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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Turning Carbon Disclosure Into A Virtue


Cupping their hands near holes drilled for cable routing, workers at the Boeing Company’s four-acre data processing site near Seattle noticed this year that air used to keep the computers cool was seeping through floor openings.

Mindful of the company’s drive to slash electricity consumption by 25 percent, they tucked insulation into holes there and at five similar sites. The resulting savings are projected at $55,000, or some 685,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

Yet Boeing’s goal is not just to save money. The hope is to keep pace with other companies that have joined in a vast global experiment in tracking the carbon dioxide emissions generated by industry.

Boeing and other enterprises are voluntarily doing what some might fiercely resist being forced to do: submitting detailed reports on how much they emit, largely through fossil fuel consumption, to a central clearinghouse.

The information flows to the Carbon Disclosure Project, a small nonprofit organization based in London that sifts through the numbers and generates snapshots by industry sectors in different nations.

By giving enterprises a road map for measuring their emissions and pointing out how they compare with their peers, experts say, the voluntary project is persuading companies to change their energy practices well before many governments step in to regulate emissions.

Scientists estimate that industry and energy providers produce nearly 45 percent of the heat-trapping emissions that contribute to global warming. While some governments are convinced that reining in such pollution is crucial to protecting the atmosphere, a binding global pact is not on the immediate horizon, as negotiations in Copenhagen showed this month.

Until broad regulation is at hand, many investors and company executives say, voluntary reporting programs like the Carbon Disclosure Project may be the best way to leverage market forces for change.

They say the project sends a message that a company that moves to curb emissions now is girded for the future and therefore worthy of investment.

“With the regulatory framework changing, how companies handle carbon is a core risk factor,” said Jack Ehnes, chief executive of Calstrs, the California teachers’ pension fund. “Smart companies will take C.D.P. information and realign their strategies.”

Mary Armstrong, Boeing’s vice president for environment, health and safety, traces her company’s energy focus back to 2007, when she first saw the forms that companies fill out for the disclosure project.

“The questions take you through and say, ‘Do you have environmental performance targets?’ We didn’t, but now we do,” she said. The companies’ individual responses are posted at the project’s Web site.

In contrast to the United States, European Union countries already regulate carbon dioxide emissions from their most energy-intensive industries through a cap and trade program, and Japan polices energy consumption itself.

Paul Dickinson, the founder and chief executive of the Carbon Disclosure Project, is quick to acknowledge that his group is no substitute for muscular government regulation. But he argues that the voluntary project offers a frictionless path toward reining in emissions, even in relatively unregulated markets like China’s and India’s. Emissions are expected to soar in those fast-growing economies in coming years as new coal-fired plants go online.

Yet even as the Carbon Disclosure Project has established itself as the standard for emissions measurement methods, it has stirred some skepticism. Critics say that the emissions figures do not have to be verified through external audits, as financial figures from publicly traded companies must be.

And some argue that the project rewards companies that would have cut their carbon dioxide output anyway, and has no influence over polluting companies that refuse to take part.

Nonetheless, 2,500 of the world’s largest companies completed at least part of the project’s questionnaire last year, from the energy conglomerate Gazprom in Russia to Huaxin Cement in China.

In the United States, where almost only the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index were solicited by the disclosure project, some 330 filled out forms this year. Some companies do not answer all of the questions. But the most detailed reports specify not only how much energy a company consumes, and how, but also ticks off ways in which it might be vulnerable to climate change — flooded stores, for example.

Industry is a broad and varied category, of course, covering everything from cement and chemical makers, which emit an enormous amount of carbon dioxide, to data-driven businesses like financial services, which emit little by comparison.

The disclosure project has response rates of at least 60 percent for most industry sectors in the United States. But it has even higher rates for utilities, which are highly regulated, and materials companies, which include cement and chemical makers. It has received responses from energy titans like Chevron and chemical companies like DuPont.

To drum up more and better reporting, the project has enlisted major investors like Calstrs, the nation’s second-largest pension program, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to co-sign letters from the project encouraging companies to take part.

Mr. Dickinson said the project writes letters on behalf of 475 investor groups representing $55 trillion in funds worldwide.

Some American companies have argued that reporting is cumbersome and could allow competitors to learn too much about their manufacturing processes. But proponents counter that the monitoring could give some of them a competitive advantage as early adopters.

In September, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it could require the nation’s biggest power plants and industrial operations to report greenhouse gas emissions as early as 2011. The United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have firmly opposed such regulation, saying that it would be legally and technically burdensome, drive up fuel costs by promoting renewable sources and send job overseas.

But nations that have already pressed ahead with regulations are prodding the United States to match their efforts. The European Union has been monitoring and limiting carbon dioxide emissions from its most energy-intensive sectors since 2005 through a cap and trade program.

Since 2003 Japan has required companies of any size to report energy consumption to the government and what they are doing to reduce use. Mr. Dickinson argues that disclosure could prove a means of currying investor favor in international markets as the global awareness of industry’s role in climate change deepens.

“I have real confidence that the corporations of the world are going to outperform government in terms of dealing with climate change,” he said. “In fact, they are already.”

His vision for carbon transparency dates back to 1997, when he entered a master’s program on responsible business practices at the University of Bath School of Management taught by Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop.

After graduating, he solicited philanthropists, including Ted Turner, and went about developing reliable ways to measure output. Then he reached out to large investors to co-sign letters demanding that companies fill out the project’s forms. Until 2002, the forms spoke only of “the perception” of climate change because global warming was still “too controversial,” he said.

Some analysts now laud the program as an innovative way of encouraging investors to factor industry emissions into assessments of corporate performance.

Abyd Karmali, global head of carbon markets for Bank of America, likens the disclosure project to the advent of general accounting principles, which enable investors to compare financial performance and move dollars accordingly.

“It is very difficult to translate carbon-related risk into standardized disclosure, so it is a fantastic contribution,” he said.

But others have their doubts. “There is disclosure, and then so what?” said Hewson Baltzell, the co-founder of Innovest, a financial research firm that gathered figures for the disclosure project the first several years. “They’ve dipped their toe in the water on asking companies about performance, but not very far.”

Mr. Dickinson counters that the project has added evaluations that rate companies by concrete steps taken to cut their emissions. It now also asks companies to calculate emissions of their suppliers, in the hope of leveraging the power that a giant like Wal-Mart might have over those that are otherwise unwilling to report.

Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist for Microsoft, which is helping the project make its data more accessible to the public, says the impact of the reports is growing.

“With each year we are able to compare performance on greenhouse gas information with new levels of granularity,” he said. “Now we just have to hope that more people read it and care.”

Friday, January 29, 2010

To Save The Planet, Save The Seas


Peterborough, England

FOR the many disappointments of the recent climate talks in Copenhagen, there was at least one clear positive outcome, and that was the progress made on a program called Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Under this program, key elements of which were agreed on at Copenhagen, developing countries would be compensated for preserving forests, peat soils, swamps and fields that are efficient absorbers of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas linked to global warming.

This approach, which takes advantage of the power of nature itself, is an economical way to store large amounts of carbon. But the program is limited in that it includes only those carbon sinks found on land. We now need to look for similar opportunities to curb climate change in the oceans.

