Sunday, August 29, 2010

OPINION: The Rationality (Or Irrationality) Of Climate Change Denial

Climate Change 'co2' ideasImage by net_efekt via FlickrBy Will McCorkle

It seems that is becoming a prerequisite for any conservative politician to cast severe doubts or flatly deny any scientific claims about climate change. Is this because they have all done objective scientific research on the topic? It is amazing they all know more than 98% of climatologists. Of course, it is all political. However, when we look at it from a historical perspective - this is nothing new.

The conservative movement has usually stood against environmental protection - whether it was against Teddy Roosevelt reserving national parks for preservation, against the establishment of the EPA and other environmental organizations in the 1960's and 70's, or modern day movements against carbon reduction. It is often seen as more government. So, it is easier to deny the facts and the urgency of the situation than to change the political viewpoint on the role of government. However, this is extremely foolish.

It seems many people on the right love to eat up this Climate Change denialism. Unfortunately, it is because many are getting their scientific information from Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity rather than real scientists and climatologists.

There is no real debate on this issue in the field of climatology. Just because Fox News can find a couple of obscure scientists to raise doubts about climate change, does not mean that the overwhelming evidence does not point towards human involvement in this environmental issue. It is a case of chosen ignorance. We all do this to one extent or another in our lives; however, we must realize that for our elected politicians to live in this state of ignorance on an issue with such global importance as climate change is extremely troubling and something that should be firmly rejected by the American people. Let's starting listening to true wisdom and evidence on climate change from experts and scientists, not the foolish rhetoric of right wing leaders who have a huge political incentive to stay in the dark on the issue.

This article was written by William McCorkle. He writes a blog on progressive social action and the search to find the true essence of the Christian faith at If you are interested in contacting the author, you may contact him at

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Diminishing Tiger Population - A Cause for Concern

Tiger - Corbett National ParkImage by Augustin Rouchon via FlickrBy Kamal Kishore Srivastava

It was a clear and crisp morning at Corbett National Park - one of the most vivid and rich national parks of India well known for its tigers. After a previous day's torrential rain, the climate had become very pleasant and the animals were out on their feeding spree. Riding on elephant-back, crossing the perennial Ramganga River, which traverses the park, a feeling of awe and excitement engulfed me.

Suddenly all things in the area seemed petrified. The atmosphere became charged - the herds of spotted deer started giving alarming calls. The mahout of the elephant cautioned in a low whisper. The jungle king was on the prowl. Lo! A big tiger was sighted, barely a few feet away. The magnificent and majestic beast, whose angry growl is enough to make anyone freeze was right in front of us, making a gesture to charge. He did, but failed and then sat for quite some time, growling and whipping its tail. We observed nature's marvel with admiration...

These majestic animals are now fighting desperately for their survival. Their number is declining fast. Paradoxically, they are the most talked about but equally are in most danger.

Long ago tigers roared from eastern Turkey to the Russian Far East up to Siberia and into Bali. With the passage of time the Balinese, Javanese and Caspian tigers became extinct. Their number is fast declining in India too and the days are not far off when they might be wiped out forever. The coming generation might see them in textbook drawings and photographs only.

The main culprit - illicit killing, has brought the number of tigers from 3455 in 1997 to 1411 at present. A recently released tiger census report by National Tiger Conservation Authority states the numbers of tigers in India ranges from 1165 to 1657 (an average of 1411). According to the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), in the year 2009 thirty two tigers lost their lives in favor of the greed and lust of the poachers. Despite that the tiger (Panthera tigris) is a protected animal by law and killing this animal attracts fines and imprisonment under the provisions of The Wildlife (protection) Act, 1975 such reports indicate the rampant killing.

The growing demand for tiger parts in manufacturing the so-called valor medicines, and their skin hides have significantly contributed to the poaching of tigers. A huge amount of money every year is involved in the illegal trade of wild-life products. Though the exact amount of money involved in the illicit trade of tiger parts is not possible to obtain, the amount of confiscation, seizures and arrests of poachers are indicative of the magnitude. India is still the residence of these magnificent animals, ironically, for tiger parts most of the demand comes from outside the country. Tigers are generally poached by the local tribes either by poisoning, iron trapping or electrocuting them. These tribes are lured by the greedy middlemen.

India has witnessed a population explosion. To provide a better future to the citizens, various developmental projects started. The need for establishing heavy industry, hydro-electric power plants and housing colonies requires land. This has put tremendous pressure on the natural wealth including forests, lakes, rivers and grasslands. More and more land is required for tilling and housing to fulfill the needs of the ever-increasing human population.

Agricultural land and villages in the vicinity of cities are being used for housing purposes whereas more and more grasslands, forests and woodlands are being cleared for agricultural purposes. The shrinking forest cover, thus, has forced wild animals to come out into the open, creating man-animal conflicts for obvious reasons. This has made the poaching even more easy - done under the disguise of saving life, livestock and property of humans.

The terai belt of Uttar Pradesh, previously well known for its rice production, has witnessed a major shift in their crop growing pattern. The establishment of sugar mills and the promotion for more sugarcane production to fulfill the needs of these mills has contributed significantly to this cropping shift. Large forest areas have been surreptitiously cleared and encroached upon in order to sow cash crops like sugarcane. The shrinkage of the natural habitat has pushed wild herbivores - a staple food of the tiger, towards the fringe areas and to these sugarcane fields. These in turn, pull the tigers out of the jungle.

Unable to differentiate between grasslands and sugarcane fields they thus enter the sugarcane fields. Finding these cane fields safe, they stay there. These so-called "Cane-tigers" become a threat to the lives, property and the livestock of the villagers. These tigers, finding them their easy prey, often kill domestic animals or sometimes even humans, and cause panic. Such animals are surely a danger to the people living in the vicinity of these areas. The result is that many tigers have been poisoned by villagers (read poachers). Many tiger deaths have been reported thus.

The decline in the number of tigers has a genetic fall out as well, and in turn is harmful to them. Fast declining populations give rise to small and isolated populations making them prone to natural disasters. Conflagrations, hurricanes and epidemics may cause them to give up the ghost en mass. Moreover, they give rise to fewer potential breeding populations in a given tiger population and to an even lesser number of potential breeding individuals. This results in excessive inbreeding which has its own ill effects. The lethal gene, if present, is recessive - not manifesting; can become potentially dangerous. This 'forced inbreeding' can cause havoc to the population.

Alarmed and concerned by the fast declining tiger population in the country the Government of India headed by the then Prime-minister, the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi, launched Project Tiger in April 1973. The objective of the project was "to ensure maintenance of a viable population of Tigers in India for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural and ecological values, and to preserve for all time, areas of biological importance as a national heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people". Since its inception 28 tiger reserves in seventeen states have been created. This helped substantially in evoking a positive public response.

