Nature and Environment
News about the health and beauty of the natural world that sustains us.


Solve These Climate Change Report Mysteries

Solve the mystery 

It’s up to you. It’s up to me. It’s up to everyone who has a stake in a stable climate, ample food and fiber, and shelter from the storms — the increasingly savage storms that are Earth’s new normal. We’ve got some mysteries to unravel.

If you are depending on the life-support basics listed above, then answer this: Why did the US Agriculture Department (USDA) attempt to bury America’s action plan for conducting science into climate change so that farmers could be empowered with facts to respond wisely to what’s happening in the world?

The critical 33-page USDA action plan, paid for with our tax dollars, was stuffed somewhere in a bureaucratic closet never to be allowed into public light of day. But thanks to a civic-minded whistleblower and a reporter, the plan was leaked to Politico. As stated at its start, the plan outlines how scientific research can help farmers to understand, to adapt to, and to minimize the increasingly disruptive impact of climate change.

I must concede that “why did the USDA bury the report?” is a dull question to frame as a mystery. At least part of the answer is as plain and pitiful as a flooded farm field. The White House has chosen to believe climate change is unreal, and it has staffed its agencies with other “everything-is-just-ducky” true believers.

But we just learned this month that the glaciers in Alaska are melting 100 times faster than anyone thought. That’s just one stunning element of hundreds of elements telling us – via science and basic common-sense observation – that climate change is dangerously real, whether the USDA wants to speak truth about it or not. 

A better mystery to mull is the mystery of what we — knowing that the government will neither accept the reality of climate change nor act wisely in response — might do ourselves to promote a stable climate, community food security, and general well-being.

That’s a mystery worth solving. And that’s a mystery worthy of intelligent, dynamic action.

Enlightened Self-interest

 “A great challenge of today,” the late Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess wrote, “is to save the planet from further devastation that violates both the enlightened self-interest of humans and non-humans, and decreases the potential of joyful existence for all.”

Enlighten your self-interest

Naess wrote those words decades ago. Over the years the unreeling of reality has exposed his challenge as even more starkly in our faces.

Noble appeals for people to exhibit moral-intelligent behavior are impotent in the face of the steady, helter-skelter derangement of the planet, Naess felt. He observed that such appeals tend to have little impact. Instead, he argued that human beings are more likely to change through encouragement.

With that in mind, I encourage you, if you have read this far, to engage another question, which for the sake of symmetry you can call a mystery if you want.

Would you feel more secure, more encouraged in life, if you and your household were producing some of your own food, or in some way directly supporting the people in your community who are developing clean, sustainable, healthy food systems?

If you are enhancing your household and community food security in any way, shape, or form, then you are practicing basic agroecology, and that is indeed enlightened self-interest. It’s enlightened community, national, and global interest as well.

The main philosophical thread woven by Arne Naess is known as deep ecology. And one of the key tenets of deep ecology is the understanding that when we are learning about the Earth and defending our home planet through wise farming and food systems — as the closeted USDA report advocates — we are defending ourselves.

Images courtesy of Pixabay.com

Independent journalist Steven McFadden is rooted in agrarian cyberspace at DeepAgroecology.net. Information about his wider work and all of his nonfiction books is available at Chiron-Communications.com.


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Adopting Senior Dogs

 

White Muzzles:

When I walk through any animal shelter I will usually see several older senior dogs. Frequently senior dogs are passed over while puppies and younger dogs are chosen for adoption instead of the older dogs. The white muzzle seniors then wait and hope someone will one day claim them before their time runs out. Seniors dogs don’t last long in some shelters that are kill shelters. 

Disposable Society: 

Sadly we humans have evolved into a disposable society but that should not apply to senior dogs. Just because a dog is old does not mean it has outlived its usefulness. It has been our experience that adopting an older dog has rewards that those who have given them up will never realize. They can offer a new family devotion and love beyond measure. Sure, they are at the end of their days but they still have much to contribute to a family.  

