Category Archives: Environment

Environment and Fertility

No More Sperm = No More Us

Shanna Swan,¹ in her book Countdown, notes that sperm counts have dropped about 60% since 1973.

If that’s not an emergency I don’t know what is.

Her research suggests sperm counts might reach zero by 2045.

Zero sperm = zero babies = bye bye us.

The cause—so-called “forever” chemicals, aka PFAS ²  don’t break down in the environment or in our bodies.

They hang around, steadily accumulating and doing ever more damage, harming sperm production.

These chemicals have been correlated to “reduction of semen quality, testicular volume, and reduction of penile length”. ³

Pollution by PFAS is literally everywhere!

No part of the world is free of these forever chemicals.

Please click on the link below for more background on PFAS.

¹ Environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

² Synthetic carbon fluorine chemistry now classified as per- and poly- fluorinated compounds.

³ Shanna Swan as quoted by Erin Brockovich


Capitalism (7th)

If, while drafting last week’s post—Capitalism (6th), I had been seeking evidence that free-market capitalism must in some ways be reined in I could hardly have done better than this:

See below for a closely related topic:

More On Environment

Click on the link below to read a truly astounding article.

Although the reporters take a small swipe at the Trump administration, given the facts presented, it seems to me utterly irrelevant.

The fact that it’s happening at all grabs my attention—also that neither party can spare time from inter-party strife to do anything about it. ¹ ²

¹ “Only fools fight in a burning house.”—(Paraphrasing) a line from Star Trek

²  For contrast to the above described pollution, someone who claims to know what he’s talking about once stated that 3% of all the ice in Antarctica is actually frozen penguin piss.

Praise For Hemp

Praise?  ¹

Yes, indeed.

Consider the following. . .

From its stalk we can produce cloth and plastic, and four times as much paper per acre of hemp as from an acre of trees.

Hemp is more efficient than cotton, requiring just 110 days to reach a height of two to three meters, enabling harvest of several crops in a single season.

Hemp converts carbon dioxide to oxygen at a rate more rapid than almost any other plant, being weight for weight three to four times more efficient than deciduous leaves.

The fruit of the hemp plant is easily digestible, provides as much protein as soy beans, together with essential amino and fatty acids.

Huo Ma Ren is the Chinese name for a healthy oil made from hemp seeds, widely used in herbal remedies.

Bio-diesel fuel, methanol and ethanol can be produced from hemp seed and stalk  without the sulfur bi-products that cause air pollution and acid rain.

Fast-growing, carbon dioxide-capturing, nourishing, natural, renewable, many uses, and when converted into fuel, much less polluting.

And obviously profitable to grow.

That’s a lot to like.

So let’s mass-plant hemp?

¹ Information in this post found in:  Masaru Emoto, The Secret Life of Water,  ISBN 978-1-4165-2218-8


In John Ruskin’s book, (published 1884), The Storm Cloud Of The Nineteenth Century, “…He warned of the environmental pollution that threatened nature with black skies, grimy landscapes, and eroded glaciers.  He thought it was a reflection of a society that placed money over humanity and nature.  This was ignored then.  Perhaps now we will take note.”    —The Guardian, Australia edition, 01/02/2020

“I’ll never understand why some people somehow support pollution.  It’s completely irrational.  I don’t get it.  Somewhere along the line they bought into this fiction that one has to choose between the environment and business, which is a complete falsehood and absurd.”    —Steven Van Zandt


Three things do not exist…




In 1963 Edward Lorenz ¹ presented a hypothesis to the New York Academy of Science.

In essence it stated that a butterfly could flap its wings, thus setting in motion molecules of air, which would move more molecules of air, eventually starting a hurricane on the far side of the planet.

Derisive laughter greeted this hypothesis—Lorenz and his seemingly wacky idea were literally laughed out of the meeting.

Well, he who laughs last…

More than thirty years later, physicists from round the planet concluded that what was known as “the butterfly effect” was dead accurate!

A while later this “wacky idea” was declared to be scientific law!—aka The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions.


Like Boyle’s Law.

Like The Law of Conservation of Matter And Energy.

The physicists took nothing on faith.

They had experimental data to back up their acceptance of “the butterfly effect.”

Now, this law deals with much more than bug wings.

It literally deals with everything.

We’re part of “everything.”

What initial conditions can we establish which will have equally profound effect?

Many might answer that without a “majority” behind them, nothing beyond mere beginnings can be achieved.

Well, consider the total energy output of a lone butterfly flapping its wings a few dozen times.

Ultimate result—a hurricane—the total energy output of a typical specimen is greater than the energy potential of the combined nuclear weapons arsenals of the entire planet.

If such a tremendous effect can result from such a relatively puny “initial condition”, what can we achieve by taking a few steps while refusing to believe in failure?