The woodlands, wetlands, forests, grasslands and the animals inhabiting them are the linchpin of the ecosystem. Above and beyond adding aura, color and drama; being at the top of the food chain, tigers contribute appreciably in maintaining harmony and ecological balance. They are the national heritage.

However, there was a time when these magnificent wild beasts, especially the big cats were killed heartlessly in the name of game hunting. The well-known naturalist and hunter Jim Corbett, who shot many man-eaters and after whom one of the famous wildlife parks of India has been named (Corbett National Park), later hung up his gun in favor of these creatures. The shooting of tigers and other wild animals with a camera - not with a gun is far more rewarding. Indeed, a trophy enchants only a select few who possess them but a good photograph enchants and educates many people. This, not only saves these wonderful animals, but the heritage and eco-balance too and in turn, planet earth as well.

I am a solitary type of person who takes time to open up. Though a bit conservative in making friends, I like the company of like minded and sensible people who think positively. I have a deep reverence for Mother Nature and prefer to live in her vicinity which gives me solace and energy for my thought processes to trigger.

I like visiting important natural and heritage places, no matter how small are they. Reading serious literature pertaining to the environment, ecology and life sciences and photography are also my likes. Happenings around influence me and agitate my mind. Meticulous and orderly things attract me. The social order ought to be clear from all ill things - this is what I think and wish. I write and share my views with people. I want to be heard. Writing articles is, I feel, a good medium for self expression.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

CASE STUDY: Green Business in Australia Gets a Lift From Renewed Green Energy Policy

Matthew Wright (Executive Director, Beyond Zer...Image by Takver via FlickrBy Ashly Sun

Dubbed as Australia's Renewable Energy Target program, the program is a means for Australia to acquire 20 percent of its energy use from renewable energy sources by the year 2020, mainly through using renewable energy certificates (R.E.C.'s) that are given to large-scale project developers.

The program enables certificate holders to sell their certificates to those who consume more energy such as utilities. The utilities are required to get 20 percent of their electricity from alternative energy.

Under the Gillard government, households with small-scale alternative energy capabilities are also allowed to sell certificates. The increase in certificates of up to five times had decreased the market price for R.E.C.'s, resulting in the pulling out of big investors in the wind, solar, and other energy projects.

The decision to include certificates sold by the small-scale renewable energy almost cost the Australian government to lose around 22 billion Australian dollars worth of this projects, prompting the re-organization of renewable energy programs so that cheap renewable energy certificates would be abolished from the market.
Under the new program, a small-scale scheme can now be distinguished from a large-scale scheme starting on January 1, 2011.

The fixed price for small-scale projects like domestic solar panels will be 40 Australian dollars per megawatt-hour of electricity generated, equivalent to a refund of 1,200 Australian dollars for a solar hot water system and 6,200 Australian dollars for a 1.5 kilowatt solar panel.

Although prices for large-scale resources are not given, the government expects at least 45,000 gigawatt- hours from the combined efforts of both small and large-scale efforts by the year 2020.

Together with New Zealand's utility firm Meridian Energy, AGL Energy will be building the MacArthur project which is expected to generate 945 gigawatt of electricity every year. Construction is expected to be completed within three years after the start of the project.

The MacArthur project is expected to fulfill part of Australia's annual acquired energy from large-scale projects target of 10,400 GW by 2011, 18,000 GW by 2015 and 41,000 GW by 2020.

AGL Energy is the biggest Australian gas and electricity retailer. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, AGL aims to expand its industry in upstream electricity and gas supply, and the downstream retail of electricity and gas.

Ashly Sun is a seasoned writer, having traveled around the world, largely putting all her experiences and the sights and sounds she has come across to paper. She now writes extensively about topics related to green news, mostly on renewable energy, but also on a variety of related topics as well. When not traveling around the world, she is based in Central Hong Kong, taking in the myriad colours, flavours, and scents of the melting pot that Hong Kong is known for.

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Can Solar Power Replace Oil Consumption?

Saudi Arabia and Solar EnergyImage by martnpro via FlickrBy Thomas Ajava

The energy debate often involves people taking such passionate positions that they talk past each other and really miss some rather obvious facts. This is very much the case when it comes to the debate of whether solar power can replace oil consumption in our modern society.

The oil versus solar power debate is mostly a red herring argument. The primary problem is these two energy platforms are, for the most part, in different areas of the energy argument. Put another way, we are talking about an apples and oranges argument. Let's take a closer look.

Solar power primarily provides two types of energy. The first is electricity and the second is water heating. Solar panel systems are used to generate either of these forms of energy. There are larger commercial scale power plants based on solar energy, but they are few and far between.

Most people don't realize how many different ways oil is used in modern society. It is a part of the chemical composition of pesticides, plastics, roads and so on. As a burnable energy source, it is primarily refined to create fuel for vehicles. These range from your average family car to jumbo jets flying around the world.

The problem with the solar versus oil argument should be obvious. Solar will never replace gasoline and gasoline is not used as a fuel source to generate electricity in all but a few power plants. Coal is by far the most common fuel used to generate electricity. Solar might replace it one day, but that is an entirely different argument.

Okay, what about solar cars? They are a nice idea, but we currently do not have the technology to make them happen nor will we for decades into the future. The modern solar panel is simply not up to the task nor is current battery technology.

The next time you hear the solar power versus oil heat up, you might want to mention the inherent problem with the debate. Then again, maybe not!

Thomas Ajava writes about solar energy for

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The Real Reason Climate Change is a Tough Challenge

Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacitie...Image via WikipediaBy Harold Forbes
What makes the whole energy/ climate change issue so difficult for people to engage with? I believe it is because it really does challenge us to ignore our selfish desire for an "easy life" in order to give future generations a chance of having a liveable planet.

The science of climate change isn't new: the greenhouse effect was first described in 1824, the first prediction that man's activities could impact the climate in 1908. The first claims that our activities were afflicting the climate came in the 1950's and over the past 30 years the evidence has simply become stronger and stronger.

The real problem is that there is enough oil and coal left in the ground that if we dig it up and burn it, the mean temperature will rise to levels that were last seen when there was no human life on the planet. Whether human life could survive that is open to much debate; personally, I doubt it very much. We, the current generation, are faced with a choice; find a way to reduce our carbon pollution or condemn future generations to a wrecked planet.

