Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Matthew 24:37-39 - A warning message of 'Climate Change' & the consequences of "Apathy" ?


Dire predictions of impending doom are the popular online items today, not only in Media, but also the entertainment industry. World catastrohpe is sensationalized because it has a high curiosity factor which boosts ratings which translates into advertising dollars. But it's not just the Media and Hollywood, scientists also are getting into the act. Mythical tales of asteroids past and comets of doom setting off chain reactions of destruction at some future time. Okay, let me provide a more modern update on that text in the title of my post. Seriously folks, this can be fun, even if you are not necessarily biblically inclined. Here is Matthew 24:39 with a modern day application where I've adjusted a few terms and expanded on some descriptions.
39 "And the people didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood Climate Change came and swept them all away."
What has always fascinated me about the present climate change debate, it seems that the biggest deniers of this anthropoligical  phenomena tend to be many of those claiming to be of the Christendom worldview. But the question is why ? Especially in view of their own holy book's warning that environmental ruin would be a major part of the sign of living in the 'Last Days' ? Take this statement in Revelation:
18 "The nations were angry with you, but now it is your turn to be angry with them. . . . . both the great and small—and to destroy those who have caused destruction."
Okay, that sounds serious enough to me, But, why all the discontent and 'Apathy' when it comes to lack of concern over climate change and environmental issues in general on the part of those who claim to promote the wonders of Nature created by their God ? The preceding verse of Matthew at 38 gives a historical clue on the human attitude back then in the quote below:
 38 "In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his Ark,"
It seemed that the population in general mentioned back in Genesis was so caught up in the average daily affairs of life, that they paid little or no attention to their surrounding physical and social environment until that catastrophic weather event warned by the Ark's builder Noah occurred. Now let me update that text to a more modern times application with a few alterations here and there to shed light on what is clearly hapening today:
 38 "In those days before the flood climate changed, the people were enjoying banquets and parties [includes partying, revelries, sporting events, weekend recreation, etc], and weddings [social networking, dating sites, consumerism, planning  families, pursuing careers as opposed to being family oriented, etc, etc, etc] right up till the time of irreversible climate change."
39 "And the people didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood Climate Change came and swept them all away."
There, how is that for spotlighting the apathetic attitude of times past and our present day modern times ? I know I probably won't make many friends from either side [atheist/religious], but that is exactly the reality of the present day world we live in now. Much of the discussion by the world's leadership about Climate Change is mostly giving lip service or token feedback in public because that is what the Media and EcoActivists usually expect. Actually following through on those promises and making drastic changes in policy on the other hand is a different matter. People need to understand that any self-respecting politician who is career oriented knows that his/her job teaters on a delicate balance of keeping the people who elected them materialistically satisfied. Ask the majority of citizens to cut back on their pursuit of consumerism and material comforts for the sake of Nature is a sure nail in the coffin towards any hopes of further political career advancement. Fail to satisfy any citizen's basic necessities materialistic desires & ambitions and you may as well kiss your career goodbye and retire. But almost no one seems to blame or hold accountable any leader who at the very least just says they care about Nature or claim they support finding Eco-Green Solutions. Although not really having any track record of actually committing themselves to any real viable ecosolution for reversing the damage done, they still get the public's support if at least they say they care about the environment. Take a look below at what is most important to the majority of global leaders.

Image - The Gulf Today

Ever heard of these global economic schemes like the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ??? Well, if these are anything like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), then it's all about economic power and zero consideration on the environment. Seriously, I remember back in the 1990s at the one year aniversery since NAFTA was implemented, there were news articles high lighting how prior to NAFTA there were a couple of Billionaires in Mexico, but since NAFTA a year later, there were now 14 Billionaires. But for a change, let's forget all about the Politicians, Clergymen, Scientists and Business leaders and I'll provide a series of Nature Memes [for the reading deficit folks] which will highlight where the natural world is presently on the failure scale caused by human apathy. Of course there are all those megafires going on globally, rising temps, pollution on land, etc, etc, etc, but let's focus mainly on Oceans. Just oceans, you know, those climate and weather mechanism drivers ? Decades ago almost everyone thought that oceans were too monstrous to be effected by human mismanagement. But oh how times have changed. For some years now there have been several articles on about areas around the globe where sea creatures are washing up in different locations, but that was dismissed. Then recently, the same thing has happened but the scale is far grander.

