Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
I was so distracted by the trip I took this month that I completely forgot to post for Blog Action Day (which was on October 16). So here is what I would have said, had I been less distracted, and more alert.
Food is good. Next to air and water, it’s an essential. And yet, too many people around the world, and in my own country which is known for abundance, have too little to eat.
It’s not just that they can’t afford the food, sometimes it is that food that nourishes is simply unavailable, as in many places where drought, flood and other weather problems have destroyed the crops or livestock on which people depend. It may be that there is abundant growth in the fields, but not food crops: many farms have switched to corn and other plants that are used in fuel rather than as food. And, it may be that the food that is grown locally is shipped elsewhere, around the world, so that the local people don’t have access.
Could it be that there is really too little food for our world? We just passed the 7-billion-person mark. That’s more than twice as many people now alive on earth than there were when I was born. About 1.5 billion new people since my children were born. Check out the BBC’s online app “What Number are You?” I read today that by mid-century there will be as many people just in urban areas as were in the entire world about 100 years ago. That is, to me, a startling, alarming idea. People in cities generally lack the ability to grow food at all — they must rely on outside sources, so they are more vulnerable to fluctuations in supply, and more vulnerable to unscrupulous sellers who charge premiums on the foods that are available for sale.
What can we do to provide food for more people? We are learning – too late – that when the climate changes we have very little ability to prevent weather-related crop losses. We are learning – too late – that when cropland is converted to industrial zones or suburbia it is very expensive and sometimes impossible to go back. We are learning – too late – that the more people there are on earth, the harder it is to keep fuel costs (both monetary and environmental) down, and the more expensive food and other necessities become.
We are also learning that sometimes the old ways (pre-industrial) work best: Ranchers are returning to free-range practices that restore and preserve grasslands; farmers are returning to no-till (very labor intensive) and organic farming practices which can restore and maintain soil structure and health; urban people are beginning to think about living locally, eating what is in season rather than importing foods from around the world. We are learning that good food, healthy food needs to be available from an early age, so that children learn to eat and prepare healthy food and to avoid or minimize consumption of less-healthy food. We are learning that sometimes less can be more, when we eat foods closer to their natural state without added sugars and salts we tend to be healthier.
I don’t have answers, or even any real suggestion this year. I do have a desire to make this world livable for my children and the rest of the planet. What can I do in my own life to promote healthy food for more people? When I grow food in my garden I can give some of it away to the food bank, necessary now more than at any other time in my life. When I prepare foods for my family I can use in-season, less-processed foods (which are both less expensive and healthier). When I participate in public debate about land use I can advocate for both open spaces and public gardens so more people can grow part of their own food. I can support organizations that help people in weather-stricken areas to eat for now and reclaim their croplands as soon as possible.
I can do little things. If we all do little things, together, we can make a big difference in the health of the rest of the world.
Climate change has been a focus of many debates, some panic, and a lot of misinformation in my lifetime. Things have been coming to a head lately, as climate seems to be at least partly behind many extinctions and local ecosystem failures. And the world seems to be no closer to any agreement on things related to climate change, including and importantly, the sharing of resources as diverse as raw materials, training/education and energy sources.
I read a lot of the BBC articles that are posted on their website. Here is one from last weekend: ‘Scary’ Climate Message from Past
And here is one from Monday, What Happened to Global Warming?
In the interests of full disclosure, I do believe BOTH that climate change in the last 200 years is accelerated by human industrial and agricultural activity AND that our world experiences wide-ranging cycles in temperature, rainfall and sunlight. I don’t see the cyclical nature as being incompatible with the concern over “global warming” — certainly the “average” temperature fluctuates, as does the temperature daily.
The main issue, as I see it, is whether the range of temperatures in any given area remain close to historic normal ranges. If the average temperature in August where I live is 65, then it is important to me if that average is reached with highs of 70 and lows of 60 or if it is reached with highs of 80 and lows of 50. Or more extreme. And the same with the average annual temperature…
It is also important to consider when the rain falls – and the water retention that is available. Where I live, year-round water has been abundant for thousands of years, with many aquifers fed by slow snowmelt (some from glaciers) after rain in the winter was stored in the mountain snow pack. With warmer, drier winters and longer spring rains, that snow pack melts more and earlier than normal. Which means our rivers (formerly abundantly filled with salmon) run low earlier in the year, and for longer. It also affects the farmers on the other side of the mountains, who rely on the rivers for irrigation during their long dry season.
Finally, as a person who struggles with mood and energy during the traditional long gray “rainy” season, I admit that a few days of sunshine in the middle of December and January and February always lift my spirits. I get more done, and have more energy for fun things after. However, the sunlight means less rain and has the effect of confusing plants that are adapted to a long, dark season. We have lost a few plants to this, and over time more will fail.
Climate change will have different effects in different parts of the world. I am not a climatologist, I am a gardener, a mother, a person who wants to see humanity as a whole prosper in a beautiful, abundant world.
Right now, I continue to be worried. And I continue to be hopeful that our species’ adaptability and intelligence will allow us to find ways to help the world prosper along with us.
Posted by stidmama on 15 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: blog action, citizenship, economy, editorial, education, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Green Living, health, hope, Interesting Websites, musings, parenting, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, Uncategorized
Okay, I have posted a few links in the days leading up to today. As I was thinking about what to write, I decided to talk about what poverty is (and what it isn’t). And a little bit on abundance. This is my own perspective/opinion, if it helps you, great — if not… would love to hear your opinions, too.
I think that poverty is partly defined by what one lacks, and is also partly a matter of perspective. I’ll start with the second point first: in our area, most families have at least two cars, few students get free or reduced lunches, and at least in my acquaintance most people have health insurance. So a family with only one car, whose children receive free lunches and doesn’t have health insurance appears poor. But in another community I have lived in that isn’t that far away, few people own more than one beat-up car, no one has health insurance and nearly every child gets a free school lunch. In that community, the family with two cars that has to pay full price for school lunches appears well off. Obviously, if everyone around you doesn’t have enough to eat then you are all poor…
Perspective can cause you to “feel” rich, or to “feel” poor.
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Okay, probably by the time you read this, it will be the middle of Blog Action Day and I will be working on my post. But in case you are a nightowl and need something to read, consider this: wealth and health are intertwined.
In a few countries (Canada and Sweden, among others), a form of universal health care exists so that all citizens have access to at least a minimum amount of care. But in at least some of those places (Canada and England for sure…) if you want something done quickly, or something that isn’t completely urgent, you need to pay out of pocket, or even go to another country for care. Something not available for the average wage-earner.
In my own country, supposedly one of the wealthiest in the world, no one has a “right” to basic health care, except in emergencies, so many people without the money to pay for an actual office visit wait until ailments are no longer curable — or very expensive to treat — before seeking medical attention. At the same time, many white-collar workers can make an office visit the same day for a teenager’s pimple because office visits are “covered” with a small co-pay; an insurance company pays for most of the actual visit’s cost. There is a huge disconnect when the people who actually do the physical work can’t get medical care for their physical needs.
Here is a CNN article from 14 Oct 2008 about the WHO’s assessment of healthcare worldwide.
Poverty, a universal handicap.
Posted by stidmama on 14 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: blog action, caring, citizenship, economy, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, hope, Making a Difference, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, Uncategorized
Posted by stidmama on 12 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: blog action, citizenship, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, Peace Making, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, Uncategorized
I have signed up to participate in the Blog Action Day. The theme is Poverty, not sure what I will write, but I’ll come up with something!
The date of action is October 15 — that’s next Wednesday…