Few people may realize it, but in addition to producing most of the oxygen we breathe, the ocean absorbs some 25 percent of current annual carbon dioxide emissions. Half the world’s carbon stocks are held in plankton, mangroves, salt marshes and other marine life. So it is at least as important to preserve this ocean life as it is to preserve forests, to secure its role in helping us adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Sea-grass meadows, for example, which flourish in shallow coastal waters, account for 15 percent of the ocean’s total carbon storage, and underwater forests of kelp store huge amounts of carbon, just as forests do on land. The most efficient natural carbon sink of all is not on land, but in the ocean, in the form of Posidonia oceanica, a species of sea grass that forms vast underwater meadows that wave in the currents just as fields of grass on land sway in the wind.

Worldwide, coastal habitats like these are being lost because of human activity. Extensive areas have been altered by land reclamation and fish farming, while coastal pollution and overfishing have further damaged habitats and reduced the variety of species. It is now clear that such degradation has not only affected the livelihoods and well-being of more than two billion people dependent on coastal ecosystems for food, it has also reduced the capacity of these ecosystems to store carbon.

The case for better management of oceans and coasts is twofold. These healthy plant habitats help meet the needs of people adapting to climate change, and they also reduce greenhouse gases by storing carbon dioxide. Countries should be encouraged to establish marine protected areas — that is, set aside parts of the coast and sea where nature is allowed to thrive without undue human interference — and do what they can to restore habitats like salt marshes, kelp forests and sea-grass meadows.

Managing these habitats is far less expensive than trying to shore up coastlines after the damage has been done. Maintaining healthy stands of mangroves in Asia through careful management, for example, has proved to cost only one-seventh of what it would cost to erect manmade coastal defenses against storms, waves and tidal surges.

The discussions in Copenhagen have opened the way for all countries to improve the management of oceans and coasts to harness their immense potential to mitigate climate change — especially over the next decade, while the world’s politicians, scientists and engineers develop longer-term strategies for stabilizing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.

In their continuing negotiations on climate change, nations should now make it a priority to produce a single map of the world that documents all the different types of coastal carbon sinks, and identify the ones that are in most immediate need of preservation. New studies should be undertaken to better understand how best to manage these areas to increase carbon sequestration. Then, following the example of the forests program, it will be possible to establish formulas for compensating countries that preserve essential carbon sinks in the oceans.

We urgently need to bring the ocean into the agenda alongside forests so that, as soon as possible, we can help the oceans to help us.

Dan Laffoley is the marine vice chairman of the World Commission on Protected Areas at the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the principal specialist for marine at Natural England.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Need Help With A New Year's Resolution

From our friend Ali Krishna in Gainesville...

I admit it. I'm obsessed. I'm a fanatic. I can't stop thinking about it. So I'm going to do something about it.

This year, I will beg, I will plead, implore, request, abjure, advocate, beseech, besiege, bribe, canvass, conjure, entreat, impetrate, importune, invoke, nag, obsecrate, obtest, petition, pray, press, requisition, solicit, supplicate, urge, woo, and ask all of you to PLEASE STOP EATING MEAT! (in between studying for my GRE's).

This year, the UN Conference on Climate Change was held in Copenhagen from December 7th-18th. Delegates from 192 countries negotiated global and shared solutions against global warming. Yet, show me in the itinerary where the livestock industry sat center stage, guilty as charge?

How long will our university's textbooks continue to ignore the impact of livestock production on climate change, human and environmental injustice?

Here in the US, articles in popular eco-magazines like Sierra publish articles articulating the importance of improving biofuels, limiting CO2, ending mountain top removal, controling mercury levels, boosting MPGs, and regulating coal ash. It seems to me like something is missing. Something very obvious, yet too inconvenient, even for Al Gore.

It's about the meat industry, stupid. But as Paul Goodman puts it, "No good has ever come from feeling guilty, neither intelligence, policy, nor compassion. The guilty do not pay attention to the object but only to themselves, and not even to their own interests, which might make sense, but to their anxieties.''

Maybe I've gone ecocentric in my old age but I'm actually striving to be GAURA-centric. Over 1 billion people are currently suffering from starvation or malnutrition. If this world isn't about suffering, I wouldn't be here. I'm not claiming to be a saint but as Reno Sweeny puts it in the musical Anything Goes, "But now that I have seen the light, I eat grains by day and fruits by night."

Here are three recent articles, again demonstrating the symbiotic relationship of eating meat and climate change:

"Global Warming: the impact of meat production & consumption on climate change"

"India Tells West to Stop Eating Beef"

"People should give up eating meat to halt climate change"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Green Acres Is The Place To Be!

Click here to read the full article from the Wall Street Journal

History shows economic downturns or disasters such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks frequently trigger a short-lived appetite for escape, and that those approaching retirement often crave more-remote properties. If baby boomers follow typical migration patterns, the rural population age 55-85 will increase by 30% between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

But other factors, such as widespread Internet access, are giving this current ruralpolitan trend new longevity, particularly among younger generations. Enhanced renewable-energy options and associated tax credits mean homes can be more affordably powered by the sun or wind in areas where utility companies won't service cheaply.

Younger buyers, such as Jesse Ptacek, 27, have time to reap payback from such investments. For the past few years, Mr. Ptacek has watched the U.S. economy flounder from Kuwait, where he's a firefighter for a U.S. Department of Defense contractor. Knowing he will likely face bleak job prospects upon his return home in January, he recently bought 62 acres of land in Montana.

His new spread, for which he paid $225,000, includes a 2,100-square-foot, three-bedroom log home situated well off the grid. Its main heat source is a wood stove, there's bear, moose and pheasant hunting nearby, and Mr. Ptacek is erecting solar panels for electricity. He expects to commute up to 60 miles for work, likely in Great Falls or Helena. "I've done the stock-market thing, and I lost money like everyone else," says the unmarried Mr. Ptacek, whose grew up in Rochester, Minn., population 100,845. "And I started to think about things, what's real, what's not real.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Off To The Races

Published: December 19, 2009 in the New York Times

I’ve long believed there are two basic strategies for dealing with climate change — the “Earth Day” strategy and the “Earth Race” strategy. This Copenhagen climate summit was based on the Earth Day strategy. It was not very impressive. This conference produced a series of limited, conditional, messy compromises, which it is not at all clear will get us any closer to mitigating climate change at the speed and scale we need.

Indeed, anyone who watched the chaotic way this conference was “organized,” and the bickering by delegates with which it finished, has to ask whether this 17-year U.N. process to build a global framework to roll back global warming is broken: too many countries — 193 — and too many moving parts. I leave here feeling more strongly than ever that America needs to focus on its own Earth Race strategy instead. Let me explain.

The Earth Day strategy said that the biggest threat to mankind is climate change, and we as a global community have to hold hands and attack this problem with a collective global mechanism for codifying and verifying everyone’s carbon-dioxide emissions and reductions and to transfer billions of dollars in clean technologies to developing countries to help them take part.

But as President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva of Brazil told this conference, this Earth Day framework only works “if countries take responsibility to meet their targets” and if the rich nations really help the poor ones buy clean power sources.

