Oceans in Trouble

Current world human population is 7,600,000,000 and increasing. Of this, more than 1 billion people worldwide depend on seafood as a main source of protein, and about 100 million people rely directly on fishing for their income according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The problem: 93% of ocean fisheries are either fully fished or over fished! It is estimated current catch is 250% of the level that is maximally sustainable. In other words, we are killing off the very resource so many depend upon. One large reason for this is subsidies from governments to industrial size operators for fuel, fishing gear, and vessel construction. The problem is not with the little guy but with those who run out miles of net and/or suck up everything from the ocean via large trawlers. This cannot continue. The piper will be paid.

Over fishing is not only a threat to fish stocks but also to the health of the oceans themselves. Healthy fish stocks are vital to health marine ecosystems and to the food security and livelihoods of billions of people. Healthy fish stocks contribute to the balance needed for the oceans to remain viable as a human resource.

Simply, there are too many boats chasing too few fish. One way to correct this is by curtailing capacity-enhancing subsidies to reduce pressure on fish stocks. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is encouraging members to adopt a binding agreement that will limit or eliminate harmful subsidies that cause over fishing.

My thought is this will not happen on any enforceable level, but the cost of inaction is high. What can happen is for the United States of America to aggressively enforce sustainable fishing limits in its territorial waters and eliminate any and all taxpayer subsidies to the fishing industry. We can do that. We can manage and allow scientifically calculated harvest of the marine resources in our waters.

There will be some who will vociferously oppose any limits for catch or exposure time. They will say it never has been so and that they are being robbed of their livelihood. But the problem as with about all environmental problems is too many people and too few resources. Hard decisions by government — the only means of control — are required.

Final Silence

[I am working on an idea for a book. The idea has been hanging in my mind for years now. What is below is a Forward I have written for possible use. I thought I would share it in case the book does not get written.]

Astronomers tell us there are a billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. They tell us there are a billion galaxies. These are numbers beyond human comprehension. We cannot conceive of where the ends and the beginnings are or if they are.

Yet, here we are on what astronauts have shown us to be a beautiful, blue water planet floating in the infinity of space and orbiting around our Sun somewhere near the edge of our galaxy. We have no idea whether life, as we know it, exists anywhere else in infinity. We only guess. As far as we now know, there is no place else for our species to go. We, and the millions of other species that live with us and beside us, call Earth our home.

If we believe in God, then we must believe our home is a sacred place and a blessed gift from the Divine. It really does not matter whether we believe the Universe and Earth were created in seven days or in billions of years. Here we are. Here is now.

A curious thought crosses my mind. This is there is no sound in space. The gigantic explosions and nebulae we see with our visual or radio telescopes are silent. On Earth, we know the beauty of sound in rustling leaves blown by the breezes, in the call of birds on wing, the rolling of waves on the beach, and the crunching of dried leaves under our feet in the autumn, the sound of a water fall, of music, of voices and even of whales in the ocean. I wonder whether this will always be or whether Earth will at some time become a part of the Final Silence.

The gift of Earth to us is precious, yet we go about our daily lives behaving as if it were indestructible and limitless of resources, wildlife, fertile lands for crops, and infinite space for concrete and asphalt. Our human mantra is “growth and development” at any cost. It is expansion and domination and control. Rachael Carson poignantly pointed out in “Silent Spring” that mankind is a part of the biosphere which is beyond our control. She talked about being in balance with Nature. Dr. Durward Allen, wildlife ecologist, taught conservation of all natural resources, living and non-living, for the greatest good for the most people for the longest time. John Muir and Henry David Thoreau and countless others described the wonder of it all.

It is our sacred duty to protect and defend planet Earth from harm whether it be from within or without. Our lives and the lives of those that follow depend upon this.

According to some, the Earth has nurtured our kind for over 2 million years. She has given water, shelter, and food to countless generations like a mother to her children. Now she grieves. In the race for technology and with burgeoning numbers, we have lost connection to the Earth in consciousness and spirit. We take and take and take. We create poisons and wastes we spread on the land and water and in air. We even now tamper with the very core of life in the race for more and more. We pass to the next generation a nature that is less than we inherited. For many species, we have already created the final silence. The pace quickens.

