Wednesday, 22 December 2010

May I wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas

From the moment the minister nods her head to the very last note, for me this is simply the best choral work ever.

Thou must leave thy lowly dwelling,
The humble crib, the stable bare.
Babe, all mortal babes excelling,
Content our earthly lot to share.
Loving father, Loving mother,
Shelter thee with tender care!

Blessed Jesus, we implore thee
With humble love and holy fear.
In the land that lies before thee,
Forget not us who linger here!
May the shepherd’s lowly calling,
Ever to thy heart be dear!

Blest are ye beyond all measure,
Thou happy father, mother mild!
Guard ye well your heav’nly treasure,
The Prince of Peace, The Holy Child!
God go with you, God protect you,
Guide you safely through the wild!

And may the love of God enfold you and bless you

Monday, 6 December 2010

Wikileaks about GM.

The Wikileaks release of U.S. classified information has been headline news as the sites that are the source of the information have been under attack from every known virus available. It has however been a treasure trove of details on the working of the U.S. Government and their foreign policy.

One mention of agriculture in the released information is in a document that outlines priorities for intelligence gathering in the African countries of Burundi, the Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. In this document is a list of what information the U.S. Government wants to know about the those countries, i.e. their government policies on food security and food safety, information on the impact of rising food prices, agricultural yield statistics, infrastructure improvements, data on deforestation and desertification, water issues and invasive species are included. But also on the U.S. priority list is this:

Government acceptance of genetically modified food and propagation of genetically modified crops.

Says it all!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010


One baby has Hydrocephalus; water on the brain, the link to this photo can be found HERE, scroll down this link for more images and for a fully documented scientific report in English, see HERE.

The image of the other child, with the back deformation, was taken by Dr Graciela Gomez.

Suffer the little children to come unto me indeed...

Argentina has become a giant experiment in farming genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready (RR) soy, engineered to be tolerant to Roundup, Monsanto’s formulation of the herbicide glyphosate. The Argentine government, eager to pull the country out of a deep economic recession in the 1990s, restructured its economy around GM soy grown for export, most of which goes to feed livestock in Europe. In 2009, GM soy was planted on 19 million hectares - over half of Argentina’s cultivated land - and sprayed with 200 million litres of glyphosate herbicide. Spraying is often carried out from the air, causing problems of drift.

In 2002, two years after the first big harvests of RR soy in the country, residents and doctors in soy producing areas began reporting serious health effects from glyphosate spraying, including high rates of birth defects as well as infertility, stillbirths, miscarriages, and cancers. Environmental effects include killed food crops and livestock and streams strewn with dead fish.

One of the first medical doctors to report problems from glyphosate spraying of GM soy was Dr Darío Gianfelici, from Cerrito, Entre Ríos, Argentina. According to Gianfelici, there are two levels of toxic effects from glyphosate: acute effects, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, respiratory problems, and skin rashes; and chronic effects, which take 10–20 years to show up. These include infertility and cancer.

Gianfelici said: “Our town experienced drastic changes before and after soy. I’ve seen people die from cancer at age 30. I have witnessed pregnancy problems and a significant increase in fertility problems. I have seen an increase in respiratory diseases, as has never been seen before. GM soy has been a death sentence for humans and for the environment. No money can compensate for the damage that has been caused – the contamination, the deaths, the cases of cancer and malformations.”

Reports of birth defects in glyphosate-sprayed areas of Argentina gained scientific credibility in 2009, when senior Argentine government scientist Prof. Andrés Carrasco went public with his research findings, fully published a year later, that glyphosate causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying. “The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy,” said Carrasco, “I suspect the toxicity classification of glyphosate is too low ... in some cases this can be a powerful poison.”

At a recent conference, Carrasco, professor and director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, University of Buenos Aires Medical School and lead researcher of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), said a frequent result of malformations in human embryos is miscarriage. He said that it was now not unusual for women in GM soy producing regions of Argentina to have up to five miscarriages in a row.

The research findings of Carrasco and his colleagues were not welcomed by some sectors of government and industry. After he announced them, four people from Argentina’s crop protection trade association CASAFE were sent to try to search his laboratory and he was “seriously told off” by Lino Barrañao, Argentina’s science and technology minister.

Things took a violent turn in 2010, when an organized mob of thugs attacked people who gathered to hear Carrasco talk in La Leonesa, an agricultural town that has become a centre for activism against agrochemical spraying of soy and rice crops. Three people were seriously injured. Carrasco and a colleague shut themselves in a car and were surrounded by people making violent threats and beating the car for two hours. Witnesses said the attack was organized by local officials and a local rice producer to protect the economic interests behind local agro-industry and Amnesty International called for an investigation, into the event. For more information see HERE.

As with all my posts and unlike GM, all the details above have been thoroughly researched.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


In 1979, President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House West Wing. The panels were used to heat water for the staff eating area and were a symbol of a new solar strategy that Carter had said was going to “move our Nation toward true energy security and abundant, readily available, energy supplies.” In 1986, President Ronald Reagan removed the solar panels while the White House roof was being repaired. They were never reinstalled.

