La Tierra y Bicicleta: The Earth and Bicycle

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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

TriMet sucks: The end of fareless square

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1/3/2010, 11:52 a.m. PST The Associated Press

(AP) — PORTLAND, Ore. – Starting Sunday, there are no more free bus rides in downtown Portland.

The TriMet board voted last August to halt free bus service in downtown, Old Town and near the convention center and Lloyd Center. Rides in “Fareless Square” had been free for more than three decades, but the transit agency found it encouraged crime and annoyances on buses and trains.

The MAX light rail and the streetcar are still free in the downtown area.

Read the article here on OregonLive.

TriMet is digging their own grave. Not only have they been steadily raising the cost of public transportation (all the while reducing arrival times for buses and trains) but now fareless square is no more.  Thanks!

Written by latierraybicicleta

January 3, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Cold outside

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Lately it’s been in the low 20’s throughout the night and not much higher during the day. This isn’t great riding weather…& tonight I slipped on some ice. Thankfully wasn’t going too fast or it would have been worse. I believe I strained my wrist, I can rotate it pretty well without an increase in pain, so I lucked out hopefully by not breaking it.

Written by latierraybicicleta

December 8, 2009 at 10:34 pm

News from Paraguay: Soy farmers spray indigenous communities with pesticide

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Armed with only bows and arrows to protect their land from soy crop farmers, they were quickly sprayed with aerial pesticide from planes in an effort to evict an indigenous community in Paraguay. This makes me sick!  Read the full article here.  Paraguay is the world’s #4 soybean exporter.  The problem with Paraguay is that the large landowners (and companies) are mostly foreign — and hence have no interest in the well-being of the people who actually live there.  Their soybean production causes significant damage environmentally, socially, and economically. The genetically modified soy crops are heavily sprayed with fertilizers and pesticides which wreak havoc on the land and water. Large scale soy operations have also displaced small farmers, increasing the economic suffering in a country of only 6 million.

Why is soy so important? The soy industry has stepped up production because the demand for cattle-feed and biofuels has increased.  I don’t have an educated opinion (yet) about biofuels — but from the little I have gathered thus far — there isn’t much of an environmental benefit compared to petrolatum. It’s truly depressing that in this world we can stuff our faces with cheap hamburgers from cows that were fattened up on cheap (subsidized) soy and corn grown half way around the globe at the expense of human rights.

More information

[1] GMO Soy Growers commit Massacre in Paraguay

[2] Campesinos harán movilización para castigar a responsables de asesinato

[3] Soy cultivation spells doom for Paraguayan campesinos

More than 24 million liters of toxic agrochemicals are employed in Paraguay every year, causing deformations, health problems — even death — and environmental damage. But Paraguayan lawmakers ignored this fact when they approved a farming chemical regulation law on May 22, which will still allow these toxic chemicals to be used. (Full Article).

Pop Quiz: Where does Paraguay get its genetically modified soy beans? Answer: Monsanto.

Written by latierraybicicleta

November 21, 2009 at 1:27 am

Food, Inc

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Tonight I watched the movie Food, Inc which exposes the American industrial food system and its effects on health, the environment, human rights, and the economy. I found the book to be more informative but the movie is definitely worth watching — and take that from someone who doesn’t like watching movies. I was able to download the entire DVD off a popular torrent site. With a little search engine magic, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to find.

The most interesting portion of the movie is the story of Monsanto, a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It currently sells 90% of the worlds genetically modified seeds [1]. Monsanto is also the company behind bST/BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) which is controversial to its effects on human and animal health. They are also the people behind the herbicide Roundup which is responsible for a host of environmental and health ills. Anyway, Monsanto “owns” seeds and patents their own form of these seeds. When a company such as Monsanto owns life they are able to set any market price they deem fit — and ultimately, become the only choice in the marketplace.  Farmers are being sued for saving seeds because it violates patent laws. What if the wind carries Monsanto patented crops to a nearby farm that isn’t using Monsanto stock? They can be — and have been — sued. This puts many farmers out of business because there is no way in the world to compete with a company so loaded with cash [2]. There is something gravely wrong for a company to hold so much power! I’m going to research more about Monsanto and avoid their products, the best offense against such a corrupt empire is to vote with your wallet.

Sources:

[1] http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/monsanto_movie080307

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#As_plaintiff

Written by latierraybicicleta

November 19, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Food

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Here are some reviews/further information on the Omnivore’s Dilemma: Eco-Worriers, We Are What We Eat, Unhappy Meals, and The Omnivore’s Delusion.

My further thoughts on the book: The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a worthwhile read and is well researched. The biggest problem I have with the book is Pollan’s solution to the industrial food production system, that is, one based upon locally grown organic foods. Unfortunately, this is only possible for the affluent because not everyone can afford Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck).  Pollan would argue that cheap food is cheaper because it doesn’t account for environmental, economic, and social externalities. This is true.  But with the raising cost of even so called cheap (non-organic) food, families across the world still struggle to put food on the table and sometimes they have to settle for the $2.99/gallon conventional milk vs. the $5.39/gallon organic milk. When organic foods are priced competitively Pollan’s alternative to the industrial food system will be possible. Why is organic food so expensive, anyway? Organic food typically costs 10-40% more than the same conventional product. These organic farmers also do not receive federal subsidies like conventional farmers (like the corn & soy bean farmers in particular). One of the first steps in creating an even playing field for organics is to end these corn/soy federal subsidies. I have to wonder at times if organic foods somehow operate outside of the supply and demand model. This link here is one of many that suggests that the supply is limited to the insatiable demand. Shouldn’t a higher level of demand create a larger supply? Where are the $11 billion/year organic profits going to? Apparently not expanding operations to lower cost.

Written by latierraybicicleta

November 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm