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How a national food policy could save millions of American lives

How we make food and eat food has a bigger impact on American’s well-being than almost any other activity. The food industry is the largest sector of our economy and has a huge impact on everything from our health to the environment, inequality and the federal budget. 

NY Times writer Mark Bittman (along with his coauthors) recently wrote an article explaining how a national food policy could save millions of American lives

Because we don’t have a food policy, Bittman explains that many government policies currently conflict with one another:

The contradictions of our government’s policies around food become clear as soon as you compare the federal recommendations for the American diet, known as MyPlate, with the administration’s agricultural policies. While MyPlate recommends a diet of 50 percent vegetables and fruits, the administration devotes less than 1 percent of farm subsidies to support the research, production and marketing of those foods. More than 60 percent of that funding subsidizes the production of corn and other grains — food that is mostly fed to animals, converted to fuel for cars or processed into precisely the sort of junk the first lady is urging us to avoid.

How could one government be advancing two such diametrically opposed goals? By failing to recognize that an agricultural policy is not the same as a food policy — and that the former does not necessarily contribute to public health.

The government now finds itself in the absurd position of financing both sides in the war on Type 2 diabetes, a disease that, along with its associated effects, now costs $245 billion, or 23 percent of the national deficit in 2012, to treat each year. The government subsidizes soda with one hand, while the other writes checks to pay for insulin pumps. This is not policy; this is insanity.

Bittman recently embarked on a series of interviews with scientists, farmers, policy experts and food researchers for his series California Matters to explore how our food system works and see what researchers are doing to make it better.

Subscribe to California Matters on YouTube

Author’s note: Until this past February, I worked as a contracted television producer for Global TV and its current affairs program, 16x9. Last fall, I was commissioned to do a story for the program about the Koch brothers, their holdings in Alberta’s oil sands and their interest in getting the Keystone XL pipeline built. In January, two days before the 22-minute documentary was about to air on 16x9, Global’s senior management pulled the story. After Jesse Brown’s Canadaland published a story about its sudden disappearance, Global fired me, although I was not quoted in that story or had any involvement with it. What you’re about to read includes some of the material that has not yet been permitted to be shown on Global.

The attacks were nasty.

In the winter of 2011, Karen Kleiss, a reporter with the Edmonton Journal, wrote a story about how Koch Industries Inc. had hired a lobbyist in Alberta. The story provided background on the Wichita, Kansas-based energy conglomerate, its presence in Alberta, and its American billionaire owners, Charles and David Koch.

Kleiss reported at the time that no one from Koch Industries addressed her questions. Nevertheless, after her story appeared, Koch Industries went on the offensive. On their website, kochfacts.com – and in vivid red type – they lashed out at Kleiss’s article, claiming it was “slanted,” that it “parroted partisan political rhetoric and other distortions” and that its coverage of the Koch brothers registering a lobbyist in Alberta was a “purported story.” The Koch Industries representative summed up by saying:

“There is a place for opinion on the op-ed pages, on blogs, and on Twitter. It does not belong on the news pages of an objective journal.”

Continue Reading.

The Rise and Fall of Cahokia: Did Megafloods Spell the End of the Ancient Metropolis?

The thriving ancient city and religious center of Cahokia (in present day Illinois) emerged to become an economic powerhouse and sophisticated cultural center at its height in 1050 A.D. Home to 20,000 people, the city was eventually abandoned for unknown reasons. By analyzing soil and sediment samples of the area, researchers now believe they may have solved the mystery of the fall of Cahokia.

Read more …

Satellite data shows that the Arctic ice cap has GROWN 43% since 2012

Another global alarming alarmist myth bites the dust. 

from Daily Mail:

The speech by former US Vice-President Al Gore was apocalyptic. ‘The North Polar ice cap is falling off a cliff,’ he said. ‘It could be completely gone in summer in as little as seven years. Seven years from now.’

Those comments came in 2007 as Mr Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigning on climate change.

But seven years after his warning, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that, far from vanishing, the Arctic ice cap has expanded for the second year in succession – with a surge, depending on how you measure it, of between 43 and 63 per cent since 2012.

To put it another way, an area the size of Alaska, America’s biggest state, was open water two years ago, but is again now covered by ice.

The most widely used measurements of Arctic ice extent are the daily satellite readings issued by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, which is co-funded by Nasa. These reveal that – while the long-term trend still shows a decline – last Monday, August 25, the area of the Arctic Ocean with at least 15 per cent ice cover was 5.62 million square kilometres.

This was the highest level recorded on that date since 2006, and represents an increase of 1.71 million square kilometres over the past two years – an impressive 43 per cent.

Other figures from the Danish Meteorological Institute suggest that the growth has been even more dramatic. Using a different measure, the area with at least 30 per cent ice cover, these reveal a 63 per cent rise – from 2.7 million to 4.4 million square kilometres.

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By the way, the whole “polar bears are disappearing” thing was a big fat lie as well

7

Weather on Mars

Mars, like Earth, has weather systems. Martian weather is uniquely Martian however.