In 1991, the panels were retrieved from government storage and brought to the environmentally-minded Unity College near of Bangor in Maine. There, with help of actress Glenn Close, the panels were refurbished and used to heat water in the cafeteria up until 2005. They are still there, although they no longer function.

Swiss directors Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller follow the route the panels took, using them as a backdrop to explore the American oil dependency and the total lack of political will to pursue alternative energy sources.

In the movie ‘A Road Not Taken’, the filmmakers took two solar panels from Unity, placed them in the back of two students’ 1990 Dodge Ram pick-up truck, which runs on vegetable oil, and delivered one of them to the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum in Atlanta and the other to the National Museum of American History in Washington.

In 1979, Carter warned in the speech he gave when the panels were first commissioned, “a generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people - harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

Two of Carter’s solar panels are now museum pieces, the chance was missed, and instead we have, in President Carter's prophetic words "our crippling dependence on foreign oil”.

Monday, 18 October 2010


Left are rejected potatoes

A few weeks ago a colleague and I walked the fields around West Malling in Kent. We passed rows of lettuce ready for picking but left in the field to be ploughed in, why? Easy answer, they was not quite the right shape and /or size.

A couple of weeks later I drove past Kent orchards where apples had been left on the tree and are now rotting on the ground, why? Yes, you are there already, they were not quite the right shape and /or size.

All over the UK some of the potatoes, cauliflowers, apples, carrots, tomatoes and other produce we grow are rejected by supermarkets because they are not the right size, shape, or colour. Tomatoes, like apples and many other fruit and veg actually have to be a certain grade of colour and as for apples; those that are picked in the UK have a reject rate of around one fifth, they are perfectly OK to eat but don’t quite make ‘the standard’. The UK imports 70% of the apples bought and these have to conform to the supermarkets standards; they need to be blemish-less and weigh on average about 150g. The size and appearance of fruit and veg is all important, I would hope that taste comes in there somewhere but I have the idea that it’s somewhat behind the shelf-life demands!

The class structure in the UK has now filtered down to fruit and veg; there is ‘Class 1’, so this must be the best surely? ‘Class 2’, so obviously not so good, and then we may well have ‘cooking’ or ‘fun size’. I find myself somewhat confused when the term ‘cooking’ is applied to an onion, does this mean it cannot be eaten raw or used for pickling? When ‘fun size’ is applied to apples, does this mean that the other apples are a miserable lot?

In the supermarkets drive for sales, presentation seems to be all. Fruit and veg are displayed in a way that would have seemed over the top in an amateur grower’s competition. Farmers are dictated to by the supermarkets as to what they will purchase and so have to conform or go out of business. There is concern in the UK about the ever increasing spread of polytunnels on our farms but it is neither realistic nor economic to grow, for example, strawberries in the UK climate to the standards demanded by the supermarkets without tunnel protection.

So instead of selling almost all of the fruit and veg we produce much is fed to animals or simply ploughed back into the soil, and instead the UK imports, among many others, apples from all over the world, green beans and salads from Africa, and tomatoes from Spain. I know that the same applies in the U.S., in Australia and New Zealand also, and I expect also applies in much of the EU as well.

So the consumer is educated away from anything that looks less than perfect, the price they pay goes up and produce is then imported from abroad to make up for the rejected shortfall. Food miles increase enormously, pollution increases enormously, and, as I said prices increase enormously. Are there times when you look at a situation and feel that reality and common sense are unrelated?

Saturday, 2 October 2010


In the UK, a company by the name of Nocton Dairies Ltd is planning to build an 8,100 cow ‘Super Dairy’ at Nocton in Lincolnshire. The cows will be permanently housed indoors and subjected to a high-yielding regime producing over 250,000 litres of milk per day. You may think that cows housed permanently indoors is wrong and that they should be grazed on grass as God intended but Nocton Dairies director, Mr. Willes believes otherwise, or at least he did until he realised what he had said in a BBC interview with Ian Glaister; hear this 50 second broadcast HERE, an amazing example of totally ignoring/denying what was said!

It is a fact that Intensive, indoor factory farm methods have long dominated pig and poultry production with the average pig unit housing as many as 5,000 pigs at any one time – the biggest units house upwards of 20,000. In the UK however, the average dairy herd size is just 120. Naturally here are some larger, but vast majority are still much smaller, family-run businesses based in rural areas.

Factory farming is simply about the economics of scale. The needs of individual animals are often seen as totally unimportant in relation to the financial productivity of a herd or flock and are tantamount to torture. If I kept a dog in the way that chickens are factory farmed I would soon be in court and I have no doubt that the same would apply to keeping a dog in the same way that Nocton cows would be kept. The Nocton concept will actually be, if approved, Europe's largest dairy farm.

Anyone that is in a farming area is aware that farm animals attract flies / insects/ vermin; it is an accepted part of life in the country, there are cows grazing the field next to us, but there are no problems with them, but 8,100 confined indoors... can you imagine the problems with the their slurry, let alone the flies / insects / vermin?