That was never going to happen at scale in the present global economic climate. The only way it might happen is if we had “a perfect storm” — a storm big enough to finally end the global warming debate but not so big that it ended the world.

Absent such a storm that literally parts the Red Sea again and drives home to all the doubters that catastrophic climate change is a clear and present danger, the domestic pressures in every country to avoid legally binding and verifiable carbon reductions will remain very powerful.

Does that mean this whole Earth Day strategy is a waste? No. The scientific understanding about the climate that this U.N. process has generated and the general spur to action it provides is valuable. And the mechanism this conference put in place to enable developed countries and companies to offset their emissions by funding protection of tropical rain forests, if it works, would be hugely valuable.

Still, I am an Earth Race guy. I believe that averting catastrophic climate change is a huge scale issue. The only engine big enough to impact Mother Nature is Father Greed: the Market. Only a market, shaped by regulations and incentives to stimulate massive innovation in clean, emission-free power sources can make a dent in global warming. And no market can do that better than America’s.

Therefore, the goal of Earth Racers is to focus on getting the U.S. Senate to pass an energy bill, with a long-term price on carbon that will really stimulate America to become the world leader in clean-tech. If we lead by example, more people will follow us by emulation than by compulsion of some U.N. treaty.

In the cold war, we had the space race: who could be the first to put a man on the moon. Only two countries competed, and there could be only one winner. Today, we need the Earth Race: who can be the first to invent the most clean technologies so men and women can live safely here on Earth.

Maybe the best thing President Obama could have done here in Copenhagen was to make clear that America intends to win that race. All he needed to do in his speech was to look China’s prime minister in the eye and say: “I am going to get our Senate to pass an energy bill with a price on carbon so we can clean your clock in clean-tech. This is my moon shot. Game on.”

Because once we get America racing China, China racing Europe, Europe racing Japan, Japan racing Brazil, we can quickly move down the innovation-manufacturing curve and shrink the cost of electric cars, batteries, solar and wind so these are no longer luxury products for the wealthy nations but commodity items the third world can use and even produce.

If you start the conversation with “climate” you might get half of America to sign up for action. If you start the conversation with giving birth to a “whole new industry” — one that will make us more energy independent, prosperous, secure, innovative, respected and able to out-green China in the next great global industry — you get the country.

For good reason: Even if the world never warms another degree, population is projected to rise from 6.7 billion to 9 billion between now and 2050, and more and more of those people will want to live like Americans. In this world, demand for clean power and energy efficient cars and buildings will go through the roof.

An Earth Race led by America — built on markets, economic competition, national self-interest and strategic advantage — is a much more self-sustaining way to reduce carbon emissions than a festival of voluntary, nonbinding commitments at a U.N. conference. Let the Earth Race begin.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Clear-Cutting The Truth About Trees

Click here to read the full article from the New York Times

A few environmental groups in Copenhagen were considered unwelcome guests for loudly pointing out that the carbon-trading proposals bandied about at the meetings subsidize forest destruction and will lead to large-scale destruction of ecosystems and unprecedented “land grabs.” (Disclosure: my wife is a researcher for one of those groups.) But such claims are correct. More than anything, carbon offsets will allow rich countries to burn ever more fossil fuels under the “clean development mechanism” of the Kyoto Protocol, the system that sets the values, in terms of tons of carbon equivalent, of emission-reduction efforts.

In fact, most of the problems with the system can be traced back to the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997. After much political wrangling, the Kyoto delegates decided that there would be no carbon-reduction credits for saving existing forests. Since planting new trees does get one credits, Kyoto actually created a rationale for clear-cutting old growth.

This is horrifying. The world’s forests are a key to our survival, and that of millions of other species. Not only are they critical to providing us with building material, paper, food, recreation and oxygen, they also ground us spiritually and connect us to our primal past. Never before in earth’s history have our forests been under such attack. And the global-warming folks at Copenhagen seem oblivious, buying into the corporate view of forests as an exploitable resource.

A forest is an ecosystem. It is not something planted. A forest grows on its own. There are many kinds of forests that will grow practically anywhere, each under its own special local conditions. When a tree falls, the race is on immediately to replace it. In the forests I study, there so many seeds and seedlings that if a square foot of ground space opens up, more than a hundred trees of many different species compete to grow there.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Food For Life Global Helping In Haiti

By Madhava Smullen on 23 Jan 2010

From ISKCON News
Image: CBC News
Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed and people’s livelihoods devastated.

Hare Krishna Food For Life Global is joining forces with several ISKCON temples to provide nutritious, hot vegetarian meals to victims of January 12th’s massive earthquake in Haiti.

The quake, which measured 7.0 point on the Richter scale, struck at 5pm local time and is estimated to have killed between 100,000 and 200,000 people, most of whom were buried alive under collapsing buildings. Homes have been destroyed and livelihoods devastated in a disaster that the International Red Cross estimates has affected about three million people.

Food for Life is planning to complement the efforts of bigger agencies such as the Red Cross, CARE and OXFAM, and will be working under the protection of the military from internationally secured sites. Water for Life Global will supply a sanitation service and mobile water purifying system for the project.

ISKCON is providing volunteer support from the USA, Brazil, Hungary, and the UK as well as locally.

Chaitanya Dasa, a Food For Life volunteer especially experienced in disaster relief, is leading the Hungarian team. Back in 2005, Chaitanya received an award from the Hungarian Government for his outstanding services to victims of Sri Lanka’s December 2004 Tsunami.

The relief efforts will initially be funded by ISKCON Hungary, as well as Bhaktivedanta Manor’s welfare arm The Lotus Trust in the UK.

The volunteers—who currently number a dozen, and will soon be joined by congregational devotees—are coordinating food supplies and equipment from the Santo Domingo temple in the Dominican Republic, which they will transport to Haiti once local people have received vital medical help and the roads have been cleared.

They then plan to feed thousands a day with hot prasadam meals, as well as to distribute canned and packaged goods. The initial group of volunteers aim to stay in Haiti for at least one month, after which they may be replaced by others if necessary.

“It will take some time before things stabilize in the country,” said Food for Life Director Priyavrata Dasa, “So this effort is likely to end up as a four-month endeavor.”

To donate to Food For Life’s Haiti relief efforts, please visit or

Haiti Facts

Estimates of those killed by the massive earthquake measuring 7.0 point on the Richter scale that struck the nation of Haiti at 5pm local time on Tuesday, January 12th range from 100,000 to 200,000, most buried alive due to collapsing buildings. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed and people’s livelihoods devastated.

ISKCON devotees who have a temple within travelling distance of the affected area are preparing to provide vegetarian food as part of its Food For Life programme. The temple Domingo is on board with relief efforts and has cooking facilities with numerous volunteers ready to help. Food for Life Global is partnering with Water for Life Global who have mobile water purifying system and they will also be providing a sanitation service.

Hare Krishna Food for Life Global is planning to work under the protection of the military complementing the work of bigger agencies such as CARE and OXFAM and Red Cross at present.

ISKCON is providing volunteer support from USA, Brazil, Hungary, the UK as well as locally.

