Solving the environmental
problems facing the planet will require cooperation between nations,
respect for human rights, animal rights, stewardship of all natural
resources and a shift in the way we perceive power, political, factional,
religious and individual. Dealing with the environmental problems facing
us all will require vision, cooperation, and responsibility. The planet
we live on has an unpredictable life of its own, and as a result tension
between resources, populations and sustainability are a part of our
existence. They won’t go away no matter how many “solutions”
we devise. The pressures are great now and drastic changes in the way
we approach ongoing solutions to ever changing conditions will be necessary.
Bad things happen when there are not enough essential resources to go around. Without enough food people grow hungry and desperate. The same is true if they are deprived of water, shelter and energy to protect themselves from the elements. Some of the solutions from the past are:
Move on to unexplored territories and utilize new resources.
Each of these responses on their own, and in combination, has worked in the past. The solutions provided mixed and impermanent results.
In the beginning migration was extremely effective. When there were very few humans on the planet migration meant dealing with climate change, following roaming herds of protein on the hoof or swimming in the water we needed to drink. As we improved our ability to survive with our brains and our hands and multiplied our numbers we no doubt began to run into others of our kind. Still there was enough space to share. If you were pushed out you moved on. After the agricultural revolution and development of cities migration became more complex. There was just too much stuff in place, so some of the people left. Eventually there were more humans and less free space, and we began bumping into each other by expanding into someone else’s space. Now, we are pretty much out of space on land. We are going to need to learn to get along, share what we have and live within reasonable limits to protect human rights.
Technology helped us expand where and how we could live. During the agricultural revolution it became possible for groups of people to settle in one place if they were willing to adapt their farming practices to their environment. In what is now the Southwestern United States “dry farming” and living in vertical pueblos that conserved productive land and offered better shelter from the elements during harsh winters made it possible for civilizations to develop that are still in place. Improvements in transportation led to expansion and contact between Europe, Africa, North and South America and Asia. The spread of New World crops like potatoes led to enormous population growth in Europe and Eurasia. Oil, gas, electricity, and chemical engineering increased farm output, created opportunities to travel faster and farther and increased our numbers again and again. Bumping into each other increased and now some people and countries seem to have everything and some have nothing. This imbalance and the lack of stability it indicates is an extreme threatens any hope for universal equality and human rights.
War supposedly occurs when all efforts to solve a problem or dispute peacefully have failed, but in the background there is usually a struggle going on where one group wants to obtain resources necessary to survive and/or another is trying to protect resources they need to survive. This is a massive oversimplification, but war is a way to keep what you have or get what you want be it land to grow food, water, oil, materials to build shelters, etc. It is a way to gain power over resources and control them worldwide for distribution the ruling government or society wishes. Rome needed grain. Egypt had grain. World War II followed a world wide depression that made access to and control of natural resources extremely attractive to Germany and Japan, both highly industrialized countries with dense populations and limited natural resources. War is the ultimate assault on human rights.
Religion has provided inspiration, justification and purpose to many individuals, cultures and government systems. Various religions have served as a means to explain the perplexing details of the universe and unequal distribution of resources. Believers are able to accept their lives as part of God’s plan and deal with deprivation, lack of access to resources and find peace in the simplicity of their lives. Some of the revealed religions have used dogma to explain why they are the chosen ones and to demonize the undeserving. In other words, religion can become a tool for those who wish to control the distribution of resources. It can serve to elevate humanity and protect human rights or it can be serve to protect the rights of members of one sect and completely ignore the rights of non-members.
What does this mean for our future and our ability to protect human rights? Until, and if we can, move away from Earth and into the universe our boundaries for expansion are limited. The unexplored oceans may prove to be sources of food, medicines and energy. Technology using renewable and sustainable sources of energy to heat our shelters and run the tools we depend on is promising, but development will not allow us to increase our energy needs without restraint as we have in the past. War may get the resources, but it creates an environment where human rights are ignored. It is imperative that we work to protect human rights and provide access to essential resources to as many people as possible, and to diminish disparities of distribution to avoid the rise of Religious Fundamentalism that excludes and demonizes non-believers.
The War in Iraq is a perfect example of what should not be done. By engaging in an unjustifiable war to protect access and attempt to control oil supplies for some the Republican Administration has destabilized the Middle East, increased sectarian violence in Iraq, destroyed the infrastructure that sustains the people of Iraq, destroyed the Iraqi economy creating a population of unemployed and alienated young men who are easily recruited as terrorists, wreaked havoc with international oil prices and economies, and on and on and on.
There must be changes and a shift from “power over to power with.” Without human rights no environment is friendly or sustainable, and without adequate resources for all human rights will always be threatened. The Preamble to the US Constitution defines rights for Americans, the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948 (http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html) defines them for all. I invite you to take a look.
Vicki Vaughn Zeitlin
We the People Can Protect the Environment and
Our Collective Future
is located on a 1/5 acre, 66’ X 132’ ordinary city lot about
the size of an average backyard and operates as a family business
that supplies area restaurants and caterers with a variety of products.
