We have all heard about the probability of running out of oil. And the potential fresh water shortages have been popularized as well. Food shortages have even begun to flash up, but usually because of interrupted crop yields and natural disasters. Well the latest issue to add to the influx is what may be the coming shortage of arable soil. According to an article on Alternet by Larry Gallagher, the world loses over 80 billion tons of soil every year. Other statistics look just as stark. For instance, Gallagher reports: "According to the International Soil Reference and Information Centre (ISRIC), as of 1991, human activity has brought about the degradation of 7.5 million square miles (19.5 million square kilometers) of land, the equivalent of Europe twice over." Our industrial agricultural system, one that is known for depleting soils of its nutrients, has only accelerated this degradation. What shouldn't be surprising is that the extent of soil depletion varies geographically, and is probably worst in Sub-Saharan Africa. A more severe form, desertifaction is taking place there, and Gallagher notes that "desertificationn in Sub-Saharan Africa will drive 60 million people from their homes in the next 20 years."
While the problem appears dire, there are those who are exploring solutions, and Gallagher interviews one of the more successful: John Jeavons. Jeavons is the genius behind biointensive gardening, in which he has developed a method of growing food at high yields in small plots and that results in zero soil loss or degradation. It's a compelling approach, and one that could aid the millions of hungry around the world - and certainly worth checking out their website: Ecology Action.
Gallagher moves on from there with an interesting and entertaining article filled with many useful links. Check out the rest of his story here>>>
Of course we could all try a life of fasting like this holy man in India, who has reportedly consumed no food or water for decades. Read his story at the BBC news here>>>
I've heard conflicting reports about the demographics of the Tea Party. For instance, I have heard that they are mainly more educated than the average US citizen, and from another source that this is actually not the case. They may be more affluent than average - or not. Perhaps it's the relative newness of the movement that is contributing to this evolving story about them, but either way it is deeply disturbing that an apparently growing number of (mostly) white people have been hoodwinked by an agenda that so blatantly uses misinformation and outright lies. In fact, some have described the Tea Partiers as outright racists - even Bill Maher calls them out on this possibility - check it out:
It will be curious to see how their influence grows or dissipates in the coming years.
In the tissue of the kelp Gigartina skottsbergii Baker has found chemicals that have broad antiviral properties. Marine plants from the genus Gigartina are already used in natural medicine supplements as a flu fighter. But over-the-counter products haven't undergone rigorous clinical testing.While it remains uncommon for the team to find new active compounds, their work has found some promising leads. This is interesting to us here at Recycled Minds for a number of reasons, but foremost is because this type of research is novel, and does not rely on the knowledge of others (especially less-advantaged groups) to succeed. Much natural product and botanical research is conduced in highly diverse regions like tropical forests, which are also home to many of the world's indigenous populations. Indigenous peoples are often utilized in the aid of such research, but rarely see any of the benefits of their knowledge. Research like that being conducted in Antarctica is forging new paths of knowledge seeking, leaving the controversies to others.
Baker's tests show that the protein from G. skottsbergii is particularly effective against the H1N1 "swine flu" strain, among others. It doesn't kill the virus directly, but disrupts its ability to infect healthy cells, which could prove immensely valuable as a treatment to prevent people from getting sick in the first place.
Read the entire Discovery News Piece here>>>
If the longevity of the written word has been bothering you lately, follow Canadian poet Christian Bök's lead. Evidently, Bök is determined to encode a "poem" into the DNA of a hardy bacteria that will exist for billions of years. We're no microbiologists, but apparently the way he will do this is by creating a cipher that "links letters of the alphabet with genetic nucleotides (adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, aka ACGT). Each triplet of nucleotides will correspond to a letter so that, say, ACT represents the letter a, AGT represents the letter b, and so on...After using hand-coded software to determine which ciphers will give him the maximum two-way potential, Bök will finally start composing. He says his poem will probably need to have a 'repetitive, incantatory quality.'"
Hmm... this raises so many questions I don't know where to start...
Image: Nishant Choksi
"What’s important to remember is that every step that the Apache takes in opening fire is authorized. It does pause before shooting. It explains the situation, sometimes exaggerating a little to its commanders, and gets authorized permission.
These are not bad apples. This is standard practice. You can hear it from the tones of the voices of the pilots that this is in fact another day at the office. These pilots have evidently, and gunners have evidently become so corrupted, morally corrupted, by the war that they are looking for excuses to kill. That is why you hear this segment, “Come on, buddy! Just pick up a weapon.” They just want an excuse to kill."