Image - B2Bio
Blog B2BIO - The Great Pacific garbage patch, the result of the indifference

image - WCBD News
1,000’s of starfish wash ashore on SC island

image - Plantao Noticias Dead swordfish
Thousands of swordfish found dead on Lopes Mendes beach, Brazil

 Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters
Guardian: Climate change warnings for coral reef may have come to pass, scientists say

Huffington Post: Florida's Massive Fish Kills

Image: Alvaro Vidal - AFP
El Niño may be to blame for dead fish, whales washing up on Chile's beaches

Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images
BBC News: Vietnam protest over mystery fish deaths
 One of the most outrageous things I read recently was about more fish die offs in Vietnam which were blamed on the pollution from an industrial company called Formosa Plastics and I believe a steel manufacturer. An official from this company made an outrageously stupid statement, but then was later forced to apologize, then fired to provide corporate public relations damage control excuse.
"Much of protesters' anger in the past week has focused on a Formosa Plastics official, since dismissed, who said people in Vietnam had to choose between industry or its fishing industry, adding: "You can't have both."  
The company did it self no favors when one of its senior officials told reporters: “Sometimes in order to win something, you have to lose something. It’s impossible to build a steel plant here and keep fish stocks in the surrounding area high at the same time.”
Forbes Asia: "Vietnam's Fishy Fish Deaths: A Bouillabaisse Of Politics, PR And Business" 
Truthfully, as sick as such an irresponsible admission by an industrial entity is, this is exactly the same identical attitude with all other corporate and big government entities around globe as well. But for public relations purposes the others are smart enough never make the same stupid mistake and announce such a career ending belief to the rest of mankind publicly. It's all about national economies with token half-hearted eco-solutions thrown in for eye-candy appeal to smoke-screen the reality behind the scenes.

(Image source: Wind’s Sustainability Blog)
PhysOrg: Researchers discover that 'red tide' species is deadlier than first thought
The ultimate cause of the total and complete lifeform die off throughout the world's oceans is mankind's mismanagement of land resources. Since the first world war, science and technology have taken the lead in fascilitating everyone on the planet in polluting the world' s waterways which eventually make their way to the Sea. Look at the map below where most of the algal blooms are occurring. Is it not this world's most successful industrial nations ? These red tides as they are called are a result of nutrient enriched buildup caused by pollution entering the coastal environments. Such algal blooms in aquatic marine environments cause a depletion of oxygen in the waters and this eventually leads to a domino effect. 
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Distribution of Harmful Algae Blooms throughout the World
And if the algal blooms appearing everywhere isn't bad enough, they are clearly beciming more and more vicious to the existence of the marine life where they make their more and more frequent appearancea. Take the latest examples from Chile. It's an incredible nightmare as every type of living marine creature is dying off by the 10s of 1000s.

The Guardian: "Toxic 'red tide' in Chile prompts investigation of salmon farming"
"Algal bloom ‘of biblical proportions’ has led to protests and health emergency as concerns raised over dumping of rotting salmon in ocean"
Huffington Post: "Nature Collapsing, Fossil Fuels Culprit"

The photo to the right here is an earwax core extracted from a beached blue whale in 2007, Santa Barbara, Calif. I know, it sounds gross, but what they determined it was contaminated with goes a long way in explaining perhaps why whale and dolphin deaths are beachings and collisions with marine vessels are on the rise. Below here is an excerpt from the article in Huffington Post:
"In 2007, a 12 year old blue whale was struck and killed by a ship off Santa Barbara, Calif. A 10-inch, giant plug of its earwax revealed 16 pollutants including flame retardant, methylmercury and several  persistent organic pollutants including high levels of  DDT and PCBs. The whale’s biography divulged an eastern Pacific Ocean rife with man-made toxicity."
Huffington Post: Dying Whales, Horrific Omen

Headline May 15th, 2016
 Fortune Magazine: Is Mankind Reaching the End?

