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Earth Talk
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Tuesday, 06 April 2010 09:13

Dear EarthTalk: Oceans are in big trouble and I understand President Obama is

earthtalkoceans
"Our oceans are in a terrible state,
thanks primarily to unrestrained
commercial and industrial activity.
Global warming may also take its toll,
by shifting or shutting down powerful
ocean currents or killing off
biodiversity rich coral reefs, like the
Great Barrier Reef, pictured here." 
Credit this image
to "Richard Ling."

creating a high level ocean council to address them. What are the major issues? -- Steve Sullivan, Bothell, WA

Our oceans are indeed in a terrible state, thanks primarily to unrestrained commercial and industrial activity. Overfishing and pollution have decimated once abundant stocks of fish and other marine life, and the damaging practices continue to this day despite international agreements outlawing them.

Our appetite for seafood has pushed three-quarters of the world’s fisheries to or beyond the limits of sustainability, while nine out of 10 of the sea’s large fish like tuna and swordfish have disappeared. And while it is still unclear what toll global warming will have on oceans—coral reefs dying and powerful ocean currents shifting or shutting down are two scary scenarios—the outlook is grim at best.

While George W. Bush was no friend to the environment overall, his record on ocean protection is actually not too bad. After convening a commission of experts from various disciplines to report on the state of U.S. oceans, his administration took steps to protect 215 million acres of biologically rich deep sea ocean habitat in the Pacific near Hawaii and Guam.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Thursday, 01 April 2010 12:23

Dear EarthTalk: A friend with many minor health problems recently switched to

earthtalkrawfoodsdiet
"Humans have been eating raw foods since they
first began foraging for their sustenance, but
the raw foods diet really only began to catch on
in recent years. There are now upwards of 100
raw foods restaurants in operation across the
U.S."image credit to "Getty Images."

a diet of only raw plant foods and reports feeling much better. She also insists her new eating habits are better for the environment. Does this make sense or is the strange diet making her crazy? -- Phil C., Reno, NV

A raw foods diet typically consists of unprocessed foods that are not heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit so as to preserve nutrients otherwise lost during cooking. Proponents claim that besides losing weight and feeling more energetic, they are also avoiding the carcinogens introduced into foods by cooking and protecting the environment from drug- and chemical-dependent, water-wasting big-business agriculture.

Some people do short spurts on the raw diet to cleanse their system of toxins, while others maintain a majority raw diet but do eat some cooked or processed foods. Diabetics can especially benefit from a raw foods diet, as shown in the film Simply Raw, which documents the trials and tribulations of six diabetes sufferers who go on a raw foods diet for one month and effectively cure themselves of their disease.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 22 March 2010 08:41

Dear EarthTalk: My husband and I want to start a garden this year. I really want

earthtalkcompost
"To discourage animals from raiding the backyard
compost, OrganicGardening.com recommends
mixing kitchen garbage with soil or wood ashes
before burying it in the hot center of your compost
pile."  Credit this image to "LexnGer, courtesy Flickr."

to make compost from leftover food scraps and yard materials. He says it will attract unwanted animals, and refuses to agree to it. Is he right? If so, how do we deal with that issue in a green-friendly, non-lethal way?          -- Carmen Veurink, Grand Rapids, MI

It’s true that outdoor compost piles and bins can be a draw for wildlife—be it bears, rats, raccoons, skunks, opossums or some other creatures of the night—but there are ways to minimize the attraction. For one, make sure everyone in your household knows to keep meat, bones, fish, fat and dairy out of the compost. Not only will these items “overheat” the compost pile, they’ll also stink it up and attract animals.

Otherwise, home composters should keep in mind that critters aren’t actually eating the compost but are sifting through it to find fresh edible kitchen or garden scraps. To discourage animals, the website OrganicGardening.com recommends mixing kitchen garbage with soil or wood ashes before burying it in the hot center of your compost pile. Washington State’s Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends not putting any food scraps in open compost piles, but says that if you must, bury them under at least eight inches of soil and then place a wire mesh barrier over the top held in place with a heavy object or two.

 
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