I am being featured on a really cool and unusual travel writing website today! It is the Rollerbag Goddess, home to the talented editor that helped to make Recipe For A Green Life, the book, what it is.
If these rules pass, all manufacturers of GMOs won’t have to report experiments and other activity to the USDA or to organic farmers who are nearby. Not only would this make new GMOs that are introduced unsafe, it is an unethical and unjust proposal.
Currently, the USDA will be taking comments from the public regarding the proposed rules (Docket No. APHIS-2018-0034-0037), where the USDA would allow self-regulation for GE companies and crops.
Take Action Now Submit Your Comments By August 6th:
Cornucopia Institute recommends that you form your own comments based on their suggestions, if needed. Here is a link to their action alert for suggestions on what to write.
And here is the link to submit your comments. The deadline to comment is 11:59 pm EST, August 6th, 2019.
A friend of mine recently told me about the Real Organic Project (ROP). I finally had some time to look at what they are doing. It turns out that what they are doing is nothing short of epic and heroic. I have added them to this site’s Resources page, and want to introduce you to them as well.
In their “About Us” pages, ROP explains how and when the US government led organic label came to be compromised. It also outlines their own response to this crisis. ROP are an important part of the movement to uphold real and true organic standards, practices, and labels. This includes the welfare and treatment of animals, soil, and also, identifying the inappropriate fit of the organic label for hydroponics issues and standards.
Their website includes all of their standards, who they are, Real Organic Project certified farms, and more. There are no fees to become certified by ROP, and they welcome donations. This is definitely an organization to support. Check it out!
The Juliana v. US lawsuit established that young people have a constitutional right to “a climate system capable of sustaining human life.” That right is being violated. On Tuesday, June 4th, tune in to the livestream of the plaintiffs’ hearing and post with #AllEyesOnJuliana 👀 so that the government can see how many are watching as it tries to deny the rights of young people in court.
We need the U.S. government to know that the American people are watching. We need #AllEyesOnJuliana👀
Environmental news, like a lot of news, can be extremely painful to take in. I have a general rule that I don’t share potentially soul-crushing or viscerally painful news unless there is a way to take action to change the situation in some way — like a petition, call to action, or steps to change things. It is important to avoid battle fatigue, and to avoid feeling triggered, while also feeling helpless about a situation. However, I am going to break my rule for this story. Not that we can’t do anything in response to this story — we can. It just isn’t as simple or straightforward as a petition kind of action. I am compelled to share this because this story is important. It is about our ocean, ocean life, food, and the strength and importance of Indigenous communities. It is about the state of our humanity while we face and respond ethically, and in time, to tragic, hospice-like chain reactions that are occurring because of exploitation, excess consumerism, corruption, fossil fuels and climate change.
What I am sharing with you today contains dynamics that are viscerally painful to me. My heart and body literally ache, knowing this, and similar situations around the world are happening. Yet, within the facts and story, the action being taken by Indigenous humans (in general, and in this story specifically), is the best of what people are meant to be, and can be. While we cannot alleviate all the suffering upon the planet, we can afford time and energy for knowing about and supporting fellow humans who are bravely standing up for the voiceless (who are enduring lengthy suffering and death). We can find ways to do the same, joining Native Americans, and Indigenous around the world, in solidarity.
Orca whales of the Salish Sea (in the Seattle and Bellingham Washington and Vancouver, Canada region) are starving to death.
This has been going on for some time, and right now, it is the worst it has been. For the orcas, their forever home, the Salish Sea, has become a forced hospice room. Forced, because the whales are not sick. They are perfectly healthy. It is their home waters that are polluted, and it is their food source that is gone — greedily taken by over-fishing and excess consumption. Their mainstay, Chinook salmon, are endangered.