Investor Jeremy Grantham told participants at Fortune's  Brainstorm E conference that mankind is now in the “race of our lives” to survive the next century.
 “We’ve been around for 300,000 years. We’ve had agriculture for 12,000 years,” the 77-year-old money manager said on Monday in Carlsbad, Calif. “Yet we’ve come down to just 100 years where the whole game is playing out.” He said it’s not just that the climate is warming, but that climate warming is accelerating.
 Grantham says he is far more optimistic about technology’s ability to solve energy problems than most environmentalists. But he is also far more pessimistic about the ability to feed a rapidly growing global population, given changing climate patterns, than most technologists. “Both groups underestimate the good news or the bad news.” As a result, he said, “it’s going to be quite a horse race."
Asked by Fortune Editor Brian O’Keefe who would win, Grantham replied: “It’s fifty-fifty.” 
Fortune "It's Unclear How Technology Can Help" 

Don't you just love Memes ???
The guy above the well known elder environmental statesman, James Gustave Speth, who authored the acclaimed books Red Sky at Morning (2003) and The Bridge at the Edge of the World (2008), who has apparently grown ever more convinced that the world's politics and economies are so corrupted, and the environmental movement so inadequate, that mankind can no longer hope to address the climate crisis, or their deep social ills, by working strictly within the system. While such an admission is admirable, his solutions are unfortunately swabbing the deck of the Titanic to clean it up before it finally goes down. In other words putting trust in the same old failed system. Still, the meme is terrific. 
But getting back to many of the folks who are climate change deniers, many of whom claim to be of a conservative religious persuasion. If you do believe in the ancient climate change account in your own holy book, the bible, do you realize that what killed those people was not the deluge mechanisms like volcanoes, record rainfall events, asteroids or comets hitting the Earth. No, it was their apathetic attitude as was even pointed out by your very own holy man, Jesus Christ. Let's recap what was wrong with that ancient world and fast forward to modern times. The comparison is being made to the general lack of caring attitude of ancient humans of past times which proved to be their undoing and the present modern day prevailing apathy which infects the majority of mankind today.
Luke 17:26-28 (Modern English Version)
 27 "They were eating, drinking, marrying, and were given in marriage . . "
 28 "Likewise as it was in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built."
 All those things listed above are certainly not wrong pursuits in themselves, but the average person on earth is so caught up in the everyday anxieties of daily living and this obsession with consumerism for a better life, that they are totally oblivious to the disintegrating life support systems around them until we go beyond a point of no return. The fact is no one should need any scientist, politician or even clergyman to tell you something is radically wrong with all natural systems around us. And the present movement towards a type of  Scientific Socialism , which is a combination of "Philosophy-Economics-Politics" isn't the answer either. As both Jeremy Grantham and Gus Speth said, you can't place a materialistic answer towards correcting human affairs on Earth. It's a spiritual one which most secularists and their conventionally religious counterparts (especially Christendom) fail to grasp. One hundred plus years of supposed enlightenment since 1914 and humans haven't learned anything.

Back to the Future III - 'Point of No Return'
For those with a further hungering for growing examples, here are some more links below
"Am I completely nuts or apocalyptic animal mass kills are increasing dramatically around the world?"
And so read the title of an interesting site which has compiles a rather large long list of unusual lifeform dieoffs since the first of this year.
Here is yet another site which has recorded many of the media links commenting on the plethora of lifeform dieoffs on our planet:

Friday, April 22, 2016

What Are those Environmental Cues which Effect Gene Expression ???

Okay this is gonna be real easy. Especially for the folks with the modern day short attention spans. You folks who learn and understand only from Memes will understand all this hands down.
Diet! - Ever hear the expression, "You are what you eat" ???

Image: MyNetDiary
Image: foodpsychology.cornell.edu
Image: guardianlv.com
For Meme Lovers Only

Seriously, you people new this all along. You know the advantages of a healthy well balance diet as opposed to an unhealthy diet. You know the effects of having abundance as compared to the extreme circumstances of starvation. All of these are environmental cues which trigger variying epigenetic responses within the genes of different people. This is why the role of Gut Bacteria is so important, because what you take in your body by choice in the way of nutirtion can effect how your cut bacteria react, which also triggers signaling messages into your body's genome. These same rules apply to all the other lifeforms on the Earth as well. For example, when I wrote recently about a fungal species I use in forumations for plant root inoculations. While our nutrition intake is an internal one, plants on the other hadn have an external one which we could compare the symbiosis of beneficial fungi and bacteria which externally colonize the rootsystem, can be compared to our internal gut bacteria. Trichoderma was a subject I wrote about where the fungi not only processes nutrients, but also provides specific signaling messages to a plant's immune system to step up production.
How Many Beneficial Functions & Services can be found in just one Fungi Species ?