Fossil fuels are extremely potent and flexible; they have had the luxury of a 168 million year concentration process after all. However, few people buy petrol, diesel or even A1 aviation fuels. They buy the ability to travel from a to b, light and heat for their homes or offices, a holiday abroad. In order to even up the play field for renewable energy resources to get up to speed, we need to fully cost fossil fuels to include the cost of the damage caused by their use. We use fossil fuels because they seem "cheap", but money is a purely human invention and the concept of "cheap" means something different to each of us. To my mind, how can something be "cheap" if the cost is a trashed environment?

I do not believe that ordinary people are happy with the idea that by engaging in their everyday activities they are destroying the future life of the planet. The complexity of the change required may be difficult to imagine: it is hard enough for a smoker or a drinker to imagine what life might be like without their chosen vice. But, if human consciousness is to have any meaning at all, then we must make that change. The money system is the only thing we have that is powerful enough to deliver in the timeframes that we seem to need. We need to reinvent how we account for economic activity so that we are rewarded for living with the planet, not on it.

It is going to take a Herculean effort to overcome the issue but the great thing about being human is how quickly we can react and change, once we have decided that we want to do so. Hercules was once faced with the choice of virtue or vice. Ever lasting fame or a life of earthly pleasure. In these days of reality TV and X-factor style competition, surely we would all like to be humankind superheroes?

Harold Forbes is Author of "How to be a Humankind Superhero: a manifesto for individuals to reclaim a safe climate". Read chapter summaries at

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Native American Wisdom

Native American womanImage by LatinaPower2009 via FlickrBy Robin D Miller

The American Indian has long been known for their earth based wisdom, natural life style, and their belief in the connections all things have, that make us brothers before Creator.

In a very special way, Native Americans maintain that our connections to the earth and to all things that are involved in its present form... stretches well beyond a simple determination of which things are animate and which things are not. Their reference, while in many different languages and tongues, comes down to the simple concept of what they phrase as "all my relations". The western world sees "relations" as blood relatives; like brothers, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins... Native Americana sees "relations" as any member of what they call the Sacred Hoop. Literally speaking... they mean that if it exists on this planet, in any form, it is endowed with a distinct but hidden relationship to every other thing that exists here too. There is no special distinction between things that breathe and things that do not... nor is there any special treatment for things that are animate verses things that are not.. All are equal in the eyes of the Master of Life.

Take away our atmosphere, those layers of protection between us and the sun, and forget about the problem of not being able to breathe... we would either freeze or burn up almost instantly from our own sun. The oceans would quickly boil away... and the earth would become a burnt cinder like Venus. Yes, we really are that close to the sun.

Where did our air come from? It came from sea creatures like plankton that use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and expel breathable oxygen. Sea plankton were later joined by land based plants that also live by photosynthesis and expelled oxygen. So our atmosphere filled with air... and then along came the creatures that breathe. They use the oxygen and expelled carbon dioxide. It is a direct trade and a natural balance that benefits both. If there were only plankton the air would become explosive and burn off; if there were only creatures that breath the air would soon become poisoned by carbon dioxide and nothing with lungs would survive. It is an over simplification but basically true. The balance between those two elements of life... allows them to co-exist... and of course, much, much more.

In currents events, there has been an immense oil leak spewing up from beneath the Gulf of Mexico. If you were to investigate the huge oil spill we suffered up in Alaska, you would find that the clean-up efforts were superficial at best. The environment up there has not yet recovered and it has been over twenty years. Make no mistake; this oil leak in the Gulf is, and has been, a disaster of epic proportions. Clean-up will probably only be superficial there, too... and things will not return to normal anytime in our lifetime or even within the lifetime of our children.

To polish their own public images big corporations like to use the media to talk about all the good work they are doing. We have heard them talk about how many birds and turtles they have cleaned by hand and returned to the wild... and that is a good thing. But, who is going to hand wash the plankton that have such a huge part in producing the air that we breathe? Who and how will they clean those areas that are remote... like the lowland swamps or the sea floor?

If you were privy to the inner workings of the corporate mind, I think you would find they are much more concerned with their public image... as it applies to what they call "economic viability". Just imagine how our civilization might look to a an extraterrestrial visitor who witnessed our careless pollution... who watched us foul our own nests for the sake of profits.

This scenario is exactly what Native Americans warned us about... so long ago. What we do to Nature we do to ourselves.


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Forests Do Much More For the Planet Than Locking Up Carbon Dioxide

even, dense and old stand of beech trees (Fagu...Image via WikipediaBy Ali Withers

Perhaps we should take some of the responsibility for the conflict about what is best for the environment and the planet rather than blaming it all on commercial interests. Commercial organisations exist to respond to the demands for their goods and services, although it is also true that in order to survive and grow they need to "create" new demands for new products.

We can't any longer ignore the effects continuous growth is having on the earth's atmosphere and environment and one of the biggest causes for concern is the loss of forests.

Trees and forests are important for a whole variety of reasons but two of the most significant are their effects on the air we breathe and the health of the soil we depend on for the food we need. Not only do they produce the oxygen without which we could not exist but they also help clean the air. A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year and trees intercept airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

Trees remove this air pollution by lowering air temperature, through respiration, and by retaining particulates. They also lock up carbon dioxide, identified as a cause of global warming. In order to produce its food a tree absorbs and locks away carbon dioxide in its wood, roots and leaves. A forest is a carbon storage area and can lock up as much carbon as it produces.

Trees also help clean the soil, either storing harmful pollutants or actually changing them into less harmful forms. They also help fight soil erosion. Their roots bind the soil and their leaves break the force of wind and rain on soil, but they also act as wind breaks, which can also reduce the drying effect on soil and vegetation behind the windbreak and help keep precious topsoil in place. They can also help reduce flooding.

More than 25% of our modern medicines originate from tropical forest plants. Even so, we have only learned how to use 1% of these amazing plants. This could prove to be a rich source for the Biopesticides Developers currently working to produce less harmful low-chem agricultural products, such as biofungicides, biopesticides and yield enhancers, to replace the older generation of chemical based products that are increasingly being taken off the market amid growing concerns about harmful and unhealthy residues in our food.

When you consider all this the ongoing destruction of rainforests particularly in the Amazon and Indonesia seems like sheer lunacy.

But there are so many tree-based products that we take for granted and can't imagine living without - whether it's building materials, furniture, paper, palm oil or the foods they produce, such as nuts and fruits.

While there are many organisations battling to protect the world's fast-diminishing rainforests, and across Europe paper is now largely sourced from sustainable forests, there are equally powerful interests, like mining, logging, oil and gas companies whose activities are important to the Peruvian economy, resulting in attempts by the Government to expel the catholic missionary Paul McAuley, who campaigns on behalf of the Amazon Forest's indigenous people and their local environment.

