in all my infinite wisdom

Author: alafair Page 1 of 6

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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Horrifying Animal Shelter Statistics in 2022

By Emma - January 9, 2022  https://pawsomeadvice.com/pets/animal-shelter-statistics/

Animal shelter statistics are a bit tough to read. But if we all understand what’s going on, our hearts might reach out to help those in need. 

If you’re someone who wants to contribute more to their community, volunteering at a local shelter is a great way to start. 

You can also adopt an animal. While it’s a big responsibility, it can also bring much-needed love and light into your home. But first, you should get a better idea of what happens in animal shelters.

Little Known Animal Shelter Statistics in 2022

  • Around 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year.
  • Annually, 6.5 million animals enter US shelters.
  • About three million shelter animals are euthanized in the US every year.
  • Five states are responsible for 50% of shelter euthanasia. 
  • The US boasts more than 2,000 no-kill shelters.
  • In 2019, Delaware became the first no-kill shelter state.
  • There are around 70 million stray animals in the US.
  • Only one out of every ten dogs will find a permanent home.
  • 88% of pets living in underserved communities aren’t spayed or neutered.
  • In 2015, 36% of abandoned animals were taken to a shelter.

Animal Shelter Stats

1. Each Year, 6.5 Animals Enter US Shelters

(Source: ASPCA)

  • Among them are 3.3 million pups and 3.2 million cats. 
  • In 2011, the number of dogs brought to shelters was 3.9 million.
  • Between 2011–2015, there was a 700,000 decrease in pets taken to shelters.

So, the numbers are declining, and that’s not the only good news.

2. Around 3.2 Million Shelter Animals Get Adopted Each Year

(Source: ASPCA)

  • Animal shelter adoption statistics show cats and pups each take up 1.6 million adoptions.
  • Surprisingly, around 710,000 animals that enter shelters are returned to their owners. That’s why pet owners must take the proper measures and avoid losing their furry friends. Some options are microchipping or a wireless dog fence.
  • According to the shelter population estimates, as many as 48% of dogs and 50% of cats are adopted.

But what happens to the rest? 

Animal Shelter Euthanasia Statistics

Unfortunately, as hopeful as pet adoption stats are, shelters have to euthanize many animals due to lack of space, food, and funding.

3. Every Year, About Three Million Shelter Animals Are Euthanized In the US

(Source: Humane Society)

  • As many as 70% of cats in shelters are euthanized
  • Animal shelter cat stats show 80% of them are healthy and treatable.
  • Less than 10% of shelter animals suffer from issues that are impossible to cure.

If you think that’s a lot, in 1984, the number of animals killed in shelters was 17 million.

Every Year, About Three Million Shelter Animals Are Euthanized In the US

4. Five States Are Responsible For 50% Of Shelter Euthanasia 

(Source: Best friends)

  • Those states are Texas, California, Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia. Each has its own set of euthanasia statistics, but 75% of animals killed in California are cats. In Texas, it’s equally spread between dogs and cats.
  • Still, 85% of Americans feel they prefer to have stray community cats than to let shelters catch and euthanize the animals.
  • Between 10%–12% of the general population provides food for stray cats. 

All hope is not lost. In some areas, people save hundreds of thousands of animals. 

No Kill Animal Shelter Facts

These shelters must have a 90% save rate for consideration. 

5. There Are Over 2,000 No-Kill Shelters in the US

(Source: Pet Plus Mag)

  • So, 44% of all US shelters are no-kill. In 2018, they were 29%.
  • Unfortunately, no-kill communities make up only 35% nationally.
  • Best Friends is on a mission to make euthanasia in shelters a thing of the past by 2025.

Animal shelter statistics by state show that there’s even an entirely no-kill state.

6. In 2019, Delaware Became the First US No-Kill Shelter State

(Source: NY Daily News)

  • In 2019, the state received 12,800 animals and saved 11,900.
  • Delaware approves of the trap/neuter/spay program that saves thousands of cats from euthanasia. 
  • The Brandywine Valley SPCA takes in 60% of the state’s homeless animals. The organization truly pushes the adopt don’t shop initiative, and it has paid off.

Although some dog euthanasia rates by state are worrying, hearing such stories makes the pawsome team happy, and we support all efforts to aid helpless animals.

Are there different types of animal shelters?

There is a common misunderstanding that all shelters are funded by some sort of government body or taxpayers dollars. While some are municipal shelters, it isn’t the majority. 

So, when there isn’t a free handout, thats where private shelters come in. These shelters sometimes partner with municipal locations to help take the load off. 

