California: Desperation Rising as Water Runs Out

Gravity sensing satellites have measured the withdrawal of water from the aquifer underlying California's Central Valley. It's almost over. (NASA images)

Gravity sensing satellites have measured the withdrawal of water from the aquifer underlying California’s Central Valley. It’s almost over. (NASA images)

In more than 500 households in Tulare County, California, over a thousand people have been without running water for months. The reason you have not heard much about them is that they are poor working immigrants who labor in the Central Valley’s pastures of plenty to give us this day our daily lettuce and cilantro. They are homeowners whose homes are now worthless, dreamers of the American Dream who are now forced to buy bottled water to drink, to shower from coffee cans and flush with buckets filled at community tanks (with water from wells in imminent danger of going dry). Children are being kept home from school because they are too dirty. Proud cooks are feeding their families from cans. One resident told the New York Times (in a rare example of industrial media paying attention) “It’s a slow-moving disaster that nobody knows how to handle.” Continue reading

Plainview, Texas: Dead Town Waking

Longhorn beef cattle made Texas, as the statue suggests, and are killing Plainview, Texas, where the statue is located. Whose fault is it? (Photo by Brykmantra/Flickr)

Longhorn beef cattle made Texas, as the statue suggests, and are killing Plainview, Texas, where the statue is located. Whose fault is it? (Photo by Brykmantra/Flickr)

An all-time favorite movie line (The Missouri Breaks), uttered by Jack Nicholson leaning over Marlon Brando, who is starting up from sleep: “Do you know why you woke up? I just cut your throat.” That is the way Plainview, Texas, woke up the other day to some bitter truths, and a shortened life. The food industry giant Cargill on February 1 closed the Plainview beef processing plant that employed 2,300 people, ten per cent of the town’s entire population, representing nearly half the town’s families. The exodus from Plainview (Jimmy Dean’s hometown) has begun, and the town will probably soon be a ghost. But who, exactly, cut its throat?

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Farmers Renounce Industrial Methods, Get World-Record Yields

This is how you set world records for growing rice in rural India -- no machines, no GM seeds, no chemicals. (Photo by yogendra174/Flickr)

This is how you set world records for growing rice in rural India — no machines, no GM seeds, no chemicals. (Photo by yogendra174/Flickr)

The grotesquely misnamed “Green Revolution” that since the 1960s has been replacing traditional farming around the world with genetically modified, mechanized, chemical-intensive, debt-ridden industrial agriculture has worked so well in India that a quarter of a million farmers there have committed suicide in 16 years. The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice calls it “the largest wave of recorded suicides in human history.” Now a group of small-plot farmers in Northeast India has rejected every tenet of modern industrial agriculture, and has stunned the world with unprecedented yields. Continue reading

Corn Growers Suffer Quintuple Whammy

Drought-stressed corn, maybe also toxic, bug-bit and weed-plagued, in Kentucky last week. (Photo by CraneStation/Flickr)

The failure of industrial agriculture is on display everywhere in America’s “breadbasket” — now we should probably call it the ethanol basket,  or the high-fructose-corn-syrup basket — and the consequences are already spreading around the world. You thought it was just a drought? It would be bad enough of that’s all it was, but it is much, much more. The count so far: Continue reading

Running Out of Water and Time

Drought-stricken corn under a hot and rainless Iowa sky last week. Two more studies say, things are going to get worse. (Photo by USDA)

The train is coming at 80 miles per hour. Children are playing on the railroad tracks, oblivious. The train is closer now. The children are not aware of it. You can hear the train, people are yelling at you that it is coming, and you, my friend, stand there near the children, not moving, thinking of other things. Thus climate change bears down on us, thus peak oil comes closer at 80 miles per hour, and thus does our water run out. Two shouted warnings about water just this week. Continue reading

USGS: World on Really Bad Acid Trip

/Flickr)”]The US Geological Survey has been getting things right since at least the 1930s, when it correctly identified the Dust Bowl — while it was occurring — as a human-caused, not natural, event. Few people recognized the implications at the time, few know them today, and not many paid attention last fall when the USGS told us something else it knows about what we are doing to the world that nourishes us: industrial activities are turning the world to acid.

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Soy: It Isn’t So

One of the worst things you could eat is a fresh soybean -- even sauteed, as these have been. But there are lots of soy products that are even worse. (Photo by FotoosVanRobin/Flickr)

Once upon a time there was a lowly bean. Unlike other beans, in its natural state it was highly toxic to people and animals. Poor people in Asia discovered somehow — no doubt through desperate trial-and-error — that when fermented, the soy bean was edible. It became part of their diet. In the late 20th Century, when the industrialized diet of the West was afflicting its people with heart disease, cancers and diabetes, it was noticed that the spare Asian diet of fish, rice and a little fermented soy bean was not making people sick. Thus began one of the largest and most successful food cons ever perpetrated.
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UN, Oxfam Reports: Brace for Impact.

Oxfam volunteers demonstrate for non-readers the combined effects of rising seawater (climate change) and rising food prices. (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)

The drumbeat of dire warnings continues about the inevitable and imminent collapse of the world’s food supply before the combined onslaughts of industrial agriculture and climate change. Despite the increasing number of scientific reports documenting ever more ominous conditions and prospects worldwide, the response from the people who could conceivably do something about it has been a collective yawn. The two latest cries of “fire” in our crowded theater came this week: Continue reading

The United States of Monsanto

It is no longer enough for the seed and chemical company Monsanto to use its rivers of cash to own and operate the United States Congress (in the language of corporations, there is no word for “enough”); it is now using the US Department of State as its global sales force. The objective, apparently, is to replace every plant grown for food on the planet with a genetically mutilated plant sold by Monsanto. With the help of the United States government, the project is well along.
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Zombie Lake Erie is Dying Again

Algae blooms on Lake Erie, virtually covering its Eastern bay in this August photo from space, are killing the lake. Again. And we know who the killer is.

Declared dead in the 1970s, brought back to life by the environmental movement it did much to inspire, Lake Erie is once again expiring, killed by industrial agriculture. Specifically, phosphorous from synthetic fertilizers, which the aforementioned environmental movement never gained the clout to regulate. After having been reduced by two-thirds with various buffering and conservation practices, phosphorous levels in Lake Erie are, according to an Ohio State University expert, “back up to when it was considered a dead lake.” Continue reading