Alafair

in all my infinite wisdom

So You Don’t Believe That Climate Change Is Real?

The number one most convincing fact about climate change is that the vast majority of climate scientists agree that it is real and human-caused. A 2013 study found that 97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is the primary cause of climate change. This is a level of consensus that is extremely rare in science.

In addition to the scientific consensus, there is also a wealth of evidence that supports the existence of climate change. This evidence includes the fact that the average global temperature has been rising for the past century, the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, the rising sea level, the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and wildfires

The overwhelming scientific consensus and the wealth of supporting evidence are the most convincing arguments that can be made. It is also worth noting that the consequences of climate change are already being felt around the world. People are being displaced by rising sea levels, and extreme weather events are causing billions of dollars in damage each year. As the planet continues to warm, these consequences will only become more severe.

Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts and climate change is threatening our planet.

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ADHD and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

source: additudemag.com

Signs of ADHD aren’t as easy to spot in adults as in children. Adult ADHD can be more subtle and misinterpreted as another mental health condition, complicating its diagnosis.

Whether or not ADHD was diagnosed during childhood, it can pose different challenges during adulthood. Symptoms affect more aspects of your life, such as personal relationships, work, and emotions.

Without treatment and support, ADHD can cause people to struggle with career goals, memory, prioritizing, and daily tasks at work and home.

Recognizing signs of ADHD is the first step toward real change. Knowing the facts empowers you to seek the professional help you may need to overcome challenges and thrive.

Read on to discover some of the main signs and symptoms of ADHD in adults.

While many people will experience these issues at some point, ADHD means a persistent pattern (at least six months) of behavior that interferes with your ability to function. 

1. Difficulty Focusing

People with ADHD may lack control over what they focus on and have difficulty concentrating.

You may notice the following: [1]

  • Easily distracted
  • Daydreaming
  • Zoning out during conversations
  • Overlooking instructions and details
  • Unable to finish projects or tasks on time

Another symptom of ADHD is a tendency to hyperfocus on projects you find exciting and interesting. In this state, you may be unable to turn your attention toward other important tasks or people in your life.[2]

2. Misplacing Items

Storing, organizing, or keeping track of belongings can be troublesome for those with ADHD.

This can involve:

  • Misplacing everyday items (i.e., car keys or wallet) while the brain is on autopilot
  • Losing track of where an item is placed after a moment of inattention
  • Constantly retracing steps to find lost items
  • Storing things in the wrong places (i.e., work papers in your car, dirty dishes in the bedroom).

3. Always Running Late

Due to poor time management, adults with ADHD often run late for meetings, appointments, or social plans.

Reasons include:

  • Unable to find required items (car keys, wallet, meeting notes, etc.)
  • Forgetting dates and times
  • Underestimating time needed to complete tasks
  • Getting distracted while preparing for an appointment or event

4. Risky Behaviors

Research shows that adults with ADHD are more likely to engage in risk-taking behavior (RTB).[3] These behaviors may involve the following:

  • Starting arguments or fights
  • Overspending
  • Reckless driving
  • Substance use (alcohol or drugs)
  • Risky sex-related decisions (i.e., unprotected sex)
  • Gambling
  • Impulsive eating

By seeking help and support, you can proactively reduce your chances of involvement in these activities.

5. Lack of Listening

Social interactions may feel like a challenge if you have ADHD. You may struggle with: [1]

  • Waiting for your turn to speak
  • Staying on topic
  • Keeping track of the conversation
  • Using non-verbal cues to show active listening
  • Talking too fast
  • Speaking too much
  • Blurting out words that make others uncomfortable
  • Unable to read other people’s body language

6. Prioritization Perils

Adults with ADHD are almost always occupied. However, deciding which task to prioritize can be a challenge.

You may struggle with prioritization for any of the following reasons:

  • Feeling like you have too much to do (which can overwhelm you, even get you into a state of ADHD paralysis)
  • All tasks feel equally important
  • Difficulty thinking ahead – you underestimate deadlines
  • Seeking novelty over familiar tasks that may be more significant and relevant

Adults with ADHD also tend to procrastinate on tasks that require more focus and attention, leading to missed deadlines and workplace issues.

7. Relationship Roadblocks

Problems in relationships with friends, colleagues, family, or partners is another common issue for adults with ADHD.

There are several reasons why symptoms of ADHD can cause tension, anger, and frustration.

Some ADHD traits that may lead to relationship strains include:

  • Speaking over the other person
  • Not actively listening to the other person
  • Forgetting important events and dates (like birthdays)
  • Blurting out hurtful statements
  • Failing to fulfill responsibilities, commitments, or promises
  • Trouble regulating emotions

Despite these challenges, adults with ADHD can have happy relationships and fulfilling marriages. Seeking professional counseling and support is one of the best ways to work toward this.

8. Nervous Energy

Another sign of ADHD in adults is restlessness. This may present in a variety of ways:

  • Flight of thoughts
  • Constant fidgeting
  • Tics and impulsive behaviors
  • Overthinking and catastrophizing
  • Trouble sitting still

Fidgeting is often misinterpreted as inattention in adults with ADHD. However, fidgeting and stimming can signify attempts to stay focused when a task isn’t providing enough stimulation for the brain.

Interestingly, fidgeting may help increase the ability to focus and concentrate in adults.[4]

9. Memory Issues

ADHD may impact two different kinds of memory.

Working memory is your brain’s short-term storage space, and it’s where adults with ADHD are more likely to experience problems.[5]

Here are some examples of how ADHD can impact working memory:

  • Forgetting things on grocery lists
  • Leaving essential items at home
  • Losing track of belongings
  • Difficulty following instructions to complete tasks
  • Re-reading sections of text due to not retaining information

ADHD’s impact on long-term memory isn’t well understood. Some research shows that adults with ADHD may experience problems with long-term memory.

The ADHD brain tends to encode information in a disorganized manner, interfering with the storage of new information.[6]

10. Easy to Anger

An estimated 70% of adults with ADHD experience mood swings (emotional dysregulation).[7]

Adults with ADHD may notice the following signs of emotional turbulence:

  • Impatience when under stress
  • Explosive outbursts of anger
  • Persistent irritability
  • Surges of anger when met with everyday obstacles
  • Frequent and reactive mood changes
  • Unaware of the other party’s feelings

Professional therapy, medications, and self-care can play a vital role in managing ADHD-related anger.

Adult ADHD Symptoms: It’s Not Too Late to Get Them Diagnosed

If you think you’re experiencing some of the signs and symptoms of ADHD, it’s best to take your concerns to a trusted healthcare provider who can address them effectively.

Try to seek a professional specializing in treating and supporting adults with ADHD.

The ADDA adult ADHD test is a great starting point to screen yourself for signs of ADHD.

Check out ADDA’s online resource hub if you’d like to learn more about adult ADHD. Here, you’ll gain access to support groups, communities, and tips on how to live and thrive with ADHD.

How ADHD Ignites Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

For people with ADHD or ADD, rejection-sensitive dysphoria can mean extreme emotional sensitivity and emotional pain — and it may imitate mood disorders with suicidal ideation and manifest as instantaneous rage at the person responsible for causing the pain. Learn more about ways to manage RSD here.

William Dodson, M.D.

By William Dodson, M.D., LF-APAVerifiedMedically reviewed by Sharon Saline, Psy.D.Reviewed on February 28, 2020

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What is Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria?

Rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) is extreme emotional sensitivity and pain triggered by the perception that a person has been rejected or criticized by important people in their life. It may also be triggered by a sense of falling short—failing to meet their own high standards or others’ expectations.

Dysphoria is Greek for “difficult to bear.” It’s not that people with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) are wimps, or weak; it’s that the emotional response hurts them much more than it does people without the condition. No one likes to be rejected, criticized or fail. For people with RSD, these universal life experiences are much more severe than for neurotypical individuals. They are unbearable, restricting, and highly impairing.

When this emotional response is internalized (and it often is for people with RSD), it can imitate a full, major mood disorder complete with suicidal ideation. The sudden change from feeling perfectly fine to feeling intensely sad that results from RSD is often misdiagnosed as rapid cycling mood disorder.

It can take a long time for physicians to recognize that these symptoms are caused by the sudden emotional changes associated with ADHD and rejection sensitivity, while all other aspects of relating to others seem typical. RSD is, in fact, a common ADHD trait, particularly in adults.

When this emotional response is externalized, it looks like an impressive, instantaneous rage at the person or situation responsible for causing the pain.