In Indonesia it's the huge profits to be made from forest plantations for palm oil and paper that are threatening the rainforests. It's not all doom and gloom, however. There's evidence in Africa that a particular tree can have an impact on climate change and increase maize yield.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), recently highlighted some of its recent research, designed to increase maize production in Africa by up to four times by planting trees that act as organic fertilizers.
The tree that is the secret to higher maize yield, Faidherbia, has special nitrogen-fixing property and an unusual habit known a "reverse leaf phrenology". Unlike other trees, Faidherbia sheds its leaves and goes dormant during the early rainy season. Its leaves grow again only in the dry season, which makes it compatible with food crops because it does not compete with them for water, nutrients or light.

According to the Agroforestry Centre, Malawian farmers in Malawi say it is like "fertilizer factory in the field", as it takes nitrogen from the air, fixes it in the leaves and subsequently incorporates it into the soil. Where a tree canopy has been established maize yields increased by 280 per cent compared with the zone outside the tree canopy. In Zambia, too, unfertilized maize yields in the vicinity of Faidherbia trees averaged 4.1 tonnes per hectare, compared to 1.3 tonnes nearby but beyond the tree canopy. Plainly there's more to trees than most of us imagine.

Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers

Rainforests and trees are often cited as crucial to the planet's survival and to reducing global warming. But trees are valuable for much more than that. Aside from the products they produce they also protect soil quality and forest plants are the source of many modern medicines and, journalist Ali Withers argues, could be a useful resource for Biopesticides Developers.

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How Alaskans Protect Their Environment and Their Economy at the Same Time

Anchorage, Alaska's largest cityImage via WikipediaBy Allie Moxley

One of the most magnificent things about the United States is the fact that it has so much open land, so many beautiful mountains and plains and deserts. But as the population continues to explode, more and more of this land is being used for commercial purposes. This causes many environmentalists to worry that in a few short decades, the entire country will be under a layer of concrete from sea to shining sea. But their reasons for advocating conservation laws go beyond the sentimental - there are some real economic concerns with maintaining a healthy environment.

One example of the efficacy of conservation laws is Alaska's fishing industry. A few decades ago, many fish populations in American waters were being driven down by overfishing. Commercial and casual fishers could go out whenever they wanted, wherever they wanted, and catch as much as they could by whatever means they chose. This made for some sketchy fishing practices, and populations began to die off. Some states realized that they needed to take matters into their own hands and protect the fish, and Alaska pioneered the way.

While some of the Alaskan governments reasons for protecting the fish's ecosystem were purely environmental, the conservation laws help keep the state's economy healthy as well. Fishing is one of the biggest industries in Alaska, and if it were to die out, thousands would lose their livelihoods. Entire communities would wither away without income or purpose. So in a certain sense, the very commercial interests who sometimes resist such sustainability initiatives are actually the ones with the most to lose (or win).

What's more, another huge industry in Alaska is tourism. Thousands of people from around the world come to the state every year to see its national parks, its glaciers, its vibrant Native American communities, its remote and isolated islands, and more. If a fish species dies out, an entire ecosystem is touched, and it can create a domino effect that will ruin some of the state's greatest treasures.

So Alaska instituted conservation laws around fishing like limiting the amount that can be caught and when fishers can go out on the waters. The state is now leading the way in terms of environmental efforts, and its fishing industry is one of the strongest in the country.

Alaska's fishing industry leads the world in environmental protection measures. From efforts to improve traceability to strict enforcement procedures, Alaska continually shows how committed it is to preserving the ocean for the next generation.

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Paper and the Environment

Container for paper recycling in the Universit...Image via WikipediaBy Michelle Anne Leah Custodio

Like the role of paper is very important to that of history and any other activities of man, it is also equally important to highlight the relationship of paper and the environment. Our continued irresponsible use of paper has a bad effect on our environment. It could have big impact on energy, landfill use, water and air pollution.

Our industrialized way of paper making affect the environment in two ways. The first one was when paper manufacturing materials acquire and process raw materials to make quality paper and the other one is through the manner that we dispose the paper that we have already used.

Almost all of the paper that we are using is made up of wood. 35 percent of all trees being cut is put into paper production. The trees do not solely exist to to provide for pulp to be used for paper production. It has other uses and one of them is to absorb the rain waters and avoid floods and other natural calamities. The need for paper is continuously rising and this automatically increases the demand for felled trees. Nowadays, it is quite sad to note that some paper manufacturing companies are continuously cutting trees without replacing them or planting a new one. This leaves our forest bald and very susceptible to nature's wrath.

Aside from the collection of raw material for paper production, the process of paper consumption is also found to be detrimental to the environment. The use of large paper milling machineries uses a large amount of energy! This amount of energy, if conserved, could actually be used to light up an entire indigenous community residing in a far-flung province. Or even closer to home, the same energy could even be given to the energy consumers in the urban residences. This would give us enough energy to sustain us in our midst without the need to pay for those expensive electrical charges.

And after using that paper that already harmed the environment on the way that it is produced, the environment would again be a victim on how we plan to dispose it. Did you know that 35 percent of all of our municipal solid waste is actually made up of paper or paper products? If we decided to become a bit wiser when it comes to using this very important commodity and if we would also learn to dispose them properly then we could save up to landfill use. Like energy, the space that these large amount of paper wastes occupy could actually be used for something else. Something that should really be disposed and is no longer recyclable or reusable. We have a scarcity in landfills so we should learn to use them wisely.

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The True Ramifications of the Recent BP Oil Spill

Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico (NASA, International...Image by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center via FlickrBy George Chan

Recently uncovered documents relating to the causes of the BP oil spill have been too telling. They cast an onerous light on BP's handling of the construction and maintenance of the Deepwater Horizon rig and their general attitude about what's acceptable behavior in this very risky business of deep-water oil exploration.

The fact that one company's disregard for following prudent procedures could devastate an entire, widespread economy and habitat is bad enough. That BP would risk the whole Gulf Coast, including people, fish, fowl and the very earth itself is unthinkable, but it's been done. What's next?

Deep-water oil drilling has been a hot potato since its very beginnings, with environmentalists on one side and industrialists on the other. Short of a nuclear energy plant melt down, what type of industrial accident could have such wide-reaching negative effects? In our quest for cheaper and more readily available energy sources we're managing to kill our planet (and ourselves) in the bargain.