Man has come a long way since the beginning of existence to the present. But, we are at a time now of unprecedented population growth and resource consumption, both of which continue their upward paths toward a point where Earth resources cannot forever sustain life, particularly human life, at such levels. If overshoot is great enough and the Earth’s life support systems are fatally damaged, we will inevitably ourselves reach the Final Silence.

Scientists believe there is still time for the way back. It is through leaders willing to put planet over personal gain. It is through the few who now hear voices from the past with the message that all of Creation is sacred. It is for warriors who will not be intimidated, defeated, or silenced. If we do not listen……..

To Albert Schweitzer who said…..
“Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the Earth” (a quote used in Silent Spring)

And Albert Einstein who said…….
“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man.”

Sixth Mass Extinction

[Reprint of article by Dr. Paul R Ehrlich; 11 July 2017]

It’s simple. It’s us. The more people there are, the more habitats we destroy. Human civilization can only survive if the population begins to shrink. One should not need to be a scientist to know that human population growth and the accompanying increase in human consumption are the root cause of the sixth mass extinction we’re currently seeing. All you need to know is that every living being has evolved to have a set of habitat requirements.

An organism can’t live where the temperature is too hot or too cold. If it lives in water, it requires not only an appropriate temperature range, but also appropriate salinity, acidity and other chemical characteristics. If it is a butterfly, it must have access to plants suitable for its caterpillars to eat. A lion requires plant-eaters to catch and devour. A tree needs a certain amount of sunlight and access to soil nutrients and water. A falciparum malaria parasite can’t survive and reproduce without Anopheles mosquitos in its habitat and a human bloodstream to infest.

The human population has grown so large that roughly 40% of the Earth’s land surface is now farmed to feed people — and none too well at that. Largely due to persistent problems with distribution, almost 800 million people to to bed hungry, and between one and two billion suffer from malnutrition. As a consequence of its booming population, Homo sapiens has taken much of the most fertile land to grow plants suitable for its own consumption. But guess what? That cropland is generally not rich in food plants suitable fo rthe caterpillars of the 15,000 butterfly species with which we share the planet. Few butterflies require the wheat, corn or rice on which humans largely depend. From the viewpoint of most of the Earth’s wildlife, farming can be viewed as “habitat destruction”. And, unsurprisingly, few species of wildlife have evolved to live on highways, or in strip malls, office buildings, kitchens or sewers — unless you count Norway rats, house mice, European starlings and German roaches. Virtually everything humanity constructs provides an example of habitat destruction.

The more people there are, the more products of nature they demand to meet their needs and wants: timber, seafood, meat, gas, oil, metal ores, rare earths and rare animals to eat or to use for medicinal purposes. Human demands cause both habitat destruction and outright extermination of wildlife. So when you watch the expansion of the human enterprise; when you see buildings springing up; when you settle down to dinner at home or in a restaurant; you are observing (and often participating in) the sixth mass extinction.

The expanding human population not only outright destroys habitats, it also alters them to the detriment of wildlife (and often of people themselves). The more people there are, the more greenhouse gases flow into the atmosphere, and the greater the impacts on wildlife that require specific temperature ranges.

And the more people there are, the more cities, roads, farm fields, fences and other barriers preventing wildlife from moving to areas of more favorable temperature or humidity in a rapidly changing climate. Less recognized, but perhaps even more dangerous to both people and wildlife, is the increasing toxification of the entire planet with synthetic chemicals. Growing populations want myriad more items of plastic that often leak toxic chemicals: more cosmetics, cleansing compounds, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives and industrial chemicals. Many of these novel chemicals mimic natural hormones, and in tiny quantities can alter the development of animals or human children, with potentially catastrophic consequences. As with climate disruption, this is one more case of human overpopulation threatening civilization.

So we don’t really need the evidence meticulously gathered and analyzed by the scientific community showing the unusual and accelerating extermination of wildlife populations — and ultimately, species — to know that human population growth is a major and growing driver of the sixth mass extinction, just as it is with the related accelerating climate disruption. It will take a long time to humanely stop that growth and start the gradual shrinkage of the human population that is required if civilization is to persist. All the more reason we should have started a half a century ago, when the problem first came to public attention.