[Self-Test: Could You Have Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria?]

RSD can make adults with ADHD anticipate rejection — even when it is anything but certain. This can make them vigilant about avoiding it, which can be misdiagnosed as social phobia. Social phobia is an intense anticipatory fear that you will embarrass or humiliate yourself in public, or that you will be scrutinized harshly by the outside world.

Rejection sensitivity is hard to tease apart. Often, people can’t find the words to describe its pain. They say it’s intense, awful, terrible, overwhelming. It is always triggered by the perceived or real loss of approval, love, or respect.

People with ADHD cope with this huge emotional elephant in two main ways, which are not mutually exclusive.

1. They become people pleasers. They scan every person they meet to figure out what that person admires and praises. Then they present that false self to others. Often this becomes such a dominating goal that they forget what they actually wanted from their own lives. They are too busy making sure other people aren’t displeased with them.

[ADHD, Women, and the Danger of Emotional Withdrawal]

2. They stop trying. If there is the slightest possibility that a person might try something new and fail or fall short in front of anyone else, it becomes too painful or too risky to make the effort. These bright, capable people avoid any activities that are anxiety-provoking and end up giving up things like dating, applying for jobs, or speaking up in public (both socially and professionally).

Some people use the pain of RSD to find adaptations and overachieve. They constantly work to be the best at what they do and strive for idealized perfection. Sometimes they are driven to be above reproach. They lead admirable lives, but at what cost?

How do I get over RSD?

Rejection sensitivity is part of ADHD. It’s neurologic and genetic. Early childhood trauma makes anything worse, but it does not cause RSD. Often, patients are comforted just to know there is a name for this feeling. It makes a difference knowing what it is, that they are not alone, and that almost 100% of people with ADHD experience rejection sensitivity. After hearing this diagnosis, they’re relieved to know it’s not their fault and that they are not damaged.

Psychotherapy does not particularly help patients with RSD because the emotions hit suddenly and completely overwhelm the mind and senses. It takes a while for someone with RSD to get back on his feet after an episode.

There are two possible medication solutions for RSD.

The simplest solution is to prescribe an alpha agonist like guanfacine or clonidine. These were originally designed as blood pressure medications. The optimal dose varies from half a milligram up to seven milligrams for guanfacine, and from a tenth of a milligram to five-tenths of a milligram for clonidine. Within that dosage range, about one in three people feel relief from RSD. When that happens, the change is life-altering. Sometimes this treatment can make an even greater impact than a stimulant does to treat ADHD, although the stimulant can be just as effective for some people.

These two medications seem to work equally well, but for different groups of people. If the first medication does not work, it should be stopped, and the other one tried. They should not be used at the same time, just one or the other.

The second treatment is prescribing monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) off-label. This has traditionally been the treatment of choice for RSD among experienced clinicians. It can be dramatically effective for both the attention/impulsivity component of ADHD and the emotional component. Parnate (tranylcypromine) often works best, with the fewest side effects. Common side effects are low blood pressure, agitation, sedation, and confusion.

MAOIs were found to be as effective for ADHD as methylphenidate in one head-to-head trial conducted in the 1960s. They also produce very few side effects with true once-a-day dosing, are not a controlled substance (no abuse potential), come in inexpensive, high-quality generic versions, and are FDA-approved for both mood and anxiety disorders. The disadvantage is that patients must avoid foods that are aged instead of cooked, as well as first-line ADHD stimulant medications, all antidepressant medications, OTC cold, sinus, and hay fever medications, OTC cough remedies. Some forms of anesthesia can’t be administered.

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria: Next Steps

Dr. William Dodson

Dr. William Dodson is a member of ADDitude’s ADHD Medical Review Panel.

Rejection-sensitive-dysphoria (RSD) is a condition that causes severe emotional pain in response to perceived or actual rejection or criticism. People with RSD may experience symptoms such as:

  • Being easily embarrassed or ashamed
  • Having an emotional outburst and getting angry when they feel rejected
  • Setting impossibly high standards for themselves
  • Experiencing low self-esteem

RSD is often associated with ADHD, but it can affect anyone and may be present alongside other mental health conditions, like depression. Doctors and therapists often use the term when they notice exaggerated reactions connected to an official behavioral condition like ADHD.

RSD is not a formal diagnosis, but rather one of the most common and disruptive manifestations of emotional dysregulation. A mental health professional may help you create a plan that addresses the cause of your symptoms and how you experience them.

References

[1] Targum, S. D., & Adler, L. A. (2014). Our current understanding of adult ADHD. Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 11(11-12), 30–35.

[2] Ashinoff, B. K., & Abu-Akel, A. (2020). Hyperfocus: the forgotten frontier of attention. Psychological Research85(1), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-019-01245-8

[3] Pollak, Yehuda, Dekkers, Tycho J., Shoham, Rachel, Huizenga, Hilde M. (2019).Risk-Taking Behavior in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a Review of Potential Underlying Mechanisms and of Interventions. Curr Psychiatry Rep 21, 33 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-019-1019-y

[4] Farley, J., Risko, E. F., & Kingstone, A. (2013). Everyday attention and lecture retention: the effects of time, fidgeting, and mind wandering. Frontiers in Psychology, 4. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00619

[5] Kofler, M. J., Singh, L. J., Soto, E. F., Chan, E., Miller, C. E., Harmon, S. L., & Spiegel, J. A. (2020). Working memory and short-term memory deficits in ADHD: A bifactor modeling approach. Neuropsychology, 34(6), 686–698. https://doi.org/10.1037/neu0000641

[6] Skodzik, T., Holling, H., & Pedersen, A. (2017). Long-Term Memory Performance in Adult ADHD. Journal of attention disorders, 21(4), 267–283. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054713510561

[7] Beheshti, A., Chavanon, M. L., & Christiansen, H. (2020). Emotion dysregulation in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 20(1), 120. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-2442-7
ADHD & Symptom Tests

REJECTION SENSITIVE DYSPHORIA

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Britches suffered unimaginable pain in his life 

Britches
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Examining the Parallels between Hunters and Serial Killers

Pursuit of Prey: Both serial killers and hunters engage in activities that involve pursuing and targeting their chosen subjects.

Preparation and Planning: Both hunters and serial killers may engage in planning and preparation before their acts. Hunters research their prey, study their behaviors, select appropriate gear, and scout hunting locations. Similarly, serial killers may plan their crimes, select victims, and prepare tools or methods to carry out their acts.

Knowledge of Their Targets: Both hunters and serial killers acquire knowledge about their targets. Hunters study the habits, habitat, and behavior of animals they intend to hunt. Serial killers may also study their victims, learn their routines, and observe patterns to facilitate their crimes.

Understanding Vulnerabilities: Both hunters and serial killers exploit the vulnerabilities of their targets. Hunters aim to understand the weaknesses or patterns of animals to increase their chances of success. Similarly, serial killers may exploit the vulnerabilities of their victims, such as their trust, naivety, or specific circumstances, to carry out their acts.

Control and Dominance: Both hunters and serial killers may seek a sense of control and dominance over their targets. Hunters may feel a sense of power when successfully taking down an animal, asserting their dominance over nature. Serial killers may derive satisfaction and a sense of control by exerting power over their victims’ lives.

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WHY PRIDE IS POISON FOR YOUR SOUL

By Gustavo Razzetti
Borrowed from: www.fearlessculture.design/blog-posts/why-pride-is-poison-for-your-soul

Pride has many flavors — they all make life unpleasant

Pride is an emotion that can be both nurturing and poisonous.

It’s okay to feel proud when you accomplish something great. Feeling proud tastes delicious — it inspires positive behavior.

Being proud is a different thing — it can make you come across as arrogant and self-centered. Being proud is about creating an inflated self-image. It makes life unpleasant, especially for those around you.

“Generosity is giving more than you have, and pride is taking less than you need.”

Kahlil Gibran

So, is it better to not feel proud at all?

Pride becomes poisonous when used in significant quantities. Excessive pride leaves a nasty aftertaste — use it with moderation.

Pride Is Nothing to Be Proud Of

Aristotle described pride as the ‘crown of the virtues.’

For the Greek philosopher, pride implies greatness. He considered a proud person as someone who is and thinks to be worthy of great things.

Avoid vices. To think we are worthy of great things when we are not is vanity. Whereas to think of oneself to be worthy of less than we are worthy of is cowardice.

Pride is an emotion we experience when we’ve achieved something great. Or when someone close to us has. It’s the recognition for a job well done.

