Bits and Pieces: Global Population, Methane Gas, and Ecology-Conscious People

This short series of reports includes news on global population, methane gas, and getting land into the hands of ecology-conscious people.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors
March/April 1975

Short reports on homestead news.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/ALX


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SELLING BIRTHRIGHT FOR A MESS OF MONEY? RJB Sales Export Inc. of Sequim, Washington has contracted with the Persian Gulf sheikdoms of Dubai and Bahrain to provide them with at least 50,000 metric tons of liquefied cow manure each month for the next three years. American farmers in 40 states are involved in the operation, and will get 5 cents a gallon for their manure. But how much more would that manure be worth if it were merely put back into the U.S. soil from which it comes'?

GLOBAL POPULATION MAY BE EXPLODING FASTER than previously realized, according to a study sponsored by the Environmental Fund. Figures, how world population growing at a rate of 90 million per year … not 75 million, as was previously thought. In the United States, the Census Bureau has declared that 5.3 million people were not counted in 1970. And the population of China — formerly said to be 800 million — was shown to be at least 917 million people, if not more.

NUTRITIONAL YEAST FROM PETROLEUM? Standard Oil Company has announced it will open a plant this year to produce 10 million pounds of yeast (50% protein) annually to be used as a food source.

THE MOST DEADLY SUBSTANCES KNOWN TO MAN —  plutonium 239 — is the primary fuel for Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactors … and The Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., points out that less than an ounce of the material could conceivably kill everyone in the United States. If the government's stepped-up LMFBR development program proceeds as planned. the next 25 years may see us transporting several hundred thousand pounds of the isotope by rail, truck, or plane annually.

THE ENVIRONMENT QUALITY PARTY ain't a weekend celebration, folks … it's a new political organization dedicated to low energy use. Ecological sanity, economic stability, personal realization, and the survival of man. EQP was founded in the belief that conventional politics offers no hope for survival, change, or even recognition of impending disaster.

METHANE IS JUST A LOT OF HORSE MANURE … and Donald Brockman of Neenah. Wisconsin is making good use of both. Brockman — who owns and operates a stable of more than 100 horses (which produce about 100 cubic feet of manure daily) — is installing a huge methane digester plant on his Land. The gas will heat his home, a barn, four large stables, an office, and an indoor riding arena … and will also power electrical generators. That'll mean an annual savings of $5,000 in utility bills! Brockman also plans to mix the carbon produced by hiss digester with lime and sell it as fertilizer, and will raise 250,000 trout fingerlings on the plant's residue slurry.

FREE STERILIZATION AS AN EMPLOYEE BENEFIT is being offered by Charles MacArthur, owner of Endacom Graphics in Connecticut. MacArthur, who had his own vasectomy performed over 12 years ago, feels that. Sterilization should be an integral part of corporate health benefit programs. Another unusual employee reward at the small graphics company: Any worker who travels to work by bicycle or other environmentally sound vehicle receives a half-hour of overtime pay!

ANYBODY GONNA SWALLOW THIS HOLE THING? At a recent symposium sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey, Dr. John D. Ridge, head of the Department of Mineral Economics at Pennsylvania State University, introduced a proposal that he said "could conceivably uncover an estimated $750 billion in recoverable raw materials" and "duplicate in the next 25 years all the growth and demand for mineral and energy resources of the previous 200 years". His proposal? Sink a network of 7,500 three-mile-deep exploratory drill holes across the nation … one every twenty miles. 'Nuff said.

GETTING LAND INTO THE HANDS OF MORE ECOLOGY–CONSCIOUS PEOPLE was just one of the many vital topics discussed — and acted upon — at the Northwest Conference for Alternative Agriculture in Ellensburg. Washington. Workshops at the seminar led to the formation of an information exchange network, a seed bank system, a food-trading plan, and a rural apprenticeship program. The conference may prove to be a "blueprint" for other regions where the need for coordination and cooperation among ecologically aware people is recognized. (Could that be your area?)

YOGURT CUTS CHOLESTEROL, according to a report in the National Enquirer. Tests run at Vanderbilt University are said to indicate that there is a substance its yogurt which reduces cholesterol … despite the fact that the food itself contains a high level of the infamous substance.

REP. JAMES A. BURKE (D–MASS.) HAS AUTHORED A BILL which would direct the federal government to distribute free seeds and plants for use in home gardens The House Agriculture Committee approved the bill — over the objections of Chairman Rep. W.R. Page (D–Tex.) and the Agriculture Department — 15 to 9. It's estimated that the proposed $6 million worth of seeds, if distributed as planned, would produce between $380 and $400 million worth of vegetables each year. Says Burke, "It's the cheapest form of helping people help themselves that I know of."

THE FIRST ANNUAL JUICY TOMATO MEMORIAL AWARD was presented recently to Mrs. Jean Farmer of Bloomington, Indiana. The award is bestowed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest to an individual or organization making a unique contribution toward improving the quality of the American diet. Mrs. Farmer (a housewife and mother of four) was honored for her successful and almost single–handed efforts to effect a strict ban on "junk" foods in Indiana's Monroe County school cafeterias.

A REPORT ENTITLED "ACID RAIN: A SERIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM" which recently appeared in Science magazine noted that the annual acidity value of precipitation in the north eastern United States now averages about pH 4 … and that some individual storms have been recorded at pH 2.1 (something akin to vinegar). G.E. Likens and F.H. Bormann, co-authors of the article, point to increased use of fossil fuels and — ironically enough — the installation of particle-removal devices in industrial smokestacks as the probable cause.

THE FLIGHT OF THE "KILLER" BEES CONTINUES and — for the most part — remains unchecked. Costa Rican officials are understandably alarmed as the steady northern migration of the now-famous "killer" or "assassin" bees brings the deadly insects within a year's traveling distance of that country. The unusually aggressive cross-breed of African and South American honey bees — all apparently descendants of a swarm which escaped a Sao Paulo. Brazil research lab in 1957 — attack their victims "en masse" and are now responsible for the deaths of thousands of animals and over 300 humans.


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