Environmentalism Begins With Your Fork

There are many things we can do or not do to help the planet. But did you know you can help save the Earth by going green with your fork? By purchasing plants over meat you can help end the destruction of our soils, forests and oceans, eliminate water and air pollution, and even stop species extinction. Take the plunge into positively changing your life and the lives of billions of people on this planet by choosing a vegan diet.

The raising of the cows, heifers, beef cattle, calves, sheep, lambs, hogs, pigs, goats, horses and poultry not only pollute our bodies but also our environment. The livestock industry, more appropriately referred to as the factory farming industry, is a major player in the devastation of our environment – polluting our air and water while destroying our ecosystems.

Water and Air Pollution

The United Nations reports that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Factory livestock farms are the largest source of water pollution that contributes not only to the degradation of our streams, lakes, rivers and oceans but also to the land. The range of statistical analysis conducted, and the surmountable facts, all point to the cure; going vegan.

Did You Know?

 - Factory farming is responsible for 18% of CO2 greenhouse emissions and 64% of ammonia which produces acid rain. 

 - Switching to a meat-dairy-egg free diet can save 50% more CO2 emissions than driving a Prius. 

 - Livestock animals produce toxic excrement from the high levels of antibiotics and hormones they are given. 

 - Cows and sheep account for 37% of the total methane generated.

 - Methane is 25 to 100 times more damaging than CO2.

 - Cows alone produce approximately 120lbs of manure per day, as many as 20 to 40 humans. And their manure produces about 150 billion gallons of methane per day. 

 - The overpopulation of animals in theses factories creates unmanageable amounts of waste. It is collected in cesspools and is either sprayed on fields or left to sit. The toxic fumes from the pools are emitted into the air and harm the environment – causing health issues to the people living in those areas.

 - In the US 55% of water is consumed by animal agriculture while only 5% is used by households. 

 - 1 cow drinks up to 50 gallons of water per day. It takes 683 gallons of H2O to make 1 gallon of milk. 2,400 gallons of water are used to make 1lb of beef. 477 gallons are needed to produce 1lb of eggs, and 900 gallons are used in the process of making cheese.

 - Runoff water from factory farms and livestock grazing is the leading cause of dead zones in our oceans and eutrophication in our freshwater sources. 

Soil Erosion, Deforestation and Habitat Loss

From air and water to land, the business of animal agriculture is destroying our environment. With over 30% of Earth’s landmass being used to raise animals for food – including both grazing and growing feed crops – topsoil erosion, deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction are of major consequence.

Did You Know? 

 - 70% of the grain grown in the US is used to feed farmed animals.

 - 56 million acres of land are used to feed factory farmed animals, while only 4 million acres produce plants for human consumption.

 - It takes 20 times less land to feed someone on a plant based diet than it does to feed meat eaters.

 - It takes 10lbs of grain to produce 1lb of meat.

 - The rapid growth of livestock leads to deforestation, particularly in Latin America. 70% of the Amazon Rainforest has already been destroyed and is now occupied by pastures and feed crops.

 - Tropical deforestation and forest clearing have adverse consequences that contribute to climate change, biodiversity loss, reduced timber supply, flooding and soil degradation.

 - Unlike sustainable farming systems that work harmoniously with the natural environment by rotating crops to help replace nutrients, unsustainable industrial farming uses one crop that is not rotated which leads to loss of soil fertility. 

 - Low soil fertility causes farms to continuously move from place to place which leads to deforestation and rapid growth in weeds. 

 - The use of herbicides to combat weeds and pesticides to eliminate insects both harms the soil fertility and ultimately contaminates our water sources through runoff.

 - Land based factory farming has caused more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones around the world. 

Farmed animals are bred in mass amounts and consumed by masses of humans. The unsustainable ways in which we produce eggs, meat and dairy is a threat not only to public health, but is damaging our environment.

The positive effects of going vegan are limitless and results in significant reductions in climate change, rainforest destruction and pollution of our air, water and land. While one person alone cannot change the consequences that have been placed on our environment, we as a whole can use our knowledge and voices to spread the word that veganism is not just about health but is also about going green by eating green.

Go Green By Eating Green

While there are many lifestyle changes you can make to help the environment, no other lifestyle decision can compare with the positive environmental impacts of veganism.

Veganism is a compassionate lifestyle of daily decisions that reject the exploitation and harm of animals. Vegans do not consume food that is derived from animal sources, do not purchase products made from animal sources, do not use services in which animals are harmed, and do not involve themselves in activities that cause intentional harm or exploitation of living beings. Vegans attempt, as much as possible, to live their lives free from all forms of animal exploitation. It is a humane, responsible and healthy choice.

And not only does veganism help animals, it helps the planet – in a big way. Becoming a vegan is the single, most effective action you can take to help the environment. Adopting a compassionate lifestyle can have a profound impact not only on you and your family, but also on the planet. Our fragile environment benefits immensely by your vegan choices.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. It is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. Factory farms are a primary driver of topsoil erosion, rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss and ocean dead zones. Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water and causes immense animal suffering.

It takes 12 times as much land, 13 times more fuel and 15 times more water to make a pound of animal protein than to make a pound of plant protein. Adopting a vegan diet saves 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, 45 pounds of grain, 1,100 gallons of water, 30 square feet of forest land, and one animal every day!

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF VEGANISM

Vegans save more than farm animals. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, habitat destruction and wildlife culling. Each year the USDA kills millions of wild animals.

Vegans help save aquatic animals and ecosystems. Commercial fishing methods often clear the ocean floor of all life and destroy coral reefs. Thousands of dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and other “bycatch” animals are killed each year. Fish farms release antibiotics, feces, parasites, and non-native fish into aquatic ecosystems, and farmed fish are often fed massive amounts of wild-caught fish.

Vegans reduce the adverse impact of climate change. Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry combined. A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Methane (CH4) emissions have over 20 times the global warming potential of CO2.

Vegans reduce the destruction of forests. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. Up to 91% of Amazon Rainforest destruction is caused by animal agriculture. One of the main crops grown in the rainforest is soybeans used specifically for animal feed. Plant-based diets require 20 times less land than animal-based diets.

Vegans reduce pollution caused by animal breeding, animal processing and food processing. Deforestation for animal grazing and feed crops is estimated to emit 2.4 billion tons of CO2 each year. Burning fossil fuels to produce fertilizers for animal agriculture may emit 41 million metric tons of CO2 each year. Animal agriculture contributes to air pollution by releasing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, methane and ammonia.

Agriculture animals produce many times more excrement than does human population – a staggering 500 million tons of manure each year in the US alone. There are no animal sewage processing plants; most of the sewage is stored in waste “lagoons” or sprayed into the air.

To prevent disease in crowded, filthy conditions and to promote faster growth, farm animals are fed numerous antibiotics. Around 75 percent of these antibiotics end up undigested. These antibiotics can contaminate crops and waterways through urine and manure, and can ultimately be ingested by humans.

Vegans save and protect precious water resources. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of all fresh water pollution, the leading cause of ocean dead zones, and the leading cause of Great Barrier Reef die-off. Bacteria and viruses can be carried by runoff and contaminate groundwater. Runoff is one of the leading causes of pollution in rivers and lakes.

Animal agriculture is responsible for 55% of US water consumption. It takes 683 gallons of water to produce just 1 gallon of milk, and more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. 1 pound of tofu requires only 244 gallons of water to produce. Every vegan saves approximately 219,000 gallons of water every year.

Veganism feeds more people and could end world hunger. Animal agriculture contributes to world hunger. Livestock consumes up to 50% of all grains produced each year. 45% of the earth's entire ice free land is used for animal agriculture.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF VEGANISM

While going vegan helps us help nature, nature rewards our efforts with a bounty of health benefits. You can reduce the risk of many diseases by modifying your diet habits and becoming a vegan.

A plant based diet reduces the risk of cancer as carcinogens and other harmful chemicals are used in growing, processing and storing animal based food products.

Vegans have less risk of heart disease and high blood pressure as most plant foods do not add bad cholesterol to your body and clog your blood vessels. Animal foods saturated with excessively high amounts of fat and other enzymes have an adverse impact on the natural body processes.

Veganism can help prevent the onset of diabetes as most plant based foods tone up the glucose handling mechanism of your body, adding strength and boosting the natural metabolic process without the harmful enzymes and secretions you normally get with animal based foods.

Vegans have less chance of getting rheumatoid arthritis as plant based foods do not create toxins in your body during their natural metabolism.

A vegan lifestyle helps animals, the environment and you. By opting for plant based foods and products, you are choosing compassion, health and responsible living. And choosing to go vegan really could save the world.

Earth Friendly Eating

Animals and plants are being driven to extinction at unprecedented rates by animal agriculture. Animal farming has affected the environment and wildlife in detrimental ways. Our demand for meat has led to the loss of large numbers of animals, caused massive water and land pollution, and has been a major contributor to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

With world population coming close to 10 billion by 2050, it is predicted that meat production, which has already tripled in the last 30 years, will double by 2050. Livestock farming has already taken up about 25% of the Earth’s land area, with 70% of farmlands used for rearing animals. Each passing minute lands about the size of seven football fields are cleared for the use of livestock production.

Every day an alarming number of plants and animals are lost to extinction. Researchers agree we are undergoing massive life extinction, the first mass extinction as a result of human explosive growth and voracious eating habits. Meat production has now become the biggest threat to animal life, as well as the ecosystem.

The animals used to meet our dietary demands account for 20% of the entire animal population. In the United States alone, animals raised for food are at about 10 billion; equivalent to 32 animals per person every year. On a per capita basis, Americans are the largest consumer of meat. A single individual consumes 203 pounds every year. And the unsustainable American diet is spreading globally.

If all Americans cut out meat from their meals for just one night, the emissions saved would equal the emissions that 40 million cars give off in a year. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 30%, the greenhouse gas reduction would be equivalent to driving a car over 2,700 miles, and 340,667 gallons of water would be saved each year – per person.

Throughout the world, animal species like deer, elk and pronghorn are killed in huge numbers just to make room for providing more grazing land for cattle. Environmentally critical animals like beavers and prairie dogs are also killed in huge numbers because livestock managers consider them disruptive.

Public lands and funds are being hijacked. Over 175 endangered species are being threatened by livestock farming on American public lands alone, where livestock grazing is promoted and protected. 270 million acres of United States lands have been set aside for raising livestock on federal property. 80% of arable lands in the U.S. are already used for rearing of animals and farming. This is almost equivalent to the total land mass of the lower 48 states.

Over half of the grains grown in the country are used for feeding livestock, while more than 50% of water is used for livestock production. Government agencies, such as Wildlife Services, kill millions of animals each year to provide more grazing land for cows and animals raised on ranches.

“Predator control” programs, which are meant to provide protection to the livestock industry, have only succeeded in driving predator species into extinction. The livestock industry has become an obstacle to efforts of recovering endangered species. As the demand for meat continues to rise, livestock managers are increasing their production. Predators that are left with no other choice but to prey on livestock are killed.

Meat production has contributed immensely to raising the temperatures of the planet, which has in turn led to drought and food shortage. Research has shown that meat production has contributed up to 51% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. In the United States for instance, meat production has been responsible for 20% of the total methane produced by the country.

Livestock is responsible for 500 million tons of manure produced every year. These pollutants find their way into water bodies. Farm pollutants contaminate underground water, wetlands, rivers, lakes and oceans. A massive amount of antibiotics and pesticides used in the production of meat also pollutes the planet.

Cattle grazing wreaks havoc to vegetation and destroys the soil. Excessive grazing has destroyed many forests, caused erosion and stream sedimentation, and destroyed countless habitats.

Livestock grazing is one of the biggest threats to endangered species, affecting 14% of endangered animals and 33% of plants. Livestock grazing has wiped out large numbers of wildlife. Wildlife occupying public lands are the most threatened. Despite the huge amount of money it costs to graze livestock, governments still continue to sponsor it. Activities like vegetation destruction ruins the habitat and disrupts the natural balance of the ecosystem. In the end, endangered species are displaced because their homes have been taken away from them.

If you care about helping wildlife and protecting the planet, the most effective action you can take is to reduce or eliminate the amount of meat you consume. A plant based diet will go a long way in sustaining the ecosystem.

Animal Agriculture Damaging Environment

It’s starting to become common knowledge that animal agriculture is damaging our environment. While more people are switching to a vegan diet, and studies are being conducted that show the environmental impact, the world is waking up to the the link between environmental damage and animal agriculture.

Animal Agriculture Contributes To Air Pollution

While it may seem shocking, animal agriculture produces significantly more greenhouse gases than all of the traffic in the world combined. Spouting out huge percentages of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, the industry is leaving behind pollutants known to remain in the atmosphere for more than 100 years. Then there is the issue of animal waste which produces toxic levels of methane and ammonia, which leads to climate change as well as acid rain.

Livestock animals produce toxic excrement from the high levels of antibiotics and hormones they are given. Factory farming is responsible for 18% of CO2 greenhouse emissions and 64% of ammonia which creates acid rain.

Cows and sheep account for 37% of the total methane generated. Cows alone produce approximately 120lbs of manure per day, as many as 20 to 40 humans. And their manure produces about 150 billion gallons of methane per day. Methane is 25 to 100 times more damaging than CO2.

The overpopulation of animals in factory farms creates unmanageable amounts of waste which is collected in cesspools. It is either sprayed on fields or left to sit. The toxic fumes from the pools are emitted into the air and harm the environment – causing health issues to the people living in those areas.

Animal Agriculture Pollutes Water

In addition to the pollution of the air we breathe, animal agriculture is also destroying our waterways. Aside from the animal excrement itself, there are also hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals running off into rivers, lakes, streams and our drinkable water. These practices are also causing dead zones in the oceans, rivers and lakes, leaving patches of underwater habitats with very low oxygen and causing marine life to die.

Animal agriculture is also using up our valuable water supplies. In the US 55% of water is consumed by animal agriculture, while only 5% is used by households. 1 cow drinks up to 50 gallons of water per day. It takes 683 gallons of H2O to make 1 gallon of milk. 2,400 gallons of water are used to make 1lb of beef. 477 gallons are needed to produce 1lb of eggs, and 900 gallons are used in the process of making cheese.

Animal Agriculture Takes Up Too Much Land

Animal agriculture takes up over 40% of the planet. Whole communities around the world have been displaced in order to make room for factory farms.