Some Escape Bad Circumstances: 

At least three of our rescues were previously kept outside with one being picked up as a stray, another kept in a kennel outside and the other surrendered to us due to an encounter with a bear. The reasons are different why dogs suddenly find themselves homeless or given away. Having our dogs inside with us enables us to fully appreciate their personalities, their conduct and helps us help them adjust to better behaviors. Kept outside they are not given the opportunity to be fully appreciated because of limited interaction.  

Shelters Shouldn’t Be The Final Destination For Old Dogs: 

Older dogs languish in shelters sometimes for years while young dogs are adopted more rapidly. We have in the past few years adopted two senior dogs ourselves. One was 8 years old (see photos) and one is 11 years old. There is nothing more satisfying to me than adopting an older dog. They have often given up hope of ever finding a home and you can see them dejectedly in their confinement at a shelter. They often come trained which makes acclimation into a new family easier for the adopter. 

Not Wanting The Pain Of loss: 

Probably the most common reason people don’t adopt an older dog is that they know they will just get attached and the dog will die since they have a shorter time to live and they don’t want to suffer the pain/grief over the loss. That is a valid consideration but compassion for the dog is also a consideration. Many senior dogs have come from unfavorable circumstances and to give the dog a loving home in its final days is compassionate. Yes, there will be pain when that dog dies but there will also be satisfaction of making a difference in that dog’s final time on earth. 

Adopted Older Dogs Are Extremely Grateful: 

In my opinion there is no price that can be put on adopting a senior dog because it would be priceless. Any love you can give them will come right back to you multiplied several times over. Senior dogs sometimes do have health issues but with proper treatment and care and plenty of love it will generally extend their lives. A senior dog which has languished in a shelter and lost hope will love his new family with a depth of love and devotion that is indescribable. When I look into a senior dog’s eyes what I see is a devotion and love beyond measure. I have never met a person who couldn’t use a little more love. 

Personal Experience: 

We just adopted another senior dog that is estimated to be around 11 years old. She came with some health issues that we will work on having resolved. Our most recent adopted - Ruby - is apparently deaf which makes her adjustment more difficult. We are helping her adapt through the use of hand signals since voice commands are of little use. She is now adjusting admirably.  To have her healthy and around for a few more years is well worth the veterinarian cost. Her final time will be much happier in a healthy state than if she were left in the shelter.  

Organizations That Helps Old Dogs Find New Homes: 

We found Ruby through an organization that originated in Maine and has expanded to New Mexico and Colorado. They promote senior dogs and try to find them a forever home by working with shelters. This organization is Old Dogs New Digs and their website can be found at the end of this blog. 

There are other advocate groups for senior dogs that facilitate getting senior dogs into new homes but this group reaches across state lines using media. If your area shelter is interested in having them help with senior dogs I suggest going on their web page and reading about what they do and then contact them. 

Putting Others Ahead Of Self: 

I personally believe that having a senior dog before you adopt a younger dog can be time saving when it comes to training. Older dogs tend to mentor young dogs and teach them lessons they will need. I have watched our senior dogs somehow communicate with younger dogs and while I have no clue how they do it, the younger dog seems to always get the message. Any expectations that I have had when adopting a senior dog are always consistently exceeded.

Giving An Older Dog Another Chance At Life: 

An older dog can enrich your life in special ways plus their love/devotion for being rescued seems never ending. The attached photos of Bozley and Ruby reveal just how much they love. The reader can discern for themselves what that look represents but what I see is love and devotion. It is my opinion that we live in a time where we are categorized by our ethnicity, religion, sex or politics and I would prefer to be categorized as the man who gives senior dogs a loving home and spoils them rotten. That is a category I believe has virtue, not separation and division. 

