14
May
08

Talking points for 15 May

Hi there, Brett is your host tonight – as ever please discuss whatever takes your fancy, but give special consideration to the question “Who should protect the Amazon rainforest?” which we will probably consider as part of the Amazon Paradox day on the World Service on Thursday.

As part of that, we hope to speak to Greenpeace Brazil director Paulo Adari in Manaus; researcher Paulo Barreto in Paragominas, on the social situation and causes of deforestation in the Amazon; John Carter, an American Gulf War veteran and cattle rancher trying to make a difference by advocating ethical practices; and the president of the soya growers association in Matto Grosso state – they’re the 2nd biggest exporter of soya in world.

If you have any questions for them, suggestions to help us investigate the issue or points we need to consider, please let us know. Or just tell us what you’d rather discuss…


39 Responses to “Talking points for 15 May”


  1. May 14, 2008 at 19:32

    Good evening! About 30 more minutes and I’ll be out of the office, heading home, and ready to hit the blog in full effect! Let’s get some engaging and informative discussion going on tonight 🙂

    On the rain forest [And I’ll expand on this later this evening]; I think it is incredibly important for the world to take care of the rain forest. The environment is seamless and thus we are all impacted in some form or another by the Amazon. Because we are all impacted and ‘affected’ [lets hope I used that one right after last nights discussion lol] by it, we all have a vested interest in it.

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. May 14, 2008 at 19:42

    @ the rain forest.

    Most of us understand the importance of certain geological treasures are to the global health of the Earth. However, it is not on our poverty. The better what to phrase the question should be, how do emulate that responsibility. Right now the biggest threat is the clear cutting of the forest for reason of farming. So do we vow not to buy food from the region? What protocol should we develop and consider acceptable when we have a vested interest in another governments resources? Is our own growth and expectations to get fresh fruits and vegetables 365 day out of the year responsible for this increase in the rainforests destruction?

  3. 3 Dennis
    May 14, 2008 at 19:46

    @ Brett,

    Good Afternoon……

    Dennis ~ Madrid, U.S.A.

  4. 4 steve
    May 14, 2008 at 20:00

    I think they should knock down the rainforests so that McMansions and Condos can be put up, hopefully with parking spots that can handle Hummer H2s. Have a nice afternoon, Brett.

  5. May 14, 2008 at 20:50

    Here is an interesting article from the NY Times:

    The New Cold War

    The next American president will inherit many foreign policy challenges, but surely one of the biggest will be the cold war. Yes, the next president is going to be a cold-war president — but this cold war is with Iran.

    I often worry about Iran and our (America’s) future with them. What is everyones ideas on Iran… and what do you propose to solve the confrontations between Iran and many other countries which it has ‘issues’ with and which have issues with it?

  6. May 14, 2008 at 20:57

    Heres another article too, a bit off, a bit funny, a bit scary:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24620246/
    Ants swarm over Houston, fouling electronics
    ‘Crazy rasberry ants’ emerging by the billions with onset of humid season

  7. 7 steve
    May 14, 2008 at 20:59

    I love this! Britain is gonna release it’s “X-Files” about UFOs.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/7399717.stm

    If you look carefully at the first image shown, it’s a street lamp! You can see the pole to the left of it!

  8. 8 Dennis
    May 14, 2008 at 21:03

    The World Have Your Say programme, has been
    covering this story about Zimbabwe::::

    A Date for the elections…..

    Here is the link:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7401479.stm

    Dennis~Madrid, U.S.A.

  9. 9 Dennis
    May 14, 2008 at 21:13

    @ Brett,

    i loved the story about the ants….at least they are not in my neighbourhood…

  10. 10 Dennis
    May 14, 2008 at 21:18

    ABOUT PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT:
    ETHANOL

    <<>>

    Here is the link:
    http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/05/12/tech-ethanol-faq.html?ref=rss&loomia_si=t0:a16:g4:r5:c0

    Dennis>Madrid, U.S.A.