56 million acres of land are used to feed factory farmed animals, while only 4 million acres produce plants for human consumption. It takes 20 times less land to feed someone on a plant based diet than it does to feed meat eaters. 70% of the grain grown in the US is used to feed farmed animals. It takes 10lbs of grain to produce 1lb of meat.

Animal Agriculture Destroys Ecosystems

Livestock factories lead to deforestation. As much as 80% of the Amazon Rainforest has already been destroyed and is now occupied by pastures and feed crops. Tropical deforestation and forest clearing have adverse consequences that contribute to biodiversity loss.

Nearly two thirds of land on our planet was once covered by grasslands, but much of these magnificent ecosystems have been lost to farming. The result is a catastrophic reduction of critical wildlife habitat. Remaining grasslands cover about half of African lands, while less than 4 percent of prairies survive in the United States.

Animal Agriculture Is Destroying Our Soil

Unlike sustainable farming systems that work harmoniously with the natural environment by rotating crops to help replace nutrients, unsustainable industrial farming uses one crop that is not rotated which leads to loss of soil fertility. Low soil fertility causes farms to continuously move from place to place which leads to deforestation and rapid growth in weeds.

The use of herbicides to combat weeds and pesticides to eliminate insects both harms the soil fertility and ultimately contaminates our water sources through runoff. Land based factory farming has caused more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones around the world.

What You Can Do

For the the health of our planet and the future of its animals, agriculture must shift from animal production to providing vegetable based food sources. Reducing the devastation caused by animal factory farming begins with you. Choosing to buy vegan, 100% plant-based food and products is an easy way to help save the planet while also reducing the suffering of an animals.

Animal Agriculture Causing Extinctions

As the animal agriculture industry continues to take over the Earth's landmass, species rich habitats are being quickly destroyed. A frightening one acre of land is cleared every second. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, habitat destruction and ocean dead zones.

Animal agribusiness already occupies about 40% of Earth’s landmass and accounts for 75% of global deforestation. The rapid destruction is causing species to disappear, negatively impacting the biodiversity of native ecosystems and furthering our path into the 6th mass extinction of all species on Earth.

There are about 1.7 million documented species of flora and fauna. Over 86% of 10 million known species of flora and fauna have not been described or documented. The UN is reporting an estimate of up to 100 plant and animal species lost every day.

Our planet is about 4.5 billion years old. Through its ancient lifespan, Earth has encountered a few mass extinctions. 5 to be exact: Ordovician (444 million years ago), Devonian (375 million years ago), Permian (251 million years ago), Triassic (200 million years ago), and Cretaceous (66 million years ago).

Out of the billion years of our planet’s life, humans have only been here for around 6 million years. Of those 6 million years, the current human species (Homo sapiens) has been here only 200,000 years – with our current civilization a mere 6,000 years old. The industrialization of this civilization is only 200 years old, and in the last 500 years 1,000 species of animals have gone extinct. Presently, the rate of extinction is as high as 140,000 species each year.

Massive destruction is occurring in countries with mega diverse habitats that are home to some of the largest number of species. In the Amazon, 3 quarters of the rainforest have been (and continue to be) cleared for both international and domestic animal agriculture companies. In the US, where 260 million acres of forests have been cleared, 1 in 5 animal and plant species are at risk of extinction.

Animal agribusiness has also devastated our marine environments. Billions of animals are stripped from the ocean every year. The rapid rates of oceanic animal harvesting doesn’t allow species enough time to reproduce. The inability to recover their populations puts the planet at risk of fishless seas by 2048.

The facts and statistics are clear. The animal agriculture industry is killing our environment and putting every species on this planet at risk of extinction. The animal agriculture industry’s pollution of our air, water and land, along with deforestation and soil degradation, all contribute to habitat loss and species extinction. Like a domino effect, a multitude of aspects is leading to the destruction of Earth’s biodiversity.

Animal farming has become the greatest threat to the world’s plants and animals. The clearing of forests and rainforests for livestock pasture and feed crops is extinguishing Earth’s biodiversity, which allows life to continue in balance regardless of natural changes to the environment.

It all begins with the choices humans make and put on our plates, and that is also where it can end. Livestock farming is only in demand because of human consumption. By making healthier food choices that are more plant based, we can put a halt and reversal to the destruction of our planet and its animals.

Only Veganism Can Save The World

A worldwide switch to diets that rely more on fruits and vegetables, and less on meat, dairy and eggs, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, save up to 8 million lives, and save $1.5 trillion.

Extensive research by the University of Oxford, combing through reams of data from the UN Food and Agriculture Association, the World Health Organization, and countless studies, has resulted in crucial findings suggesting our eating habits must change...and must change radically.

Agriculture is responsible for over one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions; 80 percent from animal agriculture. Animal based diets are also the cause of numerous health problems, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Plant-based diets not only improve health, they have huge environmental benefits.

If every human on the planet switched to a plant-based diet – refraining from eating meat, dairy, honey, and other animal-sourced foods – greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture in 2050 would fall by more than half compared to 2005/2007 levels. If humans don't change their dietary habits, greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal agriculture will be 51 percent higher in 2050. Population growth and increased wealth is causing mass expansion of animal agriculture.

Just by following international healthy dietary guidelines, 2050 emissions from agriculture would be only 7 percent higher than current levels. These healthy dietary guidelines stress less red meat, which is greenhouse-gas-intensive, and more low-greenhouse-gas vegetables and fruits. If everyone switched to a vegetarian diet, which includes eating dairy and eggs but not meat, emissions would be reduced by 44 percent. A world vegan diet offers the best environmental benefits, decreasing emissions by a whopping 55 percent.

Health benefits of a vegetarian world would be staggering. Lower rates of cancer, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke result from ecologically friendly, plant-based diets. The healthy diet scenario would result in 5.1 million fewer deaths per year worldwide; the vegetarian diet would save 7.3 million lives a year; and veganism would save 8.1 million lives annually.

In addition to health and environmental benefits, vegan and vegetarian diets save money too. Lots of money. The savings in health costs alone is $735 billion US per year if everyone switched to a healthy diet; $973 billion if everyone became vegetarian; and an incredible $1 trillion or more if everyone went vegan. Emissions savings would add up to $234 billion US annually in the healthy diet scenario; $511 billion annually for the vegetarian diet; and $570 billion every year for the vegan diet.

While all three diet scenarios would improve the environment, health, and the economy, only worldwide veganism can save the planet from global climate disaster.

Scientists believe the tipping point for climate disaster is a warming of 2 degrees Celsius. Reducing global greenhouse gas emissions enough to stop this from happening can only be accomplished through worldwide veganism. While a world vegan diet on its own would not hold the Earth below the 2-degree threshold, combined with other conservation efforts enough emissions could be reduced to avoid climate disaster.

Averting environmental disaster requires more than just technological changes. Animal based diets are responsible for the world's greatest health burdens and more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. Animal agriculture contributes to air pollution, pollutes water, takes up too much land, destroys ecosystems, and is destroying our soil. Adopting healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets is critical in averting climate disaster. Projected benefits should encourage individuals, industries, and global leaders to act decisively to make sure that what we eat preserves our environment and our health.

Animal Agriculture Is Destroying Tropical Forests

Deforestation causes drastic loss of tropical forest biodiversity, and most deforestation occurs due to animal agriculture. Remaining areas of undisturbed and recovering forest provide the last refuge for many species unable to withstand the impact of human activity.

As one of the most comprehensive surveys of the impacts of disturbance on tropical forest biodiversity ever conducted, an international team of scientists found where forests had been cleared for animal agriculture, plant and animal life was impoverished and remaining species invariably consisted of the same subset of the original flora and fauna. There is irrefutable evidence that biodiversity is declining across the tropics due to animal agriculture.

The rapid growth of animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. 70% of the Amazon Rainforest has already been destroyed and is now occupied by pastures and feed crops. One of the main crops grown in the rainforest is soybeans used specifically for animal feed. Tropical deforestation and forest clearing have adverse consequences that contribute to climate change, biodiversity loss, reduced timber supply, flooding and soil degradation.

Deforestation through farming also has a major effect on species loss and simplification across large areas. The lower species diversity in degraded forests indicates that many species are restricted to undisturbed forests. And the way in which they are altered by human activity has an impact on which species survives.

To preserve maximum species diversity, we must shift from animal-based agriculture to plant-based agriculture. Already 56 million acres of land are used to feed farmed animals, while only 4 million acres produce plants for human consumption. It takes 20 times less land to feed someone on a plant based diet than it does to feed meat eaters.

Studies have also determined that reserves should not be concentrated in one part of a region, but as a widespread network of forest reserves. These should include secondary forests where no primary forests remain. While there remains a widespread assumption that concentrating conservation efforts on the protection of isolated reserves is the best way to safeguard biodiversity, areas of private land already disturbed – which dominate much of the tropics – need to be maintained and protected as a wide network of forest areas. Without such a landscape-scale approach, many species will go regionally extinct.

The unsustainable ways in which we produce eggs, meat and dairy is damaging our environment. Switching to plant-based agriculture results in significant reductions in climate change, rainforest destruction and pollution of our air, water and land.

Vanishing Grasslands

Grasslands (also known as prairies and savannah) differ around the globe, from the prairies of North America to the African Savannah, but they all support a wide variety of wildlife. Birds, reptiles, insects, grazing mammals and predators all call grasslands home.

Nearly two thirds of land on our planet was once covered by grasslands, but much of these magnificent ecosystems have been lost to farming. The result is a catastrophic reduction of critical wildlife habitat. Remaining grasslands cover about half of African lands, while less than 4 percent of prairies survive in the United States.

Temperate grasslands are home to bison, wolves, coyotes, pronghorn, hawks, prairie dogs, gophers, owls, foxes, badgers, sparrows, black-footed ferrets, grouses, meadowlarks, and quail. Tropical grassland animals include giraffes, zebras, elephants, buffaloes, kangaroos, wildebeest, mice, moles, rhinos, gophers, jackals, wild dogs, squirrels, lions, leopards, snakes, worms, termites, beetles, hyenas, and warthogs.

Tropical grasslands are located near the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. These grasslands can be found in areas of Australia, South America, and India. Temperate grasslands are located north of the Tropic of Cancer and south of the Tropic of Capricorn, including the the pampas of South America, the steppes of Eurasia, the veldts of Africa, and the plains of North America.

As grasslands around the globe continue to be converted to ecologically irresponsible farming systems, wildlife suffers the consequences. The natural vertebrates in grasslands, plant-eating grazers called ungulates like deer and zebras, are quickly being replaced by domestic ungulates such as cattle and sheep. The native grasses are being replaced with corn, wheat, and soy.

Grassland soil is so rich almost anything can be grown in it. But poor agricultural practices have destroyed many grasslands, turning them into barren, lifeless areas. When crops are not properly rotated, precious soil nutrients are stripped out. Grasslands are also destroyed by grazing livestock.

About 47 percent of temperate grasslands have already been converted to agriculture or urban development. Around 16 percent of tropical grasslands have been converted.

Threats to Grasslands

Land that once provided habitat for prairie wildlife is quickly being converted to row crops. GMO wheat, soybeans, and corn are expanding into native grasslands. Grasslands are also increasingly being development into urban areas. Global warming could convert marginal grasslands into deserts. Monoculture, the cultivation of a single crop in a given area, results in the spreading of pests and diseases increasing the use of toxic pesticides. Poaching is also a significant threat in grasslands.

Solutions

Educational efforts must stress the importance of protecting the soil and preventing soil erosion. Crops must be rotated to eliminate the reduction of nutrients. Wetlands, an element of grassland ecology, must be restored and protected. Trees must be planted as windbreaks. Dry season burning can promote fresh growth and restore calcium to the soil.

Agriculture must shift from animal production to providing vegetable based food sources. Animal agriculture is the primary driver of topsoil erosion, species extinction, and habitat loss. Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. It takes 12 times as much land, 13 times more fuel and 15 times more water to make a pound of animal protein than to make a pound of plant protein. Livestock consumes up to 50% of all grains produced each year. 45% of the earth's entire ice free land is used for animal agriculture.

Pollution: Choking Wild Animals

An ecosystem is the natural balance between organisms, plants, and animals in a particular place. Certain species of wildlife depend on particular species of plants, insects and organisms for survival. Even a small patch of forest can have a complete ecosystem of its own. So can a rivulet, a pond, a lake and sea. In any given landscape, there can be numerous ecosystems. This is what is called biodiversity.

Never before has biodiversity faced such destructive forces as it has in recent times from human activities. Almost half of what took millions of years to take shape and evolve has been destroyed by man in a very short time.

Man-made pollution is one of the main threats to wildlife habitat. Humans have regarded the air, water, and soil as waste receptacles, giving little consideration to the ecological consequences of pollution. Wildlife populations are constantly confronted with a massive array of pollutants released into the environment.

In the last 80 years, the world chemical output has grown 500-fold, contaminating entire landscapes, accumulating in bodies of animals and plants, and altering and disrupting the DNA of wildlife in those places. Out in the seas and oceans, destruction caused to marine life cannot be fathomed. Trash washed down rivers and city streets, mountains of plastic, garbage and debris, are finding their way into the oceans by the ton on a daily basis – causing massive disruption in coastal ecosystems. Pollution from industrial emissions, traffic and other commercial activities have eaten into the ozone layer and altered complete climatic patterns. Ecosystems that have survived and evolved through the ages, dependent on climate and seasonal cycles, have been totally derailed.

These destructive human activities are causing massive extinctions. Up to 30% of mammal, bird and amphibian species are already threatened with extinction, including: 1 out of 4 mammals, 1 out of 8 birds, 1 out of 3 amphibians, and 6 out of 7 marine turtles. A third of reef-building corals are threatened with extinction. If global temperatures rise by more than 3.5°C, up to 70% of the world’s known species risk extinction. Extinction risks are outpacing conservation successes.

Pollution Disrupting Ecosystems

Thousands of synthetic chemicals are being released into the environment at alarming rates, altering the distribution of naturally occurring substances. Wild animals are facing conditions they have never experienced before. These alien conditions disrupt the delicate biological balance that has evolved over thousands of years.

Toxic metals from human activities accumulate to create a bewildering number of hazards to wildlife. Animal agriculture, fossil fuels, mining, metal refining, and waste-water discharge create toxic levels of pollutants beyond what naturally cycles through soil, air and water.

