Living Free of Global Warming and Climate Change

Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Climate change and global warming have become political buzz words.  The right denies the science, the center accepts it and the left pleads for action.  Libertarians don’t give a crap, I think.  I guess their thinking is a little like Bill Belichick’s mantra, “it is what it is”, meaning, leave me the hell alone to live free or die, which is the saying on the back of New Hampshire license plates, a place where people don’t pay state income or sales tax, and I don’t think they pay their legislators very much either.  I once saw a tampered license plate that read: live free and die, which is more in tune with the natural cycle of life. We’re so dang polarized that it seems everything is either or.

The thing with climate change, and I’ve probably written this before, is that people really don’t care and are just used to taking sides.  If you are a conservative and never paid much attention in science class but have gone on and done well for yourself financially, why not side with the right? It’s your right. And if you don’t, a dang liberal might get elected and take away your tax advantage or worse, your gun!  I think that’s what people in the U.S. fear the most – that they’d be disarmed and then defenseless.  But against what? Global warming?  Hey, when that once in a lifetime hurricane comes around twice a year, an AK-47 won’t do much good. You’d literally be shooting in the wind.  That openly carried revolver won’t intimidate those raging wildfires and I’ve never seen a shotgun bring on the rains in dry California.  Now, I know that no one wants their gas guzzling carbon dioxide spewing SUV outlawed.  This is another big concern.  I mean, gas is cheap once again thanks to our fracking ways. Who cares if some guy in Pennsylvania has flammable tap water.  He could move to New Hampshire where the water is clean and unflouridated.

I also have a suspicion that many people just don’t want to think too deeply about something difficult to understand.  But if you pose the question the right way, I do believe that many folks would come around and admit that human activity has contributed to the warming of the planet.  It doesn’t take a scientist to see the effects of climate change. Take Boston. In 2015, it had the warmest January on record and also the most snow ever recorded for a season.  Down South, Texas and Arkansas had snow, ice and cold temperatures like never before.  People know something is going on.  It’s not just the natural ebb and tide of mother nature.  But the sad thing is that people know and do nothing.  They let politicians say and do the stupidest things like that one who help up a snowball as proof that the planet is not warming. What an idiot. The problem is we live this present tense existence.  No one seems to care too much about 50 years down the road.  Folks don’t seem too concerned about a livable planet for their children and grandchildren.  And very few are saving sufficiently for retirement either.  Live free for today; we’ll save and die later…but let’s not think about that now. But let’s do go out and buy an Apple Watch or the Samsung Galaxy 6. Instant gratification.

One might argue that the handwriting is beginning to form on the wall as you may recall from the book of Daniel where the tale originates.  The handwriting turned out to be a warning, actually, as is often the case in the Old Testament, a punishment from God, who found that party King Belshazzar had been insufficiently humble, wanting and unworthy of his reign.  He was shortly thereafter slain.  I think there is a lesson here, particularly as regards the question of humility. If we don’t show more respect for our planet, it may be handed over to a more intelligent life form from another planet to straighten things out. It’d kind of be like planet earth looses its certification and has to be temporarily held in receivership by some alien grownup with brains.

This all reminds me of a Star Trek episode called “Arena” from Season 1 where Kirk fights some Godzilla-like creature called a Gorn. The lizard monster has the upper hand with brute strength, so Kirk has to make gunpowder somehow and knocks the monster unconscious with a powerful projectile to the body.  Kirk stands over “Godzilla” with a knife, but decides not to kill him.  Then some childish god, who was like 1,500 earth years old, said that he would spare Captain Kirk and his people because he had shown the advanced property of mercy, to which Kirk replied that he hoped he could work out some diplomatic peace with the Gorn’s people.  The Captain was not found wanting and given another chance.  Let’s hope politicians learn to read before the writing appears on the wall, because when it does, it will be too late.

