Thought for the Day: 22 July 2014

“I do not believe we are. I believe we are simply the children of two generations of Americans who dared to hope that resources were limitless and that we, as Americans, could do no wrong. I believe we are gradually learning that our parents and grandparents dream was wonderful; yet unrealistic.

I believe we are rapidly learning that we must live in balance with all the other forms of life on our planet; because to do otherwise dooms many of us as well as many of them. I also believe that beyond our daily needs and concerns we deeply love the beauty and the majesty of the world on which we live. We want that beauty and majesty to continue to live & prosper just as we want ourselves to continue to live & prosper.

In the past one hundred years Americans have had an almost unbelievable impact on the lives of all human beings. National Parks, automobiles, airplanes, hydroelectric power, electric power, television, nuclear power, interstate highways, computers, the internet, wind power. All of this and much more is our legacy & our contribution to mankind.

A line in an old movie I very much like goes something like this: “Act as though you have faith and faith will be given to you.” We can begin acting with a faith in our ability to positively change our impact on the planet, and that ability will be given to us.

We can dedicate the energy we devoted to those past accomplishments toward the creation of a society that lives in harmony with the natural world. In doing so we can make remarkable contributions toward improving the impact our entire species has on this planet and all its forms of life.”

–  John Smelser

The value of good sanitation

From the NY Times, Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition:

[A]n emerging body of scientific studies suggest that … many of the 162 million … children under the age of 5 in the world who are malnourished are suffering less a lack of food than poor sanitation.

Like almost everyone else in their village, Vivek and his family have no toilet, and the district where they live has the highest concentration of people who defecate outdoors. As a result, children are exposed to a bacterial brew that often sickens them, leaving them unable to attain a healthy body weight no matter how much food they eat.

“These children’s bodies divert energy and nutrients away from growth and brain development to prioritize infection-fighting survival,” said Jean Humphrey, a professor of human nutrition at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “When this happens during the first two years of life, children become stunted. What’s particularly disturbing is that the lost height and intelligence are permanent.”

John Smelser, A Personal View on Sustainable Gardening and Going Green

Excerpts from John Smelser’s post on the Missouri Botanical Garden website, A Personal View on Sustainable Gardening and Going Green:

Compost or mulch-mow lawn clippings

Americans toss approximately 32-36 million TONS of lawn clippings into landfills during the course of a single growing season. We do this even though lawn clippings are a terrific source of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium; fertilizer elements essential to the maintenance of a healthy lawn… You can save a great deal of money and a great deal of space in your landfill by throwing all those lawn clippings into a compost pile instead of the garbage. If you don’t want to manage a compost pile, you can use a mulching mower to shred the material finely enough to leave in the lawn itself… Using a mulching mower would amount to applying hundreds of pounds of fertilizer-rich material to your lawn each growing season… Contrary to all those myths you have heard, the immediate recycling of lawn clippings into the lawn itself does not contribute to thatch. Lawn clippings consist of 75% water content. They decompose readily and add nothing more than nutrients to the soil. Thatch is a build-up of shoots and stems and, in some cases, roots; not grass clippings.

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