  11. 12 adam in portland
    May 14, 2008 at 21:49

    @ the rainforest
    I make an effort to not buy food, animal products, flowers, or textiles from Brazil and Ecuador on the idea that they come from areas that were once rainforest.
    Others may consider the same policy.

    All forests are carbon sinks, they absorb and store mass quantities of carbon dioxide. Cut them down and no more carbon sink. Mature and old growth forests have more biomass than replanted tree farms or soybean farms. Biomass also represents carbon storage. Less biomass, less storage capacity.

    Brazil and Ecuador are soveriegn nations. They should be treated as such. We, the world, do not have the right to tell them what to do. We can provide positive suggestions and economic incentives to motivate them to keep their national treasures intact.

    @ Brett
    thanks for your work tonight, hope all goes well.

  12. May 14, 2008 at 22:13

    Hello Precious Brett… How are you doing today ?! Guys, please check this out : news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7401261. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  13. May 14, 2008 at 22:16

    Edwards is endorsing Obama. Does it matter?

  14. 15 VictorK
    May 14, 2008 at 22:25

    Iran is currently a problem for the US because of Iraq, and Iraq is a problem because the US has hopelessly mishandled it.

    The US has failed in Iraq. Worse, it can’t succeed there. Iran is one of the region’s superpowers. Iraq has fallen within its sphere of influence ever since the US so kindly removed Saddam and empowered the Shiites. Iranian influence over Iraq is natural and inevitable. It’s a factor that should be admitted and allowed to operate, if not for good at least to stabilise the country. The US presence contributes nothing to bringing permanent order to Iraq and makes impossible (because of US humanitarian scruples) the hard and unpleasant things that need to happen to reduce Iraq to order (the systematic extermination of militas and their leaders, and the establishment of a capable government, even if it is undemocratic. In other words, the emergence of a man with Saddam’s virtues, but hopefully not as many of his vices).

    None of this is a reason to go to war with Iran. Neither is the threat it represents to Israel, since Israel is perfectly capable of defending itself.

    Iran at present does not represent any kind of threat to the US so talk of a cold war is rhetorically striking but without substance. The only problem would be if it developed nuclear weapons. The regime is irresponsible. It’s perfectly capable of handing dirty nuclear weapons to terrorists. If there was ever a case for pre-emptive strikes the prospect of Iran going nuclear is it. That would justify even a nuclear strike against the country. If the Iranian leadership is mad enough to run that risk then let it take the consequences.

    I thought this a good article on the Iraq debacle.
    http://www.amconmag.com/2008/2008_05_05/cover.html

  15. 16 Scott Millar
    May 14, 2008 at 23:18

    + Is Mr. Edwards endorsement of Mr. Obama going to help or harm Mr. Obama? Quite frankly, its timing is excessively suspect. I have to imagine the endorsement will only anger and alienate more Clinton supporters, who already may be thinking of voting for Mr. McCain. Or perhaps the majority of voters are this idiotic, that they care what a candidate, they didn’t wish to vote for, thinks!

    – Portland, Oregon

  16. 17 Shirley
    May 15, 2008 at 00:16

    Using foodstuffs as fuel and as money (in a sense) hurts people who can barely afford groceries. Subsidies are poured into biofuel crops. Focus is given to growing them, when the same farmer could be raising invaluable food crops that could feed hungry people around the world. Food prices are pushed higher. Massive farms are based on monoculture crops, which damage the soil and the environment. If we are worried about peak fuel, then we should also think about peak soil. Expanion of farms to mass-produce biofuel crops drastically reduce biodiversity and slash our chances of continuing to find new ways of using plants for food and medicine. I mentioned money because of the speculation that takes place on the stock market on things like wheat and corn crops. When investors speculate the future value of food crops, those food crops become money, not food. And we who have to pay the ticket at the grocery store suffer.

    I remember seeing coverage of biofuels and their impacts on the Amazon in National Geographic Magazine and on PBS.

    Green Dreams
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/10/biofuels/biofuels-text
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0701/feature1/gallery1.html
    Making fuel from crops could be good for the
    planet—after a breakthrough or two.
    Investors, led by the CEOs of Virgin Atlantic and Sun Microsystems, have bought into the vision [of biofuel], sinking more than $70 billion into renewable energy companies. The U.S. government has ponied up hefty ethanol subsidies, and President Bush has proposed over $200 million for research.

    Ethanol Production Could Be Eco-Disaster, Brazil’s Critics Say
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070208-ethanol.html
    In Brazil ethanol has become economically competitive with gasoline, and the country’s biofuels program could serve as a world model for producing sustainable energy, officials say.

    [Brazil] produc[es] 4.4 billion gallons of [ethanol] from sugarcane each year, [more han any other country]. But an unregulated biofuels boom in Brazil could mean bust for the Amazon rain forest…, environmentalists warn. Expanding large-scale agriculture to grow sugarcane, critics say, will worsen the loss of species diversity, water-quality problems, and habitat fragmentation in some of the world’s most biologically diverse regions. “The primary concern is that the biofuels push will…increase the loss to Brazil’s remaining natural high biodiversity areas,” said…a senior director for…Conservation International.

    According to a study…, more than 50 percent of the Cerrado [region] has already been transformed into pastureland, causing soil erosion, biodiversity loss, fragmentation, and the spread of nonnative grasses. …there is concern that higher-priced crops like sugarcane will displace soy and cattle farming in the Cerrado—driving those operations into the forests, which would have to be flattened to make way for the farms.

    I am almost positive that the topic was covered recently on PBS, but I cannot find it on my dinosaur of a computer.

  17. May 15, 2008 at 00:47

    Shirley, great points and ideas!!!

  18. 19 Dennis
    May 15, 2008 at 01:38

    John Edwards endorses Barack Obama:

    here is a link to the story:
    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/347826/1/.html

    Dennis~Madrid, U.S.A.

  19. May 15, 2008 at 02:16

    On the Amazon:

    So, what comes first – growing food or keeping forests?
    I don’t think it boils down to as simple a question as that. If we were using our current agricultural land to its full potential and full efficiency and we were still not able to feed our population, then and only then can we realistically pose the above question.

    The first thing is to turn to our current agriculture industry, not only in this country, but across the world and make everything more efficient. It is already proven countless times again that the land and resources used to produce meat, if used to directly feed the human population through farming will prove more productive. Government subsidies also help to encourage farmers to farm crops which perhaps are not the best choice or most suitable for the land they have, resulting in an inefficient use of land and resources.

    As has also been pointed out on this blog, we waste so much food due to sell-by dates and simply discarding scraps and leftovers, that we are not utilizing our current food supply in the most efficient manner.

    These points and many others help to back and illustrate that before turning to clear-cutting and destroying forests to increase farm land, we should take a step back and see how we are doing with what we are currently working with and what changes we can make to better use the land we are currently using for farming. There is little sense in increasing the land used for farming if we are going to continue to use it inefficiently.


    Can environmentalism and economic development go together?

    Yes, but not the never ending growth and development that a capitalistic society and economy thrives on. A good introduction to this idea is made in “11th Hour”. NPR has furthered this idea covering many lectures on this topic. If anyone is interested: http://www.tucradio.org/new.html that is a link that contained a few lectures which were wonderfully conducted. Scroll down to Solutions and Confronting the Global Triple Crisis.

  20. May 15, 2008 at 02:16

    @ Scott. Edwards dropped out quite a while ago. Many people only had the choice of Obama or Clinton. Many of those people probably would have voted for Obama as their second choice as many of their platform issues and attributes were the same or at least similar. But some might have voted for Hillary. The big reason it matters is that Edwards comes with the weight of 19 delegates behind him. Hillary won a net of 12 delegates in WV and less then a day later Obama gained 2 super delegates and 19 elected delegates. To anybody still sitting on the fence, I was wondering if that was the nail in the coffin they were looking for?

    She really looks like the last place runner at the Special Olympics now. With some people saying “she should be allowed to finish.” and others saying, “it is a shame her guardians don’t stop her from looking like a fool.”

    Obama only needs 25% of the total remaining delegates, super and elected, to reach the “magic number”.