Climate/Weather - Micro/Macro - Heat/Cold

Image: Rainy Day - CIC Services
Image: Dry Climate - Incredible India
Image: Storage West
Image: American Grandparents Association

Elevation/Geography Environmental Cues
Image from Saguaro National Monument
Image: Himalaya Mountains - WorldWildlife.org
Image: Lux Tonnerre - Palau Islands
Image: Great Plains - WorldWildlife-org
Image: Noah Elhardt - North/South Slopes
Toxic Pollution effects epigenetic gene expression - so think Endocrine Disruption & Nylonase - then we can dump the doctrine of  Random Mutation (otherwise known as copying errors which result in bad or lucky mistakes) and Natural Selection (otherwise known as Tinker Bell) is a mysterious intelligent animist type of god which is omnipotent, omnipresent and if you believe the latest literature out there, also omniscient. [I'm not kidding either folks. For all the talk of ridding mankind of their various beliefs in gods, the secular elements of our modern world are obsessed with creating their own version of gods in their image]

Image: Slideshare.net
Image: Nylonase - OVGuide.com

http://sciencenordic.com - Endocrine Disruption - Spooky
Seriously now, what more could I add to the list of environmental cue factors that trigger epigentic responses to gene expression ? How about hervivores, predators, nightime, daytime, caves, volcanoes, toxins, pollution, disasters (natural & human caused), wars, climate change etc, etc, etc.

Well, this wasn't so bad. Lots of Memes and Photographs with very little text! Environmental cues are everywhere and they influence how the informational content of genes are expressed. Survival, reproduction, health (good or bad), climate adaptability, all manner of ecosystem niches, etc, etc, etc.

A little Natural Selection humor here

BTW, just as a reminder of what natural selection is and isn't, retired Geneticist, Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Germany has a nice page on the history of the definition of "Natural Selection", it's problems and attempts at finding a more viable alternative for the outdated terminology in view of latest modern scientific discoveries.

Monday, April 18, 2016

News Updates on Bee populations, China's Industrial effects, Climate Change's effects and Bee Vectoring Technolgy

First, the not so encouraging News out of  China and it's less than ethical practices in pursuit of  Industrial Agriculture
Photojournalist Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

He Meixia, a 25-year-old farmer, pollinates each blossom on a
pear tree by hand in the Sichuan province, China
Traditionally, pollinating fruit trees was a job that was best done by all kinds of  bees. But there aren’t many bees in China these days, which forces farmers to find other solutions. In Hanyuan County, often called the pear capital of the world, human workers go tree to tree, hand-pollinating the white blossoms with brushes. But of course this begs the question, why ? What Happened ? The main reason the People's Republic of china are using humans to pollinate fruit trees, is because they have no large populations of pollinators to speak of. Back in the historical past of the 1950's the prevailing Science of the time determined sparrows were eating too much grain which would make the people go hungry. As always, the usual industrial scientific answer was to kill off and eliminate all of the sparrows. Sparrows were the enemy, not human ignorance of ecological mechanisms. Without the sparrows, huge locusts swarms destroyed their the grain crops. So they in turn decided to use the same stupid scientific rationalization and invent more synthetic chemicals to kill all the bad insects with pesticides. Now they basically have no good insect predatores and pollinators. While the major news has been the decline of honeybees which is troubling, the real concern bringing back a healthy balanced insect population. Here are some interesting educational links below of what happened to China from the 1950s to the present agricultural crisis. 
Some interesting historical reference links:
Decline of bees forces China's apple farmers to pollinate by hand
Will We Still Have Fruit if Bees Die Off?
After Bee Die-Off, Chinese Apple Farmers Resort to Hand Pollination
The Bee Photographer - Hand Pollination in China Images
The Red Chinese Cultural Revolution science-based legacy for the elimination of worthless Sparrows and the domino effect we have today in Nature
And if you think such scientific ignorance & arrogance is limited to China and a  thing of the past, think again:
Fabricating Unscientific Fables for Corporate Business Interests 

"Chinese peasants were encouraged to shoot sparrows out
 of the sky during the Four Pests Campaign"

Youtube: The Great Sparrow campaign documentary
The Great Leap Forward, 1958-61
When China Wiped Out the Common Sparrow And Slit Its Own Throat (1958)
Four Pests Campaign
 Fast Forward to Modern Times & Sparrows are in sharp decline all over the globe
USA Today: Researchers stumped over decline of sparrow population
Where have the sparrows gone? - The Hindu