The timetable may not be ours to control.

We might not live to see the “hurricane” that results from our “wing flapping.”

But, considering this law, belief in our individual powerlessness to effect positive change is, I sincerely believe, an untenable position.

We are all greater than we have ever suspected!

¹ Founder of chaos theory, a branch of mathematics focusing on the behavior of “dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions.”

Recycling (3rd)

“Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are.”

—Teddy Roosevelt

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

—Edmund Burke

Before agriculture, (10,000 years ago, give or take), about 15,000,000,000 acres of land were forested.

By the 1950’s, that acreage had been reduced to 10,000,000,000 acres.

Thirty years later a further 25% of forested acreage had disappeared.

The yearly average destruction of tropical forest is more than 28,000,000 acres.

Big deal?


This topic having been much discussed of late, yet another rehash is not nearly so useful as pointing out that we can do something about it by planting a tree.

Key points are:

It’s easier than you might think.

“How to” information is readily available from a nursery, horticultural society, arboretum, or botanical garden.  You could ask your local agricultural extension service.

Does a local college offer courses in landscape design?

Somebody there knows how to plant a tree.

Talking to neighbors just might turn up a local tree wonk.

Like other plants, trees require a little care for the first two years—vertical support, water, some mulch.

It’s a mathematical certainty that every tree planted helps to mitigate the greenhouse effect.

New trees are an investment in our grandchildrens’ quality of life.

Tree planting is a practical way to give them a gift that keeps on giving.



An Environmental Issue?

In my hometown, a billboard message, placed near a large supermarket advised:

Forty percent of the food in your refrigerator

will wind up the the garbage!

So what?

Here’s what—A little research revealed that, at the rate we’re generating garbage we’ll need more than 500 new garbage dumps every year.

Where will we put them?

As a matter of plain common sense, why not alter our habits to reduce such profligate waste of food and funds?

We would all save money and simultaneously we would all help keep the earth clean(er).

This particular form of environmental responsibility costs nothing.

As noted, it would pay us in the form of reduced grocery bills.

Responsible spokespersons for differing viewpoints are cordially invited to get real.



Recycling (2nd)

Concerning Glass

In the late 1980’s, someone noted that yearly, we throw away enough glass bottles and jars to refill the original twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center every two weeks.

That’s a lot of waste.

Recycling is an obvious alternative.  But how to get started?

A checklist:

What to keep for recycling—all glass bottles and jars.

What not to keep—light bulbs, window panes, anything Pyrex.  These are made from a different process and can’t be combined with scrap bottle and jar glass.

Zero waste—All recycled bottles and jars are used to make more glass.

Less pollution—Glass decomposes slo-o-o-wly.  No joke—A discarded beer bottle could still be trashing the planet ten centuries from now.

Pollution, again— Making glass entirely from raw materials, (white sand, soda, lime), produces a certain amount of air and water pollution.  Use of recycled glass in the mix reduces this pollution by 20% and 50% respectively.

Energy—Use of recycled glass reduces energy consumption ¹ by approximately 32%.  Because we produce a lot of glass year by year, that energy savings is no small matter.

Preparation—includes setting up a convenient home routine.  A cardboard box hidden in a closet, a plastic trash can somewhere outside.  Sort bottles by color: clear, green, brown.  Remove lead collars, corks, and any metal caps that can’t be removed magnetically.  Don’t worry about paper labels. Time expenditure after set-up = 20 minutes a week.

Rinsing—Sometimes recommended, isn’t rigidly required.  Check with the recycling plant.

$$$$—Does your recycling plant pay for glass?  If so, you could maybe do a little fundraising for a favorite institution.

Go mildly political:  Support so-called “bottle bills” which require consumers to pay a deposit for glass bottles, refunded when bottles are returned.  States which already have such laws on the books report 90% compliance with accompanying 50% reduction of litter.

Become a wonk:  Glass Packaging Institute ² offers free pamphlets on glass recycling.

We ‘re interconnected with everything.  Everything we do/don’t do affects everything else.

Separation or isolation is an illusion.

Our humble choices, person by person, have large cumulative effect for better or worse.

Big problems are solved most cost effectively at the grass roots level, as each private citizen does his/her bit.

It’s similar to the ways of an army ant colony—having common purpose, army ants can consume a six-ton elephant down to the bone.


Each individual ant takes a few little bites.

¹ Using all new materials, 7600 BTUs of energy are needed to produce a single pound of  glass.

² 1801 K Street NW, Washington D.C. 20006


An Unsuspected Deadly Weapon

Mass releases of balloons are a popular way to celebrate special events.

What could possibly be “deadly” about that?

Lets talk.