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GMO Apple To Debut in the U.S. By 2017

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The U.S. Agriculture department just approved the first genetically altered apple for the U.S. market.  A Canadian outfit has designed, yes, DESIGNED, an apple that neither bruises nor browns when sliced open or bitten into.  I suppose it stays red and fresh for hundreds of years and has a half life of several billion, longer even than a discarded k-cup.  They reengineered the thing minus an aging protein or something of the like so that it appears fresher than it really is.  While it may not brown or bruise, it might taste just as soggy and mushy as a bruised apple would, unless they’ve managed to artificially preserve the crispness, which I admit would have a certain appeal, that is if they’ve not used something like formaldehyde.  I really don’t like soggy apples but I like the smell of formaldehyde even less.  And in my view, there is a place for soggy and brown apples and that would be in a jug of cider.

The Okanagan Specialty Fruit company that designed the GMO apple is planning to add a logo to the apple sticker in the form of a snowflake which would distinguish it from a real apple.  It’s interesting that the natural and pristine snowflake is their choice of logo for the born in the lab apple.  Maybe they are also planning to produce these apples to make Ice-Wine, which I rather like.  But is an apple even an apple, if it’s DNA has been altered? Isn’t it kind of like Froot Loops cereal?  The loops are not fruit, which is why the cereal is spelled Froot.  And like Cheez Whiz, which is the not the reel deel, the Canadian apple should be spelled to reflect its synthetic properties – say Apel or Aple or maybe Apul.  Since they designed out a protein, I think it only fitting the thing lose an l.

Save the World With GMO-free Insects

March Against Monsanto Boston

photo, concept, artwork: Pampi and Lore

The UN says insects might just be the answer to solving world hunger.  Well, as creepy as it sounds, insects are less creepy than genetically modified Monsanto seeds.  I’d rather eat a cricket than corn from a cob the size of a tree trunk.  Yesterday, protesters marched against Monsanto seeds in 436 cities in 52 countries demanding, among other things that food products with GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) be labeled, something the FDA does not currently require.  The U.S. Senate recently rejected an amendment to a farm bill to permit states to require labeling on GMO products.  The vote wasn’t even close as senators from heavily subsidized farm states opposed it with help from the biotech corporate lobby.  The irony here is that GMO seeds that can be engineered to be disease free and resistant to drought, herbicides (other than than the ones produced by the major players) and probably even fire too, threaten nature as much as they do humans.  GMO seeds, like imported fishzilla, killer bees, jumping carp and shiny ladybugs, have a tendency to go rogue and invade the native species.  GMO seeds have a competitive advantage over native crops and could literally drive them out of existence.  Soon corn and soybeans will be the only crops left on the planet.  Get ready to eat lots of popcorn, corn-on-the giant cob, cornflakes, cornbread, corn nuts and grits washed down with Kentucky bourbon.  Is this the answer to world hunger?

Frankly, I’d rather eat honey and a variety of plants, but GMO seeds even threaten our bees.  As goes the bees, so goes our honey, plants and our planet for that matter. According to the New Agriculturist, “bees pollinate one sixth of the world’s flowering plant species and 400 agricultural plants” like beans, carrots, onions, cherries, apples and tomatoes. There is evidence that GMO pollen poisons bees.  And if GMOs poison bees, imagine what it could do to humans and insects.

Which brings me to insects.  I really would rather eat a cricket, grasshopper or termite than a potentially poisonous food source grown in a laboratory.  And the many millions of people on the planet who are starving or severely malnourished deserve healthy food, not a chemically created food experiment.  According to the UN study, insects are healthy, highly nutritious and in abundant supply.  In fact, in some cultures, insects are prized: ants, grubs, waterbugs, crickets, beetles, and scorpions to name a few.  And to raise insects for consumption leaves a much lighter carbon footprint than the production of animals.

Now I know the consumption of insects is mostly taboo in Western culture, but in the not too distant future, I can envision restaurants specializing in insects that cater to an environmentally conscious crowd who are against GMO seeds and devoted to eating healthy while saving the planet.  I have some menu ideas for the enterprising U.S. restauranteur:

Appetizers

Fried Cricket Bits

Beetle Tartare

Entrees

Chipotle Grasshopper:  served with spicy termite oil on a GMO-free sesame seed bun

Barbecued Grubs:  grilled and served on a bed of lightly seasoned sea urchins

Dessert

Starfish:  soaked and served in flaming sangria drink topped with chocolate covered ant sprinkles and anise seeds

Muckin Around With Nature

English: Multicolored Asian lady beetle feedin...