  21. 22 Shirley
    May 15, 2008 at 02:52

    Lubna assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah (1); are you ok, habibti? Your family? Please say that the `ulama (2) are ok? Water? Electricity? Curfew? Safe to go outside? Any word from Zaynab?
    (1) Islamic greeting
    (2) high-ranking clerics

    Bombing at Iraq funeral kills 20
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7401634.stm
    Wednesday, 14 May 2008 retrieved 9 p.m.U.S Central Daylight Savings Time
    At least 20 people are killed and 35 wounded in a suicide bombing at a funeral in the village of Abu Minasir. Earlier, an Iraqi soldier was killed & 7 wounded when a girl blew herself up at an army post south of Baghdad. Al Maliki announced an offensive against Sunni insurgents in Mosul.

  22. 23 Scott Millar
    May 15, 2008 at 03:32

    + Oh, gee, thanks Dwight, as if I didn’t know this. It’s always charming to read gauche insults towards Mrs Clinton. I suppose this at least allows Mr Obama to take the high-road, with others so willing to do the dirty work for him. To “change” or not to?

  23. 24 Dennis
    May 15, 2008 at 03:54

    BURMA’ S UPDATES:

    Aid is slowly reaching the affected region:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7401542.stm
    [here is link]
    and

    6 Months following the Cyclone that hit Bangladesh:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7400233.stm

    Dennis~Madrid, United States of America

  24. 25 Shirley
    May 15, 2008 at 04:02

    Hello, Brett
    Thank you kindly. I feel so strongly about food issues, especially when I am truly hungry. Thank God, now is not one of those times.

    You raised several excellent points while you were discussing food vs. trees and environmentalism vs. economic development. Indeed, we are not using our agricultural land to its full potential. Indeed, environmentalism and economic development are currently at odds because of the way in which economic development is being carried out. I fully agree with you on your point about how too much food goes to watse in feedinganimals to become meat, as well as your point about the mismanagement of government moneys.

    I have lost faith in the current direction of the agricultural industry, though. It has changed in nature in order to further the financial interests of major corporations. What used to be the cultivation of food-bearing plants in a way that benefitted man and environment has become a mone-making venture for a few corporate owners.

    Different kinds of plants used to be sown in one plot. This decreased the nutritional depletion of the soil, as well as insect and other pests. Parts of the crop used to be left behind to act as fertilizer for the soil. Fields used to be rotated so that one was left fallow and the other cultivated, which again reduced the nutritional depletion of the soil.

    Now, one crop covers several acres, sometimes for years in a row. No thought is given to how the crop interacts with the soil. Little concern is shown to how the cultivation of that crop impacts its ecological setting. Rather han using various plant to complement each other and the soil to fend off pests and enrich the earth, plants are being genetially modified and are unable toreproduce themselves. They infect neighbouring mainstream crops, ruining them and the farmers who raise them. They wrest control over the harvesting of seed and the planning of future crops from the farmer and force farmers into a sort of slavery to the “owner” of genetically modified seeds. Rather than fertilise the soil naturally, synthetic fertilisers are formulated that leak into our air and water, causing cancer and other illnesses intheir wake.

  25. 26 Shirley
    May 15, 2008 at 04:04

    I think that the responsible acquirement and use of our basic needs goes hand in hand with an environmentally friendly policy. To the best of my knowledge, meat animals were not subjected to unnatural diets consisting of food that we would ordinarily eat in order to boost their meat and dairy output, causing them various physical ailments (including gas: cows, corn, & methane go hand in hand). And considering the direct relation to meat and dairy products to the leaching of calcium from the bones and subsequent osteoporosis (contrast Asian incidence of the disease to Western incidence), it could possibly be inferred that meat and dairy consumption was not as high then as it is now. Either that or people were silently dying off from osteoporosis and its related conditions.

    I strongly feel that we as a global society need to revolutionise our agricultural system. I strongly feel that we as a global community need to re-think the way that we nourish, clothe, and shelter ourselves. I strongly feel that we as a gobal society need to cease treating our communal needs – food, water, shelter construction materials, land, energy, air, etc. – as capitalistic ventures available for speculational investment. In all honesty, I do not even trust the capitalist system of economics.