The problem lies within. We know that driving a gas-guzzling vehicle is bad for the environment, but this doesn't stop many from buying and using SUVs and other four-wheel drives, even in areas where there is no challenging terrain. Yes, we love our petrol-eating transportation but wince every time the prices rise at the pumps. The BP oil spill is a write-off to our thirst for cheap energy and, for them, an unnecessary hit for doing business as usual. It was unnecessary because it was preventable.

The BP oil spill didn't have to happen, and that's the rub. BP executives knew there were problems with the casings and the relief pressure system, but chose to ignore the advice of their senior engineers and undergo repair work. It would cost too much money. What the engineers were suggesting wasn't cost effective, although it would significantly lower the risks involved with running the Deepwater Horizon rig. It was a gamble, to be sure. British Petroleum lost the bet.

BP executives who are known to have been in possession of information that the well was in trouble and a BP oil spill of mass proportions was in the offing are culpable. They could have spent the money and fixed the problem before it became the biggest environmental disaster of all time. They chose to take a chance. It wasn't a good choice.

So what's next? BP has lots of deep-water oil platforms plugged into the seabed. The Deepwater Horizon incident is but one example of what's possible, if not probable, in the near future. The most recent BP oil spill may be the harbinger of what's to come for our oceans. Big Blue can't take too many more of these poisonings. The fish and birds aren't doing too well either. These are irreplaceable resources that some gigantic corporation is gambling in exchange for money. That just doesn't seem right.

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Sea Pollution - The Wonder of the Sea!

ParadiseImage by Fabi Fliervoet via FlickrBy Dr Bob Wilkerson

The sounds of an ocean wave can calm a soul. The distinct smell of salt air can bring comfort to the weary heart. A beer can, cigarette butt, and tar balls steal the splendor of our beautiful ocean. I will never grow tired of walking along the sea shore. The wonderful sounds of waves crashing, sea gulls bellowing and the smell of salt air filling my nostrils always brings a sense of awe to my soul.

Today I walked along a rocky stretch of beach taking pictures and enjoying the moment then I happened upon the villain. This villain was dead but its presence remained. It had no fire but it carcass remained the same. I didn't decade like the remains of an animal. In fact, it will remain for ever on the beach if someone doesn't pick it up and place in a trash can where it belongs. Someone had smoked a cigarette and left the filter on the beach.

I don't have a problem with smokers but I do have a problem with picking up dead old butts.

Not far from the butt a plastic bottle laid frozen in the rocks. The splendor of the ocean was superseded by the waste of humans. For a moment I thought of days gone by when I didn't really care about sea pollution or any pollution and forgiveness filled my heart. However, I felt sorry for those who cannot or will not see the wonder of creation. I remember the emptiness of heart without appreciation for the gifts so freely given. I remember the cold days before my environmental resurrection. No, I am not a radical environmentalist like some but I do love the ocean.

I cannot make anyone see the wonder of the ocean. Yet, I can always remember what it was like when I was blind to the beauty of a wave. I can remember the darkness in my heart and never let it over take me again.
I am not going to point an accusing finger at those who disregard our seas. What I can say is, "but for the grace of God there go I."

Dr Bob is President and co-founder of Going Green for Life - "Nature's Solution for Living." He is also committed to providing education, inspiration and information about how to change to a green life style. You will love his website. Going Green for Life has started the CLEAN OCEAN PROJECT. We invite you to join in the fight to keep our ocean clean. To learn more go to

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What Do Mammoths, Cow and Whales Have in Common?

Se belowImage via WikipediaBy Celeste Maxine Yates

While the term "poo" causes most of us to giggle with glee of childhood memories, it could be one of the biggest factors in climate change, both today and in the past. A recent study has indicated that the cause for the last ice age could be due to mammoths and their ability to create huge quantities of methane.

Methane is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas and is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. According to the article, 'it was not enough to trigger runaway global warming. But when all that gaseous output suddenly tapered off, it caused or at least contributed to a prolonged freeze known as the Younger Dryas cold event, they argue.

Calculations by a trio of researchers led by Felisa Smith of the University of New Mexico, published in Nature, show how all the pieces of this previously unsolved puzzle might fit together. Extrapolating from data on cows and other modern-day ruminants, the scientists estimated the total methane output of pre-historic megafauna at nearly 10 trillion grams per year.

At the same time, ice-core samples reveal that an abrupt drop in atmospheric methane levels of 180 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) coincides with both the virtual extinction of these gas-gushing herbivores and the onset of the deep chill that followed.'

Today it's not large creatures that create huge quantities of gas, but the simplest of farm animals, the cow. On its on the cow could never have achieved such large quantities, but thanks for humans need of meat, milk and other products, we have breed them to the point that have become severe contributors towards climate change.

Through their process of chewing cud and belching, they not only give off methane but also nitrous oxide and ammonia. According to a report, livestock is responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse gas problem. The oxide and ammonia in their manure is responsible for acid rain and killing off marine life in the South China Sea.

An animal that was much larger than the mammoth, which exists today, does the exact opposite. In a twist of dilemma, the animal we breed and populate our land with causes climate change, while the animal that we have killed in large populations to the point of almost extension, might be the solution.

The whales waste is rich in iron which stimulates the growth of phytoplankton, which in turn, serve as carbon traps that remove 400,00 estimated tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year, according to an article. Each time the sperm whale comes to the surface it releases about 220, 462 tons of carbon dioxide. But every time they go for "a number two" it stimulates the drawdown of 440, 925 tons of carbon.

"If Southern Ocean sperm whales were at their historic levels, meaning their population size before whaling, we would have an extra 2 million tonnes (2,204,623 tons) of carbon being removed from our atmosphere each and every year," lead author Trisha Lavery Told Discovery News.

"However, most whales are currently at 1 to 10 percent of their historical population sizes, so in the past, whales may have made a substantial contribution to carbon drawdown," Lavery said, adding that other marine mammals probably beneficially redistribute carbon just as whales do. These may include seals, sea lions and other types of whales, such as fin whales.

Thanks to marine protection areas, programmes and endangered species protection, these giants of the deep might be able to help us find the answer to our cow problems.

As one of the monkeys said in the cartoon movie, Madagascar, "If you've got any poo - throw it now."
Celeste is the director for South African Biodiveristy Media which is media company focusing on biodiversity and the environment in South Africa.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

How Genetically Engineering One Plant Affects Honeybees Adversely

Pollen sticking to a bee. Insects involuntaril...Image via WikipediaBy Bob G Johnson

For years I use to wonder why anyone would be upset with the genetic engineering that was going on in the agricultural world.

For me it was hard to see how a tomato plant that was disease resistant, needed less water, was perfectly round, beautiful red color and loaded with extra vitamins and did not taste like cardboard, could on average be a bad product. That was until those plants and several others had been around for a while. The problem was real and did warrant concern. Let me tell you more.

