Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dangers of Roundup

Project Censored has a list of the top 25 censored stories of 2007. Number 3 on the list is the "Oceans of the World are in Extreme Danger". But the one that really caught my attention was #13 New Evidence Establishes Dangers of Roundup. I just recently mentioned Roundup in my previous blog "What is Wrong with GMO's".

To quote the Project Censored article:

New studies from both sides of the Atlantic reveal that Roundup, the most widely used weedkiller in the world, poses serious human health threats. More than 75 percent of genetically modified (GM) crops are engineered to tolerate the absorption of Roundup—it eliminates all plants that are not GM. Monsanto Inc., the major engineer of GM crops, is also the producer of Roundup. Thus, while Roundup was formulated as a weapon against weeds, it has become a prevalent ingredient in most of our food crops.

Three recent studies show that Roundup, which is used by farmers and home gardeners, is not the safe product we have been led to trust.

The article goes on to describe the studies done.

We need to be very concerned about Roundup, given the power that Monsanto is starting to exert world wide.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Misuse of "National Security"

This week I heard two stories that got my interest. The first was the announcement of a lawsuit being brought by five environmental groups against the US Navy. The lawsuit attempts to prevent the navy from performing active sonar exercises in the area around Hawaii. Active sonar is damaging to whales and other marine mammals.

The second was the results from a lawsuit brought by former residents of the Chagos Islands against the UK government. The Chagos Islands are a British Territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The residents were moved from there to make way for the Diego Garcia air base, which it has turned out was funded by a secret agreement between the US and Britain. The former residents and their families want the right to return to the Islands. The Court of Appeals sided with the former residents.

What do these two cases have in common? In both cases the government has claimed their defense on "National Security".

The first case is actually only part of a long controversy over the Navy's sonar. The Navy has previously claimed that testing of the sonar is necessary for "national security". In the case of Diego Garcia, the UK government has lost previous cases, but tried to sidestep them by claiming royal prerogative - which means they can bypass parliament.

Frankly, I am tired of hearing the "national security" defense (or should I say excuse) anytime that any military or other organizations does want to do what everybody has to. I have seen the defense used to avoid the environmental laws, to stifle freedom of speech and press, and even to commit murder (aka assassination).

Conclusion, the national security excuse should be abolished by all government in this world.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Biofuels versus Efficiency

There has been much in the news about the use of biofuels lately. However, one thing that is very little publicized is that there are some people who are concerned about the increased use of biofuels.

Their concern is from the fact that for some temperate countries their source of biofuels will be palm oil found in tropical, mostly poor, countries. This demand for palm oil then encourages planting of oil palm. Farmers therefore plant the oil palm as a cash crop instead of planting rice, cereals, or other food crops. It also encourages destruction of forest areas, which in turn increases risks of flooding, etc.

I have heard even a few people call this push for palm oil from tropical countries "colonialism". While I do not go that far, I would agree with their general argument. The problem is best summed up by the title of an article written many years ago by Amory Lovins, a well-known sustainable energy expert and founder/chairman of the Rocky Mountain Institute: "Technology is the Answer, but what was the Question?"

The point made by most of those questioning biofuels, and a point I have made many times before, is that efficiency is the real issue. With improved efficiency we can immediately reduce energy use and hence carbon emissions. I have seen estimates that, using currently available technology, we can reduce energy use by 20% from increased efficiency alone.

This issue leads to two points. Do not simply jump on the bandwagon because something is declared "environmental friendly". And think about the indirect effects of doing anything, including what you might think is environmental.