    Who should protect the Amazon rainforests? We should, with the way that we live our lives. Those rainforests, like the rest of Motehr Earth’s resources are our air, our water, our food, our clothing our shelter, our medicine. Use them wisely and in a way that complements their place in the ecology, and both they and we beneit. Abuse them for profit and capitalistic gain, and they will die. And then so will we.

    P.S. Check out http://www.pacifica.org . TUC Radio is just one pf many programmes aired on its radio stations.

  26. 27 Dennis
    May 15, 2008 at 04:06

    Good night friends….

    Dennis 🙂

  27. 28 Pangolin
    May 15, 2008 at 09:54

    I was frustrated to hear a BBC report on the Amazon and carbon sequestration without hearing a single mention of Terra Preta. One of the best sources of information on Terra Preta is the BBC video documentary “The Secret of El Dorado.”

    In the Amazon patches of soil have been modified by the original peoples to include large amounts of powdered charcoal, black carbon and organic matter to make Terra Preta. These man-made soils provide almost miraculous improvements in fertility, water retention and carbon sequestration. In the rest of the Amazon ranchers continuosly destroy forest to provide new grazing as the soils cease to provide good nutrition after a few years. Where Terra Preta exists this does not happen.

    Terra Preta nova and permaculture can provide income for Amazon residents in the form of high-value fruits, nuts and herbs while preserving the forest. I would certainly like to see more Brazil nuts in market and more of the high price that I pay for them now paid to those who collect them.

    See http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/

    This isn’t fantasy. I’ve tried it and seen it turn rock hard adobe into friable, black loam in a matter of weeks.

  28. 29 Mark
    May 15, 2008 at 10:01

    The more fuel costs, the more agriculture will be diverted to producing it and the more food will cost. Fuel is a major component in cost of the production of food. Gasoline is approaching $4 a gallon in the US, a record high. The increase in food prices around the world so far is just a taste of what is to come. Environmentalists want a cut back on production of CO2 by the US and Europe with no corresponding sacrifices by China, the world’s largest CO2 producer or by India, another large and growing producer of CO2 but they don’t say how without causing massive famine due to consequential food shortages around the world. They also don’t demand that Indonesia and Brazil stop destroying the rain forest by making their own sacrifices. Somehow the US taxpayer is supposed to pay for that too. Europe has failed miserably to meet its modest targets under Kyoto yet European environmentalists, European governments, and European publics are among the most vocal demanding sacrifice. What you never hear them demanding is a reduction in world population through birth control, or a diversion of major scientific resources to alternate forms of energy production. Their pathetic answer to that so far has been wind farms, solar panels and solar boilers, utterly impractical on the massive scale required to matter. What irony it will be if Europe is the one forced to make the cutbacks when Russia turns down the tap on oil and gas deliveries to Europe to divert sales to China and India. Europe will get the sacrifice it demands, only it will be imposed on it unilaterally. It will be even more ironic if that diversion in part is retaliation against US foreign policy in a new cold war between the US and Russia. Unexpected payback for Europe’s determination to confront the US on every possible front with Iraq being the most prominent issue. Happy birthday Israel. There’s one more bone of contention between the US and Europe.

  29. May 15, 2008 at 11:01

    @ Bryan
    Sorry Bryan, people are still talking about China, and President Bush visiting Israel may be a big news story (although at 11am on CNN international the top three stories were China, Burma and Obama/Edwards…), but how big a talking point is it? What question would you ask our listeners?
    I wondered yesterday if it should be along the lines of “Is the peace process waiting for new leaders?” (particularly in the US and possibly in Israel if Olmert’s corruption-related difficulties get worse).
    Another option would be to ask if the president should have gone, particularly on the day that the Palestinians remember as the naqba. And to be fair, if anyone should be agrieved about the Mideast not being the subject it might be Palestinians, since we spent an hour discussing Israel last week as they celebrated the 60th anniversary. Should we hear from Palestinians today?
    As for the primaries, John McCain has been the presumptive nominee for weeks so what exactly is there to discuss? At least, until he has a Democrat to be compared with?
    And finally, the Amazon day is a one-off and to hear the sort of voices from there in quality we need to do a bit of planning in advance. You’ll just have to forgive us the inevitable lack of spontaneity.