Old Dogs New Digs: www.olddogsnewdigs.com

For more on Bruce and Carol and their two senior dogs, Bozwell and Ruby, go to their personal blog site at: www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com


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Foraging for Chanterelles

Wild chanterelle mushrooms 

The heat and humidity of summer in the Southeast can be brutal. But the stifling weather makes it a perfect time to go prospecting for golden chanterelles, which, incidentally, are my favorite wild mushrooms! And I’m not alone considering the price of chanterelles can be upwards of $20/pound at the local farmers market.

But they’re actually pretty common this time of year and easy to find. Plus, it’s a lot more fun to forage for them in the forest than it is to buy them at a market. We usually have a prolific crop in the woods just downhill from our front door.

When to Look

Depending on locale, chanterelles can occur any time between May and December. Here in North Carolina, we usually start seeing them in early June, but their numbers really start to explode in early July. I don’t remember ever seeing any past October.

The best time to look for chanterelles is a couple days or so after a good soaking rain. 

Where to Look

Chanterelles generally grow in the canopy of hardwoods like oak, beech, and maple. Focus especially on areas that are consistently damp like seasonal creek bottoms and drainages.

Since we have so much national forest around us, we love to take lazy drives down Forest Service roads scouting for chanties. Their brilliant yellow makes them really stand out against the shadow of forest. Once we find a “stand”, we’ll pull over and start gathering.

Chanterelles tend to re-appear in the same places month after month and year after year, so we typically check our honey holes a few weeks apart.

Chanterelle false gills

How to Identify

There are several species but Golden chanterelles, Cantharellus cibarius, are what I usually think of when I think of chanterelles. They’re distinctly bright yellow or orange and typically grow a couple of inches tall. They have a pleasant, fruity smell about them.

Chanterelles have false gills, which means their “gills” are sort of rounded-over, whereas true gills are more like fins. The false gills start underneath the edge of the wavy cap, continue part-way down the stem and eventually fade away to a smooth stem.

How to Harvest

There’s a lot of debate among mushroom hunters about whether you should cut chanterelles (and other wild mushrooms) off at the base, leaving the “root”, or whether it’s OK to just pull the whole thing out of the dirt.

The theory is that by cutting them, you leave the mycelium in the dirt, which will help spawn more mushrooms.

I don’t know if that’s true, but we always cut ours. If nothing else, it helps keep our harvest clean. When you just yank a mushroom out the ground, you’ll get a bunch of dirt and sand along with it, which ultimately makes more cleaning work for you later.

Oh, and don’t pick old or dirty chanterelles. The dirty ones just aren’t worth the cleaning effort and likely will never get clean enough to eat, and the old ones just aren’t good to eat. If you only find old ones, go back to that spot after the next rain and you’ll probably find fresh chanterelles.

Once you cut your mushrooms, throw them in a basket and go find some more to pick! Baskets, incidentally, are ideal for collecting wild mushrooms, since they’re generally wider than tall, which means you probably won’t pile them so high that they’ll crush each other. 

Eating Chanterelles

Once you’re back home with your bounty, you can cook them right away, dry them for later use, or freeze them after sautéing in butter. Or you can keep them in the fridge in a breathable paper bag for a week and a half or so. 

For more info on finding and cooking chanterelles, check out our chanterelle blog post

Happy foraging!


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Point-Of-Use Power Generation

 Is it any wonder this is not sustainable?

Rethinking the Existing Power Grid

As the world enters into a new solar minimum, the chances of a massive coronal mass ejection are dampened at the very least, though still a factor that should not be entirely dismissed altogether. The potential for an electromagnetic pulse are a far more unsettling possibility, as such an occurrence would likely be ringing in the commencement of hostilities between nations … in which case electrical energy may not be the most pressing of concerns. Still, despite all of this, the electrical power grid is old, unstable, vulnerable to numerous causes of failure and expensive and time-consuming to replace. As such, it seems not only beneficial, but even prudent to consider the potential for point of use energy production devices.

