Monthly Archive: December 2006

Dec 15 2006

The impact of modern agriculture on land use

Agriculture has only been around for about 10,000 years and the reasons for its success are not clear since the archeological evidence suggests that early farmers were, nutritionally speaking, not as well off as their contemporary hunter-gatherers. It may have been that since grains can be stored over years of bounty and used in lean …

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Dec 14 2006

The food-energy equation

In his February 2004 Harper’s essay The oil we eat, Richard Manning lays out the basic energy equation that underlies food. All animals eat plants or eat animals that eat plants. This is the food chain, and pulling it is the unique ability of plants to turn sunlight into stored energy in the form of …

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Dec 13 2006

Saving resources

One of the things that appall me is the waste of food. Whenever I have to throw away food that has been uneaten, I take that as a personal defeat. As a result, the refrigerator in our home is relatively bare since it tends to have things that are likely to be used soon. Even …

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Dec 12 2006

Reduce, reduce, reduce

Environmentalists use the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” to indicate the different ways that we can lower our consumption of resources in order to save the world. It is true that recycling has become more popular now, which is a good thing. But we must remember that recycle is merely the third item on the descending …

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Dec 11 2006

Are we owners or custodians?

In the previous post, when I said that my generation had been poor custodians of the world, I used the word ‘custodians’ deliberately. I think there is a big difference between those who see their relationship to things in terms of ownership and those who see it in terms of custodianship. The ownership mentality sees …

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Dec 08 2006

The age of consumption

Some time ago I was having breakfast with a few friends and during the casual conversation I said that I felt that our children and grandchildren would judge our generation harshly for what we have done to the world. One of my companions was surprised and after a moment’s thought told me why she disagreed. …

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Dec 07 2006

‘Tis the season to be petty, fa la la la la, la la la la!

Now that the season to wage culture wars over holiday symbolism has arrived, Tom Tomorrow reports on the kind of petty and absurd incidents that this ridiculous hyping of the ‘war on Christmas’ spawns. I was a grocery store, waiting in line to check out. The man in front of me approached the cashier with …

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Dec 06 2006

A national disgrace: The case of Jose Padilla

There is perhaps nothing that exemplifies the disgraceful contempt displayed by this administration for law and human rights than the way they have treated Jose Padilla, the man labeled by the government as a ‘dirty bomber’ although the indictment that was finally brought against him says nothing of the sort and has been reduced to …

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Dec 05 2006

Return of the best and the brightest?

Many years ago, David Halberstam wrote a book about the Vietnam war called The Best and the Brightest. In it he pointed out how the architects of the Vietnam war under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations were considered brilliant thinkers and strategists, successful in many other fields before they entered government. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara …

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Dec 04 2006

The time to negotiate

In William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar (act IV, scene III), there is a memorable passage that goes: There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. As usual, Shakespeare captures well the …

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