Hatten on Abortion

[Jeff Hatton is a prolific letter writer to both the Kokomo Tribune and the Kokomo Perspective newspapers on the issue of abortion.]
Jeff Hatton of Greentown is a “Sound Off” regular on the issue of abortion with the latest being his Tribune June 15th column. His position is clear. He believes all abortion should be banned because he says the Bible says God says so. He states “that life begins where and when the Creator says it does, at conception”. His position is straight forward and clear with no flexibility.
What bothers me is that I am wondering if Mr. Hatton has considered several circumstances in taking such an absolute position. What about the case of the Marion 10 year old girl that was raped and impregnated by a Kokomo man in 2017. This was reported on May 18th, 2017, by both Indianapolis Channel 4 and 13. Should a 10 year old girl be required to be pregnant and possibly give birth to a baby? Required motherhood from rape at age 10? According to Hatton, yes.
And what about instances when doctors have concluded continuing a pregnancy is a threat to the life of the woman? Should a woman and her loved ones have nothing to say about this. Should a woman be required to carry on? According to Hatton, yes.
And what about the cases where gross genetic abnormalities are detected; abnormalities that would at some time during the gestation period lead to the death of the fetus? Should a woman be required to carry on? According to Hatton, yes.
We can agree that women’s bodies are the ones chosen by God to nurture, develop, and give birth to new life. Men were not chosen for this role. I would admonish men to tread lightly when making judgments about agreements between God and women. However, this is not to say men do not have an important, caring, and loving role to play in parenting.
Hatton claims the Bible is clear. However, there are many, many contradictions and complications in the Bible. What we do know with certainty though is Jesus taught love, grace, and forgiveness. He did not teach absolutes.
It is easy to speak absolutes. It is not so easy to deal with circumstances that actually exist in life.
The whole abortion issue has been made more poignant with the incredible images seen in sonograms. Very early in pregnancy a developing life can be seen to move, have a heartbeat, and have a reaction to pain. That life before our very eyes can be seen for the miracle it is.
I have yet to meet anyone who likes the idea of abortion. But life is complicated and sometimes messy. Absolutes against abortion or for abortion rights are troublesome. There just is no easy, simple answer.
 

Paris Climate Accord & Director Krull

The director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, John Krull, has done it again in his Tribune column of June 7th about President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. He refers to Trump’s decision as “dumb, bigly, yugely, and dumb”, again. He writes more like I would expect from MSNBC’s hysterical Morning Joe Scarborough or Rachael Maddow than as a responsible, knowledgeable journalist.
The Paris Climate Accord was yet another example of poor judgment by former President Barack Hussein Obama. Obama did not even have the courage to bring this agreement to the United States Congress for debate and agreement before he committed the United States to its terms. The Agreement terms put the United States at great disadvantage and would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars without commensurate benefit. The worst of the Paris Climate Accord was that the two largest polluters on the planet, China and India, would not have been required to reduce emissions, but in fact could increase them, until 2030. In the meanwhile, the United States has in fact already voluntarily reduced emissions to levels of over 20 years ago.
President Trump put America first. He has stated publicly he intends to encourage the development of cleaner energy sources. In almost the same breath when he withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement, he stated he was more than willing to negotiate a new agreement not so punishing to our country. He reminded all the United States is 20 trillion dollars in debt. We can no longer be the money bank for other countries, whatever the cause. It is up to them to deal with their own problems. This is particularly true for India and China who stood to receive United States monetary support from the Paris agreement. They are the biggest problems and we are not their savior. We need to deal with our own country and our own problems.
The climate is changing. Contrary to some right wing conservatives, the evidence is clear. There are dozens of biological indicators of change. I know of none that support ‘no change’ or insignificant change. The temperature of the planet is increasing on average. Ice caps and glaciers are melting. The range of insects, plants, and animals is being modified. Permafrost areas are melting. Sea levels are rising. There is no doubt about these.
What there is doubt about is exactly why and how much of change is due to human activity…. and conversely, how much can be influenced by behavior change by humans. We suspect root causes to be too many people and too much polluting industry. No one wants to address the former.
I am probably one of the strongest environmentalists around. I have demonstrated this beginning as long ago as the 1970’s when in top management of the Kokomo Tribune. I directed a survey of the Wildcat Creek water quality and helped to initiate the first Creek cleanup effort which continues today. The Tribune encouraged the improvement of the waste sanitation plant for better water quality discharge. The Tribune successfully opposed the creation of the Lafayette Reservoir which would have flooded over 4,000 acres of prime farmland. The Tribune was the recipient of the Izaak Walton League media award for conservation. There was more.
I believe the decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord was the right decision for the United States. It appeared too much to be a scheme for redistribution of wealth across the globe. Its terms were voluntary and not enforceable. We need to lead by example in all areas of conservation of natural resources, not be the suckers again to finance the rest of the world. Director John Krull is wrong again. One must question his qualifications to lead a university Department of Journalism.