Independent shelters run solely on donations and fundraising. Most shelters in the US fall under this category and only remain open from the good deeds of their neighbors.

As many as 70% of cats in shelters are euthanized. 

Animal Homelessness Statistics

But why do pets end up in shelters? The answer isn’t what you’d think.

7. There Are Around 70 Million Stray Animals in the US

(Source: One Green Planet)

  • Surprisingly, one of the main reasons animals end up in shelters is because owners surrender them. The other reason is that they’re picked up by animal control on the streets.
  • Owners reclaim up to 30% of shelter dogs. Still, you should consider our pet safety guide to avoid losing your furry pal.
  • Only 10% of animals taken to shelters are spayed or neutered, which only adds to the animal shelter overpopulation statistics.

That’s why initiatives working to have animals spayed and neutered are vital. It’s more than a way to slow down population issues. It also reduces animal breeding for the wrong reasons.

8. Only One Out of Every Ten Dogs Will Find a Permanent Home

(Source: Do Something) 

  • 25% of all dogs that enter shelters are purebred. You can do a mixed-breed DNA test to find out more about your dog’s breed. 
  • It’s impossible to figure out the exact amount of homeless animals in the US. Besides, animal shelter statistics show they could be missing around 70 million stray cats.
  • Unfortunately, cat euthanasia rates can be significantly higher because their adoption rates are lower. But more on that a bit later.

Remember that shelters require a lot of money to keep their doors open. 

Animal Shelter Funding Statistics

Funding for shelters comes from the government and many different organizations. Let’s see how much money it takes.

9. Between 2008–2017, the ASPCA Provided $100 Million in Grants 

(Source: ASPCA)

  • Those funds helped over 3000 animal shelters, government agencies, sanctuaries, and rescue groups. 
  • A healthy dog costs a shelter $200 for vet wellness checks and vaccines alone. That doesn’t include a bed, food, or any of the other basic pup needs.
  • Adopting a dog is a massive responsibility. Still, pet owners statistics show the US is the biggest dog-loving country globally with 89.7 million dogs.

Pet Adoption Statistics

Now that we know the basics let’s have a look at what percentage of pets are adopted.

10. 61% Of Pet Households Care for More Than One Animal

(Source: The Humane Society of the United States)

  • In 2020, 19% of all dogs came from a shelter. Also, 26% of owned cats in the US were from animal shelters. 
  • Between 2019–2020, stray cats in shelters had the lowest percentage since 2015 — only 21%. Between 2017–2018, it was 32%.
  • While Covid-19 has been difficult, it did have a positive impact on adoption rates. Between April–May 2020, researching animal adoption increased by 250% worldwide. While pup adoptions searches have decreased, searches for kitties have remained remarkably higher than in previous years

It’s not only the animal shelter stats we need to look at. Strays and abandoned animals make up much of the animal population.

Between 2008–2017, the ASPCA Provided $100 Million in Grants 

11. 88% of Pets Living in Underserved Communities Aren’t Spayed or Neutered

(Source: The Humane Society of the United States)

  • Stray dogs facts show that between 2019–2020, only 5% of all pups taken off the street were strays.
  • Unfortunately, stray kittens between 0–6 months have only a 25% survival rate. At least by the time they reach adulthood, the number rises to 70%.
  • A cat older than 18 months has an adoption rate of only 60%, while it’s 82% for a kitten.

It’s such a shame that animal abandonment facts aren’t more promising.

12. In 2015, Shelters Received 36% of Abandoned Animals

(Source: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

  • A further 14% were dropped off at a vet.
  • But that’s not all. 11% of abandoned animals were given to strangers
  • Only 1% were set free to fend for themselves.

So, as bad as some of the animal shelter statistics are, we can be grateful that shelters are there to begin with. 

Animal Shelter Volunteer Statistics

Shelters would be nothing without their amazing volunteers that dedicate time, effort, and financial contributions to help save more animals.

13. In 2016, 2,546 Volunteers Provided 175,000 Hours of Support to Needy Animals 

(Source: Animal Humane Society)

  • In the same year, 376 volunteered and became foster parents to over 3,000 animals before their adoption. If you’re thinking of fostering have a look at how to take care of a pup.
  • In 2016, the Animal Humane Society received $6.5 million.
  • Additionally, donors’ estate plans provided over $2.4 million.

The Animal Humane Society is one of many that contribute to the declining United States animal shelter statistics. But it’s not just the shelters that receive benefits.

14. Volunteering Can Help Fight Depression and Anxiety

(Source: CCSPCA)

  • We know being around animals has a good impact on us. There are even pups prescribed to help people with mental health issues. So, both you and the shelter animals can benefit from each other
  • Plus, you won’t have to wait and see the results. The animals you work with will change dramatically as soon as they receive the love and care they deserve.
  • You can also learn a lot from volunteer work — civic responsibility, time management, and the vital impact of helping others.

Volunteer where you can, and help out animals that might not get another chance to feel what it’s like to be cared for.

While Covid-19 has been hard on most people, it did open up free time for volunteers to help out more often. 

COVID-19 Impact on Animal Shelter Population Statistics

The pandemic opened up a whole lot of homes for shelter animals. Since most started working from home, they finally had the opportunity to get a pet. 

15. Between 2019–2020, There Was a 25.1% Decrease in Shelter Surrender by Owners.

(Source: Pawlytics)

  • Shelter euthanasia dropped by 44.6% in the same period. 
  • Amazingly, in 2021, shelter euthanasia dropped by 53.9%, compared to 2019.
  • Adoption rates between 2019–2021 increased by 4.6%, adding to the live outcomes for shelter animals which increased from 85% in 2019 to 89.3% in 2021.

As you can see, whichever way you slice it. The animal shelter population is seeing a decrease in bad outcomes. We attribute this to additional volunteers, more adoptions, and a serious increase in those helping strays in their area.

Wrap Up

We’ve learned a lot about national animal shelter statistics. 

You now know that 6.5 million animals enter US shelters each year. Out of those, about 3.2 million get adopted. Unfortunately, another three million are euthanized.

Still, no-kill shelters are on the rise. Delaware even became the first no-kill state in the US.

You can do a lot to help lower the animal shelter statistics even further. Consider donating, volunteering, or fundraising money for your local shelter.

FAQ

How long do animals stay in shelters before being put down?

It depends on the state you’re in. Also, not all animals are euthanized. Overall, the average period before an animal is adopted, euthanized, or sold is between five to seven days, but it can be as short as 48–72 hours. The time laws are in place so owners can find their lost animals.

How many animals are abused each year?

Over one million animals are hurt, killed, or abused during episodes of domestic violence. What’s more, there’s a strong correlation between people who are violent towards their partner and their animals. The police even use animal abuse to help find individuals that could be a danger to society. 

What happens to animals in shelters?

An animal is first brought there by the owners, a good samaritan, or animal control. The shelter will care for it, but if the owners don’t come to get it, the animal will be housed, fed, and loved by employees and volunteers. Unfortunately, they can only do this for a limited time because of overcrowding. That’s why you should always consider adoption. 

Did Covid-19 impact adoption rates?

Looking at U.S. pet ownership statistics, adoptions increased dramatically during the pandemic, peaking between April–May 2020. Online searches for animal adoption increased by 250%. While dog adoptions have slowly declined down to pre-pandemic numbers. Cat adoptions have remained substantially higher.

How many animals are euthanized each year?

It’s the most challenging part of working in a shelter. Close to three million animals are euthanized there each year. Some of it is due to legitimate medical reasons or an animal getting too old. But others are mercy killings. Certain animals have such a small chance of adoption that they’d spend much of their life in a cage, never knowing what having a family is like. That’s another big reason why more people should consider adoption.

How old do you have to be to volunteer at an animal shelter?

Usually, the age limit is 16 years and older, but each shelter will have its own protocol. So, we recommend doing your research to find out more. If you’re younger, they may require a legal guardian to sign off on it. 

How to volunteer at an animal shelter?

Animal shelters don’t just need financial help. Volunteering your time is also a great way to help them out. Call your local rescue organizations or shelters, and see what they need. It usually involves feeding, cleaning, and playing with the animals. 

How to help animal shelters?

Financial contributions are what keeps animal shelters going. If you can’t personally donate money, then starting a funding program is also an option. Perhaps you can even organize a garage sale of items you no longer use and donate the profits to help lower the animal shelter statistics. 

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OH HOLY NIGHT

Merry Christmas Everyone

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Pesticides Are Killing the Organisms That Keep Our Soils Healthy

By Nathan Donley, Tari Gunstone on June 1, 2021
أعرض هذا باللغة العربية

They harm worms, beetles and thousands of other subterranean species that are vital to agriculture

Pesticides Are Killing the Organisms That Keep Our Soils Healthy
Credit: Qian Ling

Scoop up a shovelful of healthy soil, and you’ll likely be holding more living organisms than there are people on Earth. Like citizens of an underground city that never sleeps, tens of thousands of subterranean species of invertebrates, nematodes, bacteria and fungi are constantly filtering our water, recycling nutrients and helping to regulate the planet’s temperature.