The first set of images shows Mars amidst a global dust storm in which the entire planet shrouds itself in a red blanket and almost all the features on the surface are hidden. This happens because the dust on Mars becomes a feedback loop.

When heat from sunlight generates an air current that carries dust into the atmosphere, the dust begins trapping heat which results in more air currents carrying more dust into the air until the entire planet is covered.

On the right you can see Mars during more peaceful times. There are water clouds teasing their way over the cold, desert surface. Because the atmosphere is so sparse, the pressure at the surface isn’t high enough to melt water ice into liquid so it often sublimates into gas form and rises into the atmosphere.

When humanity started exploring Mars, we became intimately more acquainted with the Martian nature.

The Mars Exploration Rovers depend largely upon solar energy to remain alive and on a planet in which global dust storms persist, this can be problematic.

The left image of the Mars Spirit Rover shows the rover after a dust storm. It was in desperate straits where the dust covering its solar array threatened to shut the rover down. Luckily a stray dust devil flew across the panels essentially dusting it off.

NASA’s Viking 2 lander took images of water-frost (included on the bottom left) on the Martian soil. The Phoenix lander saw it snow on Mars.

There are images (shown on the bottom right) taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which show what appears to be flowing water on the slopes of Newton Crater.

The images were taken at such a time that the melting point of ice was suspiciously close (and for salty/briny water was apparently attained). Those sets of images may be of liquid water flowing on the surface of Mars right now.

(Image credit: NASA)

9

United States Air Force’s McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin AFB, Florida

 Since 1947, the Eglin Climactic Hangar has frozen, baked, deluged, snowed, blown, fogged, and humidified US Air Force aircraft to test their ability to fight in any climate on Earth. The hangar is capable of temperatures from -40 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, it can produce fog, rain, snow, and ice.

Aircraft shown being tested:

  • F-35B Lightning II being ice tested
  • C-5A Galaxy during extreme cold weather testing
  • C-5M Super Galaxy undergoing heat testing
  • YF-104 Starfighter prototype preparing for cold weather testing in 1958
  • F-22 Raptor, with ferry tanks, undergoing cold weather testing
  • F-22 Raptor undergoing heavy rain testing
  • C-130H Hercules undergoing a cold soak
  • C-130J Super Hercules undergoes heat testing
  • F-117 Nighthawk undergoes ice testing in the early 1980′s

via Code One

“The cost of living is going up and the chance of living is going down. “ –Flip Wilson

A new publication issued by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in the journal “Nature” has reported that the chances of keeping temperatures below a 2 degree rise is now largely in the hands of policy makers.

The challenge of a changing climate can now only be fought with the backing of political agenda – and as most people will agree, this seems bleak.

Of all the uncertainties with regard the effects of climate change, including geophysical and social uncertainties; political uncertainty ranked as the number 1 factor in determining the fate of our species and our planet.

Keep reading

Founder of Earth Day murdered his girlfriend, turned her body into compost

What’s a radical environmentalist to do when he needs to dispose of a body?  Turn her into compost, of course!

from NBC News:

Ira Einhorn was on stage hosting the first Earth Day event at the Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970. Seven years later, police raided his closet and found the “composted” body of his ex-girlfriend inside a trunk.

A self-proclaimed environmental activist, Einhorn made a name for himself among ecological groups during the 1960s and ‘70s by taking on the role of a tie-dye-wearing ecological guru and Philadelphia’s head hippie. With his long beard and gap-toothed smile, Einhorn — who nicknamed himself “Unicorn” because his German-Jewish last name translates to “one horn”  —advocated flower power, peace and free love to his fellow students at the University of Pennsylvania. He also claimed to have helped found Earth Day.

But the charismatic spokesman who helped bring awareness to environmental issues and preached against the Vietnam War — and any violence — had a secret dark side. When his girlfriend of five years, Helen “Holly” Maddux, moved to New York and broke up with him, Einhorn threatened that he would throw her left-behind personal belongings onto the street if she didn’t come back to pick them up.

And so on Sept. 9, 1977, Maddux went back to the apartment that she and Einhorn had shared in Philadelphia to collect her things, and was never seen again. When Philadelphia police questioned Einhorn about her mysterious disappearance several weeks later, he claimed that she had gone out to the neighborhood co-op to buy some tofu and sprouts and never returned.
It wasn’t until 18 months later that investigators searched Einhorn’s apartment after one of his neighbors complained that a reddish-brown, foul-smelling liquid was leaking from the ceiling directly below Einhorn’s bedroom closet. Inside the closet, police found Maddux’s beaten and partially mummified body stuffed into a trunk that had also been packed with Styrofoam, air fresheners and newspapers.

After his arrest, Einhorn jumped bail and spent decades evading authorities by hiding out in Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and France. After 23 years, he was finally extradited to the United States from France and put on trial. Taking the stand in his own defense, Einhorn claimed that his ex-girlfriend had been killed by CIA agents who framed him for the crime because he knew too much about the agency’s paranormal military research. He was convicted of murdering Maddux and is currently serving a life sentence.

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Happy Earth Day, everybody!