English: Multicolored Asian lady beetle feeding on soybean aphids. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a kid, I believed that ladybugs, or ladybird beetles as some call them, brought good luck.  I’d see one and marvel at their shiny, red shells.  They may have even been the inspiration for the red M & M.  Farmers love these lucky beetles because they eat pests.  They tend to favor spicy aphids; the ladybugs, that is – not the farmers.   But as it turns out, imported Asian ladybugs are becoming pests themselves, not only eating aphids, but whole vineyards.

I’m no scientist, but common sense would suggest that it’s not such a great idea to take a species of insect, fish, snake or bee from its natural environment and transplant it into an unfamiliar one.  Look at what’s happened in U.S. lakes and rivers with fishzillas swimming amok, and the jumping carp that eat up the food supply, leaving nothing for the others.   It’s not their fault really.  They didn’t chose to invade – someone brought them here or there as the case may be.  And the killer bees – that was an experiment gone bad.  The rogue bees escaped their bondage and have sought revenge ever since.  And all those lamprey vampire eels.  Have you heard?  They’ve been attacking other fish and unsuspecting swimmers in record numbers.  They’d have stayed in their natural aquatic habitat had it not been for the foolish men who dug canals connecting fresh water lakes to the sea.  Exhibit D:  pythons.  Who thought it was a good idea to bring them to Florida to keep as pets, especially when they prey on other pets.

Hey humans with your large carbon footprints, GMO seeds and hair-brained ideas:  Stop mucking around with nature.  It will only lead to catastrophe.

Boron Nitride for Bacon or Hands?

Boron nitride

Boron nitride (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boron nitride, what is it and why is it in the news?  I thought I knew what it was, but I was wrong.  Boron nitride is not the preservative found in bacon to keep the strips looking fresh.  And it’s not the stuff we used to wash our hands in elementary school – that was Borax, if you are old enough, you know what I’m talking about.  That stuff was rough…it’s a wonder our hands survived that sand paper powdery grit with the slight medicinal smell.  Boron nitride is neither of those things.  But like Borax and meat preserving nitrates, it does preserve and clean up.  Also known as white graphene, (which my spellchecker has never heard of), boron nitride can be used to create strands or sheets of atoms to spread out on a chemical spill to clean it up.  When these porous sheets bond together, they create a white powder, not unlike Borax and like Bounty, can pick up the nastiest of spills from oil to other industrial chemicals that pollute our lakes and possibly create mutant species of fish like the fishzilla found in Central Park and all those river monsters Jeremy Wade keeps catching and releasing.  This stuff can absorb something like 30 times its weight and get this, it can be reused!  There is the little detail of setting it on fire to make it reusable, and I’m not so sure how safe that is if it means burning noxious chemicals, but I’m no scientist so I trust they know what they are doing when they ignite the thing.  I mean recycling is good, right?

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Mutant Genes on Casual Friday

Genetic Mutations_Providence RI
You are probably walking around with some mutated jeans and don’t even know it. No, I am not talking about casual Friday, or the latest fashion. It’s genes I mean. Humans are brimming with genetic mutations, or to put it more mildly, flawed genes, even the healthy among us. The gene pool is corrupt. Some of the mutations spell disaster in the form of disease – heart disease, cancer and the like. The interesting point of all of this is that if you wanted to have your DNA analyzed, you could meet your genetic mutations, all 400 of them, which is the average number most of us have. But I’m not sure I want to get to know my bad genes. I don’t need any negativity in my life. I don’t want to deal with any trouble makers. But surely there’s something we can do to get rid of the mutations, no? I drink diet soda and eat cheese dip with Rotel. I’m thinking the jalapenos in the Rotel might take out at least a few of the rogue genes and come on, how many of them can survive in a pool of carbonated artificial sweeteners?

I suppose one day science will find a way to engineer out all the bad genes so that humans can live for a whole lot longer than we do. That of course would put a big strain on the solvency of social security, unless we raised the retirement age to something like 130. And I imagine doctors could design a baby to the specifications of the parent. Wouldn’t that be a sight?  Or a fright!