The electrical grid is not sustainable by any stretch in its current form. There is a vast difference between a coronal mass ejection or CME and an electromagnetic pulse which bears noting, even in passing. An electromagnetic pulse is a very high frequency event that will effectively burn up virtually all of the electronic equipment exposed to such an occurrence. The CME on the other hand, is a much more commonly occurring, natural phenomena that requires a long antenna to transmit the burst. While a naturally occurring charged plasma CME would not necessarily burn up all of the electronic equipment, it would still effectively disable the entire electrical grid at least on the surface of the planet that was struck directly.

The Cost of Loss of the Power Grid

According to Dr. Peter Ryan, a physicist working with NASA, there is somewhere around a 10-percent chance of a massive CME physically striking the earth anytime between now and somewhere around 2022. According to the government, such a catastrophe would be more expensive than Hurricane Katrina, merely in terms of loss of infrastructure from the reigning chaos. It would take literally years before all of the necessary infrastructure was rebuilt and power restored to the coastal regions should such a strike hit the US directly.

This of course, does not take into account the toll on humanity. The coastal regions, in case anyone has missed it, are where the vast majority of the American population lives. A couple of years without telephones, internet, ATMs or other modern conveniences would all cause their own problems. Fortunately, as was noted, the chances for such an occurrence are at least minimized as we enter into a solar minimum … but this does absolutely nothing to stabilize the electrical grid either. Thus, there is a notable demand if not an absolute need for the means to generate electrical energy on site or as it is more commonly referred to, point of use electrical power generation.

Smaller, local Power Generators would replace substations

Viable Alternatives to the Power Grid

Many homesteaders and others who live in more isolated, rural locations already have options at their disposal should they encounter any long or even short term loss of electrical energy. However, most of these options are very limited in nature and design, often create an excessive level of pollution, and are by and large wholly unsustainable in nature.

One of the directions that these articles will ideally lead into, is the introduction of numerous point of use technologies that can be introduced on the homestead, often without having to tie back into the broken power grid. Again, this is something of an introductory article, hoping to get some feedback from the readers in order to see what types of information are most commonly requested. However, in their work with governments and other organizations around the world, the author has come across a great many technologies that will be introduced in these pages.

Among the most promising technologies is a Helioconverter technology that converts municipal solid waste and other unregulated waste materials into a series of byproducts including multi-use, marketable byproducts, potable water and biodiesel. If there is any real drawback, it is that there is a net loss of natural gas production, but this is largely offset by the fact that there is no exhaust as the natural gas (or methane) produced during the decomposition, is used to heat the waste without incineration … meaning without any exhaust or the release of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide or carbon particulate matter into the environment unchecked.

Another very promising technology that may not be suitable for every homestead, but that can be used in locations with large volumes of running water, is a hydrogenerator that is fully scale-able and has the capacity to generate all of the necessary energy for the average home.

Yet another viable option is a solar generator that utilized high-efficiency collectors to generate a level of energy sufficient to charge batteries … which is another area of personal interest for the author … including the sodium/sulfur batteries and other viable alternatives to the lithium and lead acid batteries. These will be augmented with introductions to fuel cells that run on propane or natural gas, forced micro-turbines, electromagnetic technologies and other options that are either already available on the commercial markets in addition to some that are in the final phases of testing and development.

Some of these articles will be technical articles breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of the technologies being presented, while others will include interviews with the inventors, developers and other staff or key personnel who have a more intimate knowledge of the inner workings and exactly how it will benefit you, the reader. However, in order to determine what is most suitable for the existing audience as introductions are made, and as the place of the author on this blog becomes more well-refined, it is imperative that the reader let it be known exactly what it is that they want and need to see on these pages.

List of Historical Solar Events

In 1859, what became known as “The Carrington Event” stemmed from a solmass coronal ejection or CME coming from the sun. The Carrington Event was powerful enough to destroy the telegraph systems throughout Europe and the United States. It may be easy to laugh off the idea of losing the telegraph, but it should be noted that there was no electrical grid in existence at the time … had there been, it would have been completely destroyed as well.