But under fields covered in tightly knit rows of corn, soybeans, wheat and other monoculture crops, a toxic soup of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides is wreaking havoc, according to our recent analysis in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science. The study—to our knowledge the most comprehensive review ever conducted on how pesticides affect soil health—should trigger immediate and substantive changes in how the Environmental Protection Agency assesses the risks posed by the nearly 850 pesticide ingredients approved for use in the U.S.

Regulations currently ignore pesticides’ harm to soil species. Our study leaves no doubt that this disregard must change. For our analysis, conducted by researchers at the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and the University of Maryland, we looked at nearly 400 published studies comprising more than 2,800 experiments on how pesticides affect soil organisms. Our review encompassed 275 unique species or types of soil organisms and 284 different pesticides or pesticide mixtures.

In just over 70 percent of those experiments, pesticides were found to harm organisms critical to maintaining healthy soils—harms that have never been considered in the EPA’s safety reviews. Pesticide-intensive agriculture and pollution are driving factors in the precipitous decline of many soil organisms, such as ground beetles and ground-nesting bees. They have been identified as the most significant driver of soil biodiversity loss in the past decade.

Yet pesticide companies and our pesticide regulators have ignored that research. The EPA, which is responsible for pesticide oversight in the U.S., openly acknowledges that somewhere between 50 and 100 percent of all agriculturally applied pesticides end up on the soil. Yet to assess pesticides’ harms to soil species, the agency still uses a single test species—one that spends its entire life aboveground in artificial boxes—to estimate risk to all soil organisms: the European honeybee.

The fact that the EPA relies on a species that literally may never touch soil in its entire life to represent the thousands of species that live or develop underground offers a disturbing glimpse of how the U.S. pesticide regulatory system is set up to protect the pesticide industry instead of species and their ecosystems. What this ultimately means is that pesticide approvals happen without any regard for how those chemicals can harm soil organisms.

To add to this, as principles of regenerative agriculture and soil health gain popularity around the world, pesticide companies have jumped on the bandwagon to greenwash their products. Every major company now has Web materials touting its role in promoting soil health, often advocating for reducing tilling and planting cover crops.

As general tenets, both these practices are indeed good for soil health and, if adopted responsibly, are great steps to take. But companies know that these practices are often accompanied by increased pesticide use. When fields are not tilled, herbicides are frequently used to kill weeds, and cover crops are often killed with chemicals before crop planting. This “one step forward, one step back” approach is preventing meaningful progress to protect our soils. Pesticide companies have so far been successful in coopting “healthy soil” messaging because our regulators have shown no willingness to protect soil organisms from pesticides.

The long-term environmental cost of that failure can no longer be ignored. Soils are some of the most complex ecosystems on Earth, containing nearly a quarter of the planet’s biodiversity. Protecting them should be a priority, not an afterthought. Our research indicates that achieving this will require that we reduce the world’s growing and unsustainable reliance on pesticide-intensive agriculture. And it will require that the EPA take aggressive steps to protect soil health.

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Let’s eliminate systemic speciesism

By JOEL FREEDMAN Jul 24, 2021

Three members of Compassionate Consumers, a vegan activist group in Rochester, surreptitiously entered a large commercial egg farm in Wayne County three times during the summer of 2004. A year later, after the activists were unsuccessful in their efforts to get animal cruelty charges against the company, Compassionate Consumers released a graphic video of conditions at the 700,000-hen facility. The activists took several injured hens from the facility and found homes for them.

The release of the video did not result in cruelty charges against the commercial farm. Instead, Adam Durand and the two others were indicted for burglary, petit larceny, and criminal trespass. The egg farm did not press charges against them until after the video was made public.

The video depicts birds packed in wire cages so small that they cannot spread their wings. They had been subjected to painful beak trimmings. Many birds were found dead in their cages. Many live birds were submerged in manure piles under their cages. Some of the hens were observed with their heads stuck between the cage bars.

The activists recorded everything they saw and did during their unauthorized visits to the egg farm. They gave this evidence to law enforcement officials in hopes the farm would be held accountable.

When they were arrested for their endeavors, I thought about the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, Is it all right? And there comes a point when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor polite, nor popular, but one must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”

I believe the three activists acted conscientiously and courageously to expose the cruelties that existed — and still do — in the egg production industry.