So, is pride something virtuous or evil?

Modern psychologists split pride in two emotions: hubristic and authentic.

Authentic pride is feeling confident and competent about who you are. Hubristic pride is letting egocentrism and arrogance take over. The latter encourages aggressive behavior; the first, affiliation.

Experts argue they are not two separate emotions — the dosage separates authentic pride from hubristic pride. Pride itself is not a problem — excessive pride is.

Arrogant people tend to score high on narcissism. Excessive pride diminishes self-awareness. Like an arrogant leader who’s always exaggerating his achievements to denigrate his rivals.

Excessive pride is an exaggerated appreciation of oneself by devaluating otherswe turn other people into our competitors.

While pride can undoubtedly lead to arrogant displays, it can also motivate us to give our best.

“I know” is teenagers’ response by default. They are not wired to listen. Adolescents believe they have all the answers. That’s not an issue unless they carry that arrogant behavior into adulthood.

Excessive pride makes us ignorant. It harms our relationships too — nobody likes being with a know-it-all.

Pride is like a condiment — it adds flavor to your life. A little touch can make it more pleasurable or exciting. In excess, it makes everything unpleasant.

Excessive Pride Tastes Like Poison

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Feeling proud is not the same as being proud.

Acknowledging your strengths and achievements reinforces positive behavior. It inspires you to give more.

However, being proud is living under a distorted notion. We exaggerate our perception of self to feel superior.

Pride is rooted in the same principle that envy — we define our self worth by comparing to others. But, unlike envy, rather than wanting what others have, we need to disparage them to feel superior.

Buddhism recognizes six poisons that harm our perception and behavior. Pride is the most pervasive.

Pride is a poison because it’s the basis for disrespecting others and for creating suffering in our lives.

Excessive pride is an exaggerated appreciation of oneself by devaluating others. It is often driven by poor self-worth.

We are so insecure that we compensate by feeling superior. And look for others’ flaws as a way to disguise our own.

We spend too much time competing with other people. They taught us that winners take all. Most people believe that being successful requires humiliating or defeating others.

As Thubten Caldron said, “Why do we have to put someone down to feel good?”

Buddhists encourage confidence and honesty with oneself. Pride is demeaning other people or feeling an aversion to others. Instead of nurturing self-growth, we compete and want to defeat others.

Excessive pride prevents the growth of other virtues. It becomes too uncomfortable to recognize our shortcomings or mistakes. Pride makes us believe we are always right.

How can we become more compassionate if we are already so great?

The Seven Flavors of Pride

“Behind every argument lies someone’s ignorance.” — Louis D. Brandeis

Pride has many flavors — actually seven, according to Thubten Chodron.

In one of her teachings, the American Buddhist explains the different flavors that pride takes. Each has self-indulgent nuances. But, they all leave a bitter aftertaste.

1. Pride over the inferior:

The first type of pride is the most common. We compare ourselves to others in terms of education, social standing, health, beauty, physical attributes, or other aspects

This happens when we, in fact, are better than somebody else in one of those aspects. We compare our strengths to someone else’s weaknesses. And look down on them.

2. Great Pride:

This happens when we can’t accept that we are equal to others in a particular aspect. Our competitive mode doesn’t leave us at peace. We see others as competitors that we must defeat.

Great pride is a cultural view, especially in America. That’s what kids learn from their parents. They associate getting recognition with beating someone else.

Even when we go for a run or bike ride, we need stats to prove that we are better. All we care is bragging about our superior performance, not the joy of exercising.

As Chodron explains, parents don’t ask their children if they had fun during a match. But, praise their kids when they beat others. Children learn that recognition matters more than joy.

Great pride is the enemy of collaboration — instead of thinking of the group’s welfare, we want to win.

3. Pride of Pride:

This is when we compare ourselves to others — in any aspect — and are actually inferior.

Instead of accepting the fact, we look for something that will make us proud. For example, you might say, “I might not be as good taking pictures as X, but I’m a more honest person.”

You focus on another quality that will help overcome your weakness. One that will make you feel morally superior. You defeat the other person by attacking their virtues.

It can be something insignificant, but still, you find a way to discredit your ‘opponents’ by finding their moral flaws.

4. Pride of the sense of “I”:

This is thinking of yourself as being perfect.

You turn one experience into something that makes you feel like the king of the world. Like when you break a rule or do something that makes you feel unique.

5. Evident or manifest pride:

This is where we are proud of the qualities or abilities that we don’t have. But we think we do.

You see it all the time — people get attached to an illusion. They think they are proficient at something but are clueless.

Manifest pride is when we believe we are better, wiser, more spiritual, or virtuous than we are.

6. Feeling slightly less pride:

This is when we feel proud of our weaknesses. It’s the case of those who play the victim role because it gives them power — others pay attention.

We make ourselves insignificant by putting ourselves down. We make a big deal of small flaws to feel at the center of the world.

The need to compete with others makes us cling to an exaggerated image of ourselves — in this case, a negative one. We become proud of being a victim.

7. Distorted pride:

The last type of pride is about bragging about our non-virtues.

It’s the feeling of superiority when someone cheats and doesn’t get caught. Think of those who lie in the tax declaration or frame someone else at work for a mistake they did.

Distorted pride is when our morality is full of holes, but we feel superior because we got away with it.

The Antidote to Excessive Pride

Unfortunately, there’s no simple cure. We spend our entire lives feeding our ego — it takes time to reframe that relationship.

Start by reflecting on the role pride plays in your life.

Acknowledge the difference between feeling proud and being proud. The first is the joy of a job well done. The latter is an exaggerated, distorted version of who you are.

You can turn your pride into a means of development. Inquire about your pride and see how it manifests. Excessive pride signals what we must further develop.

Do you feel insecure about a particular aspect of yourself? Do you have a distorted perception of your strengths or abilities? Do you see others as rivals or collaborators?

As Sophocles said, “All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”

Buddhism teaches us to overcome excessive pride by cultivating equanimity and love for others. An appreciation for life and people removes the need to defeat them — there’s no need to compete.

Reconnecting ourselves with what we don’t know keeps our egos in check.

Intellectual humility can help overcome our pride too. Do you think you know a lot about a particular topic? Focus on something complicated that you don’t master. Surround yourself with people who know more than you do.

Pride is being attached to an exaggerated image of ourselveswe must let go of that dependence.

Thubten Chodron recommends contemplating that everything we have came from others.

Reflect that everything you do, know, are, or have it’s not yours to start with. Everything happened due to the efforts and kindness of somebody else.

Do you feel proud of your body? Your parents gave it to you. Are you proud of your car? Reflect on everybody involved in designing, building, and distributing the vehicle. Somebody else created it — not you.

Trace the origin of whatever you feel proud — consider everyone who participated in the process.

Your knowledge is not yours alone. Your parents, teachers, professors, coaches, and many more contributed to your learning experience.

The world is an interconnected whole — no person or nation can be truly isolated. Reflecting on that will keep your pride under control. Everything we own or achieve is a consequence of collaboration with others. 

Pride poisons our life. It creates an inflated version of self that we must defend at all costs. We take everything as criticism — we are under attack.

Don’t turn life into an unpleasant experience. Work on deflating your ego. When your identity no longer is at stake, you won’t need to fight with others.

Recover the pleasure of playing — life is not a match to be won but enjoyed. Acknowledge the good, and avoid the pressure to defeat others.

You wouldn’t accomplish anything without the help of other people. Pride has no room when we understand it’s better to be surrounded by collaborators rather than competitors.

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Living the Golden Rule

“…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”, Leviticus 19:18

article borrowed from https://zenhabits.net/18-practical-tips-for-living-the-golden-rule. Author Leo Babauta

One of the few rules I try to live my life by, and fail every day trying, is the Golden Rule.

I love the simplicity of the Golden Rule, its tendency to make I interact with happier … and its tendency to make me happier as well.

It’s true: the rule of treating others as you would want to be treated in their place will ultimately lead to your own happiness.

Let’s say that you apply the Golden Rule in all of your interactions with other people, and you help your neighbors, you treat your family with kindness, you go the extra mile for your co-workers, you help a stranger in need.

Now, those actions will undoubtedly be good for the people you help and are kind to … but you’ll also notice a strange thing. People will treat you better too, certainly. Beyond that, though, you will find a growing satisfaction in yourself, a belief in yourself, a knowledge that you are a good person, and a trust in yourself.