One issue was the new genetically engineered plants produced less pollen than a "natural" or non genetically engineered plant. This meant that the honeybees who are critical to pollination of our existing botanical systems worldwide, were having to travel farther distances, use more energy just to get enough pollen to sustain the bee hives. The worker bees were being extended in the distance traveled, as well as the nutritional supply needed, to do more work in the same time.

This change was due to the genetic engineering of the better plants for human consumption but it started to offset the honeybee population which was vital to our existence. Over time the problem was recognized and some changes have been implemented such as planting heavily pollen laden natural plants with the genetic engineered plants.

What happens is the honeybees still go to the tomato plants, yet directly beneath the plant is a companion plant that has the pollen the honeybee needs for it's hive. The workload is now the same, the abundance of pollen can be increased for the honeybee population and by improving one plant we saw the improvement was at the expense of other plants simply due to the fact pollination was not occurring because of the extra work load placed upon the bee population.

Not being knowledgeable on plant genetics let's now hope it's also easier to genetically alter some plants to produce more pollen and with genetic engineering the plight of the honeybee can be improved. Of course now I'm not quite as naive as I was for it's simple to see everything has balance and to take from one generally means to give to another.

On balance though are we better off or worse? That is an issue by issue decision.

Enjoy this video by Larry Green at HerbFest 2008 showing how he cares for his bee hives:

HerbFest is the largest fund raiser for the Graham Johnson Cultural Arts Endowment, GJCAE:

Video -

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Permaculture documentaries

Permaculture CoursesImage by London Permaculture via FlickrWATCH this film and you will get a very different view of Afghanistan, that landlocked country of mountain and plain that has been a zone of great power contestation since the Nineteenth Century.

The man responsible for the production is Gary Caginoff of Lysis Films, in Katoomba NSW. Camera in hand, he followed Permaculture designer Rosemary around Afghanistan to explore the difficulties and opportunities she encountered in her work in Afghanistan for the Sydney-based NGO, Mahboba's Promise.

Foe Permaculture people, perhaps the most interesting idea in the film is Rosemary's 'social permaculture'. You can find more, on this and read a review of the film at:
I pass on producer Gary Caginoff's message about the useful add-ons to the DVD...

Dear Russ,

Just to let you know that there is now a very comprehensive Study Guide on The Garden at the End of the World documentary now available for download free from the website:

The DVD and Study Guide, put together by Anitra Nelson, is relevant to a range of senior secondary and introductory tertiary courses, including: Asian studies, child welfare, civics and citizenship, conflict and conflict resolution, feminist studies, health and human development (VCE), human rights, human society and its environment (NSW), international aid/law/politics, journalism, peace journalism, media studies, modern history, permaculture, political science, psychology, religious studies, social work, society and culture, sociology, studies of society and environment (Victoria) and world history.

The Garden at the End of the World and the Study Guide will also interest many community and advocacy groups, especially those involved with social justice, peace, sustainability, international relations, overseas aid, ethics and permaculture.

Please join our Facebook page:

Thanks for your time.

All the best,
Gary Caganoff
Grad. Dip. Transpersonal Psychotherapy
M. Appl. Sc. Social Ecology
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CASE STUDY: Massachusetts Residents Qualify For a Larger PV Rebate When They Use Massachusetts Components

Photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of a hou...Image via WikipediaBy Mona Reese

Massachusetts residents can take advantage of an additional discount on their solar electric system if it incorporates components from a Massachusetts company. The extra incentive is $.10/per watt. It may not seem significant, but on a 5 kW system this would be $500.

I am sure you have heard the words, "buy local," when referring to locally grown food. This motto is transferable to all other goods and services. Buying from a local components manufacturer makes sense for a lot of different reasons. Statistics show that purchasing from a Massachusetts owned business will infuse three times as much money in to the region's economy, strengthening the economic foundation of our community. Locally owned companies also tend to make more local purchases requiring less transportation. This reduces congestion and transportation-related emissions. And finally, Massachusetts businesses hire locally and will support green jobs where we live.

To qualify for this additional rebate, you will have to provide proof that the solar (PV) modules, the inverter(s), or another significant component that is important to the electricity production is manufactured by a company with a significant Massachusetts presence. This is determined at the sole discretion of the MASS Clean Energy Center (CEC). Please speak with your solar installer to see if it makes sense to use Massachusetts components in your solar electric system.

Current companies and products that qualify include:

Evergreen Solar: Modules

With their corporate headquarters in Marlborough, Evergreen Solar, Inc. develops, manufactures, and markets solar power products primarily in the United States and Europe. The company manufactures String Ribbon solar panels utilizing its proprietary wafer manufacturing technology, which involves a process to produce multi-crystalline silicon wafers by growing thin strips of silicon that are cut into wafers.

Schott Solar: Modules (only Schott ASE 300 series modules which may be obsolete)

Schott Solar, with its high quality products, enables the potential of the sun as a nearly inexhaustible source of energy to be utilized. Schott Solar produces important components for photovoltaic applications and solar energy power plants. In the photovoltaic industry, the company is one of the few integrated manufacturers of crystalline silicon wafers, cells and modules. Schott previously had manufacturing facilities for their 300 watt panels in Billerica, Massachusetts.

Satcon: Inverters

Satcon develops innovative power conversion solutions and provides system design services for utility-scale renewable energy plants. Satcon's corporate headquarters is based in Boston, Massachusetts.

Solectria Renewables: Inverters

With their headquarters in Lawrence, Solectria Renewables designs and manufactures premium efficiency, high reliability power electronics and systems for renewable power generation. We also offer engineering services for renewable power systems and distributed power generation.

Beacon Power: Inverters

Beacon Power is a global leader in the development and commercialization of flywheel-based energy solutions for grid-scale frequency regulation services and other utility-scale and unitary energy storage applications. Beacon Power's corporate headquarters is based in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.

Panel Claw: Mounting Systems

PanelClaw, Inc. develops and markets cost effective and environmentally friendly mounting solutions for photovoltaic modules. PanelClaw manufactures efficiently engineered ballasted flat roof / ground mount solutions with a manufacturing philosophy geared to saving you time and money. Panel Claw's headquarters is in North Andover, Massachusetts.

Mona Reese is the co-founder of Brightstar Solar (, a New England-based company that markets, designs, and installs photovoltaic systems. The company enables its residential, commercial, and non-profit customers to create their own electricity safely, dependably, and with an attractive return on investment.