The environmental impact is, according to Nocton Dairies, a matter of concern they will address. The environmental standards will be 'beyond the highest environmental and animal welfare standards ever seen in the UK'. A number of benefits from the project have been trumpeted, including slurry from the farm being be fed into an anaerobic digester – producing power for the plant and 2,000 local homes – water sharing arrangements which would see resources managed in conjunction with neighbouring farms and reused, and the creation of a visitor centre, as well as facilities for schools and training and as many as 85 new jobs at the dairy, many filled by local people.

Of course, these high standards will be expensive... very expensive... so an ‘expression of interest’ form was submitted to the EMDA (East Midlands Development Agency) earlier this year by Nocton Dairies seeking an undisclosed sum to part-fund the development. The application to EMDA is for money administered under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), itself funded by the European Union and the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA).

Guess what happens if Nocton don’t get the funding? Director Willis Nocton Dairies director admits that if no or reduced levels of RDPE funds are obtained, then ‘enhancements to cattle housing and parlours such as honey comb grooving to concrete floors would not be adopted; water abstraction rights sharing arrangements may not be adopted; waste handling could revolve around lorry based movement and spreading of untreated slurry. At the very least the anaerobic digester would be delayed to a second phase of development.’ Willes also said that ‘importing trained staff from the traditional dairy areas of the country rather than training a local force’ would be a consequence of not securing RDPE cash.

Pat Thomas from Compassion In World Farming said: ‘The owners of Nocton have stressed publicly again and again that they aim to achieve high animal welfare standards. And yet behind the scenes they are saying this can only be achieved if the taxpayer supports them. It’s important to remember that Nocton Dairies has made a financial rod for its own back by choosing to produce milk on an industrial scale and it’s not up to the public, or the government, to bail them out.’

The Ecologist went to California to see just how their 'Super dairies' had affected the local area; you can see their short film HERE.

As a UK dairy farmer said. “This kind of intensive dairy farming (i.e. fed almost constantly and milked thrice daily) was practised in Israel in the early 1970s and was one of the main reasons for my leaving the kibbutz that I worked on. The cows were kept inside 24hours per day. They had to be forced into crushes where food that they were not hungry for, was doled out to them constantly to improve their milk yield. If they ever got out of the sheds, which happened once in a while, they went wild to be outside and just didn't really know what to do. I couldn't bear the effect that this had on the cows; their intelligence and their natural instincts were both being bred out and generally thwarted. In my opinion, cows make milk for their calves and generously overproduce enough for us to have some too but it is NOT their main function to produce milk for human beings. They deserve our respect and they deserve to be looked after with gratitude for the milk and cheese they produce for us”. ... Amen to that!

In the US as well as the UK it seems that very few are happy about the move to ever larger dairies and most farmers don't blame Nocton Dairies for going big, it is, they say, the inevitable consequence of pressure from supermarkets and consumers for ever lower prices.

In addition to the above, fellow Christian/environmentalist Pete Redwood has informed me that Peter Willes was fined several hundred pounds for environmental pollution at his existing super dairy, Parkham Farms, near Bideford, Devon last year, so one assumes that that he knows everything there is to know about pollution control.

Parkham Farms produces 4,000 tonnes of cheddar cheese per year, most of it for Tesco from their own 1,750 cows. This requires 90 tonnes of feed per day with each cow consuming around 60kg of feed (132 lbs) per day. And, as Pete remarked, "what goes in must come out!"

The Nocton project is actually five times the above, I bet that will cause a drop in local property sales/prices...

Saturday, 28 August 2010

A GM / GE 2010 update

I am a committed environmentalist. This is a part of my Christian faith; I believe that we should protect the work of creation, the economy being a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. Due to this, and the facts that I have gathered, I am 100% in opposition to the Genetic Modification or Genetic Engineering (GM – GE) of our food supply. I am still surprised at the general public’s lack of knowledge regarding GM – GE; most seem unaware that it is, in this context, the totally alien insertion of fish and animal genes into plant life.

My concern locally in the U.K. regarding GM is well known having an anti GM letter published recently in the Southern Farmer magazine. I received only messages and letters of support for my position, recently having yet another message from a prominent Wealden farmer, who is also a District Councillor, that he “would never grow GM on his land”.

Therefore I was more than shocked when only a few days into the present U.K. administration it was announced that the new U.K. Environment Secretary, Caroline Spellman had authorised the trials of GM potatoes at a protected and guarded location in Norfolk.

The general public who are aware of GM’s ramifications are not in favour of GM, but the GM companies have now remarketed themselves by informing people that GM will feed the world's hungry. From the evidence there is already about the effect of GM, it would appear that this is not the case. Incidentally, there is already enough food in the world to feed the world (the groaning supermarket shelves and obesity problems in the western World are evidence to this) as until recently the world produced one and a half times the food needed to give everyone an adequate diet, yet millions starved because the world lacked the will to share it. (Source; UN Food & Agricultural Organisation)

We have been told repeatedly by "people in the know" that food production needs to double by 2050 in order to feed the world. In fact, that "statistic" was produced by Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the American Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at a speech he made to the United Nations in June 2008. It has been trotted out mechanically ever since by politicians, scientists and manufacturers. Jacques Diouf took the liberty of "rounding up" a figure from his own organisation's report World Agriculture: Towards 2030/2050.

