Call for Guest Posts/Nature & Conservation Linkspam

I’m going to be leading another backpacking trip to the Porcupine Mountains from May 31 to June 4, so just like I did last fall, I’m putting out the call for anyone who’d be interested in writing a guest post for this blog during that time. (About two posts would be ideal to fill the gap.) If you’re interested, use the “Contact Me” link above to let me know. The guidelines are pretty broad – I’m open to posts on anything to do with the natural history of the place where you live or a place that you’ve visited, preferably illustrated with your own photographs, or posts on anything to do with the relationship between people and nature. If you have your own blog, I’ll link back to it when your post goes up here, but people who don’t have their own blogs are also more than welcome to contribute. Last fall I ended up with posts on water scorpions, a reader’s trip to Jekyll Island, Georgia, and the lizards a friend of mine saw in Europe.

Anyway, here is your semi-regular roundup of interesting nature and conservation links from the last couple weeks (bird-heavy, as always).

That’s all I’ve got! After getting an inch of snow over the weekend (yes, really – my boss broke his record for the latest he’s ever been able to ski the trails) our weather is finally warming up again. Have a good week!

3 replies on “Call for Guest Posts/Nature & Conservation Linkspam”

The organic post was interesting… no-till does not exist in non-organic agriculture, it’s hyper-intensive till. so complaining that organic agriculture is not as good as it could be because it relies on tilling…? and the carbon footprint of compost?? I guess this is somehow much worse than the carbon footprint of automobiles/trucks/tractors, coal power plants, etc. It reminds me of the attempts to blame cow flatulence for global climate change. That organic isn’t yet moving beyond the “niche” market as the author put it, speaks more to the cultural issues of our country and our farmers but I’m not sure how that means that organic is therefore bad. and of course, comparing yields? so, should we force farmers who don’t meet certain yields to close down, regardless of their form of agriculture? not that yields are really the issue. food waste and overpopulation are the real issues. there are certainly some real issues with organic ag, but that doesn’t mean we need to fall back on the false dichotomy of big chemical agriculture/small organic agriculture. real science not funded by monsanto, bayer, etc, weak science protecting the status quo, or biased non-science gaia earth mother woo is what is needed. It’s a complicated issue that cannot be explained away by a few bullet points.

I agree with your last sentence 100%. The idea that compost is bad because of its carbon footprint is obviously ridiculous, but the author might have a point about no-till – that is, that organic agriculture pretty much by definition requires intensive tilling, while no-till agriculture offers benefits of its own. With the yield issue… as it stands now, if *all* of the world’s agriculture used organic methods, there simply wouldn’t be enough food to go around, but that is indeed a false dichotomy. No reason that organic methods can’t be used in, say, sensitive areas or for certain crops that tend to carry more pesticide residues, while still using more intensive methods in a smart way to produce larger quantities.

I find the article fishy as well.

I read through the comments in addition to the argument. Some of the most troubling points:

Chemical use – yes organic allows only natural chemicals, some of which are dangerous, but the chemicals allowed by the USDA and EPA are far worse – there are pesticides that once applied to a field, they’re so dangerous that no one is allowed into the field for a week.

“In the next decade, the United Nations Environmental Program estimates that pesticide-related health care will cost Africa $90 billion. Agricultural chemical poisoning kills one million people a year, with millions more made severely ill by it.” – Raj Patel, Room for Debate Column: Focus on the Right Kind of Organic Farming, NY Times, September 10, 2012

In the comments, there’s also a claim that most American farms are family owned. While I believe that is no longer the case. It is certainly not the case that most land is cultivated by family farmers – most production is America is by corporate farms.

I suspect that organic farming also lowers the transportation cost and footprint. Especially when buying local organic!

So that’s another option: shop local. It’s a pretty big deal in NJ. It’s called Jersey Fresh and extends all the way into sea food.

Regardless of whether one supports conventional, GMO, or organic agriculture, due to poor soil treatment for decades, soil is losing it’s ability to maintain these high outputs, desertification is encroaching on sub-standard farmlands in areas already plagued by hunger and poverty, and the world’s population continues to grow and as anticipate our ability to produce food to decline.

As a fourth alternative, I would put forth sustainable agriculture, which looks at the soil health conditions created by organic and attempts to ameliorate it in a social and economically equitable manner.

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