Food for Life Director Priyavrata Dasa said, “It will take some time before things stabilize in the country, and is likely to end up as a four month endeavor.”

The Lotus Trust, the welfare arm of Bhaktivedanta Manor in the UK, is working with partner food relief organisations currently with a base in nearby Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic where food supplies are being prepared to go into Haiti once the roads are cleared to ensure local people receive vital help.

The Hungarian group is led by Chaitanya Dasa, a Food For Life volunteer who specializes in disaster relief. In 2005, he was given an award by the Hungarian Government for his outstanding services provided to the December 2004 Tsunami victims of Sri Lanka.

The group joined forces with the Santo Domingo temple first on January 21. They will then travel from there to Haiti, where, with the help of the Dominican devotees, they are planning to feed thousands a day with nutritious hot vegetarian meals. They will also distribute canned or packaged goods. The initial funding is being provided by the Hungarian Yatra. This group of devotees are planning to stay in Haiti for a month, and if it necessary they will be replaced by others after one month.

The devotees will start coordinating everything from the Santo Domingo temple, then are planning to camp out in internationally secured sites in Haiti.

Altogether a dozen devotees will be starting off the project, and will later be joined by congregational devotees from the Dominican Republic and other countries.

Your donations are crucial. 200 meals can be served for as little as $50. Please give generously. Donations can be made at: or

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A New Book For Mother Cow

Bhakta Chris Evans:

We are pleased to announce the release of the latest book by Dr Sahadeva dasa, “Cow and Humanity – Made For Each Other.”

This book discusses the vital role of cows in peace and progress of human society. Among other things, it also addresses the modern ecological concerns. It emphasises the point that ‘eCOWlogy’ is the original God made ecology. For all the challenges facing mankind today, mother cow stands out as the single answer.

We’re finally going to get the bill for the Industrial Age. If the projections are right, it’s going to be a big one: the ecological collapse of the planet, says Jeremy Rifkin. At the dawn of the industrial age two hundred years ago, humanity took a wrong turn when it started living on nature’s capital instead of nature’s incomes. It started gorging upon resources that took nature millions of years to create and which were saved up by nature according to its own plan of functioning.

Nature has her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we. We have one planet to live on and all our needs have to be satisfied with whatever is in here. We can not import a thing from other planets for our survival, no matter how much we advertise our dubious moon missions by getting worthless rocks and blowing billions.

This senseless exploitation of resources can not go on forever. This cradle to grave economics in which we turn every natural resource into a toxic waste is inherently self-destructive because in nature, there is no such thing as waste. So called waste generated by one living being is effectively utilized by another and so on until nothing is left over. This is called the cycle of life. But today our linear system of living which is immensely destructive has replaced this natural cyclical system.

This is where cow comes into picture. Living with cow is living on nature’s income instead of squandering her capital. In the universal scheme of creation, fate of humans has been attached to that cows, to an absolute and overwhelming degree. This implies that welfare and well-being of cows means progress and prosperity of humans and neglect and mistreatment of cows means degradation and ruin of humans. In the natural plan, human society should depend on cows for its requirements of economic prosperity, food production, soil fertility, nutrition, healthcare, fuel supply, transport, spiritual well-being, sustainable development, individual and social peace, higher consciousness, development of human qualities, performance of religious duties, environmental protection, ecological preservation and balance, advancement of art & culture, cottage industry etc. All the maladies staring in the face of human society today can be traced to one factor – humanity distancing itself from the protection and service to cows. Therefore the Vedas, the greatest repository of knowledge, crown the bovine species with the loving title “mother”.

This book by Dr Dasa has many interesting stories and illustrations that go well with facts presented therein.

The entire book is available for free reading at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Preserve The Holy Dham

If you haven't seen this yet...

Click here to sign the petition

Namaste dear Swamis, Mahants, brothers and sisters, friends and well-wishers:

We are collecting signatures to encourage the local administration and the Indian government to secure World Heritage Status for Vrindavan Dham or, even better, for Braj Mandal.

This page has been specially created so that all the Brijvasis and friends of Vrindavan, who live around the world, can write their opinions and recommendations on this topic.

The main purpose of requesting this status is to obtain support from all sides to preserve the sanctity of the places of pilgrimage.

Vrindavan has been a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years, but since the time of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Haridas Swami, awareness of the land of Krishna’s birth and childhood was revived.

And, more recently, ever since Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj went around the world and spread the glories of Vrindavan, the number of visitors from every corner of the planet has increased. This international popularity has also boomeranged, and all the Vaishnava sampradayas are enjoying the benefits both here in India and abroad.

This means that so many people are coming here and buying flats to spend their last days in Vrindavan. The increase of traffic from Delhi and elsewhere, especially on weekends and holidays, is putting tremendous pressure on the local infrastructure, often to the detriment of Vrindavan’s sacred patrimony.

We hope that with the awarding of World Heritage Status more attention will be given to the Vrindavan’s beautiful ghats, refuse collection and disposal, black water management, and so many of the other problems that beset this unique town.

By signing this petition, we are requesting the World Heritage Status for Vrindavan or even better, for Braj Mandal and the kind attention of all important leaders, citizens and visitors to help in any way possible.

Here is what you can do:
1. Sign the petition and give further good reasons why we should increase protection for this sacred place.
2. Promote the petition on Facebook, Twitter, or any other way through the internet.
3. Donate to organizations that are working for the benefit of Braj Mandal.
4. Give any help you can to make this area a place with highest ecological standards.
5. Register your email with us so we can keep you informed about developments in Braj Mandal.

Banke Bihari Lalji ki jay!
Braj Mandal ki jay!
Brijvasis ki jay!
Jay Jay Sri Radhe Shyam!

Braj Vrindavan Heritage Alliance

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Millions Drink Tap Water That Is Legal, But Maybe Not Healthy

Click here to read the full article from the New York Times

Click here to check out a related video piece for the article.

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.

Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency

estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

But not one chemical has been added to the list of those regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2000.

Other recent studies have found that even some chemicals regulated by that law pose risks at much smaller concentrations than previously known. However, many of the act’s standards for those chemicals have not been updated since the 1980s, and some remain essentially unchanged since the law was passed in 1974.

All told, more than 62 million Americans have been exposed since 2004 to drinking water that did not meet at least one commonly used government health guideline intended to help protect people from cancer or serious disease, according to an analysis by The Times of more than 19 million drinking-water test results from the District of Columbia and the 45 states that made data available.

In some cases, people have been exposed for years to water that did not meet those guidelines.

But because such guidelines were never incorporated into the Safe Drinking Water Act, the vast majority of that water never violated the law.

Some officials overseeing local water systems have tried to go above and beyond what is legally required. But they have encountered resistance, sometimes from the very residents they are trying to protect, who say that if their water is legal it must be safe.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The New Carnivores

By Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa)

At first I thought it was my imagination: Walking New York City streets, I heard more than a few people talking about newfound flesh delicacies, from brains to brisket. "Maybe it's a coincidence," I thought. "Perhaps I just happened to hear the ramblings of some highly experimental meat eaters." Looking in several restaurant windows, spying their fancy menus, I saw other suspicious looking food items: clod, flatiron, tongue, shank, bone marrow, and even heart, parts of a cow I'd rather see only where nature intended them -- instead of on my plate. And this was pervasive, not just in one or two food establishments.

Of course, I'd heard about the strange food choices of carnivores around the world for years -- such as the demand for sauteed iguana meat in Central and South America; fried grasshoppers in Africa; lamb and calf brains in Middle Eastern countries; chicken heads, live shrimp, and dog meat in Korea and China; and chocolate-dipped ants in Japan, to name a few. But here in my home town?

Recent articles in the New York Times and the Post clinched it: "We're having a meat wave" was the catchy title of one report. "It adds up to the offal truth," read another. Apparently, according to reporter Carla Spartos, "macho meat eaters are entrail-oriented," looking for previously untasted body parts -- the stranger, the better. She writes about Scott Gold's new book, The Shameless Carnivore, among others, where we learn that high-class food connoisseurs are now demanding things like duck hearts, pork cheeks, and -- dare I say it -- cock's combs.

Gold is a card-carrying member of "the New Carnivores," as he puts it -- adventurous meat-eating New Yorkers who find "as much pleasure in plucking duck hearts off of a skewer as they do swilling martinis at Sparks." He writes that the phenomenon has been gaining ground in other sophisticated cities around the world, where, as mentioned, outlandish meat products have traditionally been consumed with some regularity -- but now it's considered trendy. And New York is quickly becoming the epicenter, especially in terms of odd flesh choices as a statement of hipness.

Clearly, this is an instance of Kali-yuga run amok. The age is progressing (or regressing) at a rapid rate. The simple meat-and-potatoes carnivorous diet of yesteryear is now being replaced by unseemly body cuisine that would make Lucifer cringe. Let's be clear, though: It's not that eating brains or guts or other unusual body parts is somehow worse than eating epidermis; it's just that it offends our sensibilities more -- we're not used to it, and it signals a moving forward of the age of degradation and horror: Vaishnava texts tell us that at the end of Kali-yuga, many thousands of years from now, humankind will reach the point of raising children simply to eat their flesh!

But even this new stage of carnivorous behavior, as it presently stands, shows a certain horrific thoughtlessness, both in terms of healthy eating and in the inevitable results -- karmic reactions -- of a meat-centered diet. "I've eaten 'headcheese'* before," says Justin Glazer, a 26-year-old member of Steak Society, a meat-eating club founded by grads of Baruch College's MBA program. "I didn't really like it," he says, "but I eat first, think second." No argument here.

Numerous physicians and medical experts, however, are arguing, calling this new trend "devastating" and "a portent of evil things to come." Neal Bernard, M.D., Michael Klaper, M.D., John A. McDougall, M.D., and many others are speaking out, trying to stop this experimental meat eating before it's too late. Their arguments are not only health oriented, as one might expect, but also draw on the language of decency. It's simply not right, they say, and a reaction awaits all who indulge.

Yoga texts have been saying these things for years. Just as the Bible teaches the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” -- the Mahabharata (5.39.57), predating the Bible, teaches a similar truth, and in almost the exact same wording. Yogis and spiritual adepts in India extend the teaching to its logical limits, showing kindness to all species of life – and this, of course, means vegetarianism. It’s hard to be kind to animals if you’re eating them!

In other words, if you don't want someone eating your entrails, don't eat the entrails of others. Simple enough, no?

The “do unto others” ethic is reflected in the origins of the Sanskrit word for meat, mamsa, which means “me-he” – or, by implication, “The fate of this animal will also be mine.” This etymological derivation of the word can be traced to the Manu-samhita (5.55): “He will eat me in the next world, whose meat (mamsa) I eat in this world. This is why meat is called mam-sa, or ‘me-he’.” The Golden Rule is clearly at work here. If what I “do unto you” is to eat you, then you have every right, in some future life, to “do the same unto me” – to eat me. In other words, the karmic reaction for eating a living being is evident in the language itself – “I will be eaten in the same way that I eat others – even if they are animals.”

Thus, true yogis oppose killing for many reasons. They know that every action holds within it an avoidable reaction (karma), and that the idea of reincarnation – of taking birth commensurate with our deeds -- follows karma like the butcher does his meat. Thus, that which we do to others will be done to us -- this is the universal law of cause and effect, echoing, once again, the Golden Rule. In other words, killing begets killing, and since there are many lives in which to reap what one sows, violence and killing eventually return to those who are violent and to those who kill, if not in this life then in the next one.

Ahimsa is often said to mean “nonviolence,” but, more specifically, it refers to “non-aggression,” and it is a high priority in the practice of yoga and Eastern spirituality. The distinction between nonviolence and non-aggression should be clear. Violence is sometimes necessary, as, for example, when a loved one is attacked and protection is required, or when life is threatened and self-defense becomes natural or obligatory. In such cases, violence may be in order. But aggression never is, at least when it comes to harming others.

Qualities such as gentleness, humility, and compassion -- and all related characteristics -- are necessary components of ahimsa, without which, one is not really practicing spiritual life proper, and so devotees put a premium on such behavior. In all yogic traditions, we see cows as symbolic of all finer qualities, and as representing the animal kingdom as a whole. For this reason, dedicated yogis particularly venerate cows as an emblem of ahimsa. The yogic position is clear: As she is dear to Lord Krishna, the divine cowherd, so should she be dear to us all.

In India, to this day, cows are appreciated for their practical value as well, with the five health-giving products that come from their bodies – urine, cow dung, milk, ghee, and yogurt – used in numerous ways. Amazingly, these items, especially urine and dung, have been found effective (and cost efficient) as fertilizer, compost, medicines, pest repellents, cleansing products, and biogas fuel. The cow is also considered sacred as a natural mother for human society – as one’s biological mother weans her young on breast milk, so does the cow nurture us in the same way. Caring for mother cow is thus seen as an important component of ahimsa. For this reason, cows shouldn't be eaten at all -- what to speak of the gory insides and obscure offal that are now part of the New Carnivores' repertoire.

It should be noted, however, that while ahimsa is considered important in yoga practice, it always remains subservient to love of God, or union with the Supreme, which is the core of the tradition. The Vaishnava scriptures do not limit their discussion of food to the avoidance of killing and the virtues of a vegetarian diet. According to traditional texts, one should offer all food as a sacrifice to God: “All that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform,” Lord Krishna says, “should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Bhagavad-gita 9.27) Krishna does not eat meat, and He would look aghast at the new menus in New York.

The Gita specifies exactly what should be offered: “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (9.26) Other references in the Vaishnava literature confirm that fruits, vegetables, grain, nuts, and dairy products are fit for human consumption. Followers of the Gita thus refrain from meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, since these are not sanctioned by either the scriptures or the sages. A vegan diet also fits nicely with Vaishnava dietary prerequisites.

The Bhagavad-gita further declares that one who lovingly offers food to God according to scriptural guidelines is freed from all sinful reactions and consequent rebirth in the material world: “The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is first offered in sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.” (3.13) The remnants of such devotional offerings are called prasadam (literally “the Lord’s mercy”).

Sin is a heavy word, and it comes with a lot of baggage. But who wouldn't think of sin when confronted with the new wave of meat eating emerging in the Big Apple? It's all part of a trend toward decadent forms of pleasure, a no-holds-barred attempt to titillate the senses. "You can't overestimate the pleasure the contemporary carnivore takes in saying they're going to eat a cock's comb. It's like the modern equivalent of eating a 5-pound lobster," says Josh Ozersky, who documents the City's more primal meat eating haunts as editor of the blog Grub Street and as author of "Meat Me in Manhattan." His latest book, "The Hamburger," just hit bookstores nationwide. And he is getting rave reviews.

But not by Krishna. Yogic texts have warned us about sense pleasure left uncontrolled, and medical journals are full of statistics about the virtues of a non-meat diet. If we weren't meant to eat meat, it's reasonable that meat eating would wreak havoc on our bodies. And it does.

In conclusion, just as yogis generally promote vegetarianism within the context of prasadam, they also acknowledge the benefits of a vegetarian diet as a stepping-stone to spiritual perfection. In the Bhagavad-gita (Chapter Seventeen), Lord Krishna Himself acknowledges that food can be divided into three categories, that of goodness, passion, and ignorance. Clearly, the effects of eating food in passion and ignorance, which includes the eating of meat, has adverse affects on the human condition. Conversely, say these same yogic texts, eating food in goodness -- fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, milk, and so on -- sets the stage for transcendence, wherein one has the opportunity to become more appreciative of spirituality in general.

True, until a devoted soul comes along and offers the food to Krishna, or God in any of His/Her manifestations, making it prasadam, one is likely to have a set stage with no actors and no performance. That is, vegetarianism may position us for higher material aspirations and predispose us to God consciousness, but without the touch of God, through the agency of His devotees, we are not likely to get all that can be gotten from a vegetarian diet. Why not, suggests the Bhagavad-gita, get the most out of our vegetarianism by offering our food to God?

The official fetish animal of the modern carnivore movement, says Ozersky, is the pig. I think Krishna would find a certain poetic justice in that, since it takes a piggish mentality to feast on gross body parts. But more, those who enjoy at an animal's expense will likely end up on their best friend's plate, if they just wait a few years.

* Headcheese: Sausage or jellied loaf made from the meaty bits of the head, usually of a pig.
Steven Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa) is an initiated disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is also founding editor of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies and associate editor for Back to Godhead. He has published twenty-one books in numerous languages, including the recent Essential Hinduism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008) and the Yoga of Kirtan: Conversations on the Sacred Art of Chanting (FOLK Books, 2008).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beyond Vegetarianism

Beyond Vegetarianism

By Stephen Knapp

On the spiritual path those who are the most inclined to lead a peaceful existence that respects the value of all life often adopt the vegetarian lifestyle. For some people this is a very big step. This is in accordance with the yogic principle of ahimsa, which is to observe nonviolence and abstain from injuring any being in any way. However, many people ask what about the plants that are killed in the process of cooking vegetarian foods. Don’t they suffer? And don’t we get reactions for that?

The basic law of nature is that every living being lives off the weaker living entities. But there is a way of living so that we all can benefit, that we all make spiritual development. And this spiritual lifestyle is a way in which that can happen. The way this works is in the process of bhakti-yoga, wherein devotion goes beyond simple vegetarianism, and food becomes a method of spiritual progress for both those who prepare and eat the food, and those living beings that are used in the preparations.

For example, in the Krishna temples, food is offered to the Deities in a special sacrament, after which it becomes prasadam. This means the mercy of the Lord. Thus, the food we eat after it is offered to the Lord becomes a means for our purification and spiritual development.

In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says, “All that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering to Me.” So, offering what we eat to the Lord is an integral part of bhakti-yoga and makes the food blessed with spiritual potencies.

The Lord also describes what He accepts: “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” Thus, we can see that the Lord does not need anything, but if one offers fruits, grains, and vegetarian foods, He will accept it. The Lord does not accept foods like meat, fish, or eggs, but only those that are pure and naturally available without harming others. So, we offer what Lord Krishna likes, not those items which are distasteful to Him. We also do not use garlic, onions, or mushrooms when we prepare food for Krishna, for these are considered to invoke passion or are from impure sources, which similarly affect our consciousness. Foods for Krishna should be in the mode of goodness, sattvic foods which when we accept as prasadam also elevate our own consciousness.

So, on the spiritual path, eating food that is first offered to God is the ultimate perfection of a vegetarian diet. The Vedic literature explains that the purpose of human life is reawakening the soul’s original relationship with God, and accepting prasadam is one of the ways to help us reach that goal.

The food is meant to be cooked with the consciousness of love, knowing that it will be offered to Lord Krishna first, and only after that distributed to ourselves or guests to take. The ingredients are selected with great care and must be fresh, clean and pure vegetarian. Also, in cooking for Krishna we do not taste the preparations while cooking. We leave the first taste for Krishna when it is offered to Him.

After all the preparations are ready, we take a portion of each one and place it in bowls on a special plate that is used for this purpose only and take it to the altar to offer it to the Deities or pictures of Krishna.

Then the preparations are presented with special prayers as we ask that God accept our humble offering. The most important part of the offering is the love with which it is given, and then the Lord accepts it. God does not need to eat, but it is our love for God which attracts Him to us and to accept our offering. Even if the most sumptuous banquet is offered to God but without devotion and love, Krishna will not be hungry to accept it. It is our love, our devotion and bhakti, which catches the attention of Lord Krishna who is then inclined to accept our service.

After He glances over and tastes the loving offering of vegetarian preparations, He leaves the remnants of the food offerings for us to honor and relish. Krishna’s potency is absorbed in that food. In this way, material substance becomes spiritualized, which then affects our body and mind in a similar and most positive and elevating way. This is His special mercy for us. Thus, the devotional process becomes an exchange of love between us and God, which includes food. And that food not only nourishes our body, but also spiritualizes our mind and consciousness.

By relishing the sacred food of Krishna prasadam, it purifies our heart and protects us from falling into illusion. In this way, the devotee imbibes the spiritual potency of Lord Krishna and becomes cleansed of sinful reactions by eating food that is first offered in sacrifice to God. We thus also become free from reincarnation, the continued cycle of birth and death. This process prepares us for entering the spiritual world since the devotees there also relish eating in the company of Lord Krishna.

However, what does this do for the plants that are offered? They are also living beings. In this process, not only do we make advancement, but all of the plants that are used in the preparations as an offering to God are also purified and reap spiritual benefit. They are used and offered to God and thus make progress in the same way we do. That is why this is beyond mere vegetarianism in which we may live more simply and nonviolently, but in this process, everything we use in the service of the Lord becomes spiritualized.

If we merely cook for ourselves, we become implicated in karma or the reactions if we cause the harm of any living being, even plants. The vegetarian lifestyle surely causes less karma than the unnecessary slaughtering of innocent animals. However, the system of first offering food to the Lord and then taking prasadam becomes the perfect yoga diet and frees us from such karma.

Therefore, the cooking, the offering, and then the respectful eating or honoring of this spiritualized food all become a part of the joyful process of devotional service to the Lord. Anyone can learn to do this and enjoy the happiness of experiencing the potency of Krishna prasadam.