If you're interested in more information about solar photovoltaic installations, go to our home page or for more information about a free solar evaluation please go to:

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The Rise of Environmental Consciousness in the UK

The carbon footprint.Image via WikipediaBy Nora Davies

It is vital that everyone takes part in doing their bit for the environment if impact is to be had on a global level. As one of the top 50 countries in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the UK needs to make sure that they do their best in other areas in order to ensure that they do not contribute more to the worsening of the global environment.

Fortunately, the current government have plans in place in order to try and combat the past few decades' worth of ignorance we had, including more recycling schemes being offered and plans to cut both household and business waste and the use of landfill sites. It is also now necessary that shops sell only energy saving bulbs and that many other methods are in place to help us help the planet.

Being environmentally conscious can come in many forms. It is you buying locally produced fresh produce, which has a smaller carbon footprint attached to it, and your local shops enabling you to do so. It is you using public transport where possible and making sure that you are just as conscious of energy saving and recycling at work as you are at home.

It is easily possible in this day and age to make sure that the products we use are as environmentally friendly as they can be. The new recycling schemes mean that plastics can now be reused and some UK and global companies can now use this to package their products or make their shopping bags. IKEA, for example, use recycled plastic bags, as do many other companies. You can generally tell by their thicker quality. Household rubbish bags are also made from recycled plastic in many cases now. Just make sure you keep an eye out for products that you know use this technology to help them.

Everyone nowadays knows to use a cloth bag to take to the shops and carry home their shopping in (perfect for folding up and popping in a handbag or pocket too) and to make sure they switch off appliances at the mains, rather than use standby. Make sure you demand the same from the manufacturers and companies you trust to supply you with goods though. Ask about their carbon footprint or eco schemes and make sure you check out how they rank on the Times Green List and other ranking of environmental friendliness.

Most of all, just remember that what little effort you can make will make a difference. The UK is now making a conscious effort to be more environmentally friendly, so make sure to show your patriotism and prove that our country can make a difference.

Look out for the eco-friendly bags designed and manufactured by reusable bags company Bag It Don't Bin It. You can design and customise your bags to reflect your personality.

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CASE STUDY: California Invests $75 Million For Clean Energy Workforce Training Program (CEWTP)

UpImage by lauren keith via FlickrBy Fida Hossain

California residents will have greater access to Solar Photovoltaic Training because over $75 million dollars will be invested in the California Clean Energy Workforce Training Program (CEWTP). This action lets us know that the state of California believes the hope for California's economy lies with Green jobs.

Although this money would not go directly to Training Providers, it does provide the residents of California with the opportunity to acquire the appropriate training to qualify for a green job. The 34 awardees of this investment money have already estimated training for approximately 5,600 workers through regional workforce training partnerships across the state, in the first phase of this program alone. With greater emphasis on clean energy such as Solar Panel Installation training and institutions offering training in renewable energy, there are three important things any individual interested in taking Solar Photovoltaic training should consider.

A portion of the 75 million dollar investment in the California Clean Energy Workforce Training Program will go into developing a standard curriculum that is sufficient to equip workers with the basic skills necessary to operate Green Jobs. These skills vary from Solar Panel installation training to Weatherization. Thus, we will see more six month certification programs with course units that may be integrated with engineering or environmental related degrees. This is great for anyone interested in a more extensive study in renewable energy.

For those who do not have the time, there are institutions that provide forty hour PV installation training certificates and solar thermal certificates. These certificate programs are more than adequate to provide students with the basic qualifications to launch into green jobs.

Green jobs have become very broad. Thorough training in clean energy is required for most employers to even consider you as having the competency to successfully carry out basic responsibilities. It is not enough to take a one day crash course for clean energy. But rather, aim for a certification in a renewable energy emphasis such as Solar photovoltaic training (PV installation training).

In light of this fact, anyone interested in taking Solar Panel installation training has to consider Institutions that offer the best programs. There are few things that the best institutions offer in their Solar Photovoltaic Training. These are: Preparation for the North American Board of Energy Practitioner's (NABCEP) Entry Level Certificate of Knowledge exam, experienced and well informed instructors, fully equipped training lab and personal or self branding.

NABCEP is the gold standard for PV installation training certification and solar thermal certification. Their goal is to raise industry standards and promote consumer confidence. Obtaining a NABCEP certification will give you National recognition as a PV Installer or Solar Sales Professionals. It also increases your chances of being hired. Good Solar Panel installation training will prepare their students for the NABCEP Entry Level Certification exam.

An experienced and well informed instructor will be able to impart invaluable knowledge to the students regarding what to look out for in the industry. Personal branding is major for professional success. However, most professionals don't know how to brand themselves, especially in a relatively young industry. An exceptional PV installation training certification will help their students with branding themselves in this young and growing industry.

One great example of an Institution that fulfills all the highlighted requirements for exceptional Solar Photovoltaic Training is American Institute of Renewable Energy. Take advantage of the CA state initiatives and prepared for a rewarding career in renewable energy.

For more information contact American Institute of Renewable Energy or call toll free 888-543-AIRE
American Institute of Renewable Energy (AIRE) is an Alternative Energy Research, Development Training and Technology Company. We are committed to develop skilled workforce to bring Integrated Engineering and Advanced Technological Solutions to provide Clean Affordable Renewable Energy to people, communities and countries worldwide. Headquartered in Southern California and provide training across the country.

Plans are in progress to extend our excellent Renewable-Energy training to under develop countries. The Institute led by Clean Renewable Energy experts with extensive experience in the development, dissemination of information and research about renewable energy and sustainability for the improvement of economics, environmental quality, and human life.

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Why the World Still Uses Coal, Oil and Natural Gas

By Ned Hall

Coal, oil, and natural gas are still dominant sources of energy despite the fact that renewable energy is getting more and more supporters. Wind power and solar power are becoming increasingly popular but coal, oil and natural gas have founded our economies and industries meaning they still have very strong political support.
Fossil fuels have more than just history on their side, what they also have is advantage in costs. Renewable energy is sadly still significantly expensive option compared to fossil fuels, and lower costs are really the key component that gives fossil fuels an edge.

Renewable energy technologies are constantly developing, and their development is dropping prices so they are getting near the prices of fossil fuels (especially wind power that is currently the cheapest renewable energy option). However getting near doesn't seem to be enough, and coal is thus still the most dominant energy source in the world, and world's greatest source of electricity.

In about 150 years time fossil fuels would likely be depleted, and world will have to have a decent replacement ready. From the current point of view using renewables looks like the only option capable to replace coal, oil, and natural gas but this is far future from where we are looking today.