  30. May 15, 2008 at 11:03

    @Scott

    You said, “Or perhaps the majority of voters are this idiotic, that they care what a candidate, they didn’t wish to vote for, thinks!”

    Most people watching the horse race would like to know of an endorsement that comes with 19 pledged delegates. An endorsement from a candidate that won 7% of WV. even though he wasn’t in the race. Those people might be swayed. The rest of the Hillary supporters who are described as, “Uneducated, poor, whites, mostly female, manual labor employed voters.” These voters will snap in line once their right to “choose” is shown to be in jeopardy.

    Exactly who is doing Obama’s “dirty work”?

  31. 32 VictorK
    May 15, 2008 at 12:00

    @ Peter: please, no more about the Middle East for now!

    Whenever you have programmes about Israel they are balanced by having Palestinian spokesmen, so it’s not as if you need to make up for a flow of unchallenged Zionist propaganda. I’m one of those who just doesn’t think Israel-Palestine is that important compared to Chechnya, Xinjiang, Darfur, Kosovo, Somalia, Congo and Tibet.

    ‘Naqba’ sounds like an invented tradition. Palestinian media savvy. A few years ago the word was unheard of and I suspect unknown even amongst Palestinians. I’ve only heard it used by the Western media in the past 12-18 months. I’m willing to bet there was no such thing as ‘Naqba’ commemoration in 1980. The Palestinians have learned something from Jewish development and management of the Holocaust (another thing that a few decades ago had no resonance). Naqba is their deliberately invented counterpart to that and will doubtless be used in much the same way, for good and bad. On reflection, while I’m not very interested in hearing about the Palestinians, I am interested in a discussion about the idea of a ‘Naqba’, its authenticity, symbolism, historic reality,and use as a propaganda tool.

  32. May 15, 2008 at 13:22

    Hi Brett, Akbar here in Tehran
    I was talking to the general the other day, and he said there is a brighter side to it all, and that is grass-root politics. We have seen so much pomp and glitter in the region. It is always king so and so sends a message to such and such, and the great sultan decided to grant .., then what? As often as not, these initiatives peter out and we’re left holding the baby.
    Some 45 freedom movements, guerrilla groups and political activists gathered in Tehran in 1979. They included Yasser Arafat, the MORO Front and countless others. Here we are 30 years after, but more mature and street-wise. The political reality on the ground is so different to what we hear or imagine. I tried so hard to spring my friend Barry Rosen from the ‘Espionage Den’! but didn’t.
    True we are plodding on, in spite of prognostics of doom and failure. Iran has made many mistakes in the past. The nuclear issue drags on. Lack of meaningful dialogue with the West, North, East and South is as bad as ever.
    We plunge into disaster. Regular Islamic seminars and conferences are held in Tehran, in spite of the fact that Shiites are outsiders in the Muslim world, so what?
    Local currency is worthless paper issue, but the world still needs oil and petrodollars continue to pour in.
    Offensive remarks regarding the Diaspora and Holocaust infuriate Netanyahu, the Americans and everyone else who has faith in Zion, but I doubt offenders understand these terms.
    Political prisoners, incarcerated student activists, ‘serial murder of prominent personalities,’ we have it all. Sleaze, graft in the Administration and everywhere else; it’s all part of the regime.
    New Iranian Parliament will be sworn in on May 27th , with major changes in the ranks of Fundamentalists and fewer Reformists, Yes.
    But, at the end of the day, when I sit down to recollect what’s happened, I realize it’s all part of the political process, call it the civil agenda or simply growing up. It may be slow and painful, but here we are.

  33. May 15, 2008 at 13:50

    Akbar,
    Thank you so much for the thorough reply! It is great to hear the opinions of someone inside of Iran. I wish you and your country the best!