Pollution is have detrimental effects on the health of wildlife. Synthetic chemicals, acid rain and oil are all toxic. Additional types of pollution harm wildlife in indirect ways, changing or destroying their habitats. Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere, resulting in changes in climate and the distribution of habitats. The ozone layer is being damaged by chlorofluorocarbons, causing destruction from the effects of excessive ultraviolet radiation on wild animals and their food sources. Grasslands, marshes and canyons are being destroyed by solid waste landfills.

Air Pollution Harming Wildlife

Gases, solid particles and aerosols are polluting the air. Air pollution negatively affects wildlife by changing plant communities. Stunted plant growth from atmospheric ozone affects the quality of habitat and food sources.

Birds are threatened directly by coal power production exhaust, which damages their respiratory systems. Air pollution also indirectly threatens birds. pH level increases result in fish kills, causing a decline in food sources. Mercury accumulates in the food chain, wreaking havoc on predatory bird populations.

Acidic rivers and streams, resulting from acid rain, causes respiratory distress in fish. Clearer water from higher acid levels also results in temperature and light increases in the water, causing native fish to relocate to cooler and darker habitats. Amphibians have changed both physiologically and behaviorally due to air pollution. Ozone damages their immune systems.

Insects are especially susceptible to the dangers of air pollution. Air quality fluctuations can cause insects to relocate, affecting the plants and animals connected to them. Insects more resilient to air pollution digest organic waste less effectively, resulting in a buildup of organic waste when air pollution increases.

Metal smelters release toxic metals through tall smokestacks that have negative effects on wild animals. Pollutants cause environmental contamination both close to the source, and downwind of smelters.

Air pollution is damaging lung tissues of animals. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have damaged the ozone layer that protects the Earth from ultraviolet radiation. Ozone molecules near the ground damage wildlife lung tissues and reduces plant respiration by blocking openings in leaves. A plant not able to photosynthesize at a high rate due to inadequate respiration cannot grow. Holes in the ozone layer also cause skin cancer in wildlife.

Greenhouse gases from air pollution are warming the planet. Through photosynthesis, plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and use the carbon to grow. But the amount of carbon dioxide being released by human activities is much greater than plants can convert. Ice and frozen ground are melting near the Poles. As a result, habitats and resources are changing for plants and animals. Ocean warming and rising sea levels are affecting shallow marine environments, including coral reefs. Less rainfall, caused by global warming, is limiting water resources for plants and animals.

Air pollution is particularly hazardous to animals when in the form of acid rain. Acid rains kills fish by increasing water acidity. Rising pH (a measure of acidity) levels are destroying plants and trees.

Acid Rain Killing Wild Animals

Acid rain, primarily caused by sulfur and nitrogen released into the atmosphere from automobiles and the combustion of oil and coal, discharges toxic aluminum into water systems. Acid rain has numerous disastrous effects on ecosystems, especially aquatic ecosystems. pH levels are changed, killing many wild animals outright and throwing ecosystems completely out of balance.

Gravity draws acid rain towards water bodies in low areas. When the acidity in these water bodies increases, fish and other organisms lose their ability to survive and reproduce. Acid rain has already killed off fish populations in hundreds of lakes.

Water Pollution Detrimental To Wildlife

Water pollution is detrimental to wildlife. Frogs species are in decline. Water bodies polluted with nutrients are causing massive growths of toxic algae that are eaten by animals, resulting in diseases and deaths.

Mining operations result in weathering waste rock and ore deposits, creating "acid mine drainage." Acid mine drainage creates toxic water pollution.

Monumental amounts of toxic metals are released into the air by industries and automobiles. These toxins settle to the ground and are then transported by fallen rain, along with pesticides. "Storm water runoff" is carried to local sewer systems, streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. It is one of the largest sources of toxic water pollution. 

Oil spills result in the deaths of countless wild animals. Oil coats animal fur and feathers reducing their insulating properties, and exposes animals to deadly toxins. The long-term effects of oil spills are more subtle, but just as detrimental. Toxic chemicals on beaches, in the water, and in the food web results in anemia, decreased disease resistance, impaired reproduction, cancers, birth defects and neurological damage.

In coastal belts where human habitation concentration has grown the most in the past few decades, wanton garbage disposal, especially of plastic, has almost completely wiped out marine ecosystems within miles of the shores. Spectacular creatures such as whales and dolphins, that were once a common sight for beach goers, have been driven from their natural habitat into deep seas – having lost their centuries-old feeding grounds to pollutants. 

In closeted water bodies like lakes, pollutants like oil, detergents, nitrogen and phosphate can create havoc in its ecosystems by stimulating growth of unwanted plants and choking the water of oxygen so essential to the survival of fish.

Wild Animals Affected By Noise Pollution

Pollution is not always physical. Sound waves from oil rigs, ships and sonar travel for miles disrupting communication, hunting, migration, and reproduction of aquatic animals. Noise pollution from gas and oil explorations are causing mass strandings and chronic stress.

Animal Agriculture A Major Threat To Wildlife

Pollution from animal agricultural is one of the biggest threats to wildlife. Pesticide usage in agriculture has jumped 26-fold in the last 50 years causing serious consequences for the environment. Lakes, streams, drains and groundwater have been contaminated to an extent that not only are they not fit for use, entire ecosystems around them have perished. Chemical runoff leaches into streams, waterways and groundwater. Fertilizers alter nutrient systems in waterways, creating explosive growths of algae that deplete oxygen in the water. Around 400 dead zones have already been created as a result.

Animal agriculture produces significantly more greenhouse gases than all of the traffic in the world combined. Spouting out huge percentages of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, the industry is leaving behind pollutants known to remain in the atmosphere for more than 100 years. Animal waste also produces toxic levels of methane and ammonia, which leads to climate change as well as acid rain. Cows alone produce approximately 120lbs of manure per day, resulting in about 150 billion gallons of methane each day. Unmanageable amounts of animal waste is collected in cesspools and is either sprayed on fields or left to sit. The toxic fumes from the pools are emitted into the air and harm the environment.

Pesticides not only harm wild animals through long-term exposure via the food web; direct exposure also kills wild animals. Pesticides drift, decimating mammal, bird and fish populations.

Littering Killing Wildlife

Littering causes the deaths of many wild animals. Toxic trash can be fatal. Entanglement in litter is a common threat. Tons of plastic litter finds its way into the oceans, washed off streets and blown from landfills. Animals often mistake litter for food and attempt to eat the litter, resulting in fatalities. Litter accumulates in giant patches. Some is transported by currents and washed onto shore. Trillions of other pieces of decomposing plastic create gigantic swirling garbage patches in the ocean.

Effects of Household Pollutants On Wild Animals

Many households products contain toxic metals. Household waste-water often transports toxic metals into aquatic environments. Toxic chemicals used in households are washed down drains and flushed down toilets. Even more massive amounts of solvents, cleansers, and other chemicals are used in industrial activities, adding toxic pollutants to industrial waste-waters.

We Must Act Now

Pollution, along with habitat loss and degradation, over-exploitation, unsustainable practices, and invasive alien species, are affecting biodiversity around the globe. The result is the massive destruction of ecosystems and a frightening reduction in biodiversity.

Earth's ecological system has been in balance for millions of years, but is now threatened by human activities. Current extinction rates are likely to result in collapses of ecosystems on a global scale.

Pollution has had devastating impacts on wildlife. Most types of pollution are not necessary, and others can be drastically reduced. Technology is available that can significantly reduce pollution. Reduced consumption of fossil fuels would also bring down emissions of toxic metals and acid rain. Shifting to plant-based, organic farming would eliminate the massive amounts of pollutants produced by the animal agriculture industry.

Awareness, creativity, and a willingness to modify our lifestyles will curtail threats that pollution causes to both wildlife and humans. You can help wildlife and ecosystems by supporting environmental groups that are fighting polluting practices, as well as by making your own conscious decisions regarding eating choices, waste management, harmful chemicals and irresponsible household products.

Veganics: Organics Meets Veganism

Avoiding pesticides is the reason why some people prefer organic food. Many believe that to be ecologically responsible food should be grown naturally. For others, the most important factor is the reassurance that the crop harvesting process did not expose farm workers to dangerous toxins. For many vegans, their main reason is to ensure that no chemical substances were used to grow their food that could cause the suffering and deaths of animals. However, at least for the time being, the majority of the food currently offered to consumers comes from a production system where animal exploitation – direct or indirect – is the standard, regardless of it being organic or not.

To keep growing crops, organic farmers need to return organic matter and minerals to the soil, like all farmers do. To avoid using chemical fertilizing agents, organic farmers often opt for animal products such as manure, blood, and fish and bone meal to restore the mineral content of the soil, which tends to deplete due to farming. Many of them use a rotation system known as ‘crop and livestock,' where the animals themselves are being exploited. Whenever animals or animal derivatives are used, it presupposes exploitation of animals. 

Veganic farming (also termed “vegan-organic”) is based on the belief that having animals exploited or killed is not a prerequisite to growing food. Veganic farmers abstain from using synthetic chemical products, GMOs, slaughterhouse-originating byproducts or animal manures. The point that nonhuman animals are a required component of organic farming is moot: commercial farmers, individual farmers, even farms sponsored by the government have been growing their crops without using animals or their derivatives for years.

In an 11-year study of veganic farming, where no animal manures were used to support crop yields, it was shown that competing insects and diseases posed no significant problems. Three different rotations of roots and cereals were used throughout the study. When animal manures would normally be used, farmers employed legume-derived green manures with nitrogen-replenishing properties instead. 

This study altered the perception of what it is to shift to organic farming. In the past, going organic meant replacing synthetic fertilizers with live animals; now, it is possible to shift to organic farming without needing to purchase and maintain livestock. As a consequence, a growing number of conventional farmers are shifting to veganic farming, which is good news for the environment as well as for nonhuman animals. 

Passing materials through animals to enrich the soil is an unnecessary process. From a physiological point of view, the only thing this process achieves is to waste energy which hinders its efficiency and sustainability as a food producing method. After all, there is nothing more in manure than the grains or grass already growing on the farm, simply passed through the animal’s digestive system.

That doesn’t mean that vegan organic farmers don’t watch for diseases and competing organisms – all farmers do. They do so, however, by completely avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers or animals and their byproducts, choosing to help the soil develop a natural resistance. Veganic farming revolves around feeding the soil, which will, in turn, feed the crops.

To keep the ground fertile, veganic farmers may use compost made from plant-derived material. They also employ crop rotation. This contradicts conventional farming, which is based on monoculture, the practice of growing single crops over extended areas of farmland. As time passes, monoculture has the tendency to reduce output and foster disease. It also results in land devaluation for a varied population of animals. On the other hand, vegan organic farmers enhance biodiversity ensuring a healthy balance of insects, predators, and useful organisms. By making sure that plant life and wintering animals have ample habitat, the natural balance is maintained for years to come providing for many growing seasons, as well as respecting the lives of other organisms that share their land with us.  

Composts used by vegan organic farmers and gardeners may come from grass cuttings, vegetable peelings, spent hops, old hay, garden waste, comfrey, ramial, and even seaweed. This compost is supplemented with green manures. These are plants that are grown and then cut down, either to be mixed with the soil or left on it to decompose naturally.

Welcoming biodiversity and using disintegrating plant materials to grow crops is not a new concept. It’s where natural growth is based. Look at the forest, for example; its fertility is based on plants accumulating on the surface, without soil manipulation and the use of added animal manure. It was common knowledge among the ranks of early farmers. In fact, an entire period existed when no animal derivatives or animal manure was used for farming of any kind. 

An added benefit of avoiding the use of animals and their byproducts in modern farming practices is significant savings in fossil-fuels that are consumed in order to transport manure between places. Also, if no animals are present, maintaining vast pasture areas becomes obsolete, which means that these areas can become forests again. That is a win-win situation for animals, who also get their natural habitat back, besides not being exploited for our own purposes.

Our food is closely connected with the natural world. In cases where we can choose, opting for particular farming techniques will undoubtedly affect animals' – human and nonhuman alike – survival in terms of food, space, and environmental health. For this reason, the support of organic farming has always been of great importance for the diligent consumer. Supporting vegan organics takes that diligence a critical step ahead.

Fishing Industry Killing Coral Reefs

Hidden beneath the ocean waters, coral reefs teem with life. Coral reefs support more species than any other marine environment and rival rainforests in their biodiversity. Countless numbers of creatures rely on coral reefs for their survival.

Corals are animals, even though they may exhibit some of the characteristics of plants and are often mistaken for rocks. In scientific classification, corals fall under the phylum Cnidaria and the class Anthozoa. They are relatives of jellyfish and anemones. There are over 800 known species of reef­building coral worldwide and hundreds of species of soft corals and deep-sea corals.

Although individual coral polyps are tiny, they create the largest living structures on earth—some reefs are visible from space!

Coral reefs are also living museums, and reflect thousands of years of history. Many coral reefs were alive and thriving centuries before the European colonization of the nearby shores. Some reefs are even older than our old-growth redwood forests. They are an integral part of many cultures and our heritage.

These important habitats are threatened by a range of human activities. Many of the world’s reefs have already been destroyed or severely damaged by an increasing array of threats, including pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, and global climate change. As a result, 22 species of coral are now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. However, we can still protect and preserve our remaining reefs if we act now.

Why Are Coral Reefs Important?

Healthy coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and valuable ecosystems on earth, providing vital ecosystem services across the globe.

Coral reefs are an important habitat. Fish, corals, lobsters, clams, seahorses, sponges and sea turtles are only a few of the thousands of creatures that rely on reefs for their survival.

In addition to supporting an abundance of marine life, coral reef ecosystems provide people with many goods and services, including shoreline protection. Coral ecosystems protect coastlines from storms and erosion; provide habitat, spawning, and nursery grounds for fish; provide jobs and income to local economies from recreation and tourism; are a source of new medicines; have cultural significance; and are hotspots of marine biodiversity.

The benefits of healthy reefs are seen not just in the ocean, but also on land. Coral reefs contribute billions of dollars to world economies each year. The continued decline and loss of coral reef ecosystems will have significant social, cultural, economic and ecological impacts on people and communities in the U.S. and around the world.

What Threatens Coral Reefs?

The top threats to coral reefs, global climate change, unsustainable fishing, and land­based pollution, are all due to human activities. These threats—combined with others such as tropical storms, disease outbreaks, vessel damage, marine debris and invasive species—compound each other.

Climate change impacts coral reef ecosystems through increased sea surface temperatures that lead to coral bleaching events and disease, sea level rise and storm activity. Additionally, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide alters ocean chemistry and negatively impacts reef-building corals.