Two of the activists pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of petit larceny and criminal trespass and were sentenced to probation and community service. Durand went to trial. A jury acquitted him of burglary and larceny. He was convicted of three misdemeanor criminal trespass charges. The trial and the cruelty to animals at the egg farm were reported in the Finger Lakes Times and throughout America and the world, including coverage by The New York Times, the Associated Press and ABC’s “Prime Time.”

A Wayne County judge disregarded a pre-sentence probation department recommendation for leniency. He imposed the harshest penalty ever imposed in New York on an individual who, with no prior arrests, had been convicted only of misdemeanor trespass. Durand was sentenced to six months in the Wayne County Jail with a $1,500 fine, a year of probation, and 100 hours of community service.

The Appellate Division released Durand after 35 days of incarceration while the court considered his appeal. The appellate judges found that the Wayne County judge had erred because he had considered the burglary and larceny charges when passing sentence, even though Durand had been acquitted of those charges. The Wayne County judge then re-sentenced Durand only to the time he had already served in jail.

This large egg farm eventually sold its facility to another large-scale egg producer.

I recently phoned Durand, who told me he “learned a heck of a lot about the criminal justice system” during his ordeal. His fellow inmates treated him with respect, but a few corrections officers ridiculed him for taking a stand on behalf of the birds. Durand has no regrets about what he did and remains committed to the cause of animal rights.

I decided to write this essay because although the video was made in 2004, the horrifying conditions that were exposed then still exist at large-scale egg production facilities. A common practice by the egg industry is induced molting — prolonged starvation to shock the hens into laying more eggs. And horrific cruelty also continues at animal research labs, puppy mills, pigeon shoots, slaughterhouses, live lobster tanks, factory farms, live animal auctions, roadside zoos, rodeos and other violent spectacles, and countless other places.

Speciesism is the misguided belief that animals are inherently inferior to humans, exist only to be exploited by humans, and are unworthy of moral consideration. I believe speciesism is systemic and widespread in America and throughout our world.

Speciesism is seen in everyday conversations that include “cruelty clichés” such as “killing two birds with one stone … more than one way to skin a cat … You’re a dead duck … beating a dead horse to death … bleeding like a stuck pig.” False and negative images of animals are evident when people insult other people by referring to them as an animal (a brute), a pig (a slob), a turkey (a stupid person), a dog (lazy, worthless or ugly), a snake in the grass (deceptive, sleazy).

My wish is for the kind of world Rev. King envisioned in which “We shall overcome” not only racial divides but also other evils that have caused so much unnecessary suffering for humans and for other sentient beings who share the world with us.

According to the Gospel of The Holy Twelve (GH12), Jesus frequently healed and rescued animals. He was their savior too. This is why on many occasions “the birds gathered around him, and welcomed him with their song, and other living creatures came unto his feet, and they ate out of his hands.”

Yes, I am among the few who accept the authenticity of this gospel, but mainstream Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other world religions also share a recognition for kindness to animals. Whatever our religious/spiritual differences may be, and whether we pray in private or pray in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other places of worship, I believe the worship God appreciates the most is when we treat others — including non-human sentient beings — in a manner in which we would want others to treat us.

Canandaigua resident Joel Freedman contributes essays and book reviews to the Finger Lakes Times frequently.
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Why No One Should Ever Support a Dog Breeder

source: PETA

Why does PETA work so hard to take down dog breeders and puppy mills? Simple—breeding animals is killing them. Every time a breeder brings another puppy into the world, a dog sitting in a shelter loses a chance at finding a loving home.

What’s a dog breeder?

Anyone who uses dogs’ reproduction to make a profit is a breeder. Some may be small-time “backyard” operations, while others could be filthy industrial-sized puppy mills. Regardless of size, every breeder is responsible for exacerbating the overpopulation crisis.

Two small dogs in wire crate at puppy mill

In a time of extreme companion animal overpopulation, breeding dogs is always irresponsible and cruel. Dog breeders treat living individuals as commodities to be genetically manipulated for profit. In this industry, many dogs are kept in crates and cages, where they live alone, never experiencing the affection of a loving family.

How are dog breeders worsening the overpopulation crisis?

There’s no excuse for bringing more puppies into the world. More than 6 million animals end up homeless every year, and half of them must be euthanized because there simply aren’t enough proper homes for them. Every time a dog is bred, more dogs lose the opportunity to have a good life.

Few breeders require the puppies they sell to be spayed or neutered, so they can soon have litters of their own, further exacerbating the overpopulation crisis. Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years.