Yeah, you're not the only one. We can't believe the pervasive apathy either Mr Sparrow!
Climate Changes brought on by rising CO2 levels reduce protein in crucial pollen source for bees

Photo by Ivar Leidus
Interesting research about goldenrod pollen containing much less protein because of increasing CO2 levels. Bees are taking hits at every turn, they just can't seem to get a break. As usual, I found the article while interesting and informative, but I walk away with far more questions which have to do with the peripheral view of things. While Goldenrod the plant is studied, what about other plants ? What effect does less protein content have with plant reporduction for future generations of various plant species ? Where does epigenetic or genomic imprinting fit into all of this ? Will the genes of these newer seeds produced under the new  abnormal conditions make them weaker than previous plants ? As a result will these, though wild, be more suseptible to insect and pathogen attacks ? Okay, sure, I'm full of "Yeah buts ???"
Quotes from the Purdue University article 
"Researchers found that the overall protein concentration of goldenrod pollen fell about one-third from the onset of the Industrial Revolution to the beginning of the 21st century."
"Previous studies have shown that increases in carbon dioxide can lower the nutritional value of plants such as wheat and rice -- staple crops for much of the global human population -- but this study is the first to examine the effects of rising CO2 on the diet of bees. "
"Native bee species and honeybees rely on flowering plants for energy and nutrition. While nectar is the primary energy source for bee colonies, pollen is the sole source of protein for bees. Pollen is essential for the development of bee larvae and helps maintain bees' immunity to pathogens and parasites."
(Source - Purdue University) 
Of course all along some have assured us that trees, shubs and most other plants will benefit by the higher levels of CO2s. The reasoning of course was that plants breathe CO2s while exhaling oxygen. The reverse opposite of us and other animals. And what about the effects on us if plants nutrition goes down ? That's okay, the biotechs say they will fix all the seeds. Funny, not one of them has clue one about how to reverse climate change, but they know how to counter it. They also refuse to admit they are a huge part of the bigger problem which brought us climate change.
""The impact of carbon emissions on the nutritional value of our food supply is something people need to be aware of. This issue isn't just relevant to honeybees and people -- it will probably affect thousands or even millions of other plant-eating species around the world. We don't yet know how they'll deal with it."
Not exactly new findings. Here is a study from the Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science in 2014 
Using bees to help deliver biological control agents to eliminate crop diseases could potentially sicken or kill couriers or nontarget insects and plants
And you people wondered where Hollywood got all their Sci-Fi World ideas!


One strategy for keeping farm crops healthy involves treating them with biological control agents such as bacteria, viruses or fungi that incapacitate pests or diseases. Some producers have begun using bees to help deliver control agents to crops by having them walk through powder containing the agents before heading out on their flower-foraging flights. The extent to which the approach could sicken or kill couriers or nontarget insects and plants is currently largely unknown. But here is some interesting news which may provide an organic approach, but no one knows for sure. I would like to hope that this could work. It evenhas potential for the Organic Farming practices industry. Unfortunately in the shadows lurks the usual industrial suspects spying out this technology which is being touted for its ability to work with Mother Nature and more than likely end up as just another tool of some giant agro-industrial complex. On an interesting side note, I do recognize many of the biological controls listed, some being mycorrhizal. Especial Trichoderma on Strawberries could help if the chemicals could be eliminated. Strawberries are one of the most synthetically sprayed crops.
Update April 26, 2016
Brilliant new beehive harnesses solar energy to exterminate the colony’s worst enemy 

Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT)
Springer Link: Entomovectoring in plant protection
Youtube: BVT Explained
BICOPOLL: Managing bees for delivering biological control agents and improved pollination in berry and fruit cultivation
For a fun read on flowers pollinators and other insects, try this blog like by Chateau Moorhen - Millymollymandy


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Golden Opportunities for Habitat Restoration after Wildfires in Deserts

Many conservation & habitat restoration ideas which are badly needed, would also provide work employment for many after such wildfires, but such mergency readiness planning is just too logical and that's not exactly how this world works. The outdoor jobs would also be a welcomed solution particularly for today's modern  youths who are ecologically challenged which is a condition brought on by Nature Deficit Disorder.