That report stated that the developing world would need to increase cereal production by at least 70% by 2050 in order to satisfy the predicted demand for a change to a "western" (American) diet - i.e. richer in meat. Food that is grown for animal production is not food for feeding the population. It is grown for feeding to animals to produce meat - one of the most energy intensive processes imaginable requiring ten tonnes of cereal grain to produce one tonne of meat. In more friendly terms 10 kilos of cereal could produce a meal for 100 people but 1 kilo of meat might feed a family of four with hearty "western" appetites. So one high profile figure makes an exaggerated statement and the rest of the world takes it as fact. Even our own government is using it with regular monotony, I believe that, in the U.K., DEFRA is aware of the true facts but has made no attempt to correct it.

And let us not forget either that we, in the West, throw away a third of the food that is produced. It can never reach the supermarket shelves as it can be the ‘wrong’ shape or size, it can be discarded by the supermarkets as it becomes out of date, or it can be binned at the household or restaurant.

In India many farmers grew GM cotton hoping for the promised higher yields, the reverse happened, yields were down to a fifth, the income was a seventh and hundreds of farmers committed suicide. (Source: The Official Report of the Government of Andhra Pradesh) It would seem that the Christian Aid report ‘Selling Suicide, Farming, False Promises and Genetic Modification in the Developing World’ has certainly come true. Perhaps Mrs. Spellman, who is a trustee of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, should read it.

In Canada, cross contamination means that no oil seed rape in the country is GM free so the Canadian parliament, against the wishes of 80% of the public, want GM to be accepted as very few want the crops and the price is low. It only took 7 years in Canada for this cross contamination to take place. On this scale it would only take 3 years in the UK for the same catastrophe to occur.

The world's biggest seed/agrochemical company, Monsanto, told the New York Times that assuring the safety of food was not their job but the job of the FDA (Food and Drugs Administration.) The FDA asked Monsanto for a report on a growth hormone and this was carried out by Monsanto employee Margaret Miller. After the report was finished Miller then went to work for the FDA and her first job was to approve the report that she had written for Monsanto. (Source; Organic Consumers Association of America)

GM Maize (Mon [santo] 863) is approved despite French scientists who 'found serious flaws in the (Monsanto) study at every stage'. The study was not available for scrutiny as it was claimed it was confidential, and then a German court forced Monsanto to release the full report, incidentally The Institute of Science in Society considers GM Mon [santo] 863 as toxic. The fact is that GM companies have a control over many of the world’s seed stocks. Basmati rice is ‘patented’ (the intellectual rights have been granted to a GM company) and Monsanto have attempted to patent the pig. Despite claims GM crops use MORE pesticides. We are witness to a cynical ploy to bring in GM using the poor and hungry for an excuse; GM is not about feeding the world it is about profit.

Greenpeace India raised the alarm and legally challenged the American biotechnology firm Monsanto over the claimed safety of their GM Aubergine, BT Brinjal. Monsanto was then forced to allow tests to be carried out which were conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen. The tests on rats showed that those given the genetically modified food had signs of liver and kidney damage. The toxic food also affected female rats by raising their blood sugar levels and also levels of triglycerides which are fatty substances in the body.

Many GM crops are claimed to offer advantages to areas hit by Climate Change, with reduced water supplies or more salty inundated groundwater, however, this argument is merely jumping on the Climate Change "bandwagon". The real reason that GM crops are being promoted by the Life Sciences companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer is in order to sell their pesticides, fungicides and fertiliser petrochemicals that are needed to grow and protect their own GM crops.

The GM companies, mainly US owned, are well connected; Donald Rumsfeld, former US Defence Secretary was president of Searle Pharmaceuticals, now owned by Monsanto. A US secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman, was also on the board of directors of Calgene Pharmaceuticals which is an affiliate of Monsanto. Linda J. Fisher, a former Monsanto official, was nominated by Bush to be second-in-command at the Environmental Protection Agency. She was Monsanto’s representative in Washington from 1995 to 2000 and co-ordinated the company’s strategy to those opposed to Genetically Modified food. Stansfield Turner, former Director of the CIA is a member of the Monsanto Board and there is Earle H. Harbison former president of Monsanto and CIA officer for 19 years. Michael Taylor worked for Monsanto as an attorney before being appointed as deputy commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. While at the FDA, the authority that deals with all US food approvals, Taylor made crucial decisions that led to the approval of GE foods and crops. Then he returned to Monsanto, becoming the company’s vice president for public policy. Add to that the fact that Monsanto's chief lawyer was appointed to the Supreme Court by George Bush Sr, and you can't get better connected than that and, if my memory serves me correctly, he was also the supreme Court Judge that took the oath of George Bush Junior when he was sworn in as the US President.