An estimated 20 percent of the world's coral reefs are damaged beyond recovery and about half of the remaining coral reefs are under risk of collapse.

Unsustainable fishing practices in coral reef areas can lead to the loss of ecologically important fish species. Such losses often have a ripple effect on the coral reef ecosystems.

Impacts from land-based sources of pollution (e.g., coastal development and agricultural runoff) can impede coral growth and reproduction, disturb ecological function, and cause disease.

While some of the biggest threats facing coral reefs are global in nature and require action on a similar scale, addressing local stressors—like reducing runoff—is key.

Although research is critical to increasing what we know about the causes of reef decline, effective coral reef conservation can’t happen without you. Even if you live far from a coral reef, you can contribute to their conservation. Simple actions, like using less water, recycling, disposing of trash responsibly, and going vegan, can have big and far-reaching impacts.

Factory Farms Cause Hunger

Despite the rich diversity of foods found all over the world, one third of its population does not have enough to eat. Around 6 billion people share the planet, one quarter in the rich north and three quarters in the poor south. While people in rich countries diet because they eat too much, many in the developing world do not have enough food simply to ensure their bodies work properly and stay alive.

826 million people around the world are seriously undernourished - 792 million people in developing countries and another 34 million in industrialized countries. Two billion people - one third of the global population - lack food security. Today, some 12 million children die annually of nutrition-related diseases.

THE ROOTS OF HUNGER

The developing world hasn't always been hungry. Early explorers of the 16th and 17th centuries often returned amazed at the huge amounts of food they saw there. In parts of Africa, for example, people always had three harvests in storage and no one went hungry. The idea of buying and selling food was unheard of. 

The Industrial Revolution changed all that. European countries needed cheap raw materials such as coal and iron ore that developing countries had plenty of. Through the process of invasion and colonization, Western countries could not only take the raw materials but claim the land as their own and make the indigenous people pay taxes or rent. Poor peasants (many of whom had never dealt in money before) were forced to grow crops such as cotton to sell to their new masters. Wealthy countries owned the land, all the food that was produced, and decided the price. After paying taxes, peasants had little money left to buy this expensive food and often ended up borrowing money simply to live. This whole process of colonization continued right up to the beginning of the last century.

Drought and other 'natural' disasters are often wrongly blamed for causing famines. Local people have always planned for freak acts of nature and although they may be the trigger that starts a famine, the underlying cause is the system of modern day neo-colonialism.

The land in poor countries is still largely not owned by the people who work on it and rents are high. Huge areas are owned by large companies based in the West. It is common for people to be thrown off the land, often going to the towns where there is little other work. About 160,000 people move from rural areas to cities every day. Many migrants are forced to settle in shanty towns and squatter settlements.

Much of this land is used to grow “cash crops” for export - like coffee, tobacco and animal feed  - rather than to grow food for indigenous people. Countries agree to grow cash crops in order to pay off their crippling debts.

Why are countries in debt? During the 1970s, developing countries were lent money by developed countries for a range of projects, including infrastructure development (e.g. dams and roads), industrialization and technology. The World Development Movement (WDM) states, “Often the projects turned out to be unproductive.” The loans were either multilateral (i.e. the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund lending to one government) or bilateral (i.e. one government lending to another).

Then in the 1980s, interest rates rocketed because of the oil crisis, while at the same time, industrialized countries put high prices on many agricultural imports so that developing world farmers were not able to sell their produce. Consequently, developing countries were unable to pay off their loans and they have become increasingly indebted. These countries are paying back billions of dollars to the West in interest payments each year.

Often, the loans had conditions attached. When Costa Rica borrowed money from the World Bank, one of the conditions set was that they had to cut down rainforest and clear land for cattle grazing to supply rich countries with cheap beef. The destruction of rainforests is a disaster not just for its people and wildlife but for the world's climate.

Between 1975 and 1985, thousands of acres of forest were cleared in Thailand to grow tapioca to sell to the EU as feed for pigs and cattle. When beef and pork mountains meant that not as much meat was being produced, Europe no longer needed tapioca and stopped buying. This put Thai peasants into huge debt because they had borrowed money to spend on improving their farms to grow enough to meet demand. As a consequence, many people sold their children into child labor and prostitution.

IN THE HANDS OF THE RICH

After extensive lobbying, the IMF and the World Bank set up the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) in 1996 with the apparent aim of alleviating debt burdens. Some bilateral lenders have agreed to write off 100 percent of the debts owed to them when the countries in question complete the Initiative. When countries get half way through (called the Decision Point), they receive partial relief on their annual debt service payments.

In order to receive debt relief through the HIPC initiative, developing countries have to get a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) agreed by the IMF and the World Bank.

PRSPs replace “Structural Adjustment Programmes” (SAPs), which were imposed on developing countries as part of their loan packages. These forced governments to reduce public spending and promote their export industries, in theory releasing more money for debt repayment. Unsurprisingly, a number of studies showed that SAPs made people poorer. The UNICEF-sponsored Adjustment with a Human Face documented increases in stunting, underweight and low birth weight in the wake of structural adjustment policies in 9 of 11 Latin American, African and Asian nations surveyed in the 1980s. 

PRSPs set out governments’ strategies to reduce poverty and must include plans for how the money freed up by debt relief will be spent - e.g. on education and health care. The indebted countries also have to agree to implement economic reforms. The WDM states, “As the IMF and the World Bank hold the veto, PRSPs are unsurprisingly turning out to be very similar to the Structural Adjustment Programmes they replaced”.

AID & REVOLUTIONS

Much of the aid given to developing world countries has been 'tied aid' - this means that the countries who receive it have to buy goods and services from the countries who give it. In this way, most of the money is simply returned to those who gave it.

During the 1970s, the US only gave aid to Nicaragua in exchange for the production of beef, causing the loss of 1,000 km2 of rainforest per year. By 1979, Nicaragua was Latin America's biggest supplier of beef to the US.

Lobbying efforts by NGOs like Action Aid to “untie” aid mean that tied aid is now declining. In an unprecedented move, the UK government has now agreed to untie all its aid. However, an increased proportion of aid is now granted as “technical cooperation”, which is excluded from the definition of tied aid. According to a World Bank report, “some 100,000 foreign technical experts are currently employed in Africa, tending to displace local experts... it has probably weakened capacity in Africa.” Action Aid says that technical cooperation, “ensures a steady supply of lucrative contracts for consultants in donor countries”. “Aid” to developing countries is often more concerned with providing financial support for the West.

Food aid is also excluded from the definition of tied aid. Action Aid says that, “the exclusion of food aid may encourage the provision of donor foodstuffs when locally available produce could be purchased”. While food aid can be helpful in times of famine it does nothing to change the basic causes of hunger. As rich countries eat more meat, more land in poor countries will be turned over to produce animal feed.

The “Green Revolution” of the late 1960s and early 1970s was billed as the solution to world hunger. Productivity was increased through farm machinery, pesticides and fertilizers, irrigation and the replacement of traditional crops with high-yielding varieties. It failed to benefit those who needed it. This “revolution” focused on boosting the yields of a narrow base of cereals - corn, wheat and rice. The gains in cereal production often came at the expense of cultivation of more nutritious legumes, root crops and other grains. This resulted in reduced dietary diversity and contributed to widespread nutritional deficiencies as well as depletion of the soil and wildlife loss. The “revolution” also favored wealthier farmers because they were the ones who could afford to invest in the new technologies.

Many countries in Asia and Africa have traditionally based their diets around rice, beans, pulses and vegetables, either following a wholly vegetarian diet or only including low amounts of meat and fish. This is exactly the type of nutritious diet that is now being promoted by health officials in the West in an attempt to combat diseases like obesity, heart disease and cancer - low in animal fats and high in fiber, vegetable protein and essential vitamins. Yet developing countries, keen to copy Western lifestyles, increasingly perceive meat-eating as a sign of wealth and progress. This shift towards meat consumption is being described as “The Livestock Revolution”.

The International Food Policy Research Institute projects that meat demand in the developing world will double between 1995 and 2020. Per capita demand for meat is projected to increase 40 percent. Growth in livestock farming is primarily taking place in the intensive pig and poultry sectors.

Intensively farmed meat is billed as being a cheap source of protein while the global picture - the “grain drain” created by increased meat consumption - is ignored. Demand for cereals to feed to farmed animals is predicted to double in developing countries over the next generation. Demand for corn will increase the most, growing by 2.35 percent over the next 20 years. Nearly two thirds will go towards feeding animals.

Meat consumption tends to rise as people migrate from rural areas to cities. The meat industry is naturally only too pleased by these new commercial opportunities.

THE INSANITY OF FACTORY FARMING

Breeding animals is an incredibly inefficient way to try to feed the world's growing population. Yet after food rationing during the second world war, intensive animal farming was actively encouraged as a way of ensuring our future “food security”.

Most meat in the West is now produced in factory farms which, as the name implies, are production lines for animals. To meet the large demand for meat, billions of animals are kept in cramped, filthy conditions, often unable to move properly and not allowed fresh air or even natural light. Unable to feed outdoors naturally, they are fed grain, oil seeds, soy, fish meal and sometimes the remains of other animals. High quality land is used to grow grains and soy beans - land that could be used to grow crops for humans.

The grain fed to animals does not convert directly into meat to feed people. The vast majority is either excreted or used as “fuel” to keep the animal alive and functioning. For every 10 kilograms of soy protein fed to America’s cattle only 1 kilogram is converted to meat. Almost the entire population of India and China, nearly two billion people, could be fed on the protein consumed and largely wasted by the United States’ beef herd.

Because of the demand for animal feed, a Western meat-based diet uses four and a half times more land than is necessary for a vegan diet and two and a quarter times more than for a vegetarian diet.

This increase in factory farming is creating huge problems. In Bangladesh, for example, which is one of the world's poorest countries, battery hen systems have become widespread. The country has massive shortages of food, many unemployed people and very little money to spare. Factory farming needs money for equipment, creates hardly any jobs and uses up much valuable plant food that could be fed to people.

Factory farming does not meet the needs of these people but it does benefit people in Western countries where much of the equipment needed, such as tractors and building materials, is made. When developing countries buy them they then become dependent on the suppliers for spare parts and repairs.

Poultry World magazine highlighted “the great scope for expansion” in Africa. It emphasized how African countries are largely dependent on Western countries for breeding stock, feed and pharmaceuticals. Poultry farming has grown so fast in India that they are producing more meat than their own people can afford to buy. Despite widespread hunger, they are exporting chicken to wealthy countries such as the Gulf States.

China has seen an enormous rise in pork production over the past decade and hence an enormous increase in its need for animal feed. The country has transformed from being an exporter of 8 million tons of grain in 1993 to becoming a net importer of 16 million tons by 1995.

If developing countries look to consuming the same quantity of meat per head as the average American, food shortages will become desperate. Yet rather than switch to vegetarianism, livestock scientists advocate boosting the “feed efficiency” of animals. A modern intensively raised chicken will put on 3 kilograms from the same amount of feed that in 1957 only yielded 2 kilograms. US scientists have discovered that pigs can be made to grow 40 percent faster on 25 percent less feed if they are injected with DNA encoding a modified, long lasting releasing factor for growth hormones. In livestock science, animals are perceived as unfeeling, unthinking, protein-making machines that can be tweaked and manipulated for our own benefit.

Exporting factory farming means exporting the overuse of antibiotics and the increased risks of food poisoning and diseases such as cancer and heart disease which are associated with increased meat-eating. It also means exporting the environmental damage caused by intensive farming systems, including the overuse of water and land degradation to provide the massive amount of crops these poor creatures are fed. Is this really what the developing world needs in order to “develop”?

The predicted shift towards increased meat consumption is still in its infancy. Even in China, which is at the forefront of the “Livestock Revolution” and where per capita meat consumption doubled between 1983 and 1993, people eat on average just a quarter as much meat as the average American. If we act now, we could still stop this cycle of insanity and move towards agricultural systems which would genuinely feed the world.

MALNUTRITION & OBESITY

For the first time in history, we have reached a situation where the number of overweight people rivals the number who are underweight, both estimated at 1.1 billion.

As countries grow wealthier, meat consumption tends to rise. Hunger problems are reduced but hospitals begin to see more cases involving illnesses such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer - all of which are linked to diets high in animal produce. China is at the forefront of the “livestock revolution”. The share of adults who are overweight jumped from 9 percent to 15 percent between 1989 and 1992.

The number of diabetics worldwide whose condition results from overeating is projected to double between 1998 and 2025, with more than three quarters of this growth occurring in the developing world. Some countries will be battling hunger and obesity at the same time.

In a nutshell: countries whose people are starving are using their land to grow grain for export to feed the West’s farmed animals. Nutritionally valuable food is being fed to animals to produce meat, which Western countries are literally gorging themselves to death on. Now, we are exporting factory farming to the developing world. Meat consumption is rising and so are the associated health problems.

SEND A COW

Charities have been set up with the specific aim of promoting livestock farming in the developing world - claiming they are working to alleviate poverty. While encouraging animal farming may temporarily alleviate the poverty of individual families, it can only contribute towards poverty in the long run. Promoting meat production can never be a solution to world hunger because it means promoting a diet which drains valuable grain stocks and devastates the environment.

The amount of land used to grow animal feed in Western countries is not enough to meet their own needs and more is imported from developing countries. Land in some developing countries, like India, is also used to grow grain for animals who are reared and killed for export.

Currently farmed animals eat one-third of the world’s cereal production. In the industrialized world, two-thirds of the agricultural land produces cereals for animal feed.

In the United States, farmed animals, mostly cattle, consume almost twice as much grain as is eaten by the entire US population. 70 percent of all the wheat, corn and other grain produced goes to feeding animals. Over 100 million acres of US agricultural land is used to grow grain for animals and still more is imported.

In Central and South America, ever-increasing amounts of land are being used to grow soy beans and grain for export - to be used as animal feed. In Brazil, 23 percent of the cultivated land is currently being used to produce soy beans, of which nearly half are for export. 25 years ago, livestock consumed less than 6 percent of Mexico’s grain. Today, at least one third of the grain produced in the country is being fed to animals. At the same time, millions of people living in the country are chronically undernourished.

Instead of promoting the growing of plant foods for human consumption, governments offer subsidy payments and financial incentives to livestock farmers, thereby actively encouraging meat production.

FISH FARMING

Fish farming, or aquaculture, is the fastest growing sector of the world economy and has been growing at 11 percent a year over the past decade. In 1990, 13 million tons of fish were produced but by 2002, this had risen to 39.8 million tons. 85 percent of fish farming is in developing countries. China accounted for 27.7 million tons of the 39.8 million tons of world aquacultural output in 2002, and India 2 million tons. Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand are also major players in the industry.

Breeding fish in captivity is billed as the way to protect ever-diminishing wild fish stocks. But paradoxically, carnivorous farmed fish are actually fed wild fish - further depleting the oceans. It takes 5 tons of fish caught from the sea to produce one ton of factory farmed salmon. Wild-caught fish are also fed to halibut, cod and trout.

Fishmeal is made from fish or fish parts for which there is said to be little or no human demand. But the huge need for wild-caught fish on fish farms still places much additional stress on our fragile, overfished oceans.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 69 percent of the world’s commercial marine fish stocks are “fully exploited, overfished, depleted, or slowly recovering”.

Non-carnivorous farmed fish like carp and catfish are fed grain rather than wild-caught fish. Fish are said to convert grain more “efficiently” than cattle - they add a kilogram of weight with less than two kilograms of grain. But the global fixation with obtaining protein from animals means that the most efficient option of all - consuming the grain directly - is ignored. 

GLOBAL WATER SHORTAGE

The massive quantities of grain required to sustain a meat-based diet are not the only problem. The meat production process uses up vast quantities of water in a world where water is in short supply. It takes 1,000 liters to produce 1kg of wheat and 100,000 liters to produce 1kg of beef. About three quarters of the water we use goes to growing food but vegetarians need less than a third as much water to sustain their diet as meat-eaters. 

Living in the West, it’s easy to imagine that our water supplies are unlimited, but globally our fresh water supplies are being used up so fast that almost half a billion people already depend on nonrenewable sources. 7 percent of the world’s population has not enough water and by 2050, this will be 70 percent. The situation is so dire that battles over water supplies are predicted to become a major source of conflict.

Worldwatch Institute chairman Lester Brown states, “In consumption terms, 480 million of the world’s 6 billion people are being fed with food produced with the unsustainable use of water. We are already using up the water which belongs to our children”. The International Water Management Institute predicts that by 2025 about 2.7 billion people - a third of the world’s population - will live in regions faced by regular and severe water scarcity. Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will be hit the hardest.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario more sickening than a rich elite gorging itself on meat while the poorest third of the world’s population literally dehydrate. A shift away from meat consumption must become a global priority if we are to have a hope of meeting the basic needs of the world’s 6 billion inhabitants.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS

Multinational companies promise us that there is a new solution to global poverty: genetically modified crops. Thanks to their life-saving research, we will soon be able to grow enough food to feed the world, they promise us. So what’s the real reason for their sudden altruism?

Don’t forget that there is already enough food to feed the world - on a vegetarian diet. What there is not enough of is animal feed - cereals to drive the predicted increase in meat consumption. The amount of productive land is diminishing through desertification and soil degradation, due largely - ironically - to intensive livestock agriculture. But the potential market for animal feed is huge.

The pharmaceutical giants who are pushing GMOs bank some $161 billion dollars between them every year. They walk hand in hand with agribusinesses and the livestock industry - often they are one and the same company. Intensive livestock farming accounts for over 40 percent of their income and these companies are responsible for producing the vast quantities of fodder consumed by farmed animals world-wide - as well as the cocktail of drugs, growth enhancers and pesticides which prop up intensive farming systems.

The driving need, therefore, is to make maximum use of existing land by destroying all weeds and wild plants which compete for nutrients, and to increase crop yields - hence genetic modification. Companies promoting GMOs are more interested in boosting the production of animal feed, and hence meat, than in feeding the world.

THE SOLUTION IS IN OUR HANDS

The fast growth of the world's population is a serious problem because it means there are more mouths to feed, resulting in more pressure on water, land, wildlife and so on. By 2050, the 49 least-developed countries will nearly triple in size, from 668 million to 1.86 billion people. By 2050, today’s developing countries will account for over 85 percent of the world population.

However, although this makes the hunger problem worse, it does not actually cause it. It is the growth of incomes and demand for 'luxury' items in rich countries that have triggered the hunger crisis. The world is a much wealthier place today than it was 40 years ago and as wages have risen they have encouraged large-scale meat eating in richer countries, heightening the competition for cereals between animals and humans.

A huge “consumption gap” exists between industrialized and developing countries. The world’s richest countries, with 20 percent of global population, account for 86 percent of total private consumption, whereas the poorest 20 percent of the world’s people account for just 1.3 percent.

A child born today in an industrialized country will add more to consumption and pollution over his or her lifetime than 30 to 50 children born in developing countries.

The decline in world fish stocks, the erosion of agricultural land and the limits of technology to boost grain yields mean we are fast approaching the limit of resources and the earth's carrying capacity. We need to rethink the way limited supplies of plant food are distributed and start feeding the world.

Eating meat is not the only reason for world hunger but it is a major cause. We must drastically change our eating habits if we are to feed the world adequately. People are going hungry while ever increasing numbers of animals are fed huge amounts of food in a hopelessly inefficient system.

By not using animals as meat producing machines, this food could be freed to help those that need it most. Veganism, by using up far less of the world’s resources of food, land water and energy, is a positive step that we can all easily take to help feed people in poorer countries.

HELP WITHOUT HURTING

Food For Life Global

Food For Life Global brings food to the needy of the world through the distribution of pure plant-based meals. Food For Life is active in over 50 countries worldwide, with over 1,500,000 meals served daily by volunteers at schools for the poor, orphanages, on the streets of major cities, and to disaster areas. Services include: food relief, schooling, nutrition, education, animal sanctuaries, orphanages, medical care, organic farming, housing and disaster response. Meals served by Food For Life projects cost on average 15 – 20 cents each.

All of Food for Life’s food programs are completely plant-based, providing a sustainable alternative to the environmental devastation and inhumane activities of the factory farming industry. Food For Life is a non-sectarian organization.

Food For Life volunteers, universally recognized for their selfless dedication, compassion, and bravery, can be found wherever people are suffering, bringing hope and relief to the needy. It's mission flows from its core values of charity and respect for all living things. Therefore its services are provided without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, community, or nationality.

Food for Life Global is funded by private donations, foundations, and corporate and government grants. With the support of its members and corporate sponsors, Food for Life Global seeks to maintain and expand its current programs to feed the world’s hungry and fight poverty by promoting health, education and sustainability.

Help make a difference...donate now or volunteer with Food For Life Global.


The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) is an award-winning international nonprofit charity dedicated to planting fruit trees to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming, strengthen communities, and improve the surrounding air, soil, and water. Programs strategically donate orchards where the harvest will best serve individuals for generations to follow, at places such as public schools, city parks, low-income neighborhoods, Native American reservations, international hunger relief sites, and animal sanctuaries.


VEGFAM

VEGFAM helps people overseas by providing funds for self-supporting, sustainable food projects and the provision of safe drinking water. VEGFAM funds ethically sound plant-food projects, which do not exploit animals or the environment: seeds and tools for vegetable growing, fruit and nut tree planting, irrigation and water wells. VEGFAM also provides emergency feeding in times of crisis.


Hippo

Help International Plant Protein Organisation provides emergency relief for the hungry in the less developed world, but just as importantly it encourages people to grow their own food - not meat or dairy but plant protein. Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) - made from soy - can feed 60 people from the same amount of land that would feed two people on meat - and is much more healthy and humane.

Mangrove Forests Are Suffering From Animal Agriculture

Mangrove forests are made up of trees that live along tropical and subtropical intertidal shorelines. The trees are easily recognizable by their dense mats of thick, stick-like roots that rise out of the mud and water. These roots (called “prop roots”) slow the movement of water as the tides flow in and out, allowing sediments to settle onto the muddy bottom.

There are approximately 80 species of mangrove trees, all with varying degrees of tolerance to tidal flooding, soil salinity, and nutrient availability. This creates zones of mangroves with the most salt-and water-loving species, such as the red mangrove, growing on the shoreline and in the water. The least salt-tolerant, such as the white mangrove, lives on higher ground where they are rarely inundated by tidal waters.

Because they cannot tolerate freezing temperatures, mangroves are only found in tropical and subtropical climates.

Mangrove Forests Provide Numerous Benefits

Equivalent to salt marsh wetlands in temperate zones, mangroves perform several of the same functions and provide many of the same benefits, making them extremely important habitats for both human and ecological communities.

 - Nursery for juvenile fish
 - Habitat for oysters, crabs and shrimp, and birds
 - Carbon sequestration and storage, decreasing the effect of global warming
 - Stabilize shorelines and prevent erosion
 - Buffer against hurricanes and tropical storms
 - Provide nutrients to neighboring ecosystems such as coral reefs and sea grass beds

Mangrove Forests Are Suffering and So Are We

Unfortunately, mangroves are highly threatened ecosystems. It is estimated that at least half of the world’s mangroves have been lost and continue to be destroyed at a rate of about one percent per year. 

Among the stressors are:

 - Coastal development driven by growing populations and tourism
 - Development of aquaculture, particularly shrimp farming
 - Agricultural run-off carrying pesticides and herbicides
 - Man-made changes in tidal or river flow that starve the system of sediment input
 - Sea level rise

The loss of mangrove forests means the loss of the benefits that these systems confer. Mangrove deforestation reduces the amount of carbon sequestration possible, and releases carbon stored in the soils, exacerbating the greenhouse gas effect. Coastal communities are left unprotected from the ravages of hurricanes and tropical storms, often causing millions and sometimes billions in damage to their buildings and infrastructure, not to mention the loss of life.

Deforested shorelines are subject to greater rates of erosion and are unable to keep pace with sea level rise. Nearby coral reefs, already heavily impacted by warming sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, disease and overfishing, suffer further pressure from sedimentation when mangroves are removed and can no longer filter the water.

Loss of mangrove habitat also impacts marine life and biodiversity.

Plant Only Once Veggies

Many gardeners grow perennial plants and flowers, enjoying their ornamental beauty year after year. But did you know there are a variety of perennial vegetables that can also be planted once and enjoyed for years to come? They are also among the healthiest veggies and are an inexpensive, one-time purchase.

Easy-to-grow perennial vegetables offer a healthy food source that comes back year after year. Here are 10 perennial veggies:
  • Scarlet Runner Beans: Scarlet runner beans are grown as ornamentals and are also edible as green beans and dried beans. The flowers are edible too, when cooked.
  • Sea Kale: Sea Kale is ornamental and the shoots, young leaves and flowers are edible.
  • Sorrel: Sorrel is an herb with tart, lemon-flavored leaves used in salads, soups, and sauces.
  • Jerusalem Artichoke: Jerusalem artichoke underground tubers can be eaten raw or cooked like potatoes.
  • Groundnut: Groundnut is a 6-foot vine with high-protein tubers that taste like nuttyflavored potatoes.
  • Bunching or Egyptian Onions: These onions continue to produce new onions even after being harvested.
  • Ostrich Fern: Ostrich ferns are ornamental and delicious.
  • Ramps or Wild Leeks: Ramps are an onion with edible leaves and bulbs.
  • Daylilies: Daylilies are primarily grown as ornamentals, and are common in the wild, but the flowers are also delicious in salads or battered and fried.
  • Good King Henry: Good King Henry is a European spinach with tasty shoots, leaves and flowers.

Plant Fruit Trees

Fruit trees can offer more return on effort than anything else in the garden. A single apple tree can produce up to 500 apples each season. Several fruit trees can offer 8 months of fruit for your family. Growing your own fruit saves you money, and ensures your fruit isn't laced with toxic chemicals.

Fruit trees can be planted in early spring or in fall and are available in two options: bare-root and in containers. Bare-root trees are common through online and mail-order sources. They are usually less expensive, and there is a greater variety available then containerized trees from a local nursery. When ordered, they are lifted from the ground at the nursery, the soil washed from the roots, then wrapped in moist peat or a similar material to keep them from drying out. Bare-root trees must be planted while dormant in late winter or early spring.

Containerized trees, usually purchased from local nurseries, are fully rooted in a pot and are available for a greater period of time spring through summer. Only the most popular varieties are usually available. Being established, they are easier to grow.

Fruit trees do best in full sun. Most need well-drained soil, though apples, plums and pears are more tolerant of poor drainage. Some fruit trees are self-pollinating, others require another variety to pollinate. Ask the nursery about the pollinating requirements for your trees.

Plant bare-root trees as soon as possible. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for a few hours before planting. Keep containerized trees well watered until planted. Dig holes twice as wide as the roots to help roots grow easily. The depth of the hole should be as deep, but not deeper, than the roots. Compost can be mixed into the hole if the soil is poor, but don't fertilize new fruit trees. Spread the roots out in the hole and tamp the soil around them firmly. Water thoroughly when first planted, then whenever the top 2 inches of soil are dry.

Fruit trees need an open shape to receive sufficient sunlight. They can be pruned when first planted, and each year in late winter before new growth begins. Remove any crossing, dead or diseased branches to create an open tree. Bare-root trees are usually pruned before you receive them, sometimes with all branches removed.

When fruit begins to appear, remove some of the fruit to ensure larger, better fruit growth. In early and late spring, each year, you can fertilize established fruit trees...though if they are doing well on their own, fertilizing may not be necessary.

Grow Fruits & Vegetables From Scaps

Recycle your kitchen scraps and reduce your grocery bills by growing fruits and vegetables from the scraps you usually throw away. It's simple, easy and you can do it indoors.

Potatoes: Potatoes can be grown from scraps. Allow a potato scrap with 1 to 2 eyes to dry thoroughly. Plant it in a small container and cover with a few inches of soil. As more roots appear, cover with additional soil.

Romaine lettuce: Place roots in a dish of water without fully submerging the entire plant. Place in the sun and spray with water once a week. You don’t need to put romaine lettuce in soil, but if you do the leaves will grow to twice the size.

Celery: Place celery in water with the stalks cut back to about an inch above the roots. Add sun and spritz with water once or twice a week.
Cabbage: Place cabbage roots in water with standing water kept away from the rest of the plant. Place in a sunny location and water twice a week.

Garlic: Plant a garlic clove with its root facing down. As it grows, cut back its shoots to end up with a fresh, new garlic bulb.

Lemongrass: Lemongrass stalk bottoms are too tough to use in cooking, but you can avoid throwing out half the plant by placing the stalks in water. Once roots develop, plant the lemongrass in soil and place in a sunny location.