“The Great Geo-Magnetic Storm of 1921” is considered to be one of the five worst recorded events of solar storms, it disrupted communications traffic from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River. On May 15, it not only disrupted but knocked out of operation, the entire signal and switching system of the New York Central Railroad below 125th street. This outage then was followed by a fire in the control tower at 57th and Park Avenue. The same storm burned out a Swedish telephone station and interfered with telephone, telegraph and cable traffic over most of Europe.

1958 – In the last century, there also have been other events such as the Feb. 11, 1958, solar storm which resulted in nationwide radio blackouts. According to various reports, auroras were visible in Boston, Seattle, Canada and Newfoundland. The storm reportedly was so intense over Europe that newspaper reports at the time said that there was concern for fires and the fear that war had broken out again.

1989 – The entire province of Quebec was blacked out from a glancing blow from a passing plasma storm. (The latter portion of the “tail” of the storm was likely the only portion that passed through the atmosphere of the earth … had the storm hit directly, the damage would have been substantially greater.

2012 – A geomagnetic plasma cloud resulting from yet another CME, barely missed the earth. This one was deemed to be larger than both the events of 1859 and 1921 which adversely impacted vast swathes of Europe and the US. The estimated damage and financial impact of a direct hit was estimated by the US government to be over two trillion US dollars … but that would not be the worst of it these days.

Reference Resources

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110302-solar-flares-sun-stormsearth-danger-carrington-event-science/

https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/186805-the-solar-storm-of-2012-that-almost-sent-us-back-to-a-post-apocalyptic-stone-age

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/23jul_superstorm/

As always, please leave any of your thoughts, comments, questions and suggestions in the comment section below so that they can be addressed individually, and perhaps even used for consideration in future articles. None of this work would be possible without you, the reader, and as such, your thoughts and considerations are the most important aspect of any articles published herein.

 


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California’s Climate Change and Clean Water Problem

 

Climate change is an issue that scientists warn will have dire and irreversible effects if people don’t work together to mitigate it. That harsh reality applies to the Earth’s inhabitants no matter where they live in the world. But, in California, there’s something making things even more complicated.

The Perceived Choice Between Clean Water and Climate Change Action

More than a million Californians do not have clean water for bathing or drinking. One of the ways state officials plan to deal with that issue is to dip into money reserved for fighting climate change. More specifically, the funds will come from the state's cap and trade system, which puts a limit on emissions.

Although some activists celebrated the move and assert that having access to clean water is a human right, others are understandably alarmed. They recognize that both clean water and climate change mitigation are essential things to focus on in the months and years ahead. But, they don’t believe in sacrificing one need to put more financial resources toward another.

California Has a Substantial Surplus

A budget report released at the start of 2019 showed that the state has a surplus of more than $21 billion. People understandably wonder, then, why the state's governor sought to impose billions worth of new taxes — in addition to funding water cleanup efforts via cap and trade revenues meant for climate change action.

However, this would not be the first time that the state would use those cap and trade funds for something other than to fight climate change. The cap and trade revenues go into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). Its goal is to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels.

In 2014, California's state budget allocated $130 million of the GGRF funds to the Strategic Growth Council, which received the money to develop a program called Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities. Accompanying legislation also mandated that 50% of those funds go toward housing for low-income households.

Mixed Feelings About This Latest Usage of Funds

As mentioned above, people are split regarding their feelings on this news to dip into cap and trade funds to help clean up California's ailing water supply. The budget advisor for California's Governor Gavin Newsom reportedly tried to answer those who were unhappy with the decision by asserting that it would still help cut emissions indirectly.

He asserted that cleaner water would mean the state's residents are not as reliant on bottled water brought by trucks, which would thereby reduce emissions. Even so, some people pointed out how that was an excessively creative way to make the decision seem more palatable. Last year, state attorneys wrote the California Legislature an opinion that said any cap and trade money should only get spent on causes that "reasonably relate" to reducing emissions.