This photo provided by the Mohave Valley Fire District shows a fast
moving brush fire in Mohave Valley, Ariz., on Wednesday April 6, 2016.
 (Photo: Aossciated Press)

I woke up and read the News headlines in today's online San Diego Union Tribune about the potential for major fire hazard this year in San Diego County in California where El Nino didn't exactly go so well in SoCall as Scientists had predicted. The journalist mentioned how rains which brought averages to normal did nothing but make the brush wet and annual weeds grow big everywhere. This was followed by my reading updates on the Oklahoma/Kansa fire which is still going. But then there was yet another massive fire in the news and it was a desert wildfire at Topock Arizona which started early in the morning and jumped across the wide and wet Colorado River to the California side. Temps were in the 90s F (30s C), but winds were only 10 to 15 mph. Not exactly Santa Ana huricane type winds, but then fire also creates it's own wind storms within. Still, jumping the wide Colorado is incredible. Here are some pics below of the 1,438 acre wildfire. 

A wildfire flareup near Needles, Calif. on Wednesday.
San Bernardino County Fire Department photo via the
 Associated Press

These falmes are huge and burning in almost strictly moncultured invasive Tamarisk forests which have pushed out all other native vegetation along both sides of the Colorado River and backwater lagoons. For over two decades when I worked down in both Imperial and Coachella Valleys and also along the Colorado River at Yuma AZ and Bythe CA, I would see how easily a Tamarisk Wildfire would explode in the desert and rival anything people accused native chaparral of doing during fire storms. Here is some AP fire video footage with no sound: 
AP - Raw: Big Wildfire Near Arizona-California Border

A wildfire began in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.
 (Source: Mohave Valley Fire District)

This event for me was reminiscent of what took place this past August 2015 near the same region at Topock AZ and Needles CA. That fire was much bigger and had higher winds pushing the flames north through intense overgrown invasive Tamarisk forests. 

ABC 15 News
Here is a ABC15 news map of the fire which started on the Arizona side across from Needles California at Topock and burned in a northeasterly direction towards Oatman Arizona on old Route 66.

(Source: Mohave County Division of Emergency Management)
I have provided some vidoes at the bottom which will explain why Tamarisk fires burn so fiercely. More than other native desert shrubs they create huge build up on dander underneath their canopies which easily catch fire. Might as well be another invasive called Cheatgrass.

Mojave Fire aftermath August 2015
After wildfires are golden opportunities that should not be passed up. I won't write any more on this as I have done so from the passed few years alreaady, but I have provided info in the links below.

Potential for extreme Wildfire with Tamarisk Forests
Wildfire on Arizona-California border grows to 1,400+ acres; 2 RV parks evacuated
Aug 11, 2015: Wildfire Evacuation Order Lifted For 900 Homes In Arizona

Important references and videos on Tamarisk (Salt Cedar) removal and desert riparian habitat restoration
Mesquite Dunes: Practical Solution to Tamarisk Removal & Replacement

Turning Badlands & Wastelands into Productive Wonderlands
Wastelands to Wonderlands - Part II
Lessons From a Mesquite Dune Project
Deep Irrigation Methods for Training Deeper Rooting networks

Removal and Control of Tamarisk Forests
AgriLife Research expert: Salt Cedar beetle damage widespread after warm summer
Video: Salt Cedar Beetle damge in the High Plains
Video: IPM: Salt Cedar Project
Video: Salt Cedar Beetles (10/26/13)

Monday, March 28, 2016

What will happen to Cuba's sustainable [although not perfect] Agroecology ???

Since reading glowing News Reports lately over the thawing of cold war relations between the United States and Cuba where both sides will soon be holding hands singing "Oh Lord Kumbaya" together, I personally find more interesting news is emerging that is shedding light on Cuba's Agroecology & the benefits discovered by peasant farmers being forced to adapt to the abrupt end of Soviet era dependence with regards synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. They basically had to fend for themselves after communism's collapse and revert back to a more localized group of numerous smaller farms working together in urban farming for the benefit of their fellow citizens. 

Melanie Lukesh Reed (Aug 2015)

Visiting an Organopónicos farm, Alamar Cuba

When I think of Cuba, I think of older 1940s & 50s automobiles and trucks, 1930s era Art Deco styled buildings , etc. While I'm not overly interested in the ideological and philosopical historical squabblings of both sides, I am fascinated by the successes of peasant farmers who've been forced out of necessity to be more self-reliant, creative and innovative because they were forced to go that direction. So my interest lays more with something the peasant farmers have done in Cuba. They call them, Campesino-to-Campesino, which means farmer to farmer. A sort of cooperative infrastructure on a social scale. From the 1990s, out of shear necessity “Agroecology Revolution" was developed as a means of supplying food to their nation. Cuba’s farmers shifted to organic fertilizers, traditional crops and animal breeds, diversified farming with crop rotations, and non-toxic pest controls emphasizing the use of beneficial plants and insects. And it's that use of beneficial plants and insects that intrigue me the most. I've noticed this in a number of photographs posted over the internet where numerous biodiverse flowering perennials are grown which in turn attract not only polinators, but also important predatory insects. Below is one example photo of one of the neighbourhood urban farms with beneficial plants grown in among and around crop plants.

