About six months ago my friend and mentor Donna called to ask if I would be willing to give one of the keynote speeches at this yearʻs agricultural conference. Donna is one of those people with excellent people skills, which means that it is very difficult to say No to her: one because she will already have cultivated a relationship with you; and two, she will come armed with persuasions tailor-made to your psychology. She will appeal to your higher instincts for public service and your lower instincts for ego-gratification. Also of course it was an honor to be asked. So I agreed to give a speech. Continue reading “The Speech”
Here is Descartes, a founding father of the philosophy (myth, theory, story) of the modern world:
“And certainly the idea which I possess of the human mind inasmuch as it is a thinking thing, and not extended in length, width and depth, nor participating in anything pertaining to body, is incomparably more distinct than is the idea of any corporeal thing.” Descartes, Meditations
There are two ways of addressing rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon; reduce the amount of carbon emissions or increase the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere. Most of our efforts have been focused on reducing emissions. I’d like to shift the conversation to drawing down atmospheric carbon dioxide. Continue reading “Drawing down atmospheric carbon”
On July 19, 2019 WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). “It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system”.
Some people may have caught a recent news story about animal abuse at Fair Oaks dairy farms in Indiana. The video was part of an undercover operation to show how animals are really treated at Fair Oaks Farms. “Fairlife was launched in 2012 as a partnership between Coca-Cola, which distributes its products, and the McCloskeys’ Select Milk Producers, a co-op of dairy farms that includes Fair Oaks. The product is a form of “ultrafiltered” milk that is lactose-free and has more protein and calcium and less sugar than traditional milk.” Fairlife and owners of Fair Oaks dairy are being sued by a consumer of Fair life dairy products who says he was deceived by claims it provided a high caliber of care for its animals.
Problems have solutions; dilemmas have consequences! The reality of climate change can’t be avoided but the consequences for humans and other life forms can be made worse by our decisions. There is a difference between solving problems and living with consequences. Solving problems means we can try to fix what is wrong. Living with consequences means we must face the reality of our situation. The reality of climate change is already impacting the hydrologic cycle—increased precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff, and river flow— but we can make our situation worse.
There are many substances that get deposited on streets and little of this pollution is removed from stormwater before being dumped into rivers. Street Department personnel spread salt and sand on icy roads in winter. People throw trash and cigarette butts out their car window or it blows out of the bed of trucks. Vehicles leak oil and other lubricants, tires shed hydrocarbons, and exhaust pipes emit gases and fluids. There are many substances that unintentionally and intentionally get washed down the drains and into storm sewers that feed downstream drinking water. All of these substances accumulate on roads along with natural debris such as sticks, leaves, and dirt.
I was at dinner with four women a few weeks ago to discuss protecting a nearby place of significance – what we would call a wahi pana. It is a ravishingly beautiful spot: a hanging valley overlooking the ocean, with groves of ancient native trees, flowers, ferns, orange trees, ginger, and bamboo. Most of the time there is a stream running through it, which, in this semi-arid district with its porous volcanic soils, is a wonder in itself. Naturally, this spot so blessed by nature was inhabited and beloved by the kanaka maoli – the native Hawaiians – for long centuries, until contact with the West decimated their population and nearly destroyed their culture. More recently, in the last few decades, it has been a religious retreat site. The Tibetan Buddhist philanthropists who currently own the land have other priorities on the mainland U.S. and so were talking of putting the property on the market. It was feared that the land could fall into the hands of owners who would treat it in the usual American way and plop down a trophy house so as to command the most sweeping view of the coastline. This would be a gut-wrenching desecration of the tangible and intangible qualities of the little valley. Continue reading “Four Earthly Ways of Being”
April 22 is Earth Day and next year marks its 50th anniversary. It seems a good time to pause and think about what we have accomplished and where we go from here. How has Earth Day changed since it’s conception and have we reached any of its original goals?