During the Iraq invasion the targets included the Iraq seed stores. Records show that before the invasion Iraq farmers saved 97% of their seeds from previous harvests, but now have to buy in seed from the agrochemical consortiums under the 2004 regulations that prevent farmers from saving seed. They not only have to buy the seed but also the matched pesticides and herbicides that ensure the seed flourishes. I wonder if Mrs. Spellman will include prayers for these farmers when she hosts the 2010 Conservative Party Church Service?

Mrs. Spellman, as we know, is now the U.K. Environment Secretary and well known for her support of genetic modification after, I am informed, spending many years in the agricultural industry setting up the biotechnology lobbying firm Spelman, Cormack and Associates with her husband. Mrs. Spellman’s maiden name is Cormack. Upon appointment as Environment Secretary she immediately approved GM potato crop trials in Norfolk.

I am told that in May 2010 she resigned her Directorship of Spelman, Cormack and Associates, but the Dorridge-based company, specialising in advice involving food & pharmaceuticals, is in the hands of her husband Mark, who, I believe is also Managing Director of Accenture, a procurement company, one of Accenture’s subsidiaries being Accenture Defence, a firm procuring military equipment. Caroline Spellman’s role has been dubbed "a clear conflict of interest" by critics such as the Sunlight Centre, who campaign for greater transparency in government and recently demanded that Mrs. Spellman’s links to biotechnology be investigated.

Professor Brian Wynne was vice chairman of a steering group set up by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) to gauge the public mood on genetically modified (GM) food but Prof Wynne resigned when it became clear that the consultation was biased in favour of GM. He said the public consultation was "rigged" from the start in favour of the controversial new technology. "It is another arm of propaganda to try and push the opinion of the British public in the ‘right’ direction. In that sense it is in line with so much public policy in Britain that assumes the public is anti-science," he said.

Prof Wynne, a sociologist at Lancaster University, is the country's leading expert on public engagement with science and has also advised House of Lords and EU committees. He was vice chairman of a steering group of 11 experts appointed by the FSA in November 2009 to begin a dialogue with the public on the growing use of genetically modified crops in our food. Prof Wynne said within a few months it became clear that the consultation was "rigged" to soften up public opinion on GM. "Apparently No. 10 was lobbied by the food industry on GM, the so-called public dialogue was agreed to and passed onto the FSA," he said.

Earlier the same week another member of the group Dr Helen Wallace, Director of the non-governmental organisation Genewatch, resigned in protest at the FSA's allegedly close links with the agri-chemical industry.

The majority of the world food supplies exist on seed saving. Saved GM seeds, when replanted, do not produce anything like the same crop. I quote a comment made by a third world farmer. “There’s nothing they [the GM companies] are leaving untouched; the mustard, the okra, the oil seed plants, the rice, the cauliflower, the corn. Once they have established the norm, that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them for every seed we grow of every crop we grow. If they control seed, they control food, they know it, and it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs. It’s more powerful than guns”.

GM is opening a Pandora’s Box of disaster. In one example of several, differing companies (GM) Transgenic Canola (rapeseed) has left many farmers’ fields in North Dakota, and is growing along roadsides at some distance from farms and, reported by the news arm of Science Journal Nature that the two differing GM Canola varieties, from Monsanto and Bayer, each resistant to a different herbicide had cross fertilised to produce a plant resistant to both of those companies herbicides, glyphosate and gluphosinate. In late 2004, “superweeds” that resisted Monsanto’s iconic “Roundup” herbicide, were reported in the U.S. media to have popped up in GM crops in the county of Macon, Georgia. Superweeds have, according to other media reports since, alarmingly appeared in other parts of Georgia, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri.

Bees will fly miles and pollinate different varieties of plants with different pollen and this GM cross fertilisation will happen again and again.

Why should the general public have forced upon us a costly and unsafe genetically modified crop when God has provided us with plenty and without any dangerous to health toxins? For millennia, human civilization has subsisted perfectly well without any genetic modifications, so why now?

To see and hear more please log onto to the 'Seeds of Deception' video mentioned below in comments... Thank you.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Global Warming and Peak Oil

When you read the conflicting reports of these in the media, written by journalists, politicians or environmental scientists, who do you trust?

Forget the hyperbole, and let us face simple and irrefutable facts. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, we have seen our air polluted by smog, acid rain and other pollutants, our water also polluted by the chemicals of industry and farming with little or no concern to the life of humanity or the plant water born life that relies on clean water for survival. A ministerial colleague talks of these signs as the ‘canary in the coalmine’, how right he is.

The earth’s resources are finite. Coal, oil and natural gas are running low. The easy and cheap sources of Middle East oil are long gone, the Canadian Tar Sands are the best example of this. The difference between the two is like walking into a pub one week and having a pint of the best bitter drawn off through a pump on the bar, and being told the next week that there is no more available, but what they are doing is to take up the carpets and steam out all the beer that has been spilt there over the years instead.

25 years ago, in the UK petrol cost 98p per gallon or 21p per litre. It now costs 119p per litre, £5:40p per gallon, the days of cheap energy are long gone. That is the main reason why car manufacturers are starting to plan and build electric cars.

The BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster was not the first of its kind, just tap ‘Piper Alpha’ into any search engines to see that the miracle is, that in drilling down through 4 miles of rock under 1 mile of ocean, the disaster has not been repeated many times over.

The media in the UK reports that Nuclear Power is the only clean energy that will supply our future needs. This conveniently ignores the fact that it takes around 12 energy consuming years to build a Nuclear Power station, then up to 30 years to decommission it after its life span, and then nuclear waste produced will need to be securely stored for thousands of years.

The only answer is to the twin problems of Global Warming and the end of cheap oil, is to research, manufacture and produce clean renewable energy that will allow mankind to have a brighter future, and this needs to happen now... not next year... now. Mankind will not survive unless we do, the created world will survive of course, because it does not need us, but we need it.

There are organisations that have had the courage to face the facts that ase above, in the uk TRANSITION TOWN TOTNESS was the first. If you log on to the link, you will find a lot of information sbout the movement with many useful links. Another Transition Initiative is TRANITION TOWN LEWES, again well wort a visit.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


In NY USA it was ‘snowmaggedon’ this February and ‘boilmaggedon’ this July. There were record temperatures in Pakistan recently, while in the UK there is a drought in Cumbria at present, after floods in Cumbria late last year.

In December 2009 the UK MET Office forecast record world temperatures for 2010 and in April 2010 the Environmental News Service reported that March 2010 was the hottest on record. The same contrasting events have also hit Australia, floods and droughts in the same area.

Glaciers are disappearing, as is Artic ice while more and more areas are subject to water shortages,

Forget the climate sceptics.. see what the real experts at both the UK Met Office and NASA have to say, otherwise than that, trust the evidence of your own eyes and don't forget, there is no 'them and us', only 'you and I'.

As you can see from the above links, 'Global warming' actually equals 'Climate Chaos'.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Biofuel. The truth behind the spin that biofuels are the answer to energy security and dwindling oil reserves. Miles per Gallon or Meals per Gallon?

Industrial Biofuels are fuels produced from agricultural crops. The main agricultural crops used for biodiesel are oil seeds such as palm, soy, sunflower, rapeseed and jatropha, and for petrol, starches such as maize, (corn) wheat and sugars. In small quantities, they are easily blended with existing fuels.

In the UK two biofuel refineries will be converting about 1 million tons of wheat every year into biofuel. This could make around 15 million pitta breads a year (no, that number is not a typo!) and feed the whole population of Kenya for 25 days. Biofuels are then competing for wheat, just as are pitta breads and pitta breads are the losers, as those in poor countries cannot compete on the open market.

“While many worry about filling their gas tanks, many others around the world are struggling to fill their stomachs. And it’s getting more and more difficult every day.” Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, 2008

The food crisis, and skyrocketing demand for industrial biofuels, are exacerbating the situation for poor people and undermining their right to food. The World Bank estimated in 2008 that the crisis had already pushed a further 100 million people into poverty. ActionAid estimated at the time that 30 million more people were now hungry as a result of biofuels.

“It is a crime against humanity to divert arable land to the production of crops which are then burned for fuel.” Jean Zeigler, (speaking in 2007) United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food 2000-2008

By November 2009, maize prices in Zambia, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique were still around 60% higher than at the start of 2007; in Tanzania it was 150%. Small wonder that the food crisis sparked riots across the globe from the Philippines, Bangladesh and India; to Egypt and Senegal; and to Mexico, Haiti and El Salvador.

“Filling the 25-gallon tank of an SUV/4X4 with pure ethanol requires over 450 pounds of corn – which contains enough calories to feed one person for a year.” Professors Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer, 2007

Industrial biofuels do not offer a solution to fuel security. Rather, industrial biofuels are fuelling poverty and hunger because they are now competing with food crops, dramatically increasing the prices that poor people pay for food worldwide. At the same time, biofuels are having disastrous local impacts on food security and land rights for many of the communities where they are grown. Industrial biofuels are the main cause of the food crisis and recent rises in hunger. Despite this, political action on hunger and biofuels has been minimal. Industrial biofuels provide a false solution that allows rich nations to continue their love affair with the internal combustion engine, and industry to continue its business-as-usual approach. It has allowed developed countries to avoid the urgent and difficult realisation that our current levels of transport fuel consumption (and energy more generally) are unsustainable and need to be reduced.

Miles per Gallon should never win over Meals per Gallon.

Friday, 11 June 2010

‘Guerrilla gardening’ in action.

In the UK, Lewes, East Sussex, there is a community garden springing up in a run-down industrial estate.

A few have started starting an ‘Earth Repair’ project. They have removed the rubbish, cut back the brambles, made paths for the people who use it as a walk, making living willow arches, bowers and hideouts for children.

Reclaimed pallets are being filled with soil, edible perennials and vegetable seeds are being planted and young gardeners are teaching other people how to make compost and grow biodynamically.

In Lewes a ‘desert’ of waste land is again starting to bloom, or, as Isaiah says "Like a lily the land will blossom. It will rejoice and sing with joy".

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Actions speak louder than words!