Onions: Cover an onion root with soil and place it in a sunny location. Water as needed.

Pineapple: For those with patience, a pineapple can be grown from scraps in 2 to 3 years. While you’re waiting, you’ll have a unique indoor plant. Remove all fruit and green stalks from the top of the plant. Cut sections horizontally from the crown until you see the root buds. Leave about an inch of leaves at the base and plant in a warm place. Water often until established, then once a week.

Basil: Basil can be grown from basil cuttings by simply placing them in water. Change the water often to keep the plants from getting slimy.

Mushrooms: Mushrooms are one of the more difficult produce to re-grow. Mix soil and compost in a pot. Remove the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk in the soil with only the top exposed. Place in an area with filtered light by day and cool temperature by night.

Grow Your Own Medicinal Plants

Plants have been the main source of substances for pharmaceutical use for millennia. The majority of medicines have a natural origin before they are fortified with synthetic substances by the pharmaceutical industry. You can avoid the intermediary process and produce your own pharmaceutical plants in your own backyard. Fresh herbs are cheap, can be grown easily, can help with a wide array of symptoms, and cause relatively fewer adverse effects than drugs. Avoid running to your pharmacist whenever you have a minor ailment; go to your garden instead. Populate your pharmaceutical garden with the following potent medicinal plants. 

Basil

Basil may be a common element of Italian food, but it also has great medicinal properties. This fantastic herb can help transform both you and your garden. It is very rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for good vision, cell development, and immune health. Basil oil is rich in a compound named eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can comfort painful bones and joints just like over-the-counter ibuprofen. What’s more, it exhibits potent antibacterial properties and is effective even against antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm belongs to the mint family, which explains its beautiful aroma. It has been traditionally used for hundreds of years as a sleeping and anti-anxiety remedy, to facilitate digestion, and to treat cold sores and lesions. It has been scientifically proven that lemon balm helps fight herpes lesions around the lips and the genitals. Eugenol, which is also present in lemon balm, has antibacterial properties and is also used in dentistry, as a topical agent for cavities. You can use dried leaves of lemon balm to decorate your salads, or to make hot tea. 

Marigolds

Marigolds are yellow and orange flowers that are common in gardens and backyards. They are rich in antioxidant substances that scavenge free radicals, extremely reactive particles that can damage cells and genetic material and cause cancer. Research has shown that lutein, a substance with antioxidant properties that is present in marigold extract, has tumor-fighting properties. What’s more, marigolds fight inflammation, making them useful in the treatment of burns, scrapes, and irritated skin. Finally, they are useful in fighting pests, as insects are paralyzed within seconds after consuming it.

Sage

Sage is a native Mediterranean plant that can grow anywhere in the world, notorious for its multi-color appearance, with its purple, blue, pink and white flowers and leaves. With strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, sage strengthens the immune system and is particularly helpful against fungal infections. It is also traditionally known as a treatment for indigestion, mental issues, and muscular spasms. Moreover, it has been successfully used to treat hot flashes and menstrual cramps in women. There is some evidence that sage extract may positively affect cognition, making it a good candidate for an Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Finally, the plant itself adds a beautiful touch to any garden and can also be used as a potent additive to any cuisine. 

Comfrey

Comfrey, as its name suggest, is comforting in numerous ways. Its drooping flowers and bristly hairs are its distinctive characteristic. It was widely used in Ancient Greece to treat open wounds and broken bones, a use that continues to this day. These claims have been vindicated by science. The main ingredient of this herb is allantoin, a compound with moisturizing properties – hence its use in several products for the skin. It has been scientifically proven that comfrey is useful against ulcers, dermatitis, and swollen ankles. However, caution should be exercised, as comfrey also contains minute concentrations of alkaloids that have cancer-causing properties. This is why it is often recommended only to use comfrey externally.  

Thyme

Thyme is a member of Thymus, a genus indigenous to Asia and Europe. It has been typically used as a decoration element, while bees make honey from its pollen. Thyme exhibits strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Research has shown that thyme can be valuable in antimicrobial resistance, and is more effective in treating acne than many prescription topical preparations. It is also used to ease gastrointestinal and respiratory issues, arthritis and sore throat. In general, it is a great addition to your garden, and can also be used as a flavor-enhancing herb in your kitchen.

Echinacea

Echinacea is a famous herb, known for its use by Native Americans as a means of treating wounds and fighting off infections. Because it is resilient to drought, Echinacea can be cultivated very easily. During mid-summer, it blossoms into a gorgeous coneflower. Today it is widely used to shorten the course of common colds and infections of the sinuses. Also, many herbalists use it to treat bee stings, migraines, and urinary tract infections. During the summer, you can make Echinacea ice tea.  

Nettle

Nettle has been used for centuries to treat gout, arthritis, insect bites, allergies and infections of the urinary system. What’s more, nettle has a great taste and valuable cleansing properties with many uses in the kitchen. You can recognize it by its stinging hairs. Although they sting anything they touch, they surprisingly sooth already irritated skin. 

Yarrow

Greek mythology holds Achilles, the legendary warrior king, used yarrow for the treatment of open battle wounds. Yarrow is easy to cultivate and has an effect on almost every bodily function, with the liver, spleen, kidneys and bladder among others. Exhibiting potent antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, this panacea has a marvelous effect on a wealth of conditions, ranging from open wounds to indigestion. It has been successfully used to treat fever, rashes, and hypertension. In addition, its alkaloids can soothe menstruation pain as well. Collect yarrow from your garden to treat minor ailments and also fortify your soups, salads, and stir-fries.  

Chinese Yam

Chinese yam is a vine with great fame surrounding its medicinal properties. It has been used in the past for the treatment of diarrhea and sore throat, and also for controlling blood glucose and to counter weight gain. It has potent stomach and spleen-strengthening properties. Rich in vitamin B6, it shields against heart disease by removing homocysteine from circulation, an amino-acid that can harm the walls of veins and arteries. You can even eat this cinnamon-scented herb raw. 

Gardens can be so much more than a pleasing sight; they can provide food, pharmaceutical herbs, and life. If you grow your own pharmaceutical herbs, you can save money and improve your well-being.

Grow Food In Containers

Growing your own food is just smart and a great way to not have to rely on the stores to have what you want. Just because you live in an apartment or don't have much land doesn't mean you can't grow your own food. There are plenty of vegetables that do great in containers, such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, spinach, beets, and of course many herbs.

Take into consideration how big the plant gets and plant accordingly into the right size pot. Make sure it has a drainage hole or two, and never let your veggies dry out. Over-watering can be just as dangerous. A good rule of thumb to avoid over-watering is to plunge a popsicle stick into the soil. If soil sticks to it, it doesn't need watered.

If you have a spot in the yard at least 4x4 feet, you can have a great little raised garden bed and plant a variety of veggies.

Keep in mind that plants have friends and neighbor well with some better than others. This is called Companion Planting. An example of this is tomatoes like to be planted near carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, peppers. Do not plant corn or potatoes near your tomatoes. Beans do well with celery, corn, cucumbers, radish, strawberries and summer savory, but will not do well with garlic and onions. Planting mint near your cabbage will enhance the flavor of your cabbage. Marigolds near your tomatoes will deter tomato Aphids.

If you are new to gardening, container and small, raised bed gardening are great ways to start. Try an online search for Companion Gardening and Container Gardening...there is an entire world of information out there. Remember to start with non GMO seeds so you can save your seeds for next year's planting.

Teach your kids everything you learn; pass it on to them so they, too, can one day be self sustainable. Also, try canning to preserve your hard work and enjoy it in the winter.

Grow Your Own Food

Growing your own food and being self sustainable is something to really consider to save money and eat healthier. It used to be the way of life for most families, but we are now too dependent on the grocery stores or the older generation. It's not as hard as you would think and gets quite addicting!

Think about sewing your seeds indoors. All you need are some trays with holes in them, a larger pan to set the seed trays in so they can sit in water, seed planting soil, seeds of your choice, and a grow light or florescent bulb.

Follow the planting depth on the packages and then set them in the larger trays of water. Seeds are better off watered from the bottom. If you soak them, or let them get dry, they will probably never make it.

Cover the seed trays with plastic wrap and set the light on them about 2-3 inches above the trays. Once they sprout, raise the light a few inches and remove the plastic wrap.

Seeds like it warm, between 65-75 degrees. If you are only doing a couple of trays, set them on top of the fridge with their light.

Once the weather is closer to planting your seedlings, don't just throw them outside and plant them. Let them sit on the porch during the day and bring them back in at night. Do this for a few days to let them 'toughen up'. Then plant them as indicated on the pack.

Don't forget to label your seeds.

Plant A Garden

Gardens yield tasty and healthful produce three out of four seasons a year. Examples of the many types of produce you can grow in your home or community garden include: fresh sweet corn, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lima beans, green beans, watermelons, pumpkins, cantaloupes, peppers, carrots, squash, zucchini, broccoli, herbs, as well as ornamental plantings including sunflowers, pumpkins and gourds.

How much will a garden cost? The annual cost to maintain a garden is approximately $100-$200. This includes costs for seed, fertilizer, and crop protection products. But the fresh produce yielded from gardens help to offset grocery costs and help increase overall savings on money that would otherwise be spent on purchasing food.

Gardening organizations and Cooperative Extension offices can assist you with getting back into gardening. In addition to educational resources and workshops, you may gain access to garden plots, seeds, plants, tools and plowing services.

Tips For a Successful Garden
  • Select a well-drained site that receives direct sunlight. You can overcome the lack of a well-drained site through the use of raised beds.
  • Conduct a soil fertility test by taking random soil samples from the site and having them analyzed by your Cooperative Extension office or garden organization. Approximately one pint of soil is adequate for a soil test.
  • Prepare a good quality seed bed by tilling soil until no soil particles exceed a one-half inch diameter. Soil tillage should only occur when conditions are dry enough to allow breakup of soil.
  • Plan for your family’s tastes, nutritional needs, and availability of space. Some plants, like watermelons, consume a large surface area whereas a properly staked tomato utilizes more height than surface area.
  • Plant seeds and transplants under appropriate weather conditions for their growing behaviors. For example, broccoli, onions, and potatoes are early spring crops. Tomato transplants should not be in the garden until early May, and summer squash can be planted after the risk of last frost.
  • Make additional plantings to keep the garden producing throughout the summer. By planting two or three yellow squash every three weeks through August 1, a family should have fresh squash available from early June through October.
  • Consider conserving finances by sharing seed packets and larger quantities of transplants with others in your community. Store leftover seed in a cool, dry place to preserve germination.

Folk Medicine 101

Nature is a veritable pharmacy of medicinal plants. Flowers, roots, leaves, fruits, bark and seeds can be gathered, combined and prepared for healing. Herbs and ointments, teas and tonics, powders and salves have been a way of life for generations.

All cultures and societies have knowledge best described as folk medicine. Folk medicine often coexists with formalized, education based, and institutionalized systems of healing such as Western medicine.

Much of today's modern medicine was previously based on plants that had been long used in folk medicine. It is estimated that 40 percent of all the medicine on the shelves of today’s drugstores have plant origins. Many therapies that are currently called ‘alternative’ were prescribed by physicians less than a hundred years ago.

Native Americans had been roaming wild-lands for centuries discovering uses for plants, including medicinal. Early mountaineers created self-sufficient homesteads mostly independent from the outside economy. Collecting and making remedies was less expensive and more convenient. Remedies were passed on for generations.

Anthony Cavender wrote that the American pharmaceutical industry was primarily built on the plants found in the southern Appalachian mountains in his survey of Appalachian food-as-medicine. By the turn of the century, folk medicine was viewed as a practice used by poverty stricken communities and quacks. However, the rejection of synthetic or biomedical products has become a growing trend in Western society and allowed for a rise in the demand for natural medicines. When less developed countries are taken into account, it is estimated that over 50% of the world’s population relies on folk medicine practices.

Here is a small sampling of Folk Remedies:
  • Colds: Roast onions in ashes; Suck salty water up your nose; Create a tea with boiled pine needles.
  • Coughs: One teaspoon of white whiskey mixed with a pinch of sugar heated over a fire; Ground ginger mixed with sugar placed on tongue; Mash blood root stems, boil in water for 10 minutes, then strain; Four sticks of horehound candy dissolved in a pint of liquor.
  • Congestion: Apply a poultice to the chest with a roasted onion wrapped in a cloth and beaten until the juice soaks the cloth; Add rock candy to whiskey to create a syrup.
  • Sore Throats: Gargle warm salt water; Tie onions around your throat after baking in a fireplace; Gargle vinegar and water; Mash blood root stems, boil in water for 10 minutes, then strain.
  • Flu: 2 roots of wild ginger boiled in a cup of water then strained.
  • Arthritis: Steep alfalfa leaves and blooms in hot water for 10 minutes to create a tea.
  • Inflamed Lymph Nodes/ Rheumatism/Joint Pain: Boil pokeweed berries in hot water for 30 minutes then strain into a concentrated solution and add to a small amount of alcohol for use as a tincture; Mash blood root stems, boil in water for 10 minutes, then strain.

Commercial Fishing Causing Collapse

The majority of the world's fisheries are in a state of collapse. Too many boats are chasing too few fish. Many of the fish species currently in decline serve as important food sources for sea animals who, unlike humans, have no other food choices. In the Bering Sea, the effects of overfishing on marine animals are obvious. Fur-seal populations have not increased despite a long-standing ban on commercial hunting. The number of Steller's sea lions, which feed mostly on pollack (the number one ingredient in frozen fish sticks and served by fast food chains), has plunged 80% since the 1970s, and seabirds such as the red-legged kittiwake are also in trouble.

Modern fishing techniques have enabled humans to catch more fish than ever before, and the once seemingly abundant ocean is now being stripped of life.

In addition to the vast numbers of target fish being caught by today's fishermen, there are also non-target casualties. "Bycatch" is the name that fisheries have given to sea life that is caught, yet not wanted at the time. Bycatch may include dolphins, sea turtles, sea birds, starfish, or even commercially valuable fish not sought by a particular vessel.

DAMAGING FISHING TECHNIQUES

FACTORY TRAWLERS

These are industrial fishing vessels with large-mouthed nets wide enough to encompass three Statues of Liberty lined up end to end. Upon being cast into the ocean, these nets catch just about everything they touch. "Trawling" and "trolling" are sometimes confused, but trolling refers to a vessel towing bait near the surface of the water. With trawling, for every pound of commercial catch, 10 to 20 pounds of bycatch is caught and discarded as waste. As the huge nets drag across the sea floor, they not only capture sea creatures, they literally clear-cut the ocean floor, grinding up coral reefs and other habitats. By removing the organisms that provide shelter for little fish, trawling is not only breaking the food chain, but may also be the underlying cause of the recent collapse of many commercial groundfish stocks, which include cod, haddock, pollock and flounder. 

