Bits and Pieces

This installment of Bits and Pieces covers the projected land requirements of the MX missile program, the value of old-fashioned farming techniques in African development, the anticipated effects of chemical contamination on fertility, and more.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
May/June 1980
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African development experts were of the opinion old fashioned farming techniques would be more helpful to the Third World than big agribusiness technology.

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SHADES OF DR. STRANGELOVE: When an interviewer asked Republican candidate George Bush how he thought a nuclear exchange could be won, he replied: "You have a survivability of command in control, survivability of industrial potential, protection of a percentage of your citizens... and you have a capability that inflicts more damage on the opposition than it can inflict on you..." "Do you mean that five percent would survive? Two percent?" he was questioned. "More than that... if everybody fired everything he had, you'd have more than that survive."

GREED (Get Rich Exploiting the Earth's Development) is a tongue-in-cheek organization formed by some Montana environmentalists in answer to a pro-development group called NEED (Northwest Energy, Employment, and Development). Among GREED's proposals is a 1,200-foot tall, stainless steel dam, and the phony firm's motto is: "If people weren't meant to take all they could get, God wouldn't have given them two good hands to grab it with."

ANOTHER REASON TO GO WHOLISTIC: Each year, Americans use 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (which amounts to 40% of our total production of the fuel) to manufacture 30 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer... for which U.S. farmers will pay $6 billion.

A MASSIVE LAND GRAB : The deployment of the proposed MX missile system would require 3 to 12 million acres (an area as much as four times the size of Connecticut), and the spots chosen — besides becoming potential nuclear wastelands in case of attack — would face lowered water tables, the displacement of inhabitants for "security" purposes, and the possibility of accidents involving nuclear materials and rocket propellants. Sites in Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado have been under consideration.

ON TOP OF THAT, our nuclear counterforce systems are now being fully automated, so that an atomic attack could — perhaps — be launched simply by computer error. (On November 9, 1979 the North American Defense Command computer in Colorado Springs sent out such a false attack alert... and a number of planes were in the air before the error was discovered.)

OLD-FASHIONED FARMING: According to African Development Group's P. Jay Fetner, what the Third World needs from the U.S. is information provided by "family" farmers who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get down to business on a long-term basis. "All the technology in the world won't help," he says. "U.S. Agribusiness needs to go back to its own roots."

PUBLISHERS EXCHANGE, a new periodicals promotion company, will send you sample copies of over 138 publications-covering a wide range of interests-for 50¢ per copy.

AN OMEN? In Madrid, Spain's Incarnation Monastery a stain which is said to be the blood of a fourth-century martyr, Saint Pantaleon, did not coagulate after it became liquid (as it reportedly does each year) last July 27. According to monastery records, the same phenomenon occurred just before the outbreaks of World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and World War II.

ON A GLOBAL BASIS, nations now invest an average of $16,000 a year per soldier, and $260 a year in the education of a school-age child. In the U.S., the figures are, respectively, $43,600 and $1,675.

INVOLUNTARY BIRTH CONTROL? Because of the chemical contamination present in work places, air, water, food, and even clothing, Dr. Joseph McFalls, Jr. of Temple University concludes that the proportion of couples in industrialized nations who cannot bear children will probably increase. Already, 40% of American women are sub-fecund... a term used to describe a level of reproductive ability which is less than normal.

A LESS PAINFUL RABIES SHOT, which can be injected into the arm rather than the stomach, may be on the market before the end of the year... with a series of only five injections needed, instead of the 14 to 21 shots required for the old serum to be effective.

IN ORDER TO REDUCE THE USE OF CHEMICAL PESTICIDES ON RICE CROPS, the Chinese now control harmful insects with spiders, in a ratio of approximately one spider to 20 pests. This method has "increased rice yield without increasing expenses" .... The U.S. Forest Service is promoting a 1980 "PLANT A BIRTHDAY TREE" campaign to encourage people to use such "living memorials" to commemorate special anniversaries .... ACID RAIN ATE THE PAINT OFF MORE THAN 200 CARS in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area in just one seven-day period .... In New York, you're FOUR TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE BITTEN BY A HUMAN THAN BY A RAT , and residents of Brooklyn's Fort Green section bite each other more than five times as often as New Yorkers in general.... The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that approximately 84,000 AMERICAN TEXTILE WORKERS suffer from "brown lung" as a result of inhaling cotton dust .... In Rangoon, Burma EXPERIMENTS ON 30 DRUG ADDICTS USING ACUPUNCTURE on arms, ears, and knees proved more successful than other treatments, including use of the addictive substance methadone.

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