Those are not small dividends. They are huge. And for that reason — not even considering that our world will be a better place if more people live by this rule — I recommend you make the Golden Rule a focus of your actions, and try to live by it to the extent that you can.

I will admit that there are strong arguments against the Golden Rule, that there are exceptions and logic arguments that the Golden Rule, taken to extremes, falls apart. I’m not concerned about that stuff. The truth is, on a day-to-day basis, living by the Golden Rule will make you a better person, will make those around you happier, and will make the community you live in a better place.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some practical tips for living the Golden Rule in your daily life:

  1. Practice empathy. Make it a habit to try to place yourself in the shoes of another person. Any person. Loved ones, co-workers, people you meet on the street. Really try to understand, to the extent that you can, what it is like to be them, what they are going through, and why they do what they do.
  2. Practice compassion. Once you can understand another person, and feel what they’re going through, learn to want to end their suffering. And when you can, take even a small action to somehow ease their suffering in some way.
  3. How would you want to be treated? The Golden Rule doesn’t really mean that you should treat someone else exactly as you’d want them to treat you … it means that you should try to imagine how they want to be treated, and do that. So when you put yourself in their shoes, ask yourself how you think they want to be treated. Ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were in their situation. John F. Kennedy did that during the controversial days of de-segregation in the 1960s, asking white Americans to imagine being looked down upon and treated badly based only on the color of their skin. He asked them to imagine how they would want to be treated if they were in that situation, and act accordingly towards the blacks.
  4. Be friendly. When in doubt, follow this tip. It’s usually safe to be friendly towards others. Of course, there are times when others just don’t want someone acting friendly towards them, and you should be sensitive to that. You should also be friendly within the bounds of appropriateness. But who doesn’t like to feel welcome and wanted?
  5. Be helpful. This is probably one of the weaknesses of our society. Sure, there are many people who go out of their way to be helpful, and I applaud them. But in general there is a tendency to keep to yourself, and to ignore the problems of others. Don’t be blind to the needs and troubles of others. Look to help even before you’re asked.
  6. Be courteous in traffic. Another weakness of our society. There are few times when we are as selfish as when we’re driving. We don’t want to give up the right of way, we cut people off, we honk and curse. Perhaps it’s the isolation of the automobile. We certainly don’t act that rude in person, most of the time. So try to be courteous in traffic.
  7. Listen to others. Another weakness: we all want to talk, but very few of us want to listen. And yet, we all want to be listened to. So take the time to actually listen to another person, rather than just wait your turn to talk. It’ll also go a long way to helping you understand others.
  8. Overcome prejudice. We all have our prejudices, whether it’s based on skin color, attractiveness, height, age, gender … it’s human nature, I guess. But try to see each person as an individual human being, with different backgrounds and needs, and dreams. And try to see the commonalities between you and that person, despite your differences.
  9. Stop criticism. We all have a tendency to criticize others, whether it’s people we know or people we see on television. However, ask yourself if you would like to be criticized in that person’s situation. The answer is almost always “no”. So hold back your criticism, and instead learn to interact with others in a positive way.
  10. Don’t control others. It’s also rare that people want to be controlled. Trust me. So don’t do it. This is a difficult thing, especially if we are conditioned to control people. But when you get the urge to control, put yourself in that person’s shoes. You would want freedom and autonomy and trust, wouldn’t you? Give that to others then.
  11. Be a child. The urge to control and criticize is especially strong when we are adults dealing with children. In some cases, it’s necessary, of course: you don’t want the child to hurt himself, for example. But in most cases, it’s not. Put yourself in the shoes of that child. Remember what it was like to be a child, and to be criticized and controlled. You probably didn’t like it. How would you want to be treated if you were that child?
  12. Send yourself a reminder. Email yourself a daily reminder (use Google Calendar or memotome.com, for example) to live your life by the Golden Rule, so you don’t forget.
  13. Tie a string to your finger. Or give yourself some other reminder throughout the day so that you don’t forget to follow the Golden Rule in all interactions with others. Perhaps a fake golden ring on your keychain? A tattoo? 🙂
  14. Post it on your wall or make it your home page. The Golden Rule makes a great mantra, and a great poster.
  15. Rise above retaliation. We have a tendency to strike back when we’re treated badly. This is natural. Resist that urge. The Golden Rule isn’t about retaliation. It’s about treating others well, despite how they treat you. Does that mean you should be a doormat? No … you have to assert your rights, of course, but you can do so in a way where you still treat others well and don’t strike back just because they treated you badly first. Remember Jesus’ wise (but difficult to follow) advice: turn the other cheek.
  16. Be the change. Gandhi famously told us to be the change we want to see in the world. Well, we often think of that quote as applying to grand changes, such as poverty and racism and violence. Well, sure, it does apply to those things … but it also applies on a much smaller scale: to all the small interactions between people. Do you want people to treat each other with more compassion and kindness? Then let it start with you. Even if the world doesn’t change, at least you have.
  17. Notice how it makes you feel. Notice how your actions affect others, especially when you start to treat them with kindness, compassion, respect, trust, love. But also notice the change in yourself. Do you feel better about yourself? Happier? More secure? More willing to trust others, now that you trust yourself? These changes come slowly and in small increments, but if you pay attention, you’ll see them.
  18. Say a prayer. There is a prayer on the Golden Rule, attributed to Eusebius of Caesarea, that would be worth saying once a day. It includes the following lines, among others: “May I gain no victory that harms me or my opponent.
    May I reconcile friends who are mad at each other.
    May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary
    help to my friends and to all who are in need.
    May I never fail a friend in trouble.”
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Very Cute Big Bad Wolf

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FIREWORKS AND SOCIOPATHS

A ‘Sociopath’ is a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience. Sociopaths show a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights and feelings of others. They live for the moment, forgetting the past, and not planning the future, not thinking ahead about the consequences their actions will have. They want immediate rewards and gratification.

All fireworks users display these traits; the use of fireworks is a sociopathic behavior because fireworks have an obvious and pervasive destructive effect on everyone, including the person lighting the fireworks.

This New Year, the carnage from fireworks was worse than ever. All around the country, fires resulting in major environmental destruction, human injuries, thousands of lost and terrified, injured animals, many of whom lost their lives, and the disturbance of the peace of everyone who has a right to privacy that fireworks invade.

Let’s examine the Pros and Cons of fireworks

Pros:

“Fireworks are fun.” Well, yes, but fun at the expense of others is something only a sociopath or sadist finds enjoyable.

“Fireworks are a legitimate religious practice.” This is absurd. See below.

Cons:

Environmentally destructive; pollutes the air and results in debris and disturbs birds and other wild animals.

Firework noise is pervasive and violent. This is disconcerting for many people including the elderly, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferers, small children, and for that matter anyone who prefers peace and quiet in their own home.

Fireworks terrify animals; this is not something that can be avoided by locking animals in as some suggest, since they can still hear the explosions, and there are many animals that cannot be given sedatives, like shelter animals, strays and wild animals in any given area. Sedatives also often do not work sufficiently to shield the animal from the stress caused by fireworks. Animal owners are told to take precautions, but why should they have to spend money and sacrifice their own enjoyment during these festivals because some self-absorbed people have no respect for others? To make matters worse, these sociopaths do not stick to the allotted times, with the result that animal owners cannot predict when their pets will be subjected to terrifying noise.

In addition, 70% of fireworks are manufactured by children and the working conditions in fireworks factories are life-threatening and exploitative. That’s what you contribute to every time you light a mindless firecracker. Lastly, since there are no fireworks manufacturers in South Africa, most of the money spent on fireworks does nothing for the local economy.

Then there are the Psychopaths who have started using fireworks as weapons in robberies, taping nails and ball bearings around large fireworks, so that when the firework explodes it sends the nails and ball bearings flying. If that’s not a good reason to ban fireworks in private hands and restrict them to pyrotechnicians, I’m not sure what is.

Religious Support

The notion that fireworks are a legitimate religious practice is bizarre. Religion is supposed to raise human consciousness, to make humans more aware of their responsibilities, to see beyond self-indulgence and understand the negative impacts of a given practice. If that practice results in pain and hardship to others, religion should oppose, not support, the practice. A religion that supports the many evils of fireworks is self-contradictory and bankrupt. Only a fanatic believes this nonsense. It’s little more than abuse using religion as a justification.

It’s a no-brainer to anyone except a sociopath that fireworks are not an acceptable expression of culture, religion or tradition.