LONGLINES

These are fishing lines up to 80 miles long, which carry several thousand baited hooks at a time. These may catch swordfish, sablefish and sometimes tuna. Frequently, longlines catch other sea animals including sharks and sea birds. Worldwide, an estimated 180,000 birds die on longline hooks each year. Scientists agree that longline fishing severely impacts at least 13 seabird species, 3 of which are globally threatened with extinction. About 10% of the world's wandering albatross population is killed each year by longlines. Sharks have also been severely impacted by longline fishing, often killed just for their fins to be used in soup. Sharks have slow growth and reproductive rates, which makes them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. 

PURSE SEINE

These vessels will surround a school of fish with a large net, which is closed off at the bottom with a cable. This technique can trap an entire school of tuna as well as other fish. In the Eastern Pacific, yellow fin tuna often travel with dolphins (for reasons yet unknown), who are vulnerable to entanglement in purse seines if herded and encircled by the net. 

MARINE MAMMAL CONFLICTS

Many marine mammals eat the same fish that humans do. In the past, subsistence cultures that fished only to meet the needs of their villages had few conflicts with marine mammals. Today, commercial fisheries strive to profit by catching as many fish as possible, while marine mammals are perceived as competition. The fish that these marine mammals eat to survive is considered lost industry profit. Too often, many marine mammals become scapegoats for declining fish stocks and are harassed or killed. Other times, certain types of fishing gear inadvertently harms non-target marine mammals.

SEALS & FISHERY CONFLICTS


Fishermen claim that seals are a costly menace, because they damage nets and eat or wound fish that "belong" to the fishermen. Despite the fact that most of the world's fisheries are in trouble due to overfishing, fisheries mismanagement, and pollution, fishermen routinely blame seals for reduced catches. Complaints by fishermen often lead to seal slaughters or "culls," which are crude and cruel attempts to boost fishery yields. However, there is little scientific evidence that seal slaughters help replenish fish stocks. In fact, removing large numbers of seals may actually hurt fish stocks, as other animals usually eaten by seals also eat commercial fish or compete with them for the same food. Additionally, fish eaten by seals account for only a small proportion of the fish that are removed from the marine environment. In some cases, fishermen remove 25 times more than seals, while other fish may eat 30 times more.

OTTERS & SHELLFISH

To stay warm in the North Pacific's cool waters, a 50-pound adult otter will consume a quarter of its body weight each day, which equates to roughly 16 pounds of crab, lobster, urchins, oysters and clams. The shellfish industry of Southern California owes its success to the near eradication of the sea otter by fur traders almost 100 years ago. As the sea otter population is slowly recovering and has begun to reclaim its native range, the shellfish industry has pushed for the enforcement of "otter-free zones." These zones are created when otters are removed from their rightful place in the ecosystem, and relocated to less productive areas where fishermen, and subsequently otters, have little interest. Sea otter relocation efforts are doomed to fail, as otters cannot recognize the invisible line that surrounds an "otter-free zone." Once relocated, otters fail to thrive. Relocation not only disrupts the sea otter social structure, but it increases food competition and causes territorial disputes, which ultimately results in more otter deaths.

DOLPHINS & TUNA

Some species of tuna swim with dolphins. This special relationship has led to the depletion of both species, as fishermen locate tuna by looking for leaping dolphins. Scientists have confirmed that chasing and netting dolphins causes harm to their populations and suppresses their recovery. In 1986, before the original "dolphin safe" law went into effect, 133,000 dolphins were reported killed because of tuna fishing. In 1988, thanks to strict guidelines that prohibited the netting of dolphins, deaths were reported at less than 2,000. But in 1999, dolphin protection took a huge step backward. New guidelines have rendered the label meaningless, as tuna companies that encircle dolphins with huge nets are now allowed to label their tuna as "dolphin safe." Tuna are also in trouble from commercial fishing. Within the next few decades, blue fin tuna are expected to reduce to 10% of their historic range. Most blue fin on the market today are juveniles, as nearly all of the adults have been caught. Bigeye, yellowfin and albacore tuna populations are also declining.

SEA TURTLES & SHRIMP

All but one of the eight species of sea turtles are listed on the U.S. Endangered Species List, and all are protected under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Despite this protection, it is estimated that worldwide 155,000 sea turtles drown in shrimp nets each year -- many in U.S. waters. "Turtle-Safe" shrimp is caught with Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), which attach to shrimp nets and allow turtles to escape. While sea turtle drownings are almost entirely eliminated by the use of TEDs and are required in U.S. waters, some fishermen disable them because they mistakenly believe that TEDs reduce shrimp catches. Shrimp that is imported to the U.S. is also supposed to be caught with TEDs, however, regulation and compliance of foreign vessels is very questionable. And unfortunately, while TEDs may help protect sea turtles, they are unable to remedy the devastating damage that shrimp nets cause as they drag across the sea floor, destroying critical habitat and food sources for sea turtles and other sea life.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Go vegan. Eliminate fish and other animal products from your diet.

Support legislation that sets strict standards for commercial fishing.

Urge National Parks, National Marine Sanctuaries and National Wildlife Refuges to prohibit commercial and recreational fishing within their boundaries. 

If you witness a marine mammal being harassed by fishermen or injured by fishing gear, contact the National Marine Fisheries Service. The toll-free, national phone number for the enforcement division is 1-800-853-1964. 

If you witness any other wild animals (ducks, geese, raccoons, etc.) being harassed by fishermen or injured by fishing gear, call your state Fish and Wildlife or Fish and "Game" department listed in the Government section of your local phone book. 

When visiting a beach, lake or river, pick up any discarded fishing gear that you see and dispose of it properly.

Prairie Grasslands Threatened By Animal Agriculture

No other ecosystem in America removes as much carbon from the atmosphere as prairie grasslands. Some carbon that is produced by our giant industrial complex is recycled into the fertile soils that have become a breadbasket for the entire world.

The rolling acres of grassland stretching across the center of the United States are a classic American image. Early European settlers of this eco-region were so impressed by these endless grasslands that they compared them to the ocean, and named their wagons "prairie schooners" after large ships of the time. Less than 4 percent of this once vast prairie grassland survives today.

It is fascinating to note that 80% of prairie plant life is underground. Long tentacled root systems survive grazing, fire and flood to sprout each spring and renew an amazing cycle of life that, due to its low lying subtlety, is often over looked.

The prairie grasslands begin with the Great Plains at the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains and extend all the way to the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern part of the country. The Rocky Mountains prevent moist air from moving over the Great Plains, and this "rain shadow" helps to keep the prairie grasslands extremely dry. However, it is not just the lack of rain that makes the prairie a harsh place to live. Twelve thousand years ago, retreating glaciers left behind a flat landscape open to extreme heat in the summer and extreme cold in the winter. The lack of geographic barriers or cover means that the wind runs rampant across the plains, leading to the "black blizzards" of the 1930s Dust Bowl and continuously endangering agriculture.

Despite these extremes, many plants and animals such as wildflowers, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, prairie dogs, and coyotes make their homes in the prairie grasslands. In addition, small, isolated wetlands dot the dry prairies, providing much-needed water and aquatic habitat for birds.

In the Northern Great Plains, these wetlands formed as the glaciers receded and left round, sunken areas behind them. Rain and groundwater fill these depressions during certain times of year, creating scattered wetland habitat known as "prairie potholes."

The Prairie Pothole Region in the Northern Great Plains contains 5-8 million small wetlands and some of the most important freshwater resources in North America. Bullrushes, sedges, and cattails grow on the edges of these potholes because they prefer standing water, and these plants in turn provide food and shelter for other species, such as birds. More than half of the migratory waterfowl in North America depend on prairie potholes for their survival.

THREATS TO PRAIRIE GRASSLANDS

Human activity has damaged many Great Plains habitats, primarily through agricultural and livestock activity in the region. For example, only 40-50% of the original prairie pothole wetlands remain intact and undrained today.

Climate change will affect the prairie grasslands ecoregion by pushing temperatures higher and decreasing rainfall in certain areas. Climate records reveal that while the average annual temperatures in the United States have increased about 1°F (0.6°C) over the past hundred years, average temperatures on the central and northern Great Plains have risen by at least 2°F (1.1°C). In some areas, such as North and South Dakota and portions of Montana, average temperatures have increased as much as 5.5°F (3.1 °C).

In addition to rapidly rising temperatures, patterns of rainfall have changed over the same time period so that the eastern areas of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado have suffered a decrease in precipitation of 10%. Climate models predict that this increased drought in some areas will cause wetlands to relocate or disappear. Climate change will challenge wetlands in particular, because most wetlands in the plains occur where the effects of climate change are predicted to be most severe. These findings imply that climatically drier portions of the Prairie Pothole Region, including areas that migratory birds rely on, are especially vulnerable. However, higher temperatures and decreased precipitation will make life harder for the entire region.

Share Your Property With Animals

Despite ever shrinking green space, the animals that share the Earth with us are trying to survive. Our homes, offices and shopping centers were developed on what was once forest and fields. Chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, possums, skunks, raccoons, ground hogs and deer are not the invaders. We are. Please remember this when these displaced animals forage for food on your property or try to find places to bear and rear their young.

With education and raised awareness, more and more people are choosing the enlightened and compassionate way to protect their homes and gardens from unwanted animal visitors. There are many humane alternatives to killing. Simple commonsense and prevention are the best forms of animal control.

Raccoons and possum are attracted by garbage. Keep all leftover food inside until the night before trash pick-up. Seal organic garbage in plastic bags (a good way to reuse sandwich or storage bags) and refrigerate or, better yet, freeze it. The less your garbage smells, the less likely it will attract an animal. Use trashcans, with locking lids, where allowed. Otherwise, use heavy-duty, tightly tied trash bags.

With so few places left to burrow or nest, raccoons, possums, skunks and ground hogs will look for safe haven wherever they can find it. They will seek out the weak spots around your home. Neglect invites these animals. A well maintained home does not. 

Install lattice under porches and decks to block animals from nesting. Another option is stainless steel screening that can be sunk into the ground around the inhabited area. A one-way gate is installed that allows the animal to leave, but will not allow it to return. Only install this form of prevention when there are no babies in the nest.

Keep your garage or shed door tightly closed and repair broken boards at the bottom of cracks in the foundation.

Seal all openings under the roofline and cap your chimney. Do not do this if an animal has already entered. Wait until the animal has left to look for food. And be certain that there are no babies left behind. Do not use mothballs or ammonia to flush the animal out. You will kill the babies. A radio tuned to a talk show will sometimes disturb the mother enough to cause her to move out with her babies.

Your garden, whether it is a flower garden or you grow vegetables, will tempt any animal that forages for vegetation. There are a variety of repellants commercially available that claim to keep animals away. These range in cost and effectiveness. And there are recipes for homemade, foul smelling deterrents all over the Internet. The same commercial products used to repel cats and dogs often deter raccoons.

Another option is a mechanical device. Motion-activated sprinklers can be purchased that shoot a stream of water at an intruder, like a remote squirt gun. Loud or annoying sounds can also be set to go off like a security alarm, whenever movement is detected.

Polypropylene netting is sold to cover plants and keep deer and rabbits from eating them, but this netting can put other wildlife at risk. Small birds, toads and other animals could become trapped in the mesh. The netting is also very difficult to work with and expensive in large quantities.

By far the most effective “critter control” is fencing. A low voltage, electrified fence can be effective for all animals, but this option can be expensive. Chicken wire has served the purpose for years. A picket fence may be charming, but deer can jump those of average height. Decorative metal fencing looks good and should keep out all but the most intrepid deer.  A low-tech method is simply a nylon string, stretched across your garden perimeter, chest-high. A deer will back off when it feels the tension.

Deer can be the most destructive of all the animals that come into your garden to forage. In addition to the measures above, you could simply plant as many deer resistant plants as possible. The following is a list of plants that deer will “rarely” damage or “seldom severely” damage. Ask your nursery expert or search online. You can find photos of beautiful plants that won’t tempt the creatures in your garden.