We must not forget that fossil fuel burning does great damage to our planet in form of global warming phenomenon, and if the current scientific prediction about future climate are right we definitely do not have 150 years at our disposal to make the energy switch towards using more renewables. We really need to act much sooner.

Ned Hall firmly believes that one day wind and solar power will become dominant energy sources and in order to make that happen renewable energy sources need more promotion. In order to do so he has written many interesting solar energy articles as well as many other interesting wind energy articles

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The Endangered Life of the Mammoth Walrus

Large walrus on the ice - Odobenus rosmarus di...Image via WikipediaBy Samuel P. Mcmillian

There are three primary types of pinnipeds, the seal, the walrus and the seal lion. Pinnipeds are also familiar as the fin-footed mammals. The second family of the pinnipeds consists of just one species, the walrus.

This huge animal, the only known living marine carnivore that has tusks, lives in Arctic waters off both coasts of northern North America and also off northeastern Siberia. It measures from 8 to 12 feet in length when fully grown and weighs up to 3,000 pounds. Its thick hide is tough and wrinkled and almost naked of fur. Both the male and female walrus grow tusks, which they use in fighting and in digging for mollusks. Tusks of an adult walrus may measure as much as 39 inches in length.

Living their lives together in herds, walruses stay in far northern waters during the summer. In the fall they drift southward with the ice while in the spring they swim northward again. Females mate every other year and they usually give birth to a single young, about a year after mating has taken place. The bulls do not form harems as fur seals do, but they will fight fiercely for mates where tusks will clash.

Eskimo prize walruses for their leathery hides, blubber, flesh, and ivory tusks. Many animals are lost during hunts, for walruses often sink after being shot. In recent years walrus populations have steadily decreased. Unfortunately they are in grave danger of eventually vanishing entirely unless the hunting of them is more closely controlled.

Samuel enjoys contributing content to the online world, his latest website on hoover vacuum parts which reviews and lists the best repair choices at is worth checking out.

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CASE STUDY: The Plum Island Mystery

The Plum Island Animal Disease Center, one of ...Image via WikipediaBy Joseph Parish

Since the turn of the century the federal government has been aggressively eradicating extensive amounts of contaminants and waste from a small Island in New York commonly identified as Plum Island. The name may ring a bell in your mind, as it is the previous Top Secret Army Germ Warfare Research Laboratory. For several decades this lab with its 840 acres and 70 buildings was the vista of America's most hazardous and deadliest research dealing with dangerous animal associated diseases.

Plum Island is positioned off the northeast coast of Long Island. It has an extensive and remarkable history dating back to the Spanish-American War where the government acquired the island to construct the Fort Terry military reservation. Fort Terry was ultimately deactivated abruptly after World War II had ended although the location was again reactivated in 1952.

In response to the recurrent epidemics of diseases originating from Canada and Mexico, the island was consigned under control of the Agriculture Department for use as a research center. Its original target, in 1954 was a noble cause, as a research center established to concoct some sort of protection for America's livestock. During that time frame there was considerable lose of domestic animals from various diseases. As the Cold War approached, the center transformed into a unit with more sinister purposes as it assumed a secret biological weapons profile. This federal program has been the focus of many intense controversies which eventually caused the facility to reap a sort of cult status.

The choice for Plum Island was likely selected for the fact that it was a secluded island, however after 911, our government concluded that the location of the island presented somewhat of a vulnerability and an invitation for terrorists.

Those inhabitants residing in Connecticut are more then familiar with the countless rumors that populate conversations regarding the existence of several monsters within the region of the island. One of the foremost of these tales is that which recounts the dreaded Lyme disease. It is suspected that this ailment had its beginning on the island and rapidly spread to the mainland of Connecticut in particular the city of Lyme Connecticut.

One person from the city of Lyme who is suffering from MS, asserts that her condition was caused by exposure to the Lyme disease virus. We would do well to keep in mind that the town of Lyme is the closest municipality to the island. The lady argues that she does not know if the release of the virus was deliberate or by human error but she leaves no doubt in her mind that it originated from Plum Island. For those who may not be aware of it, Lyme disease is an insidious disease which has yet to be properly addressed by the media. It runs unbridled throughout the southern portion of New England.

Another tale of horror revolves around the Montauk monster which is reputed to originate from the island as well. Encouraging this theory is the fact that Plum Island personnel will kill any wild mammal on sight when they see one on the island. For a good many years our government denied accusations that any sort of underground experimentation was taking place on the island and the population was lead to believe that the vicinity was merely a testing facility for resolutions resulting in animal diseases such as hoof-and-mouth disease.

For the masses that feel this island would provide the perfect backdrop for imaginative horror stories, you are absolutely correct. There has been a vast number of horror tales that use Plum Island as the locality in the tales. These narratives range from Zombie related genera to the appearance of strange creature sightings. George Romero's "Survival of the Dead" used Plum Island as a background however; they inaccurately stated the state as Delaware. Other video's which make reference to the island include the movie "Silence of the Lambs" where it was referred to as "Anthrax Island."

Michael Carroll wrote a book entitled "Lab 257" where he alleges that investigations conducted at Plum Island have resulted in outbreaks of three major infectious diseases. They are the Dutch Duck Plague, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Carroll asserts in his book many accusations which are counter to the official government's position. Several other literary manuscripts which freely borrow from the Plum Island mystic include Les Roberts novel entitled "The Poison Plum" and one by Nelson DeMille entitled "Plum Island."

The actual facts of Plum Island read like a horror novel within itself. In the years when it functioned as an animal research lab, it had provided a home for the study of over 40 different animal diseases including African swine fever and hog cholera. This was not just any sort of "think tank environment" for it conducted over 30,000 diagnostic tests yearly.

There have been several situations that have contributed to the impression that Plum Island facilities could potentially be a source of danger. Since Plum Island's freezers contained a vast number of disease samples including polio the risks of accidental release was great. During 1991 these freezers were in jeopardy as the consequence of a vast power outage resulting from a hurricane being active in the area. It's motivating to realize that the law stipulates that no live foot and mouth virus can be studied on the American mainland so the research center became our only location capable of analyzing this disease. There were several episodes which occurred in 2004 where the foot and mouth disease was unfortunately released within the center itself. In response to those incidents Senator Hillary Clinton appealed to the Homeland Security officials expressing her apprehension for the safety of the center:

Although the biological weapons research was cancelled by President Richard Nixon in 1969 there is still an ample number of mystery and unknown factors surrounding this perplexing and eerie island. Perhaps in time we will know just what the facts are and what the fiction begins.

The Plum Island Mystery
By Joseph Parish

Copyright @2010 Joseph parish

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