Senator Bob Wieckowski, the chair of the subcommittee that oversees the cap and trade program was among those who are fed up with the decision. He pointed out that since there's only a weak link between clean water and climate change emissions, this decision "further weakens the integrity" of the GGRF program.

However, Kate Gordon, who's involved with the Governor's Office of Planning and Research, supports the use of cap and trade monies in this way. She believes it's time to stop looking at things in such a segregated way and having separate budgets for climate impact and emissions.

The Cap and Trade Restrictions Will Lift Soon

The people who are upset now about California's decision will likely need to get used to GGRF funds being used to fund things they may not deem relevant to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. That's because the climate change law that initially set out to reduce emissions levels to 1980 levels by next year was supposed to expire by 2020 too. However, legislators passed an extension that puts it back into effect until 2030.

Even more notably, the extension specifies that, as of January 1, 2020, the previous limits on spending cap and trade money for purposes only related to slashing emissions will no longer be in place. Then, the likelihood is arguably even greater that the money from cap and trade penalties will ultimately go toward things that don't directly relate to fighting climate change.

The State Must Take Both Issues Seriously

The scientific community warned that climate change poses a severe threat to the planet and that humanity as a whole faces a narrow timeframe in which to solve the crisis. And, people have responded in a variety of ways as they look for ways to keep the planet sustainable. As one example of what's possible, one study used underwater drones to collect soil samples from aquaculture sites.

The goal is to see how broad of a reach the enriched soil has for attracting new and additional species. The results could break new ground in water management research. That study relates to the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada, but it's an example of the innovative ways people look ahead and explore new possibilities in their efforts to safeguard the planet's future.

Arsenic and nitrate are the biggest water contaminates in California. And, beyond those, it's not difficult to see how the issue could quickly exacerbate if California continues to have severe drought issues, extremely hot temperatures or wildfires. Climate change could make all of those problems worse while posing challenges related to bringing water to the people who need it.

California's got a sobering assessment of the expected effects of climate change in 1989. Some people who worked on that report remark that many of the predictions in the document are coming to pass quicker than anticipated and, that the necessary action is too long coming.

Not Easy Problems to Fix

Perhaps the most troubling thing about the issues here is that they do not have straightforward and speedy solutions. Even though California will use financial resources from the GGRF to address the lack of clean water, it'll almost certainly take years to make meaningful progress. And, many of those affected by the water impurities are in poor communities where people struggle to afford bottled water or take their chances with tap water.

Concerning climate change, even those who have studied the issue for decades know there is not an across-the-board fix. Additionally, as new possibilities get explored, a trial-and-error process will likely be necessary for determining what works and what doesn't. Determining the best courses of action to take requires time and money, and both of those are not necessarily readily available at the state and national levels.

But, California cannot afford to wait any longer to address either of these issues. And, it's understandable that many people wonder why the state won't use some of its surplus to investigate viable options.

Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living, sustainable consumption, eco-friendly practices and green energy. In the past, her work has also been featured on Grit, Mother Earth Living, Blue And Green Tomorrow, Dwell and Houzz. To read more from Kayla, follow her productivity and lifestyle blog: Productivity Theory.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

How One Small Florida Town Changed How Americans Live

 
Visitors learning about Seaside on a walking tour. Photo by Dawn C. Whitty

Built from scratch in the 1980s, the town of Seaside sparked a revolution in how we think about communities. Featuring walkable streets, plentiful gathering spots and handsome traditional architecture, this cozy beach town proves we can build new places with the appealing amenities we love about classic neighborhoods.

Communities coast-to-coast have been influenced by Seaside’s breakthroughs. Urban design experts recently compiled a lengthy list of innovations which were invented, reclaimed or made popular Seaside.  They had come to town to celebrate the 2019 winners of the Seaside Prize for notable accomplishment in urban planning, sponsored by the Seaside Institute.