Government-Sanctioned Schizophrenia

On the one hand, we have noise laws that prohibit noise in residential areas, and fireworks by-laws that allow them during certain periods for either traditional or religious festivals. This ambiguity in legislative policy is schizophrenic.

The same goes for the Emergency Management Services giving permission for displays to be held at schools, which is prohibited by fireworks by-laws. What is the point in having laws if the Council is just going to give people permission to break them?

In addition, since the Animals Protection Act states that it is an offense to terrify an animal, and we know that fireworks terrify animals and that there are animals in every residential area, fireworks should be prohibited in any residential area. Yet we have by-laws that allow firework use in residential areas. To any sane person, this is inconsistent.

Government needs its head read.

Policing

The policing of fireworks can barely be referred to as adequate, although in a few areas the response was very good. Many police barely understand the law as it pertains to fireworks, and the response from Emergency Service call centers is in most cases non-existent. Besides, many of the police are themselves lighting fireworks in residential areas…

Government must not pander to the indulgences of the inconsiderate; it must raise the consciousness of that society to respect the needs of others and cause the least harm. The use of fireworks is hopelessly incompatible with any ethic one can think of – they have no benefit whatsoever. They need to be prohibited in private hands as soon as possible.

Anti-Fireworks Alliance

https://antifireworkalliance.wordpress.com

#fireworksmustfall

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OUR SOIL IS DYING

Need to Grow

The following was written by Y.M. Saegusa an Advocate for regenerative agriculture and environmentally sustainable living. Future homestead owner. Editor of https://medium.com/satoyama AND borrowed from this site https://ymsaegusa.medium.com/

Our Soil is Dying…, What Can We Do About It?

Soil is one of the least understood but most important requirements for sustainable agriculture

Photo by Tati y Adri on Unsplash

Soil is living. Soil contains living organisms such as worms, fungi, insects, and other organic matter.

A single handful of healthy soil contains more than 50 billion life forms. To put things in perspective, the global population currently sits at about 7.8 billion. Taking it one step further, approximately 117 billion humans were ever born. That means a little over two handfuls of healthy soil can contain more life forms than all humans that ever existed.

The life forms contained within soil, nutrients, and minerals all help plants grow healthier and nutrient-rich while increasing crop yield.

Topsoil is required to support 95% of our global nutritional requirements. This not only includes the crops that we eat but the plants that are fed to livestock. Without healthy soil, we are screwed.

Healthy soil also acts like a sponge, which absorbs and retains water. Soil free of chemicals and synthetic materials enables the water to reach the underground aquifer to replenish it without contaminating it.

Plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. The carbon captured during this process is stored in the soil. When soil degrades, carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Just within the European Union countries, approximately 75 billion tons of carbon is stored in the soil. When soil erodes, the carbon that is sequestered within the soil is released back into the atmosphere.

But our soil is dying…

The impact of industrial agriculture on soil health

According to some estimates, we’ve lost nearly half of productive topsoil in the last 150 years. Industrial-scale agriculture has contributed to the loss of naturally productive soil through unsustainable agricultural practices that are damaging to the soil and the environment.

One of which is monocropping, or the agricultural practice of growing the same crop over and over on the same plot of land. At the industrial scale, it’s efficient, maximizes crop yield, and returns higher revenues. Specializing at the industrial scale results in a farm that is easier to manage and costs less to operate. But does its benefits outweigh the impacts?

Growing crops this way results in depletion of the soil’s nutrients and reduces the level of organic matter in the soil. Monocropping yields may also decrease over time due to the soil being depleted of vital nutrients. Because plants require nutrients to grow, farmers must make up for deficiencies by applying chemical fertilizer.

Because only a single species is planted in a concentrated area, the plants are susceptible to pest predation and diseases, which are controlled using chemicals. Bactericides, fungicides, nematicides are all be applied to crops at various stages of growth to control diseases. Pesticides are also used to control insects.

During the off-season after harvest, the soil is left bare without a cover crop to hold the soil, contributing to soil erosion. With no roots to keep soil in place, soil can be lost due to wind or rain run-off.

The advancement of technology also means farmers can plant genetically modified crops. These crops are modified so that they are resistant to specifically formulated herbicides and pesticides. Farmers can spray the field to control insects and weeds without killing the crops. This practice destroys naturally beneficial organisms in the soil, which must be offset by applying synthetic fertilizers to replace the nutrients in the soil which plants require. Weeds and native plants which can control erosion are also killed by herbicides.

Remember this simple formula:

Created by the author on PowerPoint // CC0 1.0 — No CopyRight

Soil is alive. Dirt is dead. You cannot grow plants in dirt. Dirt does not contain any nutrients, minerals, or organic matter that are found in soil and is required to sustain plant life. Dirt does not support life on its own.

Monocropping, heavy use of chemical fertilizers, and chemical pesticides kill the soil gradually. Poor land management, extensive plowing and tilling, and replacing native plants with cash crops; all of these agricultural practices remove the vast network of roots and organic matter that keep soil healthy and moist, which prevents erosion.

The ground which is infused with various synthetic fertilizers and chemicals also puts at risk the groundwater. The same water that is used to water the crops.

What happens when you combine poor land management, dying soil, and extended bout of droughts (regardless of cause)? This:

Dust storm approaching northern Texax, April 14, 1935 — Photo Source: National Archives / Public Domain

There is precedence to all of this. Our country has been through it before. Let’s not go through it again.

What can we do about it?

There are alarming articles that can be found throughout the internet that claims there are only 60 years of topsoil left if current industrial agricultural practices are sustained. Anything found on the internet needs to be thoroughly questioned to ensure the veracity of the information before its accepted as fact.

But here is a fact. We have to feed the world. I care about the environment but I am also pragmatic. My family does its best to consume organic foods as much as possible, but some of what we eat are GMO or GMO derived. Organic food is expensive. It’s a luxury.

But we can grow our food without killing the soil. For farmers and homesteaders that choose to engage in sustainable agricultural techniques, there are options.

On-site composting to produce organic fertilizer is one option. We can control what goes into our compost pile, so we know that our fertilizer is 100% organic and natural. This compost can be applied to the soil to restore its health. Healthy soil does a better job at retaining moisture and produces healthier crops that are completely natural. Foliage and other bio-products generated by the farm can be fed back into the compost, making it sustainable.

Planting cover crops and using mulch on the field will help reduce soil erosion and runoff. Cover crops also reduce the impact of soil compaction, so that the soil actually absorbs and retains moisture.

We can minimize tilling and plowing because it kills the soil and the root structures that are holding it in place. These roots and fungi sequester carbon, which is released when the soil is disturbed needlessly.

We can plant insectary plants to create an eco-sphere that is inviting to beneficial insects. Insects like ladybugs, praying mantis, and even spiders all help mitigate the population of pests.

We can incorporate farm animals will also restore soil health. Some animals like fowls (duck, goose, chicken, etc.) can be used to control pests while producing manure and urine that naturally fertilizes the soil. Larger animals can help control weed and also produce manure and urine.

We can support local organic farmers by becoming a member of your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA — Link *not* an affiliate or advertisement) is also an option. My family is a member, and we receive a weekly box of organically grown produce from a local farm. Some CSAs may also provide organic meats and animal products as well. Our CSA offers tours and educational outreach (pre-Covid) along with recipes for uncommon and unique produce. And you are supporting a local farmer that engages in sustainable practices for farming.

For those who are not farmers and/or have no aspirations of homesteading as my family does, then being informed is a good first step. Know where your food comes from. By being informed, you can decide what you want to do with that knowledge.

Why is soil conservation important?

borrowed from https://geopard.tech/blog/why-is-soil-conservation-important/
Soil conservation

Soil offers the firmament on which we live and develop. It gives nutrients to trees, plants, crops, animals, and a hundred million microorganisms, all of which are required for life to continue on Earth. If the soil becomes unsuitable or unstable, the entire process comes to a halt; nothing else can grow or break down. To avoid this, we must be aware of the beautiful ecosystem that exists beneath our feet. But what exactly is soil conservation, and how can we become involved?

What is soil conservation?

Soil contains nutrients that are necessary for plant growth, animal life, and millions of microorganisms. The life cycle, however, comes to a halt if the soil becomes unhealthy, unstable, or polluted. Soil conservation is concerned with keeping soils healthy through a variety of methods and techniques. Individuals who are committed to soil conservation assist to keep the soil fertile and productive while also protecting it from erosion and degradation.

Why is soil conservation important?