Allegheny Spurge  (Pachysandra procumbens) -Groundcover
American Holly (Ilex opaca) -Tree
Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia sp. (Datura) -Annual
Anise (Pimpinalla anisum) -Annual
Anise Hyssop  (Agastache sp.) -Perennial
Annual Vinca  (Catharanthus rosea) -Annual
Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) -Shrub
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum sp.) -Bulb
Barberry (Berberis sp.) -Shrub
Barrenwort (Epimedium sp.) -Groundcover
Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) -Shrub 
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) -Groundcover
Big Bluestem (Andropogon sp.) -Ornamental Grass
Bigleaf Goldenray (Ligularia dentate) -Perennial
Bishop's Weed  (Aegopodium podagaria) -Groundcover
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) -Perennial
Blue Fescue  (Festuca glauca) -Ornamental Grass
Blue Mist Shrub  (Caryopteris clandonensis) -Shrub 
Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) -Ornamental Grass
Bluebell (Endymion sp.) -Bulb
Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) -Tree
Broom (Cytisus sp.) -Shrub
Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) -Groundcover
Bush Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) -Shrub
Butter & Eggs (Linaria vulgaris) -Perennial
Buttercup (Ranunculus sp.) -Perennial
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia sp.) -Shrub
Cactus (Cactaceae sp.) -Perennial
Catmint (Nepeta sp.) -Perennial
Christmas Fern (Polystichum arcostichoides) -Fern
Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) -Fern
Clump Bamboo (Fargesia sp.) -Ornamental Grass
Coleus (Coleus sp.) -Annual
Common Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) -Shrub
Common Foxglove  (Digitalis purpurea) -Biennial
Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) -Perennial
Corydalis (Corydalis sp.) -Perennial
Crown Imperial, Fritilia (Fritilaria imperialis) -Bulb
Daffodil  (Narcissus sp.) -Bulb
Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) -Perennial
Daphne (Daphne sp.) -Shrub
Devil's Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa ) -Shrub
Dill -Herb 
Drooping Leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana) -Shrub
Dusty Miller (Centaurea cineraria) -Annual
Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica') -Tree
European Ginger  (Asarum europaeum) -Perennial
False Camomile (Matricaria sp.) -Annual
False Indigo (Baptisia australis) -Perennial
Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis sp.) -Ornamental Grass
Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana sp.) -Annual
Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sp.) -Perennial
Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica) -Annual
Fountain Grass  (Pennisetum alopecuroides) -Ornamental Grass
Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatic) -Shrub
Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia) -Perennial
Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis) -Perennial
Germander (Teucrium Chamaedrys) -Perennial
Giant Japanese Silver Grass (Miscanthus floridulis) -Ornamental Grass
Giant Reed  (Arundo donax) -Ornamental Grass 
Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) -Ornamental Grass
Greek Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis sp.) -Perennial
Hakonechloa (Hakonechloa macra) -Ornamental Grass
Hard Rush (Juncus Effusus) -Ornamental Grass
Hayscented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) -Fern
Heath (Erica sp.) -Shrub
Heather (Calliuna sp.) -Shrub
Heliotrope (Heliot-opium arborescens) -Annual
Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) -Fern
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) -Perennials 
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) -Perennials 
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) -Perennials 
Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) -Ornamental Grass 
Iris  (Iris sp.) -Perennial
Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphylum) -Perennial 
Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergiana) -Tree
Japanese Blood Grass (cylindrical) -Ornamental Grass
Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium goeringianum) (nipponicum) -Fern
Japanese Pieris, (Andromeda Pieris japonica) -Shrub
Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia) -Shrub
Japanese Sedge  (Carex sp) -Ornamental Grass 
Japanese Silver Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) -Ornamental Grass
Japanese Skimmia (Skimmia japonica) -Shrub
Japanese Spirea  (Spiraea japonica) -Shrub 
Japanese Sweet Flag (Acorus sp.) -Ornamental Grass 
John T. Morris Holly (Ilex x 'John T. Morris') -Shrub 
Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum)-Tree 
Ladys' Mantle  (Alchemilla sp.) -Perennial 
Lamb's Ear  (Stachys byzantine) -Perennial
Large Blue June Grass (Koeleria glauca) -Ornamental Grass 
Larkspur (Consolida ambigua) -Annual
Lavendar (Lavandula sp.) -Perennial
Lavender-Cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) -Perennial 
Leatherleaf Mahonia (Mahonia bealei) -Shrub
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis ) -Perennials 
Lenten or Christmas Rose (Helleborus sp.) -Perennial 
Lily of the Valley  (Convallaria majalis) -Groundcover
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) -Ornamental Grass
Lungwort  (Pulmonaria sp.) -Perennial
Lydia Morris Holly (Ilex x 'Lydia Morris') -Shrub
Lyme Grass (Leymus arenarius glaucous) -Ornamental Grass
Marjoram (Majorana) -Perennial
May Apple (Podophyllum) -Perennial 
Meadow Rue (Thalictrum sp.) -Perennial
Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) -Tree
Mint (Mentha sp.) -Perennial
Monkshood (Aconitum sp.) -Perennial
Moonglow Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum 'Moonglow') -Shrub
Mountain Pieris (Pieris floribunda) -Shrub 
New York Fern (Thelyptens noveboracensis) -Fern
Northern Sea Oats  (Chasmanthium latifolium) -Ornamental Grass
Oregano (Oreganum sp). -Perennial
Oregon Grape Holly  (Mahonia aquifolium) -Shrub 
Oriental Fountain Grass (Pennisetum orientale) -Ornamental Grass 
Ornamental Onion  (Allium sp.) -Perennial
Ornamental Onion  (Allium sp.) -Bulb
Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) -Fern
Pachysandra  (Pachysandra terminalis) -Groundcover 
Pampus Grass (Cortaderia selloana) -Ornamental Grass
Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) -Tree
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) -Tree
Peony (Paeonia sp.) -Perennial
Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) -Tree
Poppy (Papaver sp.) -Annual
Pot Marigold (Calendula sp.) -Annual
Potentilla, Cinquefoil (Potentilla sp.) -Perennial
Prince of Wales Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis 'Prince of Wales') -Shrub
Purple Moor Grass (Molinia caerulea) -Ornamental Grass
Purple Rock-Cress (Aubretia deltoidea) -Perennial
Ravenna Grass (Erianthus ravennae) -Ornamental Grass
Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) -Shrub
Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) -Tree
River Birch (Betula nigra)  -Tree
Rock-Cress (Arabis caucasica) -Perennial
Rocket Ligularia (Ligularia 'The Rocket') -Perennial
Rodgers Flower (Rodgersia sp.) -Perennial
Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria) -Perennial
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) -Annual
Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) -Fern
Rue (Ruta sp.) -Perennial
Russian Cypress (Microbiota decussate) -Shrub
Russian Olive  (Elaeagnus angustifolia) -Shrub
Russian Sage  (Perovskio atriplicifolia) -Perennial
Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) -Fern
Siberian Bugloss (Bruneria macrophylla) (Brunnera) -Perennial
Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica) -Bulb
Silver Mound   (Artemisia sp.) -Perennial
Small Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro) -Perennial
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) -Annual
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) -Bulb
Snow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) -Annual
Spider Flower  (Cleome sp.) -Annual
Spotted Deadnettle   (Lamium sp.) -Groundcover
Spurge  (Euphorbia sp.) (except 'Chameleon') -Perennial 
Statice  (Limonium latifolium) -Perennial
Strawflower (Helichrysum) -Annual
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritime) -Annual
Sweet Box  (Sarcoccoca hookeriana) -Shrub
Sweet Woodruff  (Galium odoratum) (Asperula odorata) -Groundcover
Switch Grass  (Panicum virgatum) -Ornamental Grass
Tarragon  (Artemisia dracunculus) -Perennial
Threadleaf  (Coreopsis Coreopsis verticillata) -Perennial
Thyme  (Thymus sp.) -Perennial
Variegated Purple Moor Grass  (Molinia caerulea 'Variegata') -Ornamental Grass
Varigated Oat Grass  (Arrhenatherum elatius -Ornamental Grass
Weeping Love Grass  (Eragrostus curvula) -Ornamental Grass
Wild Ginger  (Asarum canadense) -Perennial
Winter Aconite  (Eranthus hyemalis -Bulb
Wood Fern  (Dryopteris marginalis) -Fern
Yucca (Yucca filimentosa) -Perennial

Oceans Are On The Verge Of Collapse

The world’s oceans are on the verge of collapse. The overexploitation of fish has tripled since the 1970s, rapidly depleting the seas of fish. About 90 percent of the world’s fish have now been fully or overfished, and a 17 percent increase in production is expected by 2025, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The UN's The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) says that the state of the world's marine “resources” is not improving. Almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now fished at biologically unsustainable levels, triple the level of 1974. Some 31.4 percent of the commercial wild fish stocks regularly monitored by FAO have been overfished.

The situation in the Mediterranean and Black Sea - where 59% of assessed stocks are fished at biologically unsustainable levels - is alarming. This is especially true for larger fish such as hake, mullet, sole and sea breams. In the Eastern Mediterranean, the possible expansion of invasive fish species associated to climate change is a concern.

Globally, fish provide 6.7 percent of all protein consumed by humans. Some 57 million people are engaged in the primary fish production sectors, a third of them in aquaculture.

Fishery products account for one percent of all global merchandise trade in value terms, representing more than nine percent of total agricultural exports.

The depletion of the oceans' fish starts with consumer demand. You can make a difference by eliminating your consumption of seafood. Go vegan. The average person can save 225 fish and 151 shellfish a year by cutting seafood from their diet.

Coral Reefs In Crisis

Coral reef ecosystems are complex, dynamic, and sensitive systems. Although they are geologically robust and have persisted through major climactic shifts, they are however, sensitive to small environmental perturbations over the short-term.

Natural And Human Influences

Slight changes in one component of the ecosystem affect the health of other components. Changes may be attributed to a number of causes but generally fall into two categories, natural disturbances and anthropogenic disturbances. Distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic disturbance is not always simple because the impacts of human actions may not be seen until well after the action has occurred, or may not be seen until it is coupled with a natural disturbance. Also, some events that appear to be natural may have been influenced by human actions. Impacts may be direct or indirect and may be compounded where several occur. For these reasons, it is often difficult to make cause-and-effect linkages when reef degradation is observed.

Natural Disturbances

Coral reef ecosystems are naturally variable and experience natural disturbances that vary on both temporal and spatial scales. Natural disturbance events that affect coral reefs include tropical storms, outbreaks of a coral predators, disease, extended periods of elevated or low water temperatures, and extremely low tides.

Although these events disturb the reefs and may kill a significant amount of coral, they are part of a natural cycle that reefs experience and the reef ecosystem may benefit in other ways. The destruction caused by a hurricane, for example, opens space for reef organisms that had been excluded by larger and longer lived corals. Hurricanes also flush out accumulated sediment within the reef and create more substrate for organisms to settle and grow on.

A healthy reef ecosystem will eventually recover from natural disturbance events. However, when these natural disturbances occur to a reef system that has been impacted by human activities, the reef system may have a reduced or even no capacity to rebound. A natural disturbance acting synergistically with accumulated human impacts may result in destruction that is not reversed in the same time frame it naturally would occur.

Coral reefs around the world have experienced major recent natural disturbances. These natural events may have been influenced by human activities.

Human Influences

A recent World Resources Institute report estimates that nearly 60 percent of the world's reefs are threatened by increasing human activity. The expanding human population and its activities may impact coral reef health in a number of ways.

Development, urbanization, and agriculture lead to increases in freshwater runoff, polluted runoff, sedimentation, and nutrient inputs. Growing industry and automobile usage cause an increase in emissions contributing to the green house effect and chemical deposition from air to water. Commercial and private vessel traffic mean the possibility of fuel leaks or spills, vessel groundings, and anchor damage.

Harvest of reef resources is also taking a toll on the health of coral reef ecosystems.

Overfishing on reefs leads to an unbalanced ecosystem, allowing more competitive or less desirable organisms to become dominant. Fishing methods such as the use of explosives and poisons severely harm reefs and reef organisms.

Harvest of coral skeleton for souvenirs depletes healthy corals or substrate where coral larvae might have settled.

Increased tourism in areas of coral reef habitat contributes to increased pressure from scuba diving, recreational fishing, and vessel traffic.

The Other Greenhouse Gases

Just as too little greenhouse gas makes Earth too cold, too much greenhouse gas makes Earth too warm. Over the last century, humans have burned coal, oil, and gasoline in our cars, trucks, planes, trains, power plants, and factories. Burning such fossil fuels produces CO2 as a waste product. Putting so much new CO2 into the air has made Earth warmer. If we continue on our current path, we will cause even more warming.

CO2 is a big part of the carbon cycle. The carbon cycle traces carbon's path from the atmosphere, into living organisms, then turning into dead organic matter, going into the oceans, and back into the atmosphere. Scientists describe the cycle in terms of sources (parts of the cycle that add carbon to the atmosphere) and sinks (parts of the cycle that remove carbon from the atmosphere).

The carbon cycle traces carbon's path from the atmosphere, into living organisms, to dead organic matter, to oceans, and back into the atmosphere. They key to keeping everything in balance is for the sources and sinks to have the same amount of CO2.

The most important sinks are the ocean (which includes the seawater itself, the organisms living there, and the sediments on the sea floor) as well as plants and soil on land. The ocean stores most of the world's carbon, but forests are really important too. Forests and oceans each remove around one-fourth of the carbon we humans have added to the atmosphere.

But besides CO2 there are other greenhouse gases. These include water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.

Without any greenhouse gases, Earth would be an icy wasteland. Greenhouse gases keep our planet livable by holding onto some of Earth’s heat energy so that it doesn’t all escape into space. This heat trapping is known as the greenhouse effect.

Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than all transportation put together. A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute.

Causes Of Deforestation

People have been deforesting the Earth for thousands of years, primarily to clear land for crops or livestock. Although tropical forests are largely confined to developing countries, they aren’t just meeting local or national needs; economic globalization means that the needs and wants of the global population are bearing down on them as well. Direct causes of deforestation are agricultural expansion, wood extraction (e.g., logging or wood harvest for domestic fuel or charcoal), and infrastructure expansion such as road building and urbanization. Rarely is there a single direct cause for deforestation. Most often, multiple processes work simultaneously or sequentially to cause deforestation.

The single biggest direct cause of deforestation is conversion to cropland and pasture, mostly for subsistence, which is growing crops or raising livestock. The conversion to agricultural land usually results from multiple direct factors. For example, countries build roads into remote areas to improve overland transportation of goods. The road development itself causes a limited amount of deforestation. But roads also provide entry to previously inaccessible—and often unclaimed—land. Logging, both legal and illegal, often follows road expansion (and in some cases is the reason for the road expansion). When loggers have harvested an area’s valuable timber, they move on. The roads and the logged areas become a magnet for settlers—farmers and ranchers who slash and burn the remaining forest for cropland or cattle pasture, completing the deforestation chain that began with road building. In other cases, forests that have been degraded by logging become fire-prone and are eventually deforested by repeated accidental fires from adjacent farms or pastures.

Although subsistence activities have dominated agriculture-driven deforestation in the tropics to date, large-scale commercial activities are playing an increasingly significant role. In the Amazon, industrial-scale cattle ranching and soybean production for world markets are increasingly important causes of deforestation, and in Indonesia, the conversion of tropical forest to commercial palm tree plantations to produce bio-fuels for export is a major cause of deforestation on Borneo and Sumatra.

Although poverty is often cited as the underlying cause of tropical deforestation, analyses of multiple scientific studies indicate that that explanation is an oversimplification. Poverty does drive people to migrate to forest frontiers, where they engage in slash and burn forest clearing for subsistence. But rarely does one factor alone bear the sole responsibility for tropical deforestation.

State policies to encourage economic development, such as road and railway expansion projects, have caused significant, unintentional deforestation in the Amazon and Central America. Agricultural subsidies and tax breaks, as well as timber concessions, have encouraged forest clearing as well. Global economic factors such as a country’s foreign debt, expanding global markets for rainforest timber and pulpwood, or low domestic costs of land, labor, and fuel can encourage deforestation over more sustainable land use.

Access to technology may either enhance or diminish deforestation. The availability of technologies that allow “industrial-scale” agriculture can spur rapid forest clearing, while inefficient technology in the logging industry increases collateral damage in surrounding forests, making subsequent deforestation more likely. Underlying factors are rarely isolated; instead, multiple global and local factors exert synergistic influences on tropical deforestation in different geographic locations.
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