The Blog

Administration Moves Backwards on Caring for the Earth

by Paula Apynys | February 7th, 2017
Bird on water, words: They Depend on US

This last election was beyond divisive, it was cataclysmic in its effect on relationships between people. There are people I never want to speak to again, and people who feel the same about me—and this pattern has played out across America. So I expect there are visitors to this site who would object to my political views and to who’s political views I’d object. But one thing I expect we mostly have in common is our respect and reverence for our Earth, and a desire to keep it healthy. Unfortunately the administration now in power does not share that feeling and is moving, on a number of fronts, to do damage.

They are in the process of:

  • Place an anti-environmentalist in charge of the EPA;
  • Trying to gut or even dismantle the EPA;
  • Rolling back laws such as prohibitions against coal companies dumping waste into streams and rivers;
  • Increasing Fracking;
  • Pushing through the Dakota and Keystone Pipelines;
  • Ending supports for alternative energies while ramping up fossil fuel usage.

This administration is “Pro-Business” to the point of utter irresponsibility, seeming to believe that so long as someone is making money at it, no action should be prohibited. They have even floated schemes to privatize or sell our National Parks and other public lands. We must accept the degradation/monetization of our natural world so that a handful of wealthy people can become yet more wealthy—that is the message out of Washington right now.

I urge visitors here to let your Representatives know that you reject irresponsible treatment of the environment. Call/email/write your local, state and national reps. Write to your local newspapers. Post in Facebook. Tweet. Stand up for your planet!

Time to think about “we”

by Paula Apynys | February 26th, 2016

This year’s presidential primary season has been a doozy so far. There’s a lot I could say about it (and plenty of people have, from every side) but the one thing I want to focus on is the concept of “we”.

I don’t think Americans think much about “we” anymore. I don’t think we operate from a perspective of what’s good for society very often. I think there’s a lot of people who don’t even accept the concept of society; rather, they think America is soley a large group of individuals. I understand the appeal of certain aspects of that point of view. People are individuals. People have different needs and wants; happiness is very subjective and “the pursuit of happiness” is pretty foundational to our country.

But there is also something called “the common good”, which includes the recognition that taking care of certain things collectively helps us all. For example, everyone benefits from clean air. Now, depending on where you live, your air might be — at least seemingly — clean enough. Certainly cleaner than in, say, parts of China where children are getting lung cancer and so on. But, while we are a long way from China, air moves. Air pollution moves. We may not be walking around in a literal smog, but we are impacted: China’s Air Pollution Is Blowing Into the United States, Study Finds. So, while this is reaching beyond our borders, it is a good example of a common good: if China improves its air quality, we benefit.

Individualism absolutely has its place and is to be valued. But I think in recent years we’ve done a good exploration of the pros and cons of favoring individual preferences over the needs and benefits of the group and it is time to swing back a bit.

Industrial Agriculture versus Agroecology

by Paula Apynys | June 16th, 2015
Agroecology infographic

Found this “infographic” recently and wanted to share it: http://blogs.worldwatch.org/nourishingtheplanet/infographics/

It’s a beautifully produced 1-page graphical guide to the differences between Industrial Agriculture and an ecological system of agriculture. It was done, I believe, in 2012.

The introduction: “Currently 1 billion people in the world are hungry and another billion over eat unhealthy foods. One-third of food produced is wasted and the productivity of nearly half of all soil worldwide is decreasing. In order to feed our world without destroying it, a holistic type of agriculture is needed, and we have a choice. Here we compare the current high-input industrial system with a renewed vision for agriculture: the agroecological system.”

“Agroecological strategies can better feed the world, fight climate change and poverty, and protect soil and water while maintaining healthy, livable communities and local economies. Industrial agriculture contributes to climate change, malnutrition and ecosystem degradation around the planet. It has not delivered on its promise to feed the world.

Fracking: A False Choice

by Paula Apynys | April 23rd, 2015

There is plenty of coverage about fracking available for interested people, with cheerleaders on one side and opposition on the other. I’m in the opposition group. 

The major problem bedeviling the issue is the complete disconnect between the pros and cons. The people that support fracking do so because it makes money (for some). The people who oppose it do so because we think it hurts the environment. Both are right. So the question becomes: what’s more important?

Some fracking supporters try to cross the barrier by claiming natural gas is cleaner than coal so using fracking to increase our supply of natural gas leads to less coal-burning, thereby reducing carbon emissions. That may be true, but it’s basically a “lesser of two evils” argument. Especially given the down sides of fracking: toxic wastewater getting into our rivers and groundwater, and earthquakes. What might be a better approach to reducing carbon emissions? A full-scale embrace of Solar and Wind power. If the U.S. put its collective intelligence and resources into serious development of Solar and Wind we could change the world.

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The Possibilities of Poop!

by Paula Apynys | January 7th, 2015

Anyone with a lick of environmental consciousness knows that finding replacements for fossil fuels (and nuclear – but that’s another topic) is one of the defining challenges of our time. This is a big topic and there’s plenty of debate.

As is always the case, the folks that presently make money via the status quo (in this case by finding, distributing and supplying oil, coal and natural gas) aren’t fired up (!) at the thought of their industries/businesses being curtailed. On a human level it’s understandable but we can’t keep doing things because some people make money at it — not when the results are so damaging. 

New energy options include solar, wind, biomass and interestingly, biogas made from human and animal waste. This article: The Scoop on the Poop Bus: How Human and Animal Waste Might Fuel Our Future describes a 40-seat bus in England that runs on fuel made from human waste. It links to another article about a VW Bug that’s been altered to run on the same fuel.

I love it.

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Building a Cob House in Ohio

by Paula Apynys | July 11th, 2014

A site visitor sent me an email asking if I knew whether there were any restrictions or legal issues affecting the building of a Cob house in Ohio. She had been trying to find an answer to that question and was having trouble figuring out who to contact.

For those not familiar with Cob Construction, here’s Wikipedia on the subject, starting with:

Cob, cobb or clom (in Wales) is a natural building material made from sand, clay, water, some kind of fibrous or organic material (straw) and earth. Cob is fireproof, resistant to seismic activity, and inexpensive. It can be used to create artistic, sculptural forms and has been revived in recent years by the natural building and sustainability movements.

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