[Available at:]

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fixing The Earth Up

From Dandavats

By Sahadeva dasa

Our leaders were told that good planets are hard to find, dont blow it, but they did it anyways and now they want to fix up the Earth in big big summits, just like the proverbial village fella who fixed the moon up long ago. Story goes like this. A villager went to get water from the well at night. When he looked down in the well, he saw the moon’s reflection in the water. Thinking that the moon had fallen from the sky, he ran to get a rope with a big hook on it. He pitched it into the well so hard that the hook snagged on a rock. The fella gave a huge tug and the hook came free, flying up and out of the well. It knocked the fella right over. As he fell, he noticed the moon in the sky. Standing up, he said, “It’s true that I strained and struggled, but thank God, I got the moon back in its place.” Similarly, our world leaders are trying to tug the Earth out of the well of despoilment. Earth is God’s property and living here in accordance with God’s ways or natural ways wouldn’t have created all this mess.

But we, especially our leaders, think that they are the controllers of nature and the universe and if they want they can blow it and if they want, they can set it right. It is all theirs and it is under their absolute control. This foolish arrogance will cost us dearly. Now the latest attempt to “tug the moon out” is being made at Copenhagen in December 2009. Leaders of over a hundred nations have confirmed their participation. Known as ‘Climate Summit’, this gathering has been organized by United Nations.

The leaders would try to cut the carbon emission and save the planet, of course without creating a fundamental change in the life style and consciousness. But that would only mean , ‘resolutions, dissolutions, revolutions… and no solutions’. We are not alone in thinking like this. James Hansen, a leading U. S. NASA scientist who helped alert the world to dangers of global warming, told the Guardian newspaper that the planet would be better off if the forthcoming Copenhagen climate change talks ended in collapse.

As per him, any agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations would be so deeply flawed that it would be better for future generations if we were to start again from scratch. Hansen is strongly opposed to carbon market schemes, in which permits to pollute are bought and sold, seen by the European Union and other governments as the most efficient way to cut emissions and move to a new clean energy economy. Hansen adds, “I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track because it’s a disaster track, Tackling climate change does not allow room for the compromises that govern the world of politics.

This is analogous to the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced by Winston Churchill. On those kind of issues you cannot compromise. You can’t say let’s reduce slavery, let’s find a compromise and reduce it 50 percent or reduce it 40 percent.” Therefore solution lies in making a fundamental shift in the way we think or creating a change of consciousness or heart or as suggested by Hansen, ’starting from scratch’. All our actions flow from our consciousness or the way we think, feel and will. As told by Einstein, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Believe it or not, that consciousness, which is lacking, is Krishna consciousness and is found aplenty in Srila Prabhupada’s books. Therefore reading and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books (BBT. info) tantamounts to changing the world’s consciousness and thus saving it.

Sahadeva dasa

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Going Cheney On Climate

Going Cheney on Climate

In 2006, Ron Suskind published “The One Percent Doctrine,” a book about the U.S. war on terrorists after 9/11. The title was drawn from an assessment by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who, in the face of concerns that a Pakistani scientist was offering nuclear-weapons expertise to Al Qaeda, reportedly declared: “If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping Al Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.” Cheney contended that the U.S. had to confront a very new type of threat: a “low-probability, high-impact event.”

Soon after Suskind’s book came out, the legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who then was at the University of Chicago, pointed out that Mr. Cheney seemed to be endorsing the same “precautionary principle” that also animated environmentalists. Sunstein wrote in his blog: “According to the Precautionary Principle, it is appropriate to respond aggressively to low-probability, high-impact events — such as climate change. Indeed, another vice president — Al Gore — can be understood to be arguing for a precautionary principle for climate change (though he believes that the chance of disaster is well over 1 percent).”

Of course, Mr. Cheney would never accept that analogy. Indeed, many of the same people who defend Mr. Cheney’s One Percent Doctrine on nukes tell us not to worry at all about catastrophic global warming, where the odds are, in fact, a lot higher than 1 percent, if we stick to business as usual. That is unfortunate, because Cheney’s instinct is precisely the right framework with which to think about the climate issue — and this whole “climategate” controversy as well.

“Climategate” was triggered on Nov. 17 when an unidentified person hacked into the e-mails and data files of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, one of the leading climate science centers in the world — and then posted them on the Internet. In a few instances, they revealed some leading climatologists seemingly massaging data to show more global warming and excluding contradictory research.

Frankly, I found it very disappointing to read a leading climate scientist writing that he used a “trick” to “hide” a putative decline in temperatures or was keeping contradictory research from getting a proper hearing. Yes, the climate-denier community, funded by big oil, has published all sorts of bogus science for years — and the world never made a fuss. That, though, is no excuse for serious climatologists not adhering to the highest scientific standards at all times.

That said, be serious: The evidence that our planet, since the Industrial Revolution, has been on a broad warming trend outside the normal variation patterns — with periodic micro-cooling phases — has been documented by a variety of independent research centers.

As this paper just reported: “Despite recent fluctuations in global temperature year to year, which fueled claims of global cooling, a sustained global warming trend shows no signs of ending, according to new analysis by the World Meteorological Organization made public on Tuesday. The decade of the 2000s is very likely the warmest decade in the modern record.”

This is not complicated. We know that our planet is enveloped in a blanket of greenhouse gases that keep the Earth at a comfortable temperature. As we pump more carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases into that blanket from cars, buildings, agriculture, forests and industry, more heat gets trapped.

What we don’t know, because the climate system is so complex, is what other factors might over time compensate for that man-driven warming, or how rapidly temperatures might rise, melt more ice and raise sea levels. It’s all a game of odds. We’ve never been here before. We just know two things: one, the CO2 we put into the atmosphere stays there for many years, so it is “irreversible” in real-time (barring some feat of geo-engineering); and two, that CO2 buildup has the potential to unleash “catastrophic” warming.

When I see a problem that has even a 1 percent probability of occurring and is “irreversible” and potentially “catastrophic,” I buy insurance. That is what taking climate change seriously is all about.

If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? Well, during a transition period, we would have higher energy prices. But gradually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels. We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull’s-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner. In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent.

But if we don’t prepare, and climate change turns out to be real, life on this planet could become a living hell. And that’s why I’m for doing the Cheney-thing on climate — preparing for 1 percent.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Protecting Cows

Click here to sign an online petition to help set up a complete ban on cow slaughter of all ages and gender throughout India.

Dear Madam,

The Cow-progeny has been the back bone of the Indian Culture & Economy since time immemorial. This is not only because of the milking capacities of the female and the toiling capacities of the males (bullocks) but to a greater extent due to the highly versatile and life-time utilities of its Dung & Urine.

Both independently as well as along with some easily available natural ingredients they form highly affordable & effective medicines, proven to play a wonderful role in treatment of diseases ranging from cough & cold to cancer. It is a wide list that includes problems related to heart, nervous system, digestive system, etc; covering diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, organ-stones, etc. Several researches even at institutions under Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), India as NEERI (Nagpur)and NDRI (Lucknow) have also confirmed of the anti-cancer, anti-genotoxic, anti-fungal, immunomodulatory and bio-enhancing properties of Cow-urine distillate (Go-mutra Ark). 2 U S Patents have also been obtained in connection with such properties and more have been filed.

