On the Wires
Stop the presses and stand up for what’s right! Here’s the day’s look at what’s going down all around the home world…
We’re # 1! We’re # 1!
We like to be the biggest and we like to be the best. And according to the EPA, we continue to do a bang-up job. Government figures released this week show that the United States released more greenhouse gases than ever before in 2004 to maintain its hard-won lead as the world’s number one polluter. The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions finds releases of carbon dioxide up (hooray!) for the umpteenth straight year, rising by 1.7% for an increase of 110 million tons. And if that’s not enough to make you proudly wave Old Glory in the haze from your Hummer, consider this humungous number: In 2004 (the most recent year for which big scary numbers are available), we emitted an ungodly grand total of 6,300 million tons of carbon dioxide. Government officials coughed, wheezed, hacked, and cited the new findings as proof that the visionary Bush/Cheney/Exxon/Mobil Energy Plan to burn every fossil fuel in sight as quickly and profitably as possible was working. Once all oil company executives and their well-connected friends have been hermetically sealed inside fortified domed enclosures paid for by a price-gouged American public, the planet can safely be reduced to a barren chunk of rock drifting in space from which all human suffering has been eliminated.
As part of that program, the good people are Monsanto are doing their part to help by providing the world with copious amounts of genetically modified crops (GM). We’ve always been a little worried about GM plants. They’re just a little bit weirder than we like our science to get. Could lead to all kinds of unpleasant surprises. Never happen, said the mad scientists at Monsanto. This GM thing is a sure bet. Stop frightening the children. Okay, we said, but we’ve yet to see much good come from tampering with the elemental forces of nature. Well… not to say we told you so, but let’s anyway because new tests by the University of Georgia show that weeds growing near fields of “Roundup Ready” Monsanto cotton plants bred to resist the company’s Roundup pesticide have developed a wacky resistance to that pesticide themselves. Researchers applied three soakings of quadruple concentrated doses of Roundup to wild pigweed (a cotton grower’s dreaded enemy) growing near Roundup Ready fields. What happened? The pigweed just laughed and kept right on growing, a fact that is currently scaring the fertilizer out of farmers everywhere. Apparently exposure to so much Roundup pesticide caused the weed to mutate into a potent new strain nothing can stop. As a solution, activists immediately suggested genetically modifying Monsanto executives to make them a little less creepy and prone to hubristic outbursts of megalomaniacal product development.
Sacre bleu! French-Canadians Just Say “Non”
While we here in the States continue to participate in various Monsanto-sponsored programs to drown our rapidly mutating DNA in dangerous pesticides, our apparently far smarter neighbors to the north are refusing to surrender their children to chemically-triggered death and disease. In the Quebec, the third and final phase of the province’s new Pesticide Management Code has gone into effect. The initiative bans 20 active pesticide ingredients and removes over 200 different lawn care products from store shelves, including those that contain the hugely popular but highly poisonous compounds 2,4-D and carbaryl. The elimination of the nuclear lawn care option means that homeowners and gardeners will have tend their greenswards without turning them into Superfund sites. Strange and bizarre notions like fostering healthy soils, encouraging biodiversity, and (*gasp*) actually weeding by hand will be needed. On the plus side, however, wildlife, family dogs, kids, and others in Quebec can once again run barefoot on the lawn without fear of scrambling their chromosomes into an unrecognizable slurry. And though we called to see what they thought just for laughs, pesticide industry spokespersons were hyperventilating and unavailable for comment.
Oils Not Well in Baikal
In other parts of the world, however, freedom from burdensome regulations that make myopic management teams shiver marches on. From our friends at Water Conserve comes news of a proposed petroleum pipeline that would pass within a kilometer of Russia’s Lake Baikal. We don’t know what they’re so worried about… Lake Baikal contains just a mere 20% of all the world’s fresh water. It’s little more than the world’s oldest and deepest lake, a place renowned for the purity of its pristine waters. It’s just a priceless reservoir of biodiversity, some species of which exist nowhere else. It’s only a protected World Heritage site. We’ve got plenty of those. And anyway, we all know the oil industry has an absolutely spotless record when it comes doing whatever it takes to prevent pipeline ruptures, oil spills, environmental damage, and general apocalyptic eco-havoc. We really don’t think we need to ask the Russian government to divert the pipeline so it steers clear of this dumb little lake. Those scientists with all that talk about an earthquake, forest fire, or flood rupturing the pipeline (which, by the way people, would be made of metal and stuff) and sending 4,000 tons of crude oil into the lake are just blowing smoke. Still, if you’re all hung up on preserving our planet’s most beautiful places forever you can always go here and write an e-mail supporting efforts to re-route the proposed pipeline. Whatever floats your boat…