Flotsam & Jetsam
Human Squatters Litter the Planet; Natural Gas Is Found to Be a Major Polluter; China's TV Screens Set to Go Green; Three US Nuns Busted for Preaching Peace; Take a Bough: Earth First Sets a Tree-sit Record, and much more!
November 29, 2002

Are the dollar's days numbered? The Maharishi's Raam may be the world's first true global currency.
3,000 Organic Farms to Rise Worldwide
INDIA — “Guru-to-the-Beatles” Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is set to become a godsend to the planet’s other beetles with the creation of 3,000 organic farms around the world. Eight organic farms are being created in North America as part of a global effort “to reduce global poverty, promote a balanced world economy, and create world peace.

The Maharishi plans to build "Peace Palaces" and organic farms ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 hectares (3.9 to 15.4 acres) near each of the world's 3,000 largest cities. Farming practices will be based on Maharishi’s practice of Vedic Organic Agriculture.

“With much of the farmland in developed nations poisoned by chemical agriculture and genetic engineering,” the Maharishi predicts that “the global demand will be great for Vedic organic food. We will produce food that is nectar, not poison. People who eat this food will be healthier and happier — they will think better, speak better, behave better, and be a better citizen of the nation."

The Maharishi, whose second greatest claim to fame was the creation of mat-hopping “Yogic flyers” (devotees who claimed the ability to “levitate” by the application of mental concentration), now envisions a high-flying alternative global economy.

The plan includes a special global development currency called the raam that will be used to kick-start organic farms around the world. The Maharishi’s raam-based economy also features a World Peace Treasury, a Global Chamber of Commerce and a Poverty Removal Program that has been designed for the world's 40 poorest nations.

"We are inviting governments to use the raam, our global development currency, as a 'catalyst currency' to initiate agricultural and other development projects," says His Excellency Benjamin Feldman, Minister of Finance of the Global Country of World Peace [http://www.globalcountry.org].

"There are one billion hectares [3.8 billion acres] of unused land with agricultural potential in these 40 poor countries," Feldman says. In addition to funding farms, the raam would be used to build new houses, roads, schools, and health clinics in these countries. After a few successful crop seasons, Feldman believes that income from the export of produce will permit the raam to be exchanged for any other hard currency."

The raam is now accepted as legal tender in Holland and will soon be circulating throughout all the countries of the European Union. In the US, the raam is the functional currency of Maharishi’s Vedic City [2000 Mansion Drive, Iowa 52556 USA, 641) 470-1344, WorldPeace@Maharishi.net]. Raam-based bonds are now reportedly being offered in 35 US states.

Ireland’s Plastic-Sack Tax Bags $10 Million
IRELAND — After a new national 15-cent-per-bag tax was slapped on plastic shopping bags in March, Ireland saw the number of plastic bags in circulation plummet by roughly 90 percent. As a bonus, the bag-tax generated $3.5 million for the national environment fund in its first three months. In its first year, the tax is expected to raise at least $10 million.

Ireland Environment Minister Martin Cullen conservatively estimates that, prior to the introduction of the tax, more than 1.2 billion bags (about 325 bags per person) ended up littering Ireland’s roadsides and coastlines annually.

Other countries expressing interest in the bag-tax include Britain, Australia and Madeira, a group of Portuguese islands off the coast of Morocco. Bangladesh still leads the anti-bag pack. In January it banned the use of all plastic bags in the capital city of Dhaka.

Flash: Natural Gas Is Revealed to Be a Major Polluter
US — Natural gas may not be the clean fuel it’s cracked up to be. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by about 10,000 wells northeast of Denver are producing enough ozone-causing gas to equal the pollution from all the cars, trucks and buses in the entire Denver metro area.

The Natural Gas Supply Association reports that there are more than 300,000 natural gas wells in the US with about 18,000 new wells being drilled each year. At least 33 states are now beset by the so-called “flash emissions” wafting from these natural gas fields.

The emissions come from storage tanks that hold liquid hydrocarbon condensates. Colorado health department regulators estimate there's roughly 3,000 tanks producing flash emissions.

In New Mexico’s Four Corners region, the Bureau of Land Management is considering permitting an additional 12,000 wells in an area that already is close to violating federal ozone standards.

This overlooked source of air pollution rivals the emissions from powerplants, refineries and factories. Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division estimates that oil and gas production in the Weld County might produce up to 45,000 tons of VOCs each year. Denver’s major powerplants and factories (including Coors Brewing Company and the Conoco refinery) collectively produce only 7,500 tons of ozone-forming chemicals annually.

The Rocky Mountain News [www.RockyMountainNews.com] marveled that “the problem escaped the attention of regulators for so long,” particularly when state regulators managed to spend so much time studying such ozone sources as “bakeries, automobile refinishers and locomotives.”

China’s TV Screens Set to Go Green
BEIJING — In January 2003, Chinese viewers in more than 100 million homes will be able to tune into the Earth Report, an award-winning series on global environmental issues produced by Britain’s Television Trust for the Environment (TVE). The Beijing Earthview Education and Research Centre has signed an agreement with China Education Television (CETV-1) to supply 104 Earth Report episodes.

Geping Qu, Director of Environment and Resource Committee of the National People's Congress, observed that "China needs to learn lessons and success of other countries in environment and resource conservation. Earth Report is the most suitable educational program to meet this urgent need." Earth Report [www.tve.org/earthreport], known as “the world's foremost series on environment and sustainable development,” will now be beamed by satellite to the world's largest television audience, reaching Chinese speakers throughout Southeast Asia.