Dervaes Gardens also supports four adults who work and live
full time at the site. The 6,000 pounds of over 350 varieties
of organic produce grown annually provide for the family’s needs
and produce income that offsets operating expenses and allows investment
in appropriate technologies like solar panels, energy efficient appliances,
and a biodiesel processor all designed to reduce the use of non-renewable
energy sources. Dervaes Gardens has successfully reduced their electric
usage by 2/3 over the years, created their own biodiesel processor from
a used water heater and by using biodiesel in their Chevy Suburban they
reduced vehicle air toxins by 90%. They use a solar oven for cooking
on sunny days and now have an outdoor cob oven fueled by wood scraps
and twigs for cooking bread, pizzas and deserts outdoors. Future projects
will include installation of a grey water reclamation system, a composting
toilet and a cistern to capture rain water. One of the family’s
most amusing creations is a blender powered by a bicycle for making
smoothies with their fresh produce.
If the future is now, and it is, then this is a revolutionary plan for living well and simply. While many would not choose to live this way there is a lesson. It is that the earth requires us to cooperate with the environment and be willing to make responsible choices about what we eat, how we travel and what our impact will be. In the case of the Devaes family they seem to be enjoying themselves and having fun while making a contribution to the planet’s future. For most of us it will still be more fun to buy a tomato or a potato at the supermarket, we all need to find our own way to help whether we are couch potatoes or fantasize about being farmers.
response to sustainable living is Tule Fog Farms a 26 acre parcel in
from Humboldt State University in 2003 with a degree in biology, and
not long after founded “Wild Chicks Farm” with her friend
Sarah Brunner. Starting with 200 chicks they were successfully selling
eggs at local farmer’s markets in the spring. Pec-Crouse realized
that chickens required large quantities of feed that are not locally
grown. Almost 80% of their diet, translating to 3 pounds of grain to
produce one pound of chicken, must be shipped in from as far away as
Asia requiring fossil fuels for transport.
There are Kune
Kunes Pigs from New Zealand and Icelandic Sheep as well as ducks and
geese who survive well on a diet of grass.
So you say, “This is all sort of interesting, but I’m not a farmer nor do I want to be.” There is a great deal to think about. For instance, maybe a duck or two could help eat snails in your garden, give you some eggs and be fun to watch. It is fun and challenging to come up with ideas that appeal to you or involve your existing hobbies like bicycling, gardening, hiking, cooking, etc. For instance, the rainforests of the north coast are ideal for growing mushrooms. The local college had a great class on mycology, the study of fungus, and you can learn to be confident as you pick free, beautiful and tasty mushrooms, yum, and yum! If you have brush to clear, consider a goat. The right breed can be friendly, trainable, and give you some milk for cheese if you want to work that hard. They are extremely cute and kids love them.
I won’t bore
you with my suggestions because I know that by know your imagination
and creativity are stimulating solutions appropriate and achievable
for you and your lifestyle. Next time you are surfing the internet play
around with sustainable living or green living or anything else you
can come up with using your favorite search engine. It is amazing what
is out there.
Vicki Vaughn Zeitlin
THE TESLA :a car with 100% Electric power
In the field of products for a better environment, the dreams of intelligent people have become reality. For everyone but greedy, thirsty, oil addicted deniers of Global warming and Bush supporters the time has come to rejoice.
Concrete, electric cars with
extremely efficient energy saving technologies are available.
The most exiting news however
is the TESLA car which is powered solely by electric energy.
The brain child of two American
entrepreneurs it is manufactured at the Lotus Factory in England.
The Tesla with its high level
performance and travel distance makes the point that the electric car
is not just a dream from the long haired flower child generation of
The other very encouraging development
is that almost every automobile manufacturer in the world is making
electric and hybrid cars. They are currently engaged in making what
is called plugged in Hybrid which means that there are more batteries
and the level of efficiency of the batteries is better.
Piston operated internal combustion
gas powered vehicles are extremely inefficient and inconvenient. So
it is a most important point that we are moving away from unintelligent
design and technology, the internal combustion engine, into the smart
technology of electric powered and hybrid cars.
In addition, internal combustion technology depletes the natural wealth of the planet by using oil that could be used for better purposes, and by producing carbon dioxide and other waste products it pollutes in a huge way creating a global warming and in the long term threatening the very existence of life on the planet.
Advantages of the Electric Car:
In short knowing that you are
driving around not polluting or depleting the planet’s wealth,
moving noiselessly and accelerating as fast as a Ferrari is very rewarding.
All major car manufacturers are
expanding their line of Hybrids. Toyota and its subsidiary Lexus are
well ahead of the pack. Their models such as the Toyota Camry are efficient
second generation Hybrid and well priced.
A worrisome thought is
that American car manufacturers are once again way behind the curve.
What is sometimes misunderstood
is the interdependence of the electric engine, the battery pack and
the electronic software. In short, the electric engine is a very simple
piece of engineering and is not the star in our electric or Hybrid vehicle.
It is the battery pack that is the absolute star in an electric car
and the winner among car manufacturers will be the
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