Breeders don’t see dogs as individuals with personalities and specific needs—they just see dollar signs. When fleeting trends arise around particular breeds, such as the craze for huskies fueled by HBO’s Game of Thrones, dog breeders pump out dogs just to satisfy humans’ most recent whim. The pet trade encourages the public to view animals as impulse purchases, no different from fashion accessories or home decor, rather than as thinking, feeling beings who deserve love, respect, and a lifetime commitment.

Many other unwanted animals—who are abandoned but never make it into a shelter—suffer and die after being hit by cars or attacked by other animals, succumbing to disease or the elements, or enduring other awful fates.

Are dog breeders always bad news?

When millions of dogs must die every year because no one will adopt them, breeding a dog even once is unethical. Instead, guardians should be having their animal companions spayed or neutered.

The dog-breeding industry includes puppy mills—hellish mass-breeding facilities in which dogs are treated like puppy-producing machines and never given any love or attention or even the opportunity to stretch their legs.

Filthy, broken-down enclosures at puppy mill

In numerous investigations, PETA has exposed puppy-mill breeders who keep dogs confined to filthy cages that are barely any larger than their own bodies, causing them extreme suffering and distress. Kept in cramped wooden hutches with wire flooring or chained to trees with little to no shelter from the elements, they suffer from illnesses and injuries. Dogs coming from these horrific compounds are often denied proper veterinary care and socialization. Imagine being forced to live amid your own waste, with pus-filled wounds, agonizing ear infections, and deadly parasites. This is the reality of life in a puppy mill.

Collie in small cage at puppy mill

Puppy-mill breeders force dogs to reproduce repeatedly until their bodies wear out from the strain of being continually pregnant in such impoverished, harsh conditions. At that point, female dogs are worthless to a breeder and are often taken to a shelter, auctioned off, or even killed.

Bigotry begins when categories such as race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or species are used to justify discrimination.

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Do puppy mills and breeders really sell sick dogs?

Genetic defects are rampant in any breeding scenario. These can include physical problems that require costly veterinary treatment as well as personality disorders that often frustrate people who buy them, leading them to abandon their dogs.

Boston terrier in small dirty enclosure

Reckless breeding and the infatuation with “pure” bloodlines lead to inbreeding. This causes painful and life-threatening disabilities in “purebred” dogs, including crippling hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems, and epilepsy. Dogs don’t care whether their physical appearance conforms to a judge’s standards, but they are the ones who suffer the consequences of genetic manipulation.

IF YOU BOUGHT AN AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB-REGISTERED DOG AND THEY BECAME ILL OR VIOLENT OR DIED PREMATURELY, LET US KNOW.

What’s the difference between buying a dog from a breeder and adopting from a shelter?

Any socially conscious animal shelter will ensure that dogs have all recommended vaccinations, are spayed or neutered, and have been socialized well enough to become part of a loving family. They screen families thoroughly and require an adoption fee to ensure that the potential adopter is ready for a lifetime commitment.

What if I want a specific breed?

If you’re determined to have a dog of a specific breed, there are many waiting to be adopted—one in four dogs in shelters is a “purebred.” Additionally, there are rescue groups looking for homes for dogs of just about every breed. Petfinder.com is a great resource. If everyone were to stop buying puppies from pet stores, there would be no market for mass-produced puppies, puppy mills would go out of business, and a lot fewer dogs would suffer.

Why are backyard breeders bad?

An amateur dog breeder is just as unethical as any puppy mill but on a smaller scale. Using an individual’s reproductive ability to make a quick buck isn’t just creepy, it also adds to the overpopulation crisis, just as puppy mills do.

And just like puppy mills, amateur breeders can breed dogs with health problems, passing along genes that cause suffering in litter after litter. These types of breeders may also cut costs by failing to provide proper veterinary care. Everything from parasites to bone defects to the deadly parvovirus could very well be overlooked by backyard breeders.

Is breeding your own dog a bad idea, too?

It’s irresponsible to bring more dogs into the world when millions are killed every day because no one wants them. Animal companions can live longer, healthier lives by being spayed or neutered.

Guardians may feel that their animal companion should experience motherhood, but having babies is by no means vital to living a fulfilling life. And while the intentions of adopters may be good, there’s no way of knowing what will happen to the puppies once they’ve been adopted.

Does breeding shorten a dog’s life?

Pregnancy and birth in any species comes with inherent risks to the mother and the fetus. Spaying eliminates the stress and discomfort that females endure during heat periods, eliminates the risk of uterine cancer, and greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Neutering makes males far less likely to roam and fight, prevents testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

How many litters can a dog legally be bred to have?