Conservation cropping systems rely heavily on soil conservation. There are numerous advantages for producers who opt to use soil conservation methods on their farms.

Profit Enhancement:

  • Yields are comparable to or higher than traditional tillage.
  • Cut down on the amount of fuel and labor used.
  • It requires less time.
  • Lowering the cost of machinery repair and maintenance.
  • Potential cost savings on fertilizer and herbicides.

Improved Environment:

  •       Increased soil productivity and quality.
  •       Less erosion.
  •       Increased infiltration and storage of water.
  •       Better air and water quality.
  •       Offers food and shelter to wildlife.

Soil Formation Factors

  •       Parent material refers to the rocks and deposits that formed the soil.
  •       The climate in which the soils formed.
  •       Living organisms that altered soils.
  •       The land’s topography or slope.
  •   The geological time span during which the soils have evolved (age of the soil).

Ten good reasons to practice soil conservation

The following are the top 10 reasons:

  1. Soil is not a renewable natural resource. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), forming a centimeter of soil might take hundreds to thousands of years. However, erosion can cause a single centimeter of soil to be lost in a single year.
  2. To maintain a steady supply of food at economical rates. Soil conservation has been shown to boost agricultural output quality and quantity over time by retaining topsoil and preserving the soil’s long-term productivity.
  3. Soil serves as the basis for our structures, roads, homes, and schools. In truth, the soil has an impact on how structures are constructed.
  4. Beneficial soil microbes live in soils; these creatures are nature’s unseen helpers. They develop synergistic interactions with plants, among other things, to protect them from stress and nourish them with nutrients.
  5. Soils remove dust, chemicals, and other impurities from surface water. This is why underground water is one of the purest water sources.
  6. Farmers benefit from healthier soils because they increase agricultural yields and protect plants from stress.
  7. To enhance wildlife habitat. Soil conservation methods such as establishing buffer strips and windbreaks, as well as restoring soil organic matter, considerably improve the quality of the environment for all types of animals.
  8. For purely aesthetic grounds. To make the scenery more appealing and gorgeous.
  9. To contribute to the creation of a pollution-free environment in which we can live safely.
  10. For our children’s future, so that they will have adequate soil to support life. According to legend, the land was not so much given to us by our forefathers as it was borrowed from our children.

Soil conservations practices

There are a variety of useful soil conservation measures available, some of which humans have used since the dawn of time. The following are some of the most common examples of such practices:


Conservation tillage

Conservation tillage is an agro management method that seeks to reduce the intensity or frequency of tillage operations in order to realize both environmental and economic benefits.

Conventional tillage refers to the traditional way of farming in which soil is prepared for planting by thoroughly inverting it with a tractor-pulled plow, followed by tilting further in order to level the surface of the soil for crop cultivation. Conservation tillage, on the other hand, is a tillage approach that reduces plowing intensity while keeping crop residue to conserve soil, water, and energy resources. Planting, growing, and harvesting crops with as little disturbance to the surface of the soil as feasible is what conserved tillage entails. 

Soil tillage promotes microbial decomposition of organic matter in the soil, resulting in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. As a result, reducing tillage encourages carbon sequestration in the soil. Many crops can now be produced with minimal tillage thanks to advances in weed control technology and farm machinery over the previous few decades. There are several types of conservation tillage practices: 

Conservation tillage necessitates the management of crop remains on the soil surface. Crop residues, a renewable resource, are important in conservation tillage. When crop residues are managed properly, they protect soil resources, improve soil quality, restore degraded ecosystems, improve nutrient cycling, increase water conservation and availability, enhance pest suppression, such as weed and nematode suppression, reduce runoff and off-site nutrient leaching, and sustain and improve crop productivity and profitability. 

Conservation tillage can be used in conjunction with other measures to maximize the soil benefits of reduced tillage and increased soil-surface coverage.

Contour farming

Contour farming

Contour plowing lowers runoff while also assisting crops and soil in maintaining a steady altitude. It is accomplished by furrowing the land with contour lines between the crops. This strategy was used by the ancient Phoenicians and has been shown to retain more soil and enhance crop yields by 10% to 50%.

Strip cropping

Strip cropping

Strip cropping is a farming technique used when a slope is too steep or too long, or when there is no other way to prevent soil erosion. It alternates strips of closely planted crops like hay, wheat, or other small grains with strips of row crops like maize, soybeans, cotton, or sugar beets. Strip cropping helps to prevent soil erosion by providing natural dams for water, thus preserving soil strength. Certain plant layers absorb minerals and water from the soil more efficiently than others. When water hits the weaker soil, which lacks the minerals required to strengthen it, it usually washes it away. When strips of soil are strong enough to restrict the flow of water through them, the weaker topsoil cannot wash away as easily as it would ordinarily. As a result, arable land remains fertile for much longer.

Windbreaks

Windbreaks

Windbreaks are an excellent approach to reducing soil erosion in flat farming settings. This is made easier by planting rows of dense trees between the crops — evergreens are a wonderful year-round solution for this — or by planting crops in an unconventional fashion. Deciduous trees may also function if they can stand vigil all year. 

Crop rotation

Crop rotation is a fantastic strategy to combat soil infertility and has been used with great success for as long as there have been crops to grow. Crop rotation is regarded as excellent practice in organic farming by the Rodale Institute. Crop rotation is the technique of cultivating a variety of crops in the same location over the course of a growing season. The nutritional requirements of various crops vary. Because the crops are rotated each season, the approach decreases reliance on a single source of nutrients.  

Cover crops

Cover crops

Cover crops are an essential component of the stability of the conservation agriculture system, both for their direct and indirect effects on soil characteristics and for their ability to encourage enhanced biodiversity in the agro-ecosystem. 

While commercial crops have a market value, cover crops are mostly produced for soil fertility or as fodder for livestock. Cover crops are beneficial in areas where less biomass is produced, such as semi-arid (dry) areas and eroded soils, because they:

  • protect the soil during fallow periods
  • mobilize and recycle nutrients
  • enhance soil structure and break compacted layers as well as hardpans
  • allow for rotation in a monoculture
  • can be used to control pests, weeds, or break soil compactness

To make use of the moisture that is residual in the soil, cover crops are frequently grown during periods of fallow, such as the period between crop harvest and the next planting. Their growth is stopped before or after the next crop is planted, but prior to the rivalry between the two types of crops commences. Another excellent soil conservation method that reduces erosion from runoff water is the use of cover crops.

Buffer strips

Buffer strips

Buffer strips are permanently vegetated zones that safeguard water quality between a canal and a farm field. Buffer strips to aid in soil retention by slowing and sifting storm flow. As a result, the amount of hazardous phosphorus that enters our lakes may be minimized.

A buffer strip begins at the edge of the water and extends at least 30 feet inward towards the land, providing aesthetic surroundings and habitat for wildlife. Buffers aid in the retention of soils and can also be used to grow plants that can be gathered and used as animal feed. Buffers exist in a variety of shapes and sizes, including:

  • Harvestable buffer strips –These are crop buffers that can also be harvested later on for forage by farmers.
  • Contour buffer strip – utilized in sloped agricultural areas to prevent erosion and limit downhill precipitation velocity.
  • Shoreline gardens – a buffer between a manicured residential lawn and a lake

Benefits of buffers

  •       Less soil erosion – They aid in the retention of soil.
  •       Wildlife habitat – provides food and cover for wildlife.
  •       Protect and extend stream health – prevents loose silt from filling drainage ditches and streams.
  •       Streambank integrity – more vegetation stabilizes the stream bank
  •       Aesthetic appeal

Grassed waterways

Grassed waterways

Grassed waterways are shallow, broad, saucer-shaped pathways that carry surface water over fields without causing any erosion to the soil. The river’s plant cover tends to slow the flow of water and protects the channel surface from erosion forces induced by runoff water. If left alone, runoff and snowmelt water will drain into a field’s natural draws or drainage pathways. 

Grassed waterways securely move water down natural draws through fields when appropriately scaled and created. Waterways also serve as outlets for terrace systems, contour cropping patterns, and diversion channels. When the watershed area generating the runoff water is quite big, grassed rivers are a good solution to soil erosion caused by concentrated water flows. 

How it helps

  •   Grass cover protects the canal from gully erosion and captures sediment in runoff water.
  •   Vegetation can also filter and absorb some of the pollutants and nutrients in runoff water.
  •       Vegetation serves as a safe haven for little birds and animals.