They also produce very effective and affordable house-hold necessities as tooth powder, shampoo, soaps, oils, incense, phenyl, creams, etc with the use of natural & simple techniques.

Their most easy and important contribution is in farming. There have been many researches & practical applications in many centers as Go-Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra, Nagpur; Akola & Kanpur Goshala; Pathmeda Goshala; Ram Chandra Pura Math, Shimoga; various agriculture universities and on the fields of thousands of farmers in past decades. They have proved it beyond doubts that the dung & urine mixed with abundantly available natural resources as water, jaggery and neem can produce all-complete & highly effective fertilizers & pest repellents. These on one hand enhance soil fertility, crop quality & quantity, ground water level and on the other hand, the health of crores of consumers. A U. S. Patent had also been obtained in connection with the pest-repellent properties of Cow-urine mixed with Neem leaves.

If sincerely & sufficiently promoted, they can certainly save the high manufacture & transportation cost (including the over 49,980 crores provided for fertilizers subsidy in the union budget 2009-10 ) of chemical counterparts that generally deteriorate the soil fertility, the farmers' economy and also the health of the masses, in the long run.

While many organizations have been working to repeatedly prove the ever-green utilities of its perennial dung & urine that the Cow-Progeny continues to give till the last breath, it is most unfortunate that on various unfair grounds THE CRUEL SLAUGHTER OF AROUND 50000 COW PROGENY CONTINUES IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF OUR NATION. Incredible figures of daily smuggling to Bangladesh,etc are also reported.

This is most surprising in this peace-loving nation where the all productive cows have been considered mothers and the bulls father by saints, kings and even modern leaders like M.K. Gandhi, Lokmanya Tilak, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai and Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan, who all had eagerly desired to put a complete ban on cow-progeny slaughter immediately after independence.

However, even after 62 years of independence, unfortunately there is no national law totally banning Cow-progeny slaughter. The number of legal & illegal slaughter houses and the killings has only multiplied horrifically.

Though a few states using article 48 of the Constitution have completely banned Cow-progeny slaughter; most of the states have not. There is no prohibition on the export of the animals from the banned zones to the permitted zones. Thousands of animals are therefore most cruelly transported from the prohibited states as Rajasthan, M. P., Gujarat, etc to the permissible states as West Bengal & Kerala to be barbarically slaughtered, making a heart-rending mockery of all our leaders, our culture, our economy and the entire system.

As a result, we the Citizens and Well-wishers of India, request you to urgently frame a NATIONAL LAW PUTTING A COMPLETE BAN ON SLAUGHTER OF COW-PROGENY OF ALL AGES THROUGH-OUT INDIA, FOLLOWED WITH ITS STRICT IMPLEMENTATION. In contrast with the claims of a few politicians it is going to be a totally secular decision, as it involves everyone's welfare. The Cow or bullocks never discriminate on the basis of religion or community while providing its miraculous products and services. Human-beings therefore may be expected to have a same out-look towards them.

We also appeal for the re-allocation of Go-Char Bhoomis (free grazing lands) that have been cunningly captured or legally /illegally transferred by the Governments in vested interest of a few.

The Cow actually represents the true original spirit of India in terms of peacefulness, affection, generosity & purity. Therefore we appeal to declare it 'The National Animal of India'.

Further, we request for the promotion & development of the native breed of Cows in the hands of local farmers, by training, encouraging and also financially supporting them for an affordable, safe, environmental friendly and highly effective cow urine & dung-based farming & local energy production. (the quality of the products of indigenous breeds have been found to be much superior by various researches & applications at various reputed institutions as by Dr. R S Chauhan of CADRAD, Bareilly in U.P.)

This will make the Cow-progeny lifelong productive and effective for the farmers and thus will not be sold as long as they are giving Urine & Dung. It will thus immensely improve the living standards of both i.e. the rural population as well as the cattle along with the health of the entire nation.

Simultaneously, the research, manufacture, sales and consumption of the environmental-friendly Panchagavya (cow milk, ghee, curd, urine & dung) based medicines & house-hold products may please be promoted at all levels.

This will certainly be major step in protecting our most valuable National Heritage (Cow Family) to make our nation richer, more truthful, economically more prosperous and medically healthier to serve as a Role- Model for the entire world.

The following web-sites/pages may be referred for more information on the massive utility of its ‘Urine & Dung’:

Thanking you,


The Undersigned

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Will Big Business Save The Earth?

Click here to read the full article from The New York Times

The embrace of environmental concerns by chief executives has accelerated recently for several reasons. Lower consumption of environmental resources saves money in the short run. Maintaining sustainable resource levels and not polluting saves money in the long run. And a clean image — one attained by, say, avoiding oil spills and other environmental disasters — reduces criticism from employees, consumers and government.

What’s my evidence for this? Here are a few examples involving three corporations — Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola and Chevron — that many critics of business love to hate, in my opinion, unjustly.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Miserable

How can intelligent people who purport to be deeply concerned with animal welfare and respectful of life turn a blind eye to such practices? And how can people continue to eat meat when they become aware that nearly 53 billion land animals are slaughtered every year for human consumption? The simple answer is that most people just don’t care about the lives or fortunes of animals. If they did care, they would learn as much as possible about the ways in which our society systematically abuses animals, and they would make what is at once a very simple and a very difficult choice: to forswear the consumption of animal products of all kinds.

For the full piece from the New York Times, click here

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Millions Drinking Dirty Water

For the full article from the New York Times, click here

“I proposed drinking water cases, but they got shut down so fast that I’ve pretty much stopped even looking at the violations,” said one longtime E.P.A. enforcement official who, like others, requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. “The top people want big headlines and million-dollar settlements. That’s not drinking-water cases.”

The majority of drinking water violations since 2004 have occurred at water systems serving fewer than 20,000 residents, where resources and managerial expertise are often in short supply.

It is unclear precisely how many American illnesses are linked to contaminated drinking water. Many of the most dangerous contaminants regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act have been tied to diseases like cancer that can take years to develop.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Vegetarian Menus In American Hospitals

From ISKCON News

By Sally Andersen for VegDaily on 19 Nov 2009
Image: VegDaily
Vegetarianism is considered a healthy, viable diet. Necessary nutrients, proteins, and amino acids for the body's sustenance can be found in vegetables, grains, nuts, soymilk and dairy.

Hospitals are catching on to the fact that meat is not good for the environment, their budget, their patients’ health, or even the animals!

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) has introduced the Balanced Menus Challenge, a program that asks health care institutions to reduce their meat purchases by 20% within 12 months of taking the challenge.

So far, 14 hospitals across the U.S. have taken the challenge and will be offering more plant-based meals. The change with also include creating more meals with less meat the American Institute for Cancer Research’s New American Plate, which states that meat should not take up more than 25% of your plate and that vegetables should cover at least 50%.

HCWH says that “reducing meat purchasing at health care facilities is a potent food service climate change reduction strategy as well as an opportunity for hospitals to model healthy eating patterns for patients, staff and visitors.”