Levi Pulkkinen, at The Guardian, reported about this today: in the last ten years the orca population has gone from 200 to 75, the current pod is starving, orca babies are not surviving birth, and those that do are not surviving into adulthood. The ocean was once teeming with Chinook salmon, and now the salmon are endangered. Organizations like the NOAA and Washington state fishery officials are just now beginning to work together to establish salmon in the water, so as to save the remaining orcas.
While that is a little bit of good news that the organizations of the region are acting to do something finally, that is not the amazing part of the news in the article from The Guardian.
The amazing news is that the Lummi Nation (the Native American tribe of that region in Washington state) has made a formal commitment to the orcas of the Salish Sea by way of ceremony. A salmon was released into the water, as a message to the orcas that the Lummi Nation and the orcas are family, and that the Lummi Nation will not abandon or ignore the orcas in their time of suffering and need.
The fish slipped to the orca was both a prayer and a signal to the starving whales that the tribe would not sit back and watch them vanish.
Levi Pulkkinen, “A pod of orcas is starving to death. A tribe has a radical plan to feed them”
I recommend reading the article for the entire account regarding the Lummi Nation and the orcas.
The Lummi are not the only ones sending messages. The orca have been too. Last summer an orca, whose baby had died hours after birth, carried the baby for 17 days. The way that she carried her deceased orca baby was to hold the baby above water, in order for humans to see this. Her pod left her, and she stayed there for weeks, showing humans that what they are doing, and not doing, is wrong. According to Pulkkinen’s article, the Lummi Nation agrees that the orca mother was sending a message.
It is a message they understand very well, and they want to respond to it. The Lummi tribe is calling for a mass movement to actively begin feeding the dying orcas. The orcas have always been a part of the region. The Lummi Nation is seeking immediate action to alleviate their suffering, and to stop the needless extinction.
It seems that the NOAA is not quite supportive of saving the pod’s life in this way, citing that the feeding approach is not sustainable. Other local scientists are evidently divided as to whether to support the Lummi Nation’s call to action or not. One thing that is clear, this is literally life or death for the orca pod at this point.
When it comes down to it, it is not logical to allow a group of beings to starve to death when there are sources of food available that can save lives. Yet, it is not a simple ethical issue. If feeding the orcas prolongs their lives, but they don’t have a healthy enough environment to sustain their lives, death is still imminent at some point. Or, maybe it isn’t. What if a solution can be found by the time the feedings are no longer sustainable? What if a solution comes, but no action was taken, and the orcas all starve and die. Then, we didn’t do enough.
What must we do in emergencies? For any being? We must do the atypical things. We must improvise. We must come together as family. It is a heartbreaking reality we find ourselves facing these days.
The Lummi Nation is acting like First Responders and emergency room care providers. They are trying to get the emergency supplies and actions together, in order to alleviate the emergency situation. This is logical, appropriate, and needed action for the current situation. The NOAA is looking at long-term sustainability, which is also a valid and needed perspective, but it is not as helpful in the emergency room. And otherwise healthy patients dealing with an emergency, a crisis, don’t belong in a hospice, they belong in the emergency room. In the emergency room we have to stop the bleeding, and do the emergency patching. After that, long-term management can be put in place, gradually.
These two objectives, emergency triage and long-term approaches, do not need to be in conflict with one another.
The NOAA needs to give the Native Americans of the region room to do what is right, based on relationships that are older than this United States nation. Then, the NOAA can follow-up with long-term strategies and networking. This is one of the many ways that our systems need to radically change, in order to adapt and mitigate the disasters that are before us because of climate change, consumerism, and all the rest.
“The greater society has to decide whether they’re going to help or not.”
Bill James, Lummi Nation hereditary Chief
It may seem a small act of ceremony, and unlikely movement for the orcas, that the Lummi people are performing currently, but really, it is the most powerful and best kinds of actions we humans can take. It is a major act of courage and active compassion for family and life. It is action based on compassion and solidarity, which is stronger than anything — no matter how bleak things are. Even in the midst of grief and their own severe challenges, the Lummi Nation have a voice, and it is strong. This is the strength, fire, and heart we must act with, and take with us everywhere.