There are times when the only way to get over the problems and frustrations of the daily environmental news, oil spills, floods, extreme heat, etc, etc, is to actually get down and get on with something that will combat it, however small that attempt may seem to be.

Less than a year ago, eight months to be exact, I took over an allotment garden, well, actually a part of a field that was once, many years previously (20+) an allotment. Working there certainly eases the stress and strain that the daily round entails with the next door hens clucking away, the conversation of fellow workers, the horses in the next field and the constant bird song.

I have not spent enough time on the project, or so I thought, then I looked at the photos I had taken there and realised that there had actually been a lot of progress over the period. I tend to be somewhat obsessed regarding the appearance of a project and this is no exception and a delight is that so many that have passed by on the footpath have said they enjoy my efforts.

I used to cycle around Kent when I was in my early teens and always admired the look of the hop fields, so I have replicated this construction in the support for my beans and have placed soft fruit in the centre as well as sowing wild flower seeds at the margins. Even if it is not as productive as I am hoping, the bees and the passers-by will enjoy it!

Monday, 3 May 2010

The BP Oil Rig Disaster

Like you I have been focussed on the BP (Beyond Pollution) oil rig disaster that recently claimed 11 lives.

It has been reported that the leaking pipe, one mile down is spewing out oil at the rate of 5,000 barrels, 210,000 gallons a day. A safety valve that was supposed to shut off the flow of oil at the seabed in case of such an accident failed to operate, and so there is no way to stop the leak. The oil well taps into one of the largest U.S. reserves, quite simply this is an unprecedented environmental disaster.

Hundreds of imperilled species in the Gulf will be harmed by the toxic oil, the full extent of the damage will not be known for years to come as the oil could pour out for three months, efforts to contain the pollution being largely ineffective. We are but spectators.

As difficult as it is to deal with an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it is indescribably more difficult in the Arctic, but Obama has authorized Shell Oil to conduct exploration drilling this summer in the seas off Alaska, with the same technology that was used at the BP disaster.

Our society and its wealth is based on cheap oil, but as the more accessible sources of cheap oil run out so the price of oil goes up and it then becomes economically viable to drill and strip the less accessible areas in order to fuel societies addiction to it. Think of how a drug pusher gets clients hooked on heroin and then pushes the price up and you have a comparable analogy.

Is it worth it? The families of the 11 that died, and those along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida whose lives are going to be changed for years may well be asking themselves the same question.

Can we now put the sort of investment that is going into the clean-up operation into Solar Power? Safe, clean and cheap. We will have to make some adjustments to enable the technology to come into action, but compared to the adjustments the families of the 11 dead and those that are to be affected by the oil spill polution, these will be as nothing.

We can start the change while there is still time in order to scale down our reliance on oil, or we simply wait for reality that is to come to hit us.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The chances are that I will never see my great grandchildren

But when they are born the world they will live in will be very different to today's world. They will look back on their history, that is actually our present, and ask what I did to avert the environmental disabled and oil scarce society they have inherited once I knew what was going on. They may wonder if I protested in marches, if I tried to stop creation being plundered, if I tried to lead by example, if I tried to shout out the implications of climate change for their generation but was often drowned out by those in my generation who were only interested in money and power and if I really cared about what I bought, eat, and drove. I hope and pray they do not think that I let them down.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

The ‘Robin Hood Tax’; this is a tiny tax on bankers that would give billions to tackle world poverty and climate change.

This tax on banks – not you or I - has the power to raise hundreds of billions every year. It could give a vital boost to the health service, schools, and the fight against child poverty as well as tackling poverty and climate change around the world.

It is simple and obvious and given the risks that the bankers took with the lives of the many that then had to bail them out, a small price to pay for the greed of many in their industry.

In the UK The Royal Bank of Scotland made a 3.6 billion pound loss. The bank, which is 84% taxpayer owned after having been supported by a 45 billion pound loan has just paid out 1.3 billion pounds in bonus payments.

Somehow this seems all wrong to me...

Have a look at the video and see what you think. The idea is not popular with the banking industry. I wonder why?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Greenwash, have you been taken in by it?

Many large companies have now awakened to peoples environmental concerns, but have resorted to ‘Greenwash’ in order to appear green. Exxon Mobil screened an advert in the UK claiming that “natural gas is one of the world’s cleanest fuels”. This advert, which had wind turbines as a part of the background, was soon banned from being broadcast by the UK Advertising Standards Authority because the claim was misleading.

Sadly Greenwash is still all around and when I saw the Solar Dave Spoof Commercial below, I had to link it. It sums up much of what some advertisers feed us with today

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Continued Economic Growth Is Not Possible.

I am assured that we (the world it seems) are now back to a period of continued economic growth. I will happily accept the idea of continuing economic growth as soon as an economist demonstrates to me that the Earth will also grow at the same rate. Let’s face facts, indefinite global economic growth is unsustainable.

Let us imagine that an economy grows at 5% a year.