In the mid 1980’s, a female sperm whale died on the New Jersey coast.  Marine scientists, examining the corpse, found a swallowed, indigestible balloon blocking its intestinal tract. Unable to digest food, the whale had starved to death.

For reasons yet unknown, schools of squid, a sperm whale’s preferred food, like to hang out around pieces of plastic.  The hungry whale swallows the balloon with the squid, thus setting the stage for another disaster.

Balloons don’t just rise and later fall locally.  They can travel great distances.

In one test, a balloon released in Ohio took just two days to reach the South Carolina coast.

Balloons falling into the ocean quickly loose color. And with ribbons, strings, or streamers attached their appearance easily fools sea turtles into thinking they’re eating jellyfish, their favorite food.

With their intestinal tracts blocked by the indigestible balloons, they, like whales, starve to death.

For most of us, fair questions are:  “Who knew?”  and  “What to do?”

First, let’s not release our balloons.  Let’s hold onto them, pop ’em and trash ’em.

Second, if our groups are planning mass balloon releases, let’s (politely) make sure  folks know about the hazards.


Styrofoam—A Pain In The…Environment

“No man made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”—Edmund Burke


Its made with benzene, a known carcinogen, which is converted into styrene, which is then injected with gas to make it “foamy.”

Gases used are: CFC’s which damage Earth’s protective ozone layer, or HCFC’s,  which, although 95% less harmful, still do damage. Alternatively, pentane or butane may be used.  These are components of urban smog.

Styrofoam is completely non-biodegradable, so its possible the stuff will still be lying around in original form 1000 years from now.

Stryofoam is dangerous to marine life.  Lots of styrofoam winds up in the ocean.  Wave action breaks it into pieces that look like food. When eaten, it can clog an animal’s system.

Then it starves to death.

Paper cups, plates, egg cartons, etc. are biodegradable, and are therefore our products of choice.  Whenever possible, lets politely insist on them.

Every earth-friendly choice slows or reduces pollution.

Its a mathematical certainty.

Recycling (1st)

is what I intended to discuss, but somehow it became a written exercise in free association, chasing various rabbits round the meadow.

Why do we wait for information to be spoon-fed to us by “experts”?

Experts screw up.  They’re human—they’re no better than all us non-experts.

A case in point: IBM was once convinced that random access memory, (RAM), would always be “scarce and expensive”—limited to 64 kilobytes.  Talk about getting it wrong…

Another grim example:  The Challenger disaster.

Also, we all know the Titanic was built by expert nautical engineers in a crack shipyard, while Noah’s ark was built in the middle of nowhere by nomads who had never built so much as a rickety raft in their entire lives.

Regarding experts telling us about recycling, (recycling….finally);  What’s stopping Joe (or Josephine) average citizen from snooping in the Yellow Pages for recycling info?

Things they might want to know:  Is there a local recycling center? Is it a drop-off  site or do they collect?  If the latter, what do they collect and when?

No local site?  They could call 1-800-CALL-EDF.  Ask the Environmental Defense Fund for help finding a nearby site.

And now, returning to the rabbit chase…

Calling city hall to ask about recycling, pointedly but politely asking “why not?” in case they’ve done nothing to promote recycling can serve notice that recycling is a matter of increasing concern to local voters.

Politicians set the political agenda only in the absence of our input.

The ultimate reason government gets away with ignoring voters except at election time is because we’ve let ourselves be reduced bit by bit to apathy and conformity.

We’ve come to wait for experts to decide something, and then to tell us what is to be done, assigning us our role(s).  We’re not being compelled.  We let this happen.

Politicians use these “experts” to lend credibility to their agendas, which may not square at all with our best interests.

This is not real democracy.

We should be setting the agenda(s).

By “We” I mean real people, born of a biological process, with souls, not legally constructed “pseudo-people”, whose “birth certificates” are really corporate charters.

A related post : Politics (3rd)

Technology (2nd)

Have you ever been told that technology per se is politically neutral?

Lets think about that.

If a huge commercial solar power generation plant burned up completely, the total damage to the environment, and to public health and safety would relate to the damage done by a meltdown at a nuclear reactor as a loud lit fart relates to a volcanic eruption.

The difference between solar power generation and nuclear power generation is more than the danger to public safety in the event of malfunction.

Solar power plants, being far less dangerous to operate than nuclear power plants, make possible smaller government presence in the economy.  Nuclear power plants mandate larger government presence. (More bureaucracy and regulation.)

The former is consistent with the “small state” position of some present day politicians. The latter with the “big state” position favored by others.

But “small state” politicians seem beholden to the coal and oil industries and so won’t advocate for solar power.  “Big state” politicians won’t advocate for anything so “un-green” as nuclear power plants.

Technology is politically neutral?

Permit me to be skeptical.