There have been some efforts to limit the number of litters a breeder can register with larger institutions such as the American Kennel Club. But currently, there are no laws that regulate the extent to which a breeder can breed an animal for profit.

PETA supports legislative measures that mandate spaying and neutering.

Is PETA against owning pets?

Domestic animals are incapable of surviving on their own, so it’s our responsibility to take the best possible care of them. PETA fully supports sharing our lives and homes with animal companions who are loved, treated well, and given proper care.

How can I help take down dog breeders and puppy mills?

Never buy animals from puppy mills, breeders, or pet stores. If you have the time, money, and patience to care for a companion animal properly and for a lifetime, adopt from a shelter. Consider adopting two, so that they can keep each other company when you’re not home. And be sure to make a spay or neuter appointment right away.

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They Even Rape Insects

Honey is not vegan. As the honey industry moves slowly towards obsolescence its undeniable cruelty becomes clear, but the 10 billion dollars it pulls in each year the leaders and members of this industry will say and deny anything to keep it going.

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Honey is probably the product most frequently mistaken as harmless. There is a common misconception that honeybees make their honey especially for us, but this could not be much further from the truth.

Because they are insects and because they are seen flying free, bees are considered free of the usual cruelties of the animal farming industry. However, bees undergo treatments similar to those endured by other farm animals. They go through routine examination and handling, artificial feeding regimes, drug and pesticide treatment, genetic manipulation, rape, artificial insemination, transportation (by air, rail, and road), and slaughter.

Like cows and chickens, bees are used as bio-machines to make a product for human consumption. Like all forms of slavery in the modern world, bees are seized as production units, fit the “how to benefit their owner” method.

Honey Bees are slaves

Bees consume sucrose, found in flower nectar, hold it in their primary stomach, and then convert it to glucose and fructose – that is what we call honey. When the bees get back to their hive, they regurgitate the semi-digested material, and the other bees feed on it. Honey is essential to feed their young.  In the winter, pollen is less widespread; therefore, they work continually through the other months to hoard their supply.

As opposed to the common conception, bees can feel pain. Bees have brains and central nervous systems with which they comprehend their surroundings. Bees have a unique and complex form of communication based on sight, motion, and scent that scientists and scholars are working to understand. Bees alert other members of their hive to food, new hive locations, and conditions within their hive (such as nectar supply) through intricate “dance” movements.

Studies have shown that bees are capable of abstract thinking as well as distinguishing their family members from other bees in the hive, using visual cues to map their travels, and finding a previously used food supply, even when their home has been moved. And similar to the way that smells can invoke powerful memories in humans, they can also trigger memories in bees, such as memories of where the best food can be found.

For humans to consume honey first it must be stolen. The act of taking away food produced for the bee’s young is plain and simple theft. Humans steal the bees’ sole source of nutrition and replace it with sugar syrups. These syrups are usually made of refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup, the cheapest substitutes available and most contain the poisonous weed killer Glyphosate, so they are inferior and poisonous for bees’ health. These sweeteners harm the bees’ immune systems and can cause genetic changes that reduce their defenses against pesticides. Both of these effects can ultimately damage a beehive. If we are trying to protect these animals, it is logical not to deprive them of their ideal source of nutrition. While some beekeepers claim to only take ‘surplus’ honey, it is not possible to judge how much the hive requires to function optimally and humans will almost always defend profit-making activities.

During the process of taking the food they worked so hard to make, the bees are then violently evacuated from their home. This is done by shaking the hives, using chemical repellents, smoking the bees out, or using forced air to blast them out. Bees are quick to defend their hive when it is disturbed. They do not willingly “give” their honey, they fight for it and many are injured, squashed, or otherwise killed during the conquest of their home.

Bees can only gather a tiny amount of pollen from the flowers in each trip, 75,000 miles of travel and pollen from 2 million flowers are needed to gather just one pound of honey. The honeybee will fly about 800 km in her working life and produce just half a teaspoon of honey. A queen produces 150,000 eggs per year during her 2 years of life in commercial hives.

In cold countries, it is not profitable to keep bees throughout the winter. If there is an unproductive gap ‘Beekeepers’ starve the bees or burn the hives to avoid maintenance. ‘Beekeepers’ douse the hive with petroleum, then burn it with the bees inside. In other times, the bees are simply left to starve to death after the honey is taken.

Bees cannot escape from captivity. Lone bees will rarely make it on their own; they need the support of a colony. If a lone bee does leave her colony, occasionally a new colony may accept her, but most of them will kill her.

