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.

| May/June 1980

063 bits and pieces - Fotolia - ARAGAMI

African development experts were of the opinion old fashioned farming techniques would be more helpful to the Third World than big agribusiness technology.


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."

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