Posts Tagged ‘oceans’

big river, big dead zone

March 3, 2010

What happens when loads of nitrogen from chemical fertilizers get washed from commodity crop farms down the Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico? A big fat dead zone is what happens. A dead zone roughly the size of my home state, New Jersey, where no marine life can live because of decomposing algae that suck the oxygen from the water.

You may have already heard about this problem, but now there’s a film. From the guys who brought us King Corn, comes Big River. Catch a snippet below, come to a screening on March 15th, or host your own.

Learn more about the dead zone:

Dead in the Water (from EWG)

What is the Dead Zone? (Science Museum of Minnesota)

another reason for l.o.v.e.

April 6, 2009

[Image via Top Veg]

Yesterday, I mentioned some of the reasons why I’m doing this raw, vegan fast, but I left out a pretty big one. It has to do with dietary awareness and the effects our choices have on the world. As I’ve mentioned a bunch of times before, yes, I do still eat meat. I eat it sparingly, and choose the best quality (read: humanely raised) meat, mainly from local producers at the farmer’s market. Every once in a while, a piece of questionable chicken ends up in the mix. But for the most part, if I don’t know where it’s from, I skip the meat and go veg.

Precious resources – like the air we breathe, the water we drink – are adversely affected by agricultural production. This goes for meat, dairy, and produce alike. But anything that has to do with animals eats up like 10-fold the amount of resources. Animals have needs. They need to be fed, to be cared for, to relieve themselves. Where does their feed come from? In big ag, it’s mostly genetically modified or chemically treated corn or soy. How is their waste managed? Most likely in waste lagoons (see image left) that pollute waterways and contribute to dead zones like the one in the Gulf of Mexico. (Read more fun facts about animal waste. Even the CDC weighs in on the issue).

And then there are those pesky greenhouse gas emissions. In an article from New Scientist,

Climate-change experts have warned of the high carbon cost of meat for several years.

Beef is particularly damaging. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is released from flatulent cows and by manure as it decays. Furthermore, to produce a kilogram of beef (2.2 pounds), farmers also have to feed a cow 15 kg of grain and 30 kg of forage. Grain requires fertiliser, which is energy intensive to produce.

Read more

Appealing, isn’t it? Makes you want to grab a burger, right? BTW, I’m not sure most American cows are getting any forage (This was a Dutch study, original journal article here).

Aside from the environmental issues, there are the ethical concerns. How are these animals really being raised? Grass fed isn’t the same as pasture raised. They might still be in a CAFO (confined or concentrated animal feeding operation), even if they are eating what nature intended them to.

Oh, and there’s also the world hunger issue. Read more about that here.

If you haven’t read enough, a few more compelling arguments and resources for going veg (or at the very least cutting back on meat):

Side note: I apologize if this post is a little fragmented. I’m going to attribute it to the delirium caused by last night’s lack of sleep, the slight pang of hunger gnawing at my belly, and I’ll throw in some PMS for good measure.

Stay tuned for more exciting details on how my fast is progressing tomorrow, starting with my l.o.v.e. – day 2 morning…

expensive flotsam and jestam

April 2, 2009

[Image: Brett Flashnick for The New York Times]

When I heard about this problem it really irked me. People who bought boats in boom time and can no longer afford them are abandoning them. They remove all identification, sand off their cutesy vanity names (like Pier Pressure or Sea-N-Red, a little too appropriate now), and run the boat aground or just push it out to sea.

Of course it bothers me that these people are treating the ocean like a dump. Boats are full of (and covered with) toxic chemicals and made of ingredients that are not always so biodegradable. But there’s something deeper than the disregard for the environment here. There’s an opportunity going unnoticed.

It’s true that the boats have become a financial burden, they can’t be sold because the market is flooded, and proper disposal is costly. But couldn’t the materials used in these unwanted boats be reutilized elsewhere? We’ve all seen those tote bags made from repurposed sail cloth. Why can’t the same idea be applied to the whole boat?

We live on a planet of finite resources. We take from the earth and repay it with trash. Why can’t we give old goods a new life so that we don’t end up living on a giant garbage dump?

Have any ideas for how old abandoned boats can be reclaimed and reused?
Drop a line in the comments section.

[inspired by this NY Times article]

is this fish for real?

February 25, 2009

I’m going to let this video speak for itself. This fish is pretty freakin’ wild.

Read more about Macropinna microstoma (aka, Barreleye) at PopSci.