The most important reason why bees cannot just fly away is that the ‘beekeepers’ will not let them. ‘Beekeepers’ do their best to prevent swarming (when bees congregate and fly away en-masse), because not only would they lose about half of “their” bees, but bees do not produce honey during the intense preparation of swarming. Beekeepers often kill the old queen and replace her with a new one (older queens are much more likely to swarm than younger ones). Since swarming requires a queen, the queen’s wings are cut off. 

The queen's wings are cut off
They pull off the queen bees wings

When the ‘keeper wants to move a queen to a new colony, she is carried with “bodyguard bees, all of whom, if they survive the transport, will be killed by bees in the new colony. Artificial insemination involving the death of the male is the norm for the new generation of queen bees. The favored method of obtaining bee sperm is to pull off the bee’s head: decapitation sends an electrical impulse to the nervous system, causing sexual arousal. The lower half of the headless bee is then squeezed to make it ejaculate, and the resulting liquid is collected in a hypodermic syringe to be inserted into the female. The queen is being raped. 

The Queen being raped
The Bee version of The Rape Rack

Queen Bees are purchased from commercial ‘queen suppliers. Hundreds of queens are kept in cages waiting to be shipped around the country. After arrival at the post office or shipping depot, they suffer from overheating, cold, being banged around, and exposed to insecticides. Queens can live for five years but most beekeepers kill and replace them about every two years. There are several reasons for doing that, all of which resort to exerting control over the colony, mostly to keep honey production at a maximum. Artificial pheromones are also used to keep the colonies under control.

Bees are also victims of vivisection. Unfortunately, their quiet nature makes the honeybees easily manipulated and it has been claimed that they make an ideal laboratory animal. Many experiments are conducted to develop colonies that will produce more honey and thus make more money.

As is the “norm” with animal agribusiness, humans mercilessly squeeze profit from the creatures they hold captive. To this end, many ‘beekeepers’ widen their evil business beyond honey to include many other products.

Bee pollen is collected from flowers and brought back to the hive as a load on the hind legs. It is a food source for the bee and is stored in the hive. A colony requires approximately 60lbs of pollen per year to survive. The collection of pollen involves fitting special traps in the hive, to scrape the pollen from the bees’ backs. The artificial passage created by humans is just big enough to allow the bee through so the traps scrape the pollen off.

As the bee unknowingly enters through the pollen trap all its hard work
is scraped off the bee’s hind legs. Everything about the bee is stolen and exploited completely

Bee venom is the sting of the bee. Its collection involves the stretching of an electrically charged membrane in front of the hive. When the bees fly into it, they receive an electric shock and sting the membrane, thus depositing the venom. Bee venom is valued by some for its supposed medicinal qualities but there is no scientific evidence of this.

These are not vegan

Royal jelly is a creamy-white sticky fluid, which is made from a blend of two secretions from the glands of the worker bees. Royal jelly is the sole source of nourishment for the queen bee throughout her life. Since royal jelly enables the bee to become a queen, some people foolishly believe they can recapture their lost youth by eating it

Beeswax is secreted by bees to build their hives. The grayish-brown wax is secreted by the bee to construct honeycombs. Beeswax is used in some candles and many “natural” cosmetics. Those cosmetics products are falsely marked as “no animal products”.

Propolis is a resinous substance gathered by bees from trees. It is used to fill holes and varnish, and strengthen the hive. Bees also use it as a natural antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal agent. It is gathered by humans either by scraping it off the hive or by collecting it on specially made frames. It is used as a medicine and food supplement. It is sometimes called ‘bee glue’ antiseptic.

Humans commercially steal bees’ winter food sources, merely to sweeten their own food. Factory farmed bees are made to endure genetic manipulation, artificial insemination, pesticide poisoning, artificial food, rough handling, smoke, chemical repellents, air blasts, transportation by air, rail, road, and even by mail, and slaughter.

It is so common for humans to steal from bees who have sweeter “sugar”. It is so natural for humans to steal from the weak something so basic to provide something so marginal to the strong. Humans fail to understand what they are doing is stealing from the bee. For them, they falsely believe the bees are giving humans the honey, this is the same mindset with chickens and eggs, cows and milk, sheep, etc. that they exist to give, happily, their body, skin, fur, and secretions to humans!

Humans can thrive without honey in their diets. Several plant-based options can replace honey. The most common vegan alternatives are:
Maple syrup, Blackstrap molasses, Barley malt syrup, Brown rice syrup, Date syrup, Bee Free Honee

The honey industry, like many other commercial industries, is profit-driven where the welfare of the bees is secondary to commercial gain.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

Mahatma Gandhi.

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