 Photo by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky

There was an article in the online journal of "The Conservsation" which highlighted the potential dangers to Cuban agriculture as a consequence of more normalized relations between the United States and Cuba. First the history they referenced about how Cuba developed agroecology out of necessity after the Soviet system collapsed after the welfare gravy train aid from their Soviet friends all stopped.

The government devoted 30 percent of agricultural land to sugarcane for export, while importing 57 percent of Cuba’s food supply. Farmers relied on tractors, massive amounts of pesticide and fertilizer inputs, all supplied by Soviet bloc countries. By the 1980s agricultural pests were increasing, soil quality was degrading and yields of some key crops like rice had begun to decline.
When Cuban trade with the Soviet bloc ended in the early 1990s, food production collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilizers, pesticides, tractors and petroleum. The situation was so bad that Cuba posted the worst growth in per capita food production in all of Latin America and the Caribbean.
But then farmers started adopting agroecological techniques, with support from Cuban scientists.   
Thousands of oxen replaced tractors that could not function due to lack of petroleum and spare parts. Farmers substituted green manures for chemical fertilizers and artisanally produced biopesticides for insecticides. At the same time, Cuban policymakers adopted a range of agrarian reform and decentralization policies that encouraged forms of production where groups of farmers grow and market their produce collectively.

Cuban Produce Market - image by Nancy & Joseph Gill (May 2012)

How Peasant Farmers Made Agroecology Farming a Success
As Cuba reoriented its agriculture to depend less on imported chemical inputs and imported equipment, food production rebounded. From 1996 though 2005, per capita food production in Cuba increased by 4.2 percent yearly during a period when production was stagnant across Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the mid-2000s, the Ministry of Agriculture dismantled all “inefficient state companies” and government-owned farms, endorsed the creation of 2,600 new small urban and suburban farms, and allowed farming on some three million hectares of unused state lands.
Urban gardens, which first sprang up during the economic crisis of the early 1990s, have developed into an important food source.   
Today Cuba has 383,000 urban farms, covering 50,000 hectares of otherwise unused land and producing more than 1.5 million tons of vegetables. The most productive urban farms yield up to 20 kg of food per square meter, the highest rate in the world, using no synthetic chemicals. Urban farms supply 50 to 70 percent or more of all the fresh vegetables consumed in cities such as Havana and Villa Clara.
The Paradox of Cuban Agriculture - Stats on productivity
The Risk of a Marriage Alliance with America's Industrial Agriculture
Now Cuba’s agriculture system is under increasing pressure to deliver harvests for export and for Cuba’s burgeoning tourist markets. Part of the production is shifting away from feeding local and regional markets, and increasingly focusing on feeding tourists and producing organic tropical products for export.   
President Obama hopes to open the door for U.S. businesses to sell goods to Cuba. In Havana last Monday during Obama’s visit, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signed an agreement with his Cuban counterpart, Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero, to promote sharing of ideas and research.
USDA - March 2016: Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Historic Agreements for U.S.-Cuba Agriculture Sectors
“U.S. producers are eager to help meet Cuba’s need for healthy, safe, nutritious food,” Vilsack said. The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, which was launched in 2014 to lobby for an end to the U.S.-Cuba trade embargo, includes more than 100 agricultural companies and trade groups. Analysts estimate that U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba could reach US$1.2 billion if remaining regulations are relaxed and trade barriers are lifted, a market that U.S. agribusiness wants to capture.