Earthview manages the largest collection of environment related television programs in China. The nonprofit Earth Report, which debuted on the BBC in 1996, is now available free rebroadcasts in more than 200 million homes in over 170 countries. More than 60 Earth Report programs are available in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

Earth Report is broadcast weekly on BBC World at the following times GMT: Mon 22:30; Tues 02:30, 09:30 and 16:30; Sat 19:30. For more information on all 400-plus TVE films and ordering information, contact TVE online at www.tve.org.

Let's step back and look at ourselves in the mirror. The Human Hoard has spread to cover 83 percent of the planet's land surface.
Human Squatters Litter the Planet
USA — According to a stunning report from the Wildlife Conservation Society [WCS, www.wcs.org], humans have now colonized 83 percent of the Earth's land surface, turning once pristine wetlands, plains, mountains, forests and coastlines into farms, mines, fisheries, roads, malls, parking lots, highways and housing tracts. The human hoard also has laid claim to 98 percent of Earth’s arable land.

The report, produced in cooperation with Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network in New York includes a map showing the global impact of humanity’s “global footprint” [http://wcs.org/humanfootprint]. The map contains information on population density, roads and waterways, electrical power infrastructure, and the area used by cities and farms.

The planet’s few remaining wild areas are limited to the northern forests of Alaska, Canada and Russia, the high plateaus of Tibet and Mongolia, and much of the Amazon River Basin.

Three US Nuns Busted for Preaching Peace
US — On October 6, three Dominican sisters, Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, and Jackie Hudson, were arrested after entering a US missile silo in northern Colorado. The sisters were dressed in white clean-up suits with CWIT (Citizen Weapons Inspection Team) stenciled on the back and “Disarmament Specialists” inscribed on the front. The sisters were charged with state felonies for trespass and criminal mischief and they expect to be slapped with additional federal felony charges.

The sisters carried documents detailing the merger of Air Force’s new Space Command with Strategic Command. “In the new Air Force,” Sr. Ardeth Platte said, “the intercontinental weapons of death have direct connections to the pre-emptive warfare plans enacted at Peterson, Schriever, Cheyenne Mountain, Buckley, and Offut Air Force Bases.”

In a gesture of disarmament, the sisters removed a section of fence surrounding the site, hammered on the tracks that carry the lid of the silo to its firing position and poured their own blood on the tracks.

Sr. Gilbert reported that they used their blood to make the sign of the cross on the tracks and the silo. They were able to complete the liturgy and sing several hymns before Air Force personnel arrived in humvees and surrounded them with machine guns drawn.

Sisters Gilbert and Platte are part of the Jonah House Community, Maryland [1301 Moreland Ave, Baltimore, MD (410) 233-6238, -4067]. Hudson is a member of Ground Zero [16159 Clear Creek Road, Poulsbo, WA 98370, (360)377-2586 www.gzcenter.org].

The nuns are charged with a two-count Grand Jury indictment for “Injury/Interference/Obstruction of the National Defense of the United States” (Maximum Penalty: 20 years imprisonment and $250,000 fine) and “Injury of Property of the United States” (10 years imprisonment, $250,000 fine). Colorado peace activist Bill Sulzman observes that “The severity of the maximum sentences for these charges is staggering.”

What You Can Do: The trial is set for December 16 in federal court. For more information, contact: PO Box 915, Colorado Springs, CO 80901, (719) 389 0644.

Take a Bough: Earth First! Sets a Tree-sit Record
USA — With northern California tree-sits now active in Freshwater, the Mattole, and Gypsy Mountain, North Coast Earth First! and Humboldt Forest Defense have broken previous tree-sitting records by occupying more than 20 trees simultaneously. The previous record was seven contemporaneous tree-sits.

The Environmental Protection Information Center (E.P.I.C.) is suing the California Dept. of Forestry (CDF), the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and Pacific Lumber Co. (PLC) challenging the legitimacy of PLC’s timber harvest plans. Despite a court-ordered stay, PLC has continued to log and shows no signs of decreasing its logging operations.

If Pacific Lumber is found in contempt of court, the Humboldt Co. Sheriff's Dept. would be legally obligated to halt logging operations until the case can be heard.

A tree-sit on Gypsy Mountain has been ongoing for nearly a year. The mountain has been renamed for David "Gypsy" Chain, an Earth First! activist who was killed on September 17, 1998, when an enraged Maxxam/PL logger intentionally toppled a tree in the direction of nonviolent Earth First! activists. The Humboldt Co. Sheriff's Dept. initially attempted to cover up this violent act by calling it an "accident." Maxxam/PLC subsequently settled out of court with Gypsy's family in a wrongful death civil suit.

World Bank Set to Start Refunding Logging
USA — Each year, nearly 15 million acres of mostly virgin tropical forest are logged. Environmentalists complain that “selective logging” degrades forests and opens previously inaccessible regions to farmers, hunters, and ranchers.

The World Bank, which halted funding for logging primary forests in the 1990s, now wants to resume financial support for rainforest logging. Despite its promise to use more restrictive guidelines, conservationists believe the new policy will prove disastrous. University of Wisconsin biologist Glen Barry points out that the bank has "failed miserably to reform commercial logging in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Cameroon, and elsewhere.

"The bank likes to talk about 'sustainable forest management' as a euphemism for logging," Barry says, "but all they truly care about sustaining is foreign exchange revenues and timber yields – not complex rainforest ecosystems."

The Rainforest Action Network [222 Pine Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94104, (415) 398-4404, www.ran.org] warns that the World Bank’s past activities have been very damaging ecologically. In September, two RAN activists draped a banner over the Bank’s Washington headquarters reading "World Bank: Don't Destroy Old Growth."

Former World Bank environmental advisor Thomas Lovejoy (now President of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment) takes a bloodless, bottom-line approach to “saving” the planet. In Lovejoy’s view, “if we can't make tropical forests benefit local people and be commercially valuable, then many could just end up cleared and burned."

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