U.S. courts have awarded Monsanto more than 15 million dollars, according to a new report by the Washington-based Centre for Food Safety (CFS) called "Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers".

According to the report, court awards are just a fraction of the money the company has extracted from farmers. Hundreds of farmers are believed to have been coerced into secret settlements over the past eight years to avoid going to court.

In 2004, nearly 85 percent of all soy and canola were GE varieties. Three-quarters of U.S. cotton and nearly half of corn is also GE. Monsanto controls roughly 90 percent of GE soy, cotton and canola seed markets and has a large piece of the corn seed market.

So why don't farmers just buy non-GE seed? North Dakota farmer Rodney Nelson says there is actually very little conventional seed left to buy anymore because seed dealers don't make nearly as much money from them.

Monsanto sued Nelson and his family in 1999 for patent infringement, charging they had saved Roundup Ready soybean seeds on their 8,000-acre farm. Two years of legal hell ensued, Nelson said. The matter ended with an out of court settlement that he is forbidden to talk about. "We won, but we feel forever tainted."

The report contains a number of similar individual stories that often end in bankruptcy for the farmer. Even if a farmer decides to stop using Monsanto seeds, the GE plants self-seed and some will spring up of their own accord the following year. These unwanted "volunteers" can keep popping up for five or more years after a farmer stops using the patented seeds. Under U.S. patent law, a farmer commits an offense even if they unknowingly plant Monsanto's seeds without purchasing them from the company. Other countries have similar laws.

In the well-known case of Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, pollen from a neighbor's GE canola fields and seeds that blew off trucks on their way to a processing plant ended up contaminating his fields with Monsanto's genetics. The trial court ruled that no matter how the GE plants got there, Schmeiser had infringed on Monsanto's legal rights when he harvested and sold his crop. After a six-year legal battle, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that while Schmeiser had technically infringed on Monsanto's patent, he did not have to pay any penalties. Schmeiser, who spoke at last year's World Social Forum in India, says it cost 400,000 dollars to defend himself.

Another North Dakota farmer, Tom Wiley, explains the situation this way: "Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell."

"It's a corporation out of control," says Andrew Kimbrell, the executive director of CFS. Unfortunately, he adds, there will be no help for farmers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Food and Drug Administration as key positions are occupied by former Monsanto employees and the company has a powerful lobby in Washington.

In a 2007 report, the Center for Food Safety, in Washington, D.C., documented 112 such lawsuits, in 27 states. Even more significant, in the Center's opinion, are the numbers of farmers who settle because they don't have the money or the time to fight Monsanto.

In the latest phase in Monsanto’s grand plan to control the use of seed, police officers in Illinois, on January 9, 2009, served notices to several farmers on behalf of Monsanto citing that they were illegally saving seeds that belonged to Monsanto. One of those cited is Steve Hixon. Mr. Hixon provides a seed cleaning service to surrounding farmers. His equipment takes plant material and separates the seed to save for the next years crop.

Monsanto got its start making saccharin. In 1948, the company started making a powerful herbicide; a by-product of the process was the creation of a chemical that would later be known as dioxin. On March 8, 1949, a massive explosion rocked a Monsanto herbicide plant. Court records indicate that 226 plant workers fell ill. In the 1960s, the factory manufactured Agent Orange, which later became the focus of lawsuits by Vietnam veterans contending that they had been harmed by exposure.

During the 1990s, Monsanto alone spent nearly $8 billion acquiring leading commercial seed suppliers in the United States and internationally; DuPont and others quickly followed suit, leading to today's widespread proliferation of genetically engineered food crops."

Monsanto's pledge is "We want to make the world a better place for future generations. As an agricultural company, Monsanto can do this best by providing value through the products and systems we offer to farmers. With the growth of modern agricultural practices and crops that generate ever-increasing yields, we are helping farmers around the world to create a better future for human beings, the environment, and local economies."

I doubt that many farmers would agree.

Do they know the effect they are having on our farming heritage? I think they know and I also think they don’t have any regrets.

Further reading:
Monsanto’s Seed Police Keep Harassing U.S. Farmers

Building a World Free of Monsanto

Genetically Modified crops reach 9% of global crop production

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Global Warming is Real, Mr. Klaus

The annual world economic forum of global leaders was held in Davos, Switzerland this past week, and Czech President Vaclav Klaus used this forum to verbally attack Al Gore over his stance on global warming.

"I don't think that there is any global warming," said the 67-year-old liberal, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. "I don't see the statistical data for that."

Referring to the former US vice president, who attended Davos this year, he added: "I'm very sorry that some people like Al Gore are not ready to listen to the competing theories. I do listen to them.

"Environmentalism and the global warming alarmism is challenging our freedom. Al Gore is an important person in this movement."

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, he said that he was more worried about the reaction to the perceived dangers than the consequences.

"I'm afraid that the current crisis will be misused for radically constraining the functioning of the markets and market economy all around the world," he said.

"I'm more afraid of the consequences of the crisis than the crisis itself."

I agree that people tend to become alarmed over perceived dangers, that is after all what warnings are meant to do, if they are taken seriously. This climate threat has been perceived by climatologists for many years and those early predictions are beginning to take shape. The non-scientific community needs only observe the changes in weather patterns and the resulting destruction of wildlife habitat to see this is true.

You cannot dismiss the fact that polar ice sheets are melting at a record pace. You cannot ignore the fact that navigable routes have opened through the arctic, about 30 years ahead of predictions.

Nor can you ignore the fact that the planets surface is warming up.

The greatest debate over causal factors is whether these changes are the result of a natural cycle or are they man-made.

The burning of fossil fuels has certainly taken its toll, not only on human health but also on the health of the atmosphere as a result of excavating earths resources, burning those resources and releasing the resulting gases into the atmosphere. The resultant greenhouse gases increase the planets temperature. Not alarmist theory, scientific fact.

Earth’s climate is a closed system. Everything that exists in this system stays in this system. The melting of polar ice caps produces evaporation and the increased atmospheric moisture results in increased rainfall which then leads to increased severity of hurricanes. A side effect of this increased hurricane intensity is the associated low pressure sucks more moisture away from the drier climates of the world creating more severe droughts. As a result, agricultural patterns worldwide are being affected.

Polar ice cap melt also increases sea levels which could result in future category 2 and 3 storms causing much more severe flooding than anticipated otherwise, in low-lying coastal areas.

As the planet grows ever warmer, and former cold zones give way to rising temperatures, plant and animal species are loosing their habitat and dying off thereby decreasing biodiversity. This does not bode well for planets inhabitants, for man and beast.

Are these the ramblings of ‘alarmists’ for the purpose of “radically constraining the functioning of the markets and market economy”? It seems Mr. Klaus, and by association, all other naysayers, is more concerned with the health of the market system than with the health of our planet. And this perfectly illustrates the very reason why we are in this mess today.

We dismiss scientific findings at our own peril. This has proven itself many times throughout history. Taking heed of this lesson is of the utmost importance to prevent a predicted global calamity.

It is a widespread fact that species and their habitats are on the decrease while chances for ecosystems to adapt naturally are diminishing. This cannot be merely brushed aside as ‘alarmist’.

Science Daily, Sep 22, 2005

Global Issues, Jan 1, 2009

Climate Change Weather Patterns