November 2015.  US Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Alabama
 Congresswoman Terri Sewell tour a Havana farmers' market

Here is what has happened with other poorer developing countries who form alliances with industrial Ag Business Interests
When agribusinesses invest in developing countries, they seek economies of scale. This encourages concentration of land in the hands of a few corporations and standardization of small-scale production systems. In turn, these changes force small farmers off of their lands and lead to the abandonment of local crops and traditional farming ways. The expansion of transgenic crops and agrofuels in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia since the 1990s are examples of this process.
Is there really any need to rehash what has happened with the health and damage to both man and nature in those South American countries, or the increased wealth obtained by industrial nations corporate entities ? Nature and poor people are the real losers. It never has been about just wanting to feed the world.
If U.S. industrial agriculture expands into Cuba, there is a risk that it could destroy the complex social network of agroecological small farms that more than 300,000 campesinos have built up over the past several decades through farmer-to-farmer horizontal exchanges of knowledge
Then as the article further states, the richness of biodiversity would ultimately disappear as it has in South American agriculture. So also would the diversity of crops marketed. Industrial Ag loves monocultures that they can control.
This would reduce the diversity of crops that Cuba produces and harm local economies and food security. If large businesses displace small-scale farmers, agriculture will move toward export crops, increasing the ranks of unemployed. There is nothing wrong with small farmers capturing a share of export markets, as long as it does not mean neglecting their roles as local food producers. The Cuban government thus will have to protect campesinos by not importing food products that peasants produce.

You can read the rest of the article (Here). The ugly unsustainable topic now with most all of the well established giant Biotechs and new comer Biotech wannabes is something called Bio-Diesel for an energy hungry consumer planet where everyone wants a piece of the 'good life' pie in hopes of upgrading their lifestyles. Nothing wrong with that, but to satisfy those needs it is proposed that there are a number of plants around the globe which which hold promise for the world's bio-fuels. They would fill the bio-diesel need for all the world's consumption needs. Well at least partly. It would require millions more acres of raw land to be developed [this means more wildlands need sacrificing] into more industrial monoculture behemoths. And with all that land there would also be huge water requirements, far more than they are already wasting and scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Let's face it, these people have no clue on what the real solution is, but the potential for a fistful of them to enrich themselves off these phony schemes seems worth the gamble to them. But hey, with all that science-based, peer-review and Consensus behind them, they'll sure give it a try. Sad thing is most people will blindly fall for this propaganda. But then a handful will learn from the Cuban experiment and hopefully create their own version of biomimetic success. Look at what the prevailing Scientific Orthodoxy has brought us below. Who should you really believe ?

Some frightening history not to forget when it comes to resisting the Anglo-American World Power's quest to stay that way
Some time back around the middle of 2014, several journals came out exposing the US government's efforts to pressure the Central American country of El Salvador to purchase Monsanto GMO seeds or face a withholding of foreign aid. I'll simply let you read the accounts for yourself:
U.S. Government To Pull Foreign Aid In El Salvador For Refusing Monsanto Seeds
The US Wants To Force GMO Seeds On Salvadoran Farmers, But They're Resisting: Report
US pressures El Salvador to buy Monsanto's GMO seeds
Evidently the Public Relations flack was so negative that the US Embassy down there El Salvador posted an explanation on their website as to why they were legally justified in taking the tough position on this:
So the justification here for their position was a little trade agreement between the USA & Central American countries & Dominican Republic called CAFTA-DR. I doubt many even remember this. But it may sound vaguely familiar to the one with the USA, Canada & Mexico called NAFTA. Lately there are others notorious trade agreements making the News, but you may remember that with NAFTA the sale of American Farmer government subsidized corn hurt many of the indigenous peasant maize farmers throughout Mexico who could not compete with the American's cheap corn. The US response was purchase and grow America's GMO seeds and synthetic chemicals and get bigger harvests which would offset the lower corn prices. While the P.R. on all these agreements is that it's for the good of the people and their economy, historically this is never how things work out. Many of these countries now have buyers remorse. So who knows what Cuba may be getting themselves into when signing on the dotted line. Quite simply this is how this world now works. Like everything else going haywire around the globe, this is now the "New Abnormal."
Update April 1, 2016:
U.S. companies make case for keeping Cuba organic

Some Interesting Reading References you can track on your own
The Conversation: Cuba’s sustainable agriculture at risk in U.S. thaw
The Slate: What Cuba Can Teach Us About Food and Climate Change
The Campesino-to-Campesino agroecology movement of ANAP in Cuba: social process methodology in the construction of sustainable peasant agriculture and food sovereignty
The agroecological revolution in Latin America: rescuing nature, ensuring food sovereignty and empowering peasants
Lessons from Cuba - Cuba's Surprise Harvest