1st year 100%
2nd year 105%
3rd year 110.25%
4th year 115.76%
5th year 121.55%
6th year 127.63%
7th year 134.00%
8th year 140.71%
9th year 147.74%
10th year 155.13%
11th year 162.89%
12th year 171.03%
13th year 179.58%
14th year 188.56%
15th year 197.99%
16th year 207.89%

So, in the space of just 16 years our imagined economy is producing and consuming at over twice the rate it started at and at 20 years the figure is 252%. Isn’t this where our problems all started, when we put the word ‘gross’ (really gross) into "gross domestic product"?

Like the hampster below... it's impossible!

Monday, 25 January 2010

The world’s economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment.

Which is something that the majority of the world's economists, bankers and financiers somehow manage to overlook.

I was reading The Book of Revelation recently when I read with new eyes part of 11:15-19 where judgement is the subject.

"The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and those that reverence your name, both great and small and for destroying those who destroy the earth".

To use creation for selfish greed, desecrating the earth and so reducing its bio-diversity is not simply a crime against humanity it is blastpheny. It wrecks God's work of creation and blights not only those affected by Climate Change today, the poor and the vulnerable, it also blights the future of our children, grandchildren and those as yet unborn, and they are the ones that the present has actually been borrowed from.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Haiti; sometimes the world's events seem as so great as to defy comprehension...

Christian Aid has launched an emergency appeal for Haiti after a major earthquake struck the country. Thousands of people are dead, many are buried alive and countless have been left homeless.

If you can help financially, however little, please click on HERE.

'The Widow's Mite'.
He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had." (LUKE 21:1-4)

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Say It With Cans!

In the part of the US where keen environmentalists Andrea and Pete live, (Spokane, Washington) you can make some money by recycling cans. This young couple have decided to get married (great) but have agreed to pay for the wedding by earning money from recycling aluminium cans, now comes the problem.... they need to recycle 400,000 cans, about 5 tons....

Since in the US there are enough aluminum cans thrown away to build 8000 Boeing 747’s every year, this is a great idea and will focus peoples concept of waste in a way that is, so far, unique.

See HERE for more detail of this amazing couple!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Water; More Important Than Oil

The time of cheap and easy access to water is ending, posing a potentially greater threat to businesses than the loss of any other natural resource, including fossil fuel resources. The collapse of the world’s financial system are our warning because we live in a water 'bubble' as unsustainable as the bubble that burst in the world’s financial markets.

The Earth does not have an infinite supply of water. There is exactly the same amount of it available as there has always been. We are now, with some 6.7 billion individuals, sharing this same amount as the 300 million did at the time of the Roman Empire. Water use has been increasing per individual, during the 20th century the world population increased fourfold, but the amount of freshwater that it used increased nine times over. Almost 97.5 per cent of all water on earth is salt water, leaving only 2.5 per cent as fresh water. Nearly 70 per cent of that fresh water is frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland, less than one per cent of the world's fresh water is accessible for direct human use.

The Nile is the longest river on earth wandering for more than 4000 miles. Only two per cent of Egypt’s territory is arable along the Nile River and since the building of Aswan Dam, the discharge of the River into the Mediterranean has greatly reduced. The Tigris and Euphrates River system flowing through Syria and Iraq is being overused by the dams erected in Turkey and Iraq. The Kingdom of Jordan will need about 1.54 billion cubic meters of water to meet the needs of its population by the end of next year but will actually face a shortage of almost 319 million cubic meters. For the problems the Middle east faces, see HERE.

China’s Yellow River which flows some 4000 km’s through five provinces before it reaches the Yellow Sea, has been under mounting pressure for several decades. It first ran dry in 1972 and since 1985 it has often failed to reach the sea. China has built hundreds of water dams on the Yellow River during the last 50 years especially in the upper ranges. Thus record low water levels in the River have been witnessed in recent years.

The 2,900 km long Indus River, the lifeline of Pakistan’s economy is dying a slow death due to the shrinking Tibetan glaciers and construction of dams and barrages upstream. It also happens to be the main source of water supply to Pakistan’s major cities including Karachi. The drying up of Indus River has adversely effected the growth of mangrove forests as well as the fishing industry in Pakistan.

Friction between countries triggered by problems of water scarcity is on the rise. The regions of Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa are the most vulnerable in this regard. The armed conflict between Israel and Palestine over the Jordan river has been going on for more than 50 years and is getting worse by the day on account of increasing water shortage. Disagreements over water are also erupting along the Mekong River in Indo-China as well as around what remains of the Aral Sea in Eastern Europe. There have been longstanding disputes between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over the control of Nile River.

Lake Chad of Central Africa which supports some 30 million people has, due to global warming, shrunk to one-tenth of its former size over the past three decades. The conflict in Darfur owes its origin to decreasing water supply and the consequent shortage of pastures. In Kenya in January 2005 thousand of people fled their homes due to clashes over water in Kenya’s Rift valley.

Few years back, clashes broke out between two southern Indian states, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over access to Cauvery River which flows from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu. Karnataka blamed Tamil Nadu of wasting water and expanding its irrigated land, while in the US, hydrologists have declared thirty-six states of the country as ‘water-stressed’ states.

There are some alternatives available for oil, but none whatsoever for water.