Capitalism (2nd)

Federal law requires that corporation officers function in the financial interests of the owners, (shareholders).

A prominent economist, (Milton Friedman, I believe), once declared that the whole “social duty” of a corporation is to make as much money as possible for the owners.

It would seem that this combination of law and “social duty” has produced a pattern of conduct, a portion of which may be described thus:

•  The corporation will pollute the environment whenever doing so is deemed to be cheaper than installing and maintaining pollution controls.  Is there ever a time when dumping pollutants into the environment is more expensive than installing and maintaining pollution controls?  Perhaps—if the offending corporation is caught at it and is penalized by the government or loses in a court of law.

•  Weak or nonexistent labor unions enable corporations to offer fewer benefits and to pay lower wages.  Therefore “union busting” is to be accomplished by any means possible.

•  Government regulation inconsistent with maximizing a corporation’s profits is to be defeated by lobbying, also by contributions to reelection campaigns, in exchange for favorable legislation.  The same benefit may also be obtained by means of carefully concealed bribery.

•  Human beings are to be replaced by machinery whenever possible, because machinery will do a job much more cheaply than a human being, (no pay, no benefits, no paid breaks.)

•  Conclusions of scientific research militating against a corporation doing anything at all to maximize profits are to be discredited by means of covert, well-funded disinformation campaigns, also by reminding purchased politicians who paid the bills for their last reelection campaigns—continue to vote the “right” way and $$$ will continue to flow into your next reelection campaign treasure chest.

•  In relentless pursuit of maximum profits, corporations have all too often abandoned any shred of loyalty to the government / society that gave them birth, (gave them their charters), outsourcing jobs to any country providing cheaper labor, even including the “parent” nation’s most implacable political enemy.

This has the treble effect of strengthening the enemy’s economy, while depriving the “parent” nation of a certain amount of tax revenue, as well as depriving its citizens of jobs.

“Profit motive”, touted as justification (!) for all such conduct,  does not justify literally anything.

To be clear, I don’t advocate abandoning “free market” capitalism.

I do advocate carefully considered changes to eliminate its more glaring flaws.

A Meditation

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom thou hast given the earth in common with us.  We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty, so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song, has been a groan of travail.  May we realize that they live, not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee, and that in their own way, they too love the sweetness of life.

                                                                                                  — Based on the Liturgy of Saint Basil

“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

                                                                                                  — Albert Schweitzer


“Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are.” — Teddy Roosevelt

Helping Mother Earth to survive the onslaught of pollution of air, soil, and water might seem to be a task beyond the might and means of the lone individual.  But by substituting ingenuity and a “can-do” attitude for feelings of helplessness, substantial results can be obtained, and its worthwhile to do so, for as we all know, Mother Earth is our only home.

Destroy her and we destroy ourselves.

So, where to begin?  Let’s start with fresh water, the primary human nutrient, increasingly in short supply as population increases.  Conserving what we have makes sense, ¹ but how can the lone individual make a difference?

Here is one simple way:  Save a one-quart plastic bottle and cap.  Remove the label.  Rinse out thoroughly.  Refill with clean sand or small stones.  Recap it.  Place it in your toilet tank in the corner farthest from the mechanism.  It will stay in place, displacing one quart of water.  In other words, each time time you or someone else in your home or business flushes the toilet you save one quart of water.

The bottle costs nothing extra.  You paid for it when you bought whatever it contained.  It uses no power.  It has no moving parts to wear out.  It doesn’t corrode.  It just sits in your toilet tank, unmoving because of the sand or pebbles with which you filled it, saving one quart of water each time the toilet is flushed.

A family of four, each flushing a toilet, say, three times per day, saves twelve quarts, or three gallons, per day.  Per year:  (3 gallons per day) x (365 days) = 1,095 gallons of water saved per year.

This is not my idea.  I first read about this and put my “toilet bottle” in place several years ago.  As you can see it was quite a while later that I realized this was a two-step process: First, install the bottle.  Second, talk it up so others can do it.  There are many cheap, simple ways to save a little water.  When you find one, don’t take as long as I did to spread the word.  Of course you don’t have to start blogging.  But somehow share the ideas.

Our ingenuity and a “can-do” attitude.

Saving water needn’t depend on the supposed superior abilities of “experts” or on some expen$ive government program.

We can do it!

This post is dedicated to the yet unborn.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”

—African proverb


¹ The United States uses more than 450 billion gallons of water every day.

These days…

It seems many people don’t understand the difference between “weather” and “climate change.”

Recently I found a simple explanation.

Weather may be likened to mood.  Short term.  Highly changeable.

Climate is like personality.  Long term.  Much more stable.  Changes happen slowly.

The overall climate can demonstrate periodic, brief, extreme weather events.

Hope that helps.