7 Bright Ideas for Communities that Seaside Popularized

  1. Walkable Streets. This is a pedestrian paradise where folks on foot are not hassled by cars because of traffic calming improvements and shared-space streets. 
  2. Mixed-Use Development. A common-sense approach to town planning,  which understands that homes, shops, workplaces and recreational opportunities near one another creates a neighborly place. 
  3. New Urbanism. An architectural movement that emphasizes streetlife, local businesses and public gathering spots as the key to successful communities.   
  4. Traditional Neighborhood Design. The revival of beloved architectural elements that sadly fell out of fashion after World War II.
  5. Affordable Housing. Economical places to live can be provided small houses, apartments tucked above shops, and backyard Granny Flats 
  6. Natural Landscaping. Lawns with native species that require less water and no chemicals. (Also known as xeriscapes). 
  7. A Town, Not a Development. The real estate world was rocked Robert Davis, developer of Seaside, created a beachfront community where all residents can access the beach, not just condos on the water.  

Birth of an Historic Beach Town

Seaside’s innovative qualities were inspired by classic old towns that Davis and architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk visited on a road trip throughout the South in a red convertible.  

Seaside’s Central Square echoes Savannah, Ruskin Place resembles New Orleans’s French Quarter and many houses are reminiscent of those in Charleston, South Carolina explains Derrick W. Smith, a winner of this year’s Seaside Prize who worked on the development in the beginning. 

Through the years Seaside’s influence has widened thanks to extensive media coverage, including Time magazine hailing it as an “astounding design achievement.” 

Many Americans were introduced to Seaside in the 1998 movie The Truman Show, where actor Jim Carrey plays a young man who leads an ideal life in an ideal place without knowing everything he does is being filmed for a reality TV show.  Now the beachfront community is better known for its sustainable design and charming livability. 

Jay Walljasperauthor of The Great Neighborhood Book — writes and speaks about widely about creating a greener world. He is also an urban writer-in-residence at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. Connect with Jay at JayWalljasper.com and read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Roundup Exposure and the Battle for Justice, Part 3: Finding a Roundup Alternative

This is an installment in an op-ed series inspecting the Roundup herbicide legal challenges. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

2019 is a year many people have waited for. For once it appears that a major corporation is paying out compensation to those injured by its product. Another case was recently decided against Bayer’s Roundup product in the amount of two billion dollars (yes, billion with a B). Roundup exposure lawyers have brought over 13,000 cases against the company. Additionally, many cities and communities across the country are outright banning Roundup.

This has prompted Bayer to commit $5.6 Billion into finding a glyphosate alternative. It may be safe to say that Roundup will begin to decline in use. But if Roundup, the world’s leading herbicide is going to be replaced, what will it be replaced with?

Pesticides in Food Production

Herbicides and pesticides are an important part of mass food production, and it’s safe to say they won’t be going anywhere. It is certainly no secret that when you are dealing with chemicals designed to kill living plants, insects and fungi, there are likely going to be unwanted side effects associated with them. It is quite a task to create something which is designed to kill one thing, and not harm another. Not to say it cannot be done, but it is certainly a complex issue.

One possible replacement for Roundup may be fluorine-based pesticides. These pesticides are showing a lot of promise to commercial industries. I first came across this proposal in a report titled Fluoride and Fluorinated Pesticides Market 2019-2024.

The report talks a lot about the advantages of fluorine-based pesticides, mostly in relation to killing insects, and controlling fungus, but there are also fluorine-containing herbicides as well. In fact, the controversy surrounding fluorine-based pesticides is nothing new. In 2011, the EPA moved to begin phasing out certain fluorine-based herbicides.

Why Fluorine Pesticides?

Fluorine-based pesticides are being considered as a better alternative to existing pesticides for a few reasons. Rather than explain the reasons that these types of pesticides are being considered myself I will leave it to those in the industry.