  34. May 15, 2008 at 13:52

    @VictorK – sorry, we’re going back to the Mideast, but just to hear from Palestinians, so hopefully you will find it worth listening to.

  35. 36 Shirley
    May 15, 2008 at 15:34

    Hello, Mark
    post # 29, May 15, 2008 at 10:01 am
    I understand that there are other countries outside of the more developed world who produce large amounts of carbon emissions. However, I honestly feel repulsed when I hear someone complaining that China or India produce more emissions than do we and demanding that they reduce their emissions before we consider doing the same. It sounds like whining to me.

    China and India are developing nations, but they are not anywhere near the U.S. or U.K. in terms of the kind of technological development that would be necessary to cut carbon emissions without major sacrifices on the part of the people of those nations.

    More importantly, though, we need to take a very close look at the kinds of companies that are producing those emissions: too often, we in th Western world send our factories to other parts of the world so that we can take advantage of the lower standards in workers’ rights and environmental control. It is much cheaper to make toys in China and ship them here than it is to make them here for exactly those reasons. And it would not surprise me in the least to discover that just such companies are some of the worst polluters in someone else’s country. We are doing the same thing to countries all over Latin America and Asia already.

    If we are going to ask other nations to stop slashing away at their environmental and natural resources, we need to examine why they do so. Where does our produce come from? Our grains and nuts? The wood for our furniture and homes? Are we unwittingly contributing to the very same problem that we are demanding others to fix? Is it ethical to demand that Brazilians stop cutting their trees when we are buying the wood that they are cutting, pumping into our cars the biofuels produced on lands cleared of those trees, and eating the foods raised on lands scraped clean of the forests?

    We Westerners really need to consider cleaning our own noses before we point at the noses of others who share the globe – and our massive pollution – with us. Is it too difficult to give up our wasteful lifestyles and make certain demands on our corporations, while we watch our world waste away before us at our very own hands?

    There is no reason at all that the U.S. has not signed the Kyoto Treaty; and there is no reason that we as individuals should not do something – even small things as we are able – to slow and reverse this deadly process. Our government is being stubborn and miserly; and we are acting immorally.

  36. May 15, 2008 at 16:59

    Hi VictorK, Akbar here in Tehran
    You’re so right, but no military strikes, please.
    US must remain in Iraq, otherwise why go to all that trouble and expense in the first place. The Iranian military is reconciled to this fact. We are not a superpower, but our military is dedicated and professional, – not a renegade force as sometimes suggested in the Western media.
    Ironically, our intentions in Karbala and Najaf in Iraq are quite noble, and we seek visiting rights to these shrines. No one objects to visitors to Canterbury or Lourdes, so why the fuss about Iranians going to Najaf? ‘Influence’ is perhaps too strong a word, but Iranian prelates are notorious offenders and their meddling in Najaf is intolerable and reprehensible. Tell them so!
    It may already be too late though. A satisfactory peace is a far cry from the rivalry and rifts between Sunnis, Shiites, Arabs, Kurds, Armenians and Takritis.

  37. 38 adam in portland
    May 15, 2008 at 17:38

    @ Pangolin
    thank you for that excellent link.
    we have been collecting chacoal from our woodstove for about a month now for the garden. I heard an NPR Science Friday interview with a soil scientist who raved about this method.

    @ Akbar
    thank you for your perspective, we need to hear more from the real people of Iran, not the fanatics.

  38. 39 VictorK
    May 15, 2008 at 20:23

    Hello Akbar.

    I really do hope that the US won’t attack Iran with either conventional or nuclear weapons. But that does depend on how serious the Iranian leadership are about developing nuclear weapons. It really is in the hands of Iran’s leaders; hopefully they will realise this before it’s too late.

    I’d like to echo Adam in welcoming your perspective, which is always informative. It helps us in the West to broaden our understanding of Iran and Iranians beyond what we usually see and hear of the stereotypical hardline Ayatollahs, or the latest outrageous statement from your loose-talking president.


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