I will be spending more time working on my gardens than usual. What is usual, you ask? About half an hour to 45 minutes. I don't usually find many weeds once my plants are established and the few I do find are easily pulled. I haven't worried about mushrooms either since the plants got past the seedling stage. I haven't really had that much of a problem with insects or slugs. The beer baited traps have taken care of the slugs and the insects have succumbed to either the insecticidal soap or the pyrethrin insecticide. Why would I be spending more time today? I have some peppers, tomatoes and herbs to pick. I am also going to remove some of the marigolds that are a bit tattered and replace them with some in small pots that are still doing well. Then I have to dry the peppers and herbs.
So, the Administration and BP have told us that only one-quarter of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill remains. But now we have a contradictory claim form University of Georgia scientists who say that as much as 80% may still be hanging around. I noticed that the author of the HuffingtonPost story cites the Washington Post's caveat that the study has been neither published yet nor peer reviewed. Why is it that we don't ask whether government or industry figures have been peer reviewed? Nor do I remember anyone at the press conference where all those government officials showed off the pretty pie chart supporting their claim give any indication of what they based their conclusions on. The University scientists say they based their calculations on a range of 'reasonable' estimates of how much oil would likely have degraded or evaporated. I also noted that they say that only oil at the surface can evaporate and I remember that the main function of the dispersants was to emulsify the oil so it would remain suspended below the surface. My final conclusion--I don't trust either estimate but I lean toward the University study. We have been told repeatedly that this is an unprecedented situation. If so we can't really know what the ultimate effects will be. They are still finding out what the long term effects of the Exxon Valdez spill are two decades after.
I found this interesting HuffingtonPost article by Keith Harrington. Harrington is quite right when he says the autopsies on the climate change legislation don't include the most basic contributory causes to the death of the bill. But then he doesn't go far enough in his analysis either. What would a steady state economy require and how can we achieve that requirement? To have a steady state economy we need, first and foremost, a steady state population. Nature achieves that through 'death' control. A population overshoots the carrying capacity of the environment (the number of whatever organism the environment can support) causing a famine which brings the population down below that carrying capacity. It is the old fox/lemming cycle. The lemming population grows because they have enough food and the fox population grows also because their food source is increasing. But at a point the lemming population runs out of food and they start starving. As the lemming population declines the foxes start dying also because they can't find enough lemmings to eat. Humans have some advantages over lemmings and foxes. We can apply technology to the supply problem and we have. But that simply increases the number of people the environment can support. It doesn't change the basic fact Malthus explained two hundred years ago: a growing population will overshoot its resources. We don't much like Nature's remedy but we aren't exactly thrilled with the alternative--birth control. China is the only society I can name that has tried it on a large scale and, though the 'one child' policy has, to large extent, reduced their population growth, they are finding other problems have surfaced. While Harrington is right--we haven't gone far enough in identifying the sources of our problems--just identifying the problems are not enough. We have to figure out if we can formulate solutions and that may be an insurmountable problem in itself.
Russ' Filtered News has a nice post which refutes one of the often repeated canards opponents use when talking about the proposed 'ground zero' mosque: there are no Christian churches in Muslim countries. And he asks a very pertinent question: why should we abrogate our right to religious freedom just because other countries (allegedly) prohibit religious freedom. Of course, I have maintained for a long time that our vaunted notion of freedom of religion has from the beginning been 'freedom for us, not for them.' Puritans in Massachusetts were quite happy to hang Quakers right along side witches. Religious freedom has, as a professor I once knew often said, is a principle more honored in breach than in practice. But what is also disturbing is the intertwined dismissal of another supposedly sacrosanct principle: the right of people and groups who own private property to decide what they should do with that property. And dear Newt Gingrich's critique equating the establishment of a mosque 'at' ground zero and a Nazi putting up a derogatory sign at the Holocaust Museum doesn't hold water either. The Museum is on public property and even supporters of the Museum can't put up signs there. A better notion is whether it is all right for an opponent of the mosque to buy the rights from a private owner to put up a sign near the mosque, or an opponent of Catholicism to do the same near any Catholic cathedral. I would say absolutely--they do. But that doesn't abrogate the rights of the Catholic Church (or of a Muslim community) to build. And the aspect of this whole controversy that really burns me up is the sheer stupidity of equating a small group of violent criminals with the entire community of Muslim believers world wide. That is no more reasonable than equating criminals who happen to be Catholics (or Mormons, or Baptists, etc.,) with Christianity as a whole.