The Lummi Nation are also sending a message to all of us with their words and actions. What will we do? How will we respond?
As the terrifying effects of wildfires fueled by merciless and ongoing winds in California are happening now, I am struck by what I included in my blog post from last week about California:
“”Here in the US, California produces more than 1/3 of our vegetables, and 2/3 of our fruits and nuts. That means that 80% of all water used in California is for that produce. The average American consumes more than 300 gallons of California water” weekly, by eating the produce. With California experiencing droughts and wild fires, farming is anything but predictable there.”
If we depend that much on one state for food and water, and that state continues to face greater and greater hardships, the chain of consequences will be felt throughout the country. These facts further highlight the quite serious consequences we are only beginning to have to deal with due to damages to our ecosystems and natural resources. If we needed any more impetus to begin really changing our fundamental approaches to environment, resources, and health–I don’t know what it would be.
My heart goes out to all the people dealing with the trauma and devastation of the wildfires in California. With every tragedy and hardship, our planet becomes smaller as our need for interdependence and better and healthier systems for all becomes obvious. Whether it is wildfires, floods, hurricanes, drought, pollution, or violence–these challenges belong to all of us.
“This is not the new normal. This is the new abnormal. And this new abnormal will continue…certainly in the next 10-15-20 years. Unfortunately, the best science is telling us is that dryness, warmth, drought–all those things are going to intensify. Predictions by some scientists: we’ve already gone up by one degree, I think we can expect a half degree rise, which is catastrophic, over the next 10-12 years. We have a real challenge here, threatening our whole way of life. We need to pull together….and we are going to need to invest more and more in adaptation….So we’ve got lots of work to do. It is a time of sadness, but also one to reflect on where we are, and this resolve to pull together to do everything we can to help those in need, and to take the steps to minimize and mitigate the damage that’s so obvious….we’re dealing with existential conditions that, once they take off, the certain amount of dryness in the vegetation and the soil and the air and the winds get up 50, 60 miles an hour — this is what happens….we have to keep understanding it better, but we’re in a new abnormal. And things like this will be part of our future… things like this and worse.That’s why it’s so important that we take steps to help communities, to do prevention, and then adaptation to the extent we can…some of that’s forest management, vegetation management, but even with all that, you must have escape routes, and ways to identify people and to notify them. So we’re trying all that, but we’re getting caught up here in a changed world that not so many people were aware of or thinking about. So I’d say people are doing the best they can, but it’s not good enough and we’re going to have to do a lot more.”
“The new abnormal”, the “need to invest more and more in adaptation”, and “a changed world that not so many people were thinking about” are the big truths that stand out to me as statements to hold on to, and actively live with. These statements are true and applicable to everything we face related to environmental pollution and destruction as well as the structures we have continued to live within.
The news conference went on to state that investigators in California are dedicated to painstaking study in order to accurately determine and eliminate causes of the fires. They stated that there will be no release of an official statement on the cause until they are completely certain–time not being a factor over accuracy. They did say that forest management is a part of the consideration, but not even near to the whole of it.
Causes of fires in California, in general, like last year, have been due to drought, dryness, heat, and wind–combined with sources for fire like: lightning, power lines, and human activity. There have always been fires in California, however, the intensity and increased destruction have only been occurring in recent times:
“California’s fire record dates back to 1932; of the 10 largest fires since then, nine have occurred since 2000, five since 2010…” ~ Kendra Pierre-Louis
The new abnormal is important wording, considering all of this.
This isn’t normal, and we can’t get used to it. Professionals who work in an emergency room, for example, are aware of the fact that what they see on a day-to-day basis isn’t normal, it is unusual and abnormal. That is an essential frame of reference in order to maintain mental health and critical thinking in stressful conditions. I am hoping that the majority of us will heed these warnings and pleas for action, in time.