Category Archives: Politics, or the lack thereof

Soil Erosion — is anyone paying attention?

Over a month ago, Reuters issued a widely-mentioned (but not widely discussed) press release on soils.“Only 60 years of farming left if soil degradation continues,” reads the release. It quotes some United Nations officials, warning of the problems of soil erosion.

Is anyone paying attention? In an ideal world, the public would be outraged by this. Congressional committees would study the problem. Students would demand courses on soil preservation. But back in the real world, farmland just isn’t that big of a deal. After all, agriculture is just a very small part of the U. S. economy. We could also debate whether this is an exaggeration. Perhaps we have 100, or even 200 years of farming left! Continue reading

How can we ask them not to eat meat?

In a recent Go Vegan radio interview, Leslie Goldberg (author of the Vicious Vegan blog) gave an account of a conversation she had with Bill McKibben. (McKibben is a noted environmentalist and a co-founder of 350.org.) Leslie asked McKibben why he didn’t talk about meat consumption as a cause of climate change. McKibben first pointed out that most of the growth in meat consumption comes from the developing countries. Somewhat irritated, he then asked (in effect) “how can you ask people who are just starting to be able to afford and enjoy meat, not to eat meat?”

This is an intelligent question, so I thought I’d attempt to answer it. Continue reading

Chris Hedges: Go Vegan for the Planet

Chris Hedges has seen "Cowspiracy"

Chris Hedges was a war correspondent, worked for the Greens in 2008 and 2012, and was part of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. He’s also, interestingly enough, a Presbyterian minister. He is known to me personally mostly as the author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, a book which is at once interesting, powerfully written, and quite disturbing. It was so powerful, in fact, that I couldn’t finish it. Forcing myself to finish it would be like forcing a vegan to watch slaughterhouse footage. I get it already; I don’t want to watch it.

Chris Hedges is also now a vegan, citing serious environmental concerns. He describes this in his recent article, “Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time.” Continue reading

Radicalization

What does "respect" mean?

The recently-concluded Denver event “Hoofin It” (August 17-20th) featured a different hoofed animal each day at different restaurants for customers to eat. The meat is from “responsibly raised hoofed animals,” and it was a benefit for the Colorado Food Guild, and tickets were not cheap: $60 for dinner for one person. The theme of the event was “respect your dinner.”

Had this been just another event of the “happy meat” people, vegans would have greeted this news with yawns and the ritualistic rolling of the eyes. But this event had an unexpected feature; the key sponsor was The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Continue reading

Al Gore is Vegan

Methane is a lot worse than we thought, but there is some good news about the climate as well, already well publicized. Al Gore has gone vegan. In the past many people have complained about Gore’s lack of interest in combating a key cause of climate change. Well, now our hopes have been realized: Gore is a vegan. The “revelation” has been confirmed by The Washington Post.

This is a hugely interesting fact about which quite a bit of ink has already been spilled. The most interesting facet of this story is how amazingly little we know about Gore’s veganism. Continue reading

Interview with John Howe

John Howe, with a solar tractor and solar car

John Howe is a vegetarian who “walks the walk” concerning sustainability and simple living on his farm in Maine. He is the author of The End of Fossil Energy. His book is excellent and deserves more attention, especially from vegetarians. For further information and/or to obtain the complete nine-chapter manuscript, contact howe@megalink.net. My questions are in bold, with his responses following.

Continue reading

Chatfield State Park to be destroyed by greed

An insipid, half-baked plan to destroy Chatfield State Park is now going full-steam ahead. Today The Denver Post has weighed in on the side of the “greed” faction. The opportunity to speak out is closing fast – comments are due by September 3.  For what you can do, go to the Save Chatfield web site.

I have some news for the Post.  Water is quite scarce out here, and no one’s making any more of it! We can only take it away from a place where it already exists. People need to think about this whenever yet another scatter-brained water project that destroys natural habitat is proposed. We need to be able to say “no” to the developers. Continue reading

Why Does Whole Foods Sell Meat?

(Hint: It has something to do with the economic system)

James McWilliams recently (September 4) wrote an open letter to Whole Foods asking them to close their meat counters.  This is noteworthy because John Mackey, their CEO, is himself a vegan, even though Whole Foods sells a lot of animal products.  Continue reading

The Fire Blog

Waldo Canyon Fire (NASA)

Politicians fiddle while Colorado burns.  We need to change our lifestyle if we want to avoid this fate or one like it. You can’t “grow the economy” without increasing fossil fuel use and without making climate change worse, not to mention the other serious problems which economic growth will make worse — resource depletion, soil erosion, species extinctions, and world hunger.  People need to understand this and learn to live with less. Continue reading

Rules and Regulations Governing Food Producing Animals

Hens

The ordinance on “food producing animals” (chickens, ducks, and goats) in Denver was passed last June.  What follows below is the statement I submitted to the Board of Environmental Health on the proposed rules and regulations.  You can read the proposed rules here (PDF). Continue reading

Next Door to Livestock — Another Neighbor’s Reaction

Hens

Hens

Sundari Kraft is the most visible proponent of the proposed “Food Producing Animals” ordinance which would drastically reduce the limitations on backyard chickens, ducks, and goats.  Earlier I reported that one of her neighbors, Roseanne Jelacic, has written to City Council objecting to the ordinance based on her own experience with Sundari as a neighbor.  Now, it turns out, another of Sundari’s neighbors, Lynn Herwick, has done the same thing some days ago.  Continue reading

Casualties of Backyard Livestock Agriculture

Hens

Figuring out how to live with a pet can be a challenging experience, just because animals are different from humans. Even in the case of dogs and cats, which are common enough in our society so that knowledge of their care is very widespread, figuring out their proper care is not trivial. But dealing with a new kind of animal, like chickens and goats, can be a major challenge. If you try to spread the acceptance and adoption of this kind of animal, a lot of people are going to get it wrong. Continue reading

Seattle’s Experience with Backyard Chickens

Hens

Backyard livestock supporters often tout the success of other cities who have allowed backyard chickens or goats. Seattle is often held up as just such a success. But is it?

If you just talked to city officials, that might be the impression you get. So I talked to Tiffany Young, a member of the Duck Rescue Network and backyard fowl rescuer. Continue reading

Feral Chickens: another problem with backyard chickens

Hens

Somehow, amidst all the glorious success stories that supporters tell about cities who have promoted backyard chickens, feral chickens never get mentioned. The problem of feral chickens represents another problem for supporters of the proposed “food producing animals” (FPA) ordinance. Continue reading

Next Door to Livestock — One Denver resident’s experience

Hens

If the ordinance currently before the Denver City Council to allow virtually anyone to keep chickens and goats passes, what would this mean for Denver?

Denver currently allows chickens and goats in residential areas but only under highly restrictive conditions, and probably fewer than a dozen households have the permits to do so.  Roseanne Jelacic is therefore one of the few people in Denver to live next door to someone legally keeping chickens and goats.  Last Monday she sent an e-mail letter to all the members of the Denver City Council concerning her experiences.  After receiving her permission, I have reprinted it below (deleting only contact information). Continue reading