“Fluorine-containing pesticides have the advantages of high selectivity, high suitability, high added value, low cost, low toxicity, low residue, and environmental friendliness, and are the trend of modern pesticide development.” [Market Talk News]

Supposing that all of the above is true, it appears that fluorine-containing pesticides could possibly become one of the leading herbicides to replace Roundup. Though this is not a claim made by the industry directly, Roundup is likely going to be replaced, and these types of pesticides will likely be considered. As one possible alternative to Roundup, it is important to look at the risks which fluorine-based herbicides could pose. Whether or not these fluorine-based herbicides will be the new standard or not, fluorine-based pesticides are already in use, and there is certainly a push to expand their usage.

Are Fluorine-containing Pesticides Safe for Human Consumption?

This is perhaps one of the biggest medical debates that there is today. For the sake of clarification, fluoride is a chemical compound which is based on the fluorine element. Fluorine is the elemental form, fluoride is a compound. In treated city water fluorine is often found in the form of sodium fluoride. Of course, there are subtle differences between the effects of different fluoride compounds, and fluorine itself. Fluorine in its pure form is highly toxic, but the debate begins when talking about fluoride compounds and dosages.

Due to the difficulty in filtering through truth and fiction when it comes to fluoride safety, I asked a professional. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a nutrition, diet and health expert, helped cut to the heart of the issue.

Here is what she had to say: 

“Fluoride is a poison.” 

Simple and straight to the point! But, she also goes on to explain some of the specific risks associated with long term fluoride exposure.

“Several U.S. and Chinese studies have shown that young children who drink water with fluoride levels >1.0 mg/L have a significantly lower IQ. Learning disabilities, including diminished reading and writing ability are attributed to fluoride.

“Boys who drank water containing fluoride levels, considered to be safe by federal guidelines, are 5 times more likely to have osteosarcoma (a rare bone cancer) than boys who drank unfluoridated water as young children. Research worldwide strongly suggests that fluoride is responsible for other diseases including those associated with kidney, liver, thyroid gland, and reproductive organs.

“Fluoride ion clearly interferes with the biological activity of magnesium ion. And since magnesium does so much in the body, the side effects are often too widespread to recognize or even quantify.” - Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, bestselling Author of The Magnesium Miracle and Hormone Balance.

Of course, there is a lot of science to back her statements up too. Fluoride is one of the most “bone-seeking” elements known. According to The Untold Story of Fluoridation: Revisiting the Changing Perspectives, a study on the NCBI site:

“Fluoride is an acute toxin, with a rating slightly higher than lead. It is, in fact, one of the most bone-seeking elements known to human beings. Excess fluoride causes several diseases, such as osteoporosis, arthritis, brittle bones, cancer, infertility in women, brain damage, Alzheimer's disease, and thyroid disorders.”

To summarize, there are certainly long term risks associated with fluoride consumption. Fluoride is already in the water, adding more fluoride to our diets in the form of herbicides and pesticides, is likely not a great idea. But, it is also only one possible Roundup alternative.

Other Roundup Alternatives

Of course there are many, many, many alternatives to Roundup which exist already. Many such as atrazine, have been sparking controversy for years. There are too many possible alternatives to cover in one place. It will be interesting to see which rise to the top, here is an article on Roundup alternatives. With Bayer having slated $5.6 Billion into finding an alternative, it will be interesting and important to see what alternatives are being proposed.

Despite the focus on the victories people are having in court due to Roundup exposure, it’s important to remember that there are many other harmful or potentially harmful chemical compounds in agricultural use. With the likelihood of Roundup being replaced as the world’s leading herbicides, we need to be vigilant that we aren’t replacing it with something much worse. Of course, the simple solution is to buy organic, grow your own food, and grow food with your community.

Unfortunately, avoiding the many chemicals in food production is not easily achieved, especially for those who struggle financially. Awareness and being active in spreading that awareness are crucial as we continue to make it through a society laced with 1000’s of chemicals. Together we can make changes for the better, but it will take time.

Douglas Dedrick is a professional landscaper, and writer on lawn care, plant nutrition, human health, and law topics. His writing can also be found at HealingLaw.com.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.







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