Abortion

There is likely no subject more touchy or contentious today than abortion. Those who oppose abortion under any circumstance are passionate and zealous in their religious beliefs. Those who believe it a woman’s right to end a pregnancy even to the point of partial birth abortion near or at the end of nine months are just as passionate about preserving a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, regardless.
The truth: no one likes abortion. One would have to be a little crazy to do so. What the issue comes down to is who is in charge. Is the state or a religion in charge or is a woman in charge. Can she decide what she will do with her body or is that choice to be one made by a law or religious beliefs of others.
Then we have complicating circumstances. What should be the case if a young girl is raped and becomes pregnant? I have read cases of girls as young as 12 being raped and becoming pregnant. Should she be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if that is not what she wants to do? Should she be forced to be an unwilling incubator? Oh, I know, many will not like that language, but that is the medical fact. And what about a 13, 14, or 15 year old or failed contraception or a time of temporary bad judgment?
Then we have the case of fertility clinics where hundreds of thousands of fertilized eggs, now embryos, are held in suspended animation in liquid nitrogen containers. They are frozen solid awaiting only implantation into the womb of a willing woman. What about these embryos that are each the size of a grain of sand? Conception has taken place, so how are these to be regarded? Does incinerating or otherwise disposing of these embryos when a couple does not want them constitute abortion? Seems it would if “life begins at conception”, as many contend.
And what about the 2/3rds to 3/4ths of all conceptions that are spontaneously aborted due to some genetic mishap? Who is responsible for these: God? What about the case of a major genetic mistake that does continue in the womb? What to do about that? These are circumstances people do not want to think about, but should.
There are no absolutes. The current law of the land says women have the right to make the decisions. Some of the most vocal of those who oppose this and say women do not have this right are, ironically, men. I wonder about that. They have absolutely no risk. I would be more inclined to listen to men if they, at the same time, would sign up to be responsible for the care of an unwanted baby from birth to adulthood. I don’t see that happening. It is all mouth.
I believe the anti-abortion and pro-choice sides could find common ground if they would. I believe agreement could be reached on legally allowing an abortion choice up to a limited time from conception; say a matter of days or weeks, not months, unless the life of the woman is at risk. This would be a position not liked by either side but one that moves from the absolutes than now exist and one I believe many would accept. Think about it.

Agriculture Factories

There is a TEDx video that all should see. It is about factory animal production (CAFO: concentrated animal feeding operation); what they are and what they have done to agriculture.

CAFO buildings and urine/feces pits
CAFO buildings and urine/feces pits

The speaker, Michele Merkel, was an attorney that worked for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Her assignment included dealing with the problems of environmental pollution that resulted from CAFOs. She saw first hand the plight of people who lived near such animal factories. Water was polluted, air was made unfit to breathe, land was contaminated, and people were harmed. The animals were treated in ways that would horrify most people. She fought to correct those things.
That is until the George W. Bush administration came into office. She describes what happened. In short, the EPA was shut down regarding any pursuit of environmental violations by CAFOs. As a result, she quit. For over 15 years, she has opposed the EPA; she sues them over what they are not doing to protect people, the environment, and the animals.
One point made is that CAFOs are NOT agriculture as people generally think of farming. Corporations and their minions that treat animals as bioreactors are not farmers. They are corporation factory operators. Large agriculture corporations have usurped the terms “farmer” and “farming” and “agriculture” to hide behind knowing people would not support what is being done if they knew the facts. This is exactly the reason behind “AG-GAG” legislation that criminalizes the taking of photos and videos without permission of the animal operation. In some states, the laws even apply to photos taken from public locations. The corporations want absolute control and want to operate out of sight and out of mind.
In a State of the Union address as long ago as 1888, President Grover Cleveland said this:

Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.

Think about this. We are fast moving there with agriculture. Animal “production” and patented seed/chemicals are in the hands of giant corporations. The only stopping is for people to become aware and to then act.
Link long address is http://www.tedxmanhattan.org/michele-merkel-using-the-legal-system-to-fight-factory-farms/