Terrace

Terrace

Terracing is an agricultural process that involves rearranging cropland or converting hills into agriculture by building particular ridged platforms. Terraces are the name given to these platforms. 

Terrace farming is an efficient and, in many cases, the only solution for hilly farmlands. Terraces are a fantastic water and soil conservation structure to use if you have sloping fields in your operation to decrease soil erosion and conserve soil moisture on steep slopes. The types of terraces that can be employed (narrow-based, broad-based, or terrace channels) are adaptable to your demands and soil type, and they can be spaced based on erosion possibilities and equipment considerations. 

Terraces play a significant role in minimizing soil erosion by delaying and lowering the energy of runoff. Some terraces collect drainage water and redirect it underground rather than overland as runoff. If erosion is a major problem on sloping terrain, one option to explore is a terrace system to slow and manage surface runoff and prevent soil erosion. Once created, a terrace, like any conservation technique, demands hands-on monitoring and upkeep to ensure peak effectiveness. 

Drop inlets and rock chutes

Drop inlets and rock chutes

A drop inlet, also known as a shaft spillway, is made up of a vertical intake pipe and a horizontal underground conduit pipe. Water enters the vertical pipe at ground level and descends below, where it is safely channeled through a massive concrete, metal, or plastic pipe into a spillway such as a stream or ditch. 

A rock chute spillway is a construction that allows surface water to flow safely into an exit. This type of spillway aids in bank stabilization by reducing retrogressive erosion of waterway bottoms (furrows and ditches) and the production of erosional gullies in fields. This adaptable, low-cost, and effective construction is easily altered to the location and has minimal disadvantages for agricultural techniques. However, unlike a building with a sedimentation basin, it does not allow for water retention or the sedimentation of soil particles in runoff water. The rock chute spillway is used to alleviate erosion problems at the bottom of fields, at the outlet of a furrow, an interception channel, or a grassed waterway, or anywhere water flows into a stream. 

Drop inlets and rock chutes are frequently used to “step” water down where there are abrupt elevation changes, thus protecting soil from erosion.

Natural fertilizers

Livestock dung, mulch, municipal sewage, and legume plants such as alfalfa and clover are examples of natural fertilizers. Manure and sludge are put to the field by spreading it out and then kneading it into the soil. Timing applications must adhere to strict restrictions, as both sludge and manure can cause significant water contamination if managed improperly. Grown legumes like clover or alfalfa are subsequently tilled into the soil as “green fertilizer.”

Natural fertilizers, like chemical fertilizers, replenish the soil with important elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. They do, however, have the added benefit of contributing organic matter to the soil. 

 Bank stabilization

 Bank stabilization

Bank stabilization refers to any technique used to keep soil in place on a bank or in a river. Here, the soil can be eroded by waves, stream currents, ice, and surface runoff.

Advantages of bank stabilization are decreased soil erosion, increased water quality, and a more aesthetically pleasing setting.

Gabion baskets, re-vegetation, and rip rap are three typical methods for controlling erosion at a stream or riverbank. The first two options rely on loose rock to preserve the underlying loose soil surface by cushioning the impact of stream water on the bank. The term “rip-rap” refers to loose rock on a steeply sloping bank. Riprap, on the other hand, can survive the rigors of ice and frost, whereas concrete may fracture. Gabion baskets are usually wire baskets filled with rocks. The wire baskets hold the rock in place. They are frequently used on steeper slopes and in regions where water flows quicker.

Planting along the shoreline might also help to stabilize stream banks. Shrubs, natural grasses, and trees slow the flow of water across the soil and trap silt, keeping it out of the water. 

Organic or ecological growing

Organic or ecological growing

Organic farming is a farming practice that includes ecologically based pest treatments and biological fertilizers obtained mostly from animal and plant wastes, as well as nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Modern organic farming evolved in response to the environmental damage caused by the use of chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in conventional agriculture, and it offers significant ecological benefits.

Organic farming, when compared to conventional agriculture, utilizes fewer pesticides, lowers soil erosion, reduces nitrate leaching into groundwater and surface water, and recycles animal feces back into the farm. 

Sediment control

Similar to how agricultural soil erosion affects yields and plant growth, urban soil erosion reduces the possibility of healthy landscape plantings. This is especially true during urbanization when mass grading alters the natural soil profile and results in a large loss of topsoil. 

When soil is subjected to the effects of rainfall, the volume and velocity of runoff increase. This causes a chain reaction that results in sediment movement and deposition, lower stream capacity, and, eventually, increased stream scour and floods. 

Though temporary, erosion and sediment control methods safeguard water resources from sediment contamination and increases in flow caused by active land development and redevelopment activities. Sediment and related nutrients are kept from leaving disturbed regions and polluting waterways by keeping soil on-site. 

Erosion control measures are primarily aimed to minimize soil particle detachment and transportation, whereas sediment control practices are designed to confine eroding soil on-site. 

Integrated pest management

Pests are a huge nuisance for farmers and have been a major difficulty to deal with, while pesticides damage nature by leaking into the water and the atmosphere. It is critical to replace synthetic pesticides with organic ones wherever possible, to build biological enemies of pests whenever possible, to rotate crop types to avoid expanding insect populations in the same field for years and to use alternative strategies in complex situations. 

Integrated pest management (IPM) employs a number of strategies aimed at reducing the usage of chemical pesticides and, as a result, environmental hazards. Crop rotation is the foundation of IPM. Pests are starved out and less likely to establish themselves in harmful numbers the next year when crops are rotated from year to year. Crop rotation has been shown to be an effective pest management approach.

To control pest populations, IPM also employs pest-resistant crops and biological measures such as the discharge of pest predators or parasites.

Although IPM takes more time, the benefits of soil conservation, a better environment and lower pesticide expenditures are undeniable. 

Soil health by region

Farmers can utilize a range of measures to maintain the health of their soils. Some of these techniques include avoiding tilling the land, planting cover crops in between growing seasons, and switching the crop variety grown on each field. 

According to a recent study, soil health information is commonly oversimplified. Farms don’t all yield the same outcomes. While one technique may be advantageous to one person, it may be problematic for another depending on where they live. 

More specific trends in soil health are best observed and evaluated at the regional to the considerable diversity in landscape, inherent soil quality, and farming practices. Let’s take a look at soil specifics of Canadian provinces.

British Columbia

The need for soil protection varies substantially in British Columbia due to the wide range of cropping intensities. The greatest danger to soil conservation is posed by high-value specialty crops, as well as the heavy tillage and mechanical traffic that goes with them.

The bulk of BC’s agricultural land is under high to severe risk of water erosion when the soils are bare. In the Fraser Valley, this is due to heavy rainfall and some steep cultivated slopes; in the Peace River region, it is due to easily eroded silty soils and vast fields with lengthy slopes at the foot of which melted snow runoff collects and washes soil away. Conservation efforts, however, have considerably reduced these dangers over the previous several decades.

Prairie Provinces

Many arable soils on the plains and grasslands are subject to wind erosion and salinization as a result of the strains of a dry climate. Vulnerable soils are also prone to water erosion, especially following summer storms or spring runoff. Severe wind erosion prompted the establishment of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration in 1935, which took quick and extreme measures to address the problem.   When wind erosion became more widespread, efforts were reintroduced to encourage the use of soil conservation practices from the mid-20th century onwards.

Improvements can be attributed to reduced use of summer fallow and increasing use of conservation tillage and other erosion controls, such as permanent grass cover and shelterbelts. The risk of soil salinity has decreased in some areas due to greater use of permanent vegetation cover and less frequent use of summer fallow.

Ontario and Québec

Crops such as corn and soybeans are abundantly cultivated in central Canada. These crops are planted early and harvested late because they require the longest growing season possible. The soil is frequently moist while these processes are carried out, resulting in the compaction of the soil. Moreover, these plants may lead to inadequate soil protection from rain and snowmelt erosion for prolonged periods of the year.

Soil conservation practices like minimum and no-tillage retain crop residues on the surface of the soil and reduce heavily loaded mechanical activity. Crop rotation and the regular use of clover or alfalfa hay crops increase soil organic matter, culminating in a better soil structure and less stress. Manure and an adequate amount of fertilizer have a similar impact. Seeding places where runoff water collects to generate grassed streams also helps to reduce soil erosion.

Wind erosion is rarely a problem, and it is usually restricted to locations where the soil is sandy or contains organic material (e.g., cultivated marshes). Windbreaks can be established in these sites by planting rows of trees or bushes, and agricultural leftovers can be retained on the surface of the ground to protect the soils from wind erosion.

Atlantic Canada

The soils in none of the four Atlantic Provinces are very productive. The soils are frequently depleted by nature and are often acidic. The intensive cultivation of vegetable crops and potatoes has further lowered organic matter levels, harmed soil structure, and resulted in severe soil erosion on sloping grounds.

Farmers are combating these concerns by utilizing soil conservation techniques. Terraces, which are regular canals created across hills, are becoming more popular in the potato-growing areas of New Brunswick. By decreasing the length of the slopes, the terraces limit runoff water buildup. They transport the water to the field’s edge. They also encourage farmers to plant crop rows across the slope rather than up and down the hill, which ultimately reduces soil erosion caused by runoff. Crop rotation is another method of soil conservation in which potatoes are planted alternately with cereal crops (such as clover and barley). Grassed rivers are also employed in regions where water pools naturally, decreasing the danger of erosion carving gullies through the soil. In this region, the usage of significant amounts of fertilizer for the potato crop frequently raises soil acidity. Farmers apply ground limestone to the soil and mix it using plowing tools to regulate soil acidity.

To Sum Up

Conserving soil is a major concern for individuals, farmers and businesses because it is critical not only to use land productively and provide high yields but also to be able to do so in the future. Even though the impacts of soil conservation might not be visible in the short term, they will be beneficial to future generations. By integrating various methods of pest and weed control, different ways of soil conservation help to prevent erosion, maintain fertility, avoid deterioration, as well as reduce natural pollution caused by chemicals. Therefore, soil conservation initiatives provide a great contribution to the long-term viability of the environment and its resources.

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Humans are causing life on Earth to vanish

By Tammana Begum

Ecosystems, the fabric of life on which we all depend, are declining rapidly because of human actions. But there is still time to save them.

Human pressure on nature has soared since the 1970s. We have been using more and more natural resources, and this has come at a cost.

If we lose large portions of the natural world, human quality of life will be severely reduced and the lives of future generations will be threatened unless effective action is taken.

Over the last 50 years, nature’s capacity to support us has plummeted. Air and water quality are reducing, soils are depleting, crops are short of pollinators, and coasts are less protected from storms.

Prof Andy Purvis, a Museum research leader, has spent three years studying human interactions with nature. Alongside experts from more than 50 different countries, he has produced the most comprehensive review ever of the worldwide state of nature, with a summary published in the journal Science.

It was coordinated by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an independent body that provides policymakers with objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity.

The latest report paints a shocking picture. We are changing nature on a global scale and the impacts of our actions are being distributed unequally.

‘It was terrifying to see how close we are to playing Russian roulette with the only world we have,’ says Andy. ‘But it’s also been inspiring, because there is a way out of this.

‘What has given hope to the many scientists who worked on this report has been the way the public are fully aware of the dangers and want action. We just need to make sure the politicians remember that too.’

A diagram showing the risk of extinction in different groups
A diagram from the report showing the risk of extinction in different groups of species, assuming that species with limited or no data are equally threatened as other species in their taxonomic group.  

Nature feeling the squeeze

Since the 1970s, Earth’s population has doubled, and consumption has increased by 45% per capita.

The world is increasingly managed in a way that maximises the flow of material from nature, to meet rising human demands for resources like food, energy and timber.

As a result, humans have directly altered at least 70% of Earth’s land, mainly for growing plants and keeping animals. These activities necessitate deforestation, the degradation of land, loss of biodiversity and pollution, and they have the biggest impacts on land and freshwater ecosystems.

About 77% of rivers longer than 1,000 kilometres no longer flow freely from source to sea, despite supporting millions of people.

The main cause of ocean change is overfishing, but 66% of the ocean’s surface has also been affected by other processes like runoff from agriculture and plastic pollution.

Live coral cover on reefs has nearly halved in the past 150 years and is predicted to disappear completely within the next 80 years. Coral reefs are home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.  

The number of alien species – species found outside their natural range – has risen, as humans move organisms around the world, which disrupts and often diminishes the richness of local biodiversity. This, combined with human-driven changes in habitat, also threatens many endemic species.

In addition, fewer varieties of plants and animals are being preserved due to standardisations in farming practices, market preferences, large-scale trade and loss of local and indigenous knowledge.

Nature also benefits humans in non-material ways. We learn from it and are inspired by it. It gives us physical and psychological experiences and supports our identity and sense of place. But its capacity to provide these services has also diminished.

What’s causing it?

The loss of ecosystems is caused mainly by changes in land and sea use, exploitation, climate change, pollution and the introduction of invasive species.

Some things have a direct impact on nature, like the dumping of waste into the ocean.

Other causes are indirect. Those include demographic, economic, political and institutional arrangements underpinned by social values, and they interact with one another.

For example, vast areas of land managed by Indigenous Peoples are experiencing a decline in ecosystems at a slower rate than everywhere else. But the rights of Indigenous Peoples are being threatened, which could result in faster deterioration of these areas. This would have a detrimental impact on wider ecosystems and societies.

A bleached reef
Coral reefs are bleaching at an unprecedented rate  

Trading overseas has increased by 900% since the start of the post-industrial era and the extraction of living materials from nature has risen by 200%.

The growing physical distance between supply and demand means people don’t see the destruction caused by their consumption.

‘Before the Industrial Revolution, people had to look after the environment around them because that’s where they got their products from,’ says Andy. ‘If they didn’t look after it, they would face the consequences.

‘Now with globalisation, we have massive environmental impacts a long way from where we live. But we are insulated from these impacts, so they are abstract to us.’

Overseas trading also creates and increases inequality. The pressure for material goods comes mostly from middle and high-income countries and is often met by low to middle-income countries.

For example, Japan, US and Europe alone consumed 64% of the world’s imports of fish products. High income countries have their own fisheries but most of these have collapsed. Fishing now takes place in previously unexploited or underexploited fisheries, most of which belong to low-income countries.

‘With the massive increase in trade, there is no longer that imperative to make sustainable choices,’ says Andy. ‘We can overexploit natural resources somewhere else in the world and the magnitudes of our choices are invisible to us.’

What does the future hold?

The report analysed in detail how the world will look under three very different scenarios.

  1. Global sustainability: the whole world shifts towards sustainability by respecting environmental boundaries and making sure economic development includes everyone. Wealth is distributed evenly, resources and energy are used less, and emphasis is on economic growth and human wellbeing.
  2. Regional competition: there is a rise in nationalism with the focus mostly on domestic issues. There is less investment in education, particularly in the developing world. High-income countries will continue exporting the damage, resulting in some strong and lasting environmental destruction for future generations to deal with.
  3. Economic optimism: the world puts faith in new and innovative technologies that are still to be invented, which help us cope with environmental problems. Emissions will continue, but with the idea that technology will mitigate them. There will be stronger investment in health and education, and global markets are reasonably integrated with shared goals.

Combating the loss of ecosystems is going to be complex and will require a nexus approach. This means thinking about how different components of the problem such as nature, politics and socioeconomics all interact with one another.

An example of a nexus approach would be to reduce biodiversity loss by changing how we farm, while at the same time making sure people have enough food, their livelihoods are not undermined, and social conflicts are not aggravated.

The way to avoid some of these issues may be to focus on regenerating and restoring high-carbon ecosystems such as forests and wetlands. Similarly the need for food could be met by changing dietary choices and reducing waste.

Switching to clean energy is an important step which would allow other changes to happen more easily. Obtaining coal and gas involves destroying vast amounts of land and seascapes as well as polluting the environment beyond extraction.

But in order to achieve this fully, the world needs to revaluate current political structures and societal norms, which tend not to value nature. One way of doing that is by improving existing environmental policies and regulations, as well as removing and reforming harmful policies.

‘I hope people can see that this is not a drill,’ says Andy. ‘This really is an emergency and I hope they act on it.’

The Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have decided that the IPBES Global Assessment Report will form the scientific and technical evidence base for the intergovernmental negotiations in 2020, to agree on a global biodiversity framework for the next decade and to replace the Aichi Biodiversity Targets that expire next year.

IPBES Chair Anna Maria Hernandez concludes, ‘This new article makes it even more clear that we need profound, system-wide change and that this requires urgent action from policymakers, business, communities and every individual.

‘Working in tandem with other knowledge systems, such as Indigenous and local knowledge, science has spoken, and nobody can say that they did not know. There is literally no time to waste.’

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