The Low Density Lifestyle Out at Sea, Part 3

July 2, 2010 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment, Featured

Today is the final part of the 3-part interview with Andrea and Karl Matson-Dekay, intrepid sailors, having lived on their sailboat for the past 5 years with their two boys.

It’s a great tale they tell, of a simple life and a good life, living in a sustainable way, and a Low Density Lifestyle way. They’re happy, healthy, and doing it their own way.

As a postscript, Andrea and Karl, as of this writing, are back at sea, sailing their way to the U.S. where they will be staying in Southern CA for the next few months as they ready themselves for their next adventure. After their short U.S. hiatus, they will be heading to Costa Rica, where they will be living with their two boys for the next year.

I’ll be visiting with them in the future, so you’ll get to hear more from our intrepid travelers – and foreign correspondents.

I hope you’ve enjoyed all segments. In case you missed it, here are the links to the other two parts:
The Low Density Lifestyle Out at Sea, Part 1
The Low Density Lifestyle Out at Sea, Part 2

SailboatThis closes the series on sustainable/green living.

Before I close, I want to tell you that I have very sad news to impart to you.  If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I was talking about the Monsanto corporation and how important it was that we show our love to them, with the article Don’t You Just Love Monsanto?

In a separate article, I discussed Monsanto’s Roundup product, and talked about how it was creating a new generation of superweeds.

Well, the sad news is that sales of Roundup are down, and it’s hurting Monsanto’s bottom line. They announced the other day that their fiscal third quarter net income is down 45%.

So grab that box of tissues and wipe the tears away from your eyes. We can only hope the makers of DDT, Agent Orange, Nutrasweet, genetically modified seeds, bovine growth hormone, PCBs, and all kinds of other really cool stuff will come up with some new product that will increase their profits while once again improving our way of life.

I propose that all of you go out now and buy some Roundup, as a way to show your support to this beleaguered company.

Furthermore, I also propose that this summer a benefit concert be held, in the style of Farm Aid, to also help out Monsanto. After all, they have done so much for America’s farmers. I’m going to be contacting Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, the originators of Farm Aid, and see if they would be willing to get involved for this worthy cause.

The Low Density Lifestyle Out at Sea, Part 2

June 30, 2010 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment, Featured

Today we have the second part of this 3-part interview with Andrea and Karl Matson-Dekay, who have been living on their sailboat along with their two kids for the last 5 years.

In case you missed it, yesterday was part 1 of the interview.

Having lived in Southern California all their lives, one day Andrea and Karl decided it was time to leave the rat race and consumer society, and live a more meaningful existence.

So they sold their house, bought a sailboat, and with their two boys, Patrick and Casey, who at the time were 11 and 6, set out to sail. The spent the first 1 1/2 years living in Northern California as they got the boat in order, and for the last 3 1/2 years they’ve lived in Mexico, far from the madding crowd.

sunset_sailing

It’s a simple lifestyle they lead and a healthier and happier one too.

Interestingly, they have only good things to say about the Mexican health care system, based on their interaction with it. Although they have American health insurance, they have paid out of pocket for the few times they’ve incurred health care expenses. They talk about it in today’s interview, saying that it is affordable and easily accessible.

So watch and listen in to learn all about a family living a Low Density Lifestyle in their own unique way. Once you do, you will get to thinking about how you too can find your own unique way to live a Low Density Lifestyle.

The Low Density Lifestyle Out at Sea, Part 1

June 29, 2010 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment, Featured

This is the last week for this series on sustainable/green living, and for this last week I have one last 3-part interview.

During this series, I’ve interviewed the actor and environmental activist Ed Begley Jr., and the author of the best-selling book No Impact Man, Colin Beavan.

This week I have an interview with people, although not famous, that have something really great to discuss.

They are Andrea and Karl Matson-Dekay, they are old friends of mine, and I thought it would be cool to hear from them because of the life they are living.

They are living a Low Density Lifestyle out at sea.

out to sea

Andrea and Karl, along with their two boys, Casey, age 16, and Patrick, age 11, have been living on their sailboat for the last 5 years.

They hail from Southern CA, and one day 5 years ago they sold their house, bought a sailboat and set off to sail. For the first 1 1/2 years they actually stayed in California, living in Northern CA.

But for the last 3 1/2 years they’ve been out to sea and primarily living in Mexico.

They live a simple lifestyle and a sustainable one. It’s fascinating to hear of how they do it, and how they got away from the rat race to live, not an alternative lifestyle, but a sane lifestyle.

So listen today to part 1 of the interview, and come back this week for the next two parts. You will be thoroughly inspired to take stock of your life and wonder how you too can live a simple life, a sustainable life, a happy life, and ultimately, a Low Density Life.

You may not do it by setting sail and heading out to sea, but in your way you too can do it.

No Impact Man: An Exclusive Interview with Colin Beavan, Part 3

June 25, 2010 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment, Featured

Today is the third and last installment of this 3-part exclusive interview with Colin Beavan, author of the book No Impact Man.

In case you missed the first two installments, here’s the link to them:
Colin Beavan interview, part 1
Colin Beavan interview, part 2

As you well know by now, No Impact Man, which has also been made into a documentary of the same name, tells the true story of Colin Beavan and his family’s experiment in making no impact on the earth for one year.

The poster for the No Impact Man documentary

The poster for the No Impact Man documentary

In this final segment, Colin talks about what it takes for people to develop a commitment to our planet; he further discusses his current environmental work and also talks politics.

I hope you have enjoyed this entire interview. See you next time.

No Impact Man: An Exclusive Interview with Colin Beavan, Part 2

June 23, 2010 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment, Featured

Yesterday was the first part of this exclusive 3-part interview with Colin Beavan, the author of No Impact Man.

We continue today with the second installment. As I mentioned in yesterday’s article, No Impact Man, which has also been made into a documentary of the same name, tells the true story of Colin Beavan and his family’s experiment in making no impact on the earth for one year.

The book, No Impact Man

The book, No Impact Man

It’s an enlightening story, and also entertaining and funny, as the Beavan family learns to adapt to life without TV, electricity, taxis, take out meals, and consumerism.

Besides the positive impact on the earth that resulted from their experiment, Colin and family also found it transformed his life in many ways, from the physical – he and his wife’s health improved – to the spiritual, in that by curtailing consumerism, he was able to develop a greater sense of connection with others and a greater understanding as to what values in life were most important.

The story is such a fascinating one that Columbia Pictures has optioned the book in order to make it into a feature film.

In today’s segment, such topics discussed include:
***the beneficial health consequences of the one-year No Impact experiment, and how it has transformed his life since
***the general rules of the experiment
***his work with No Impact Project and how he’s integrating sustainable living education into high school and middle school class curriculum
***what he tells audiences as he speaks around the country
***what role technology plays in creating change and creating community

Enjoy this second installment. I’ll be back next time with the third and final part of the video interview with Colin Beavan.

No Impact Man: An Exclusive Interview with Colin Beavan, Part 1

June 22, 2010 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment, Featured

This week we have an exclusive interview with Colin Beavan, the author of the book, No Impact Man.

The book No Impact Man, subtitled “The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process,” came out in 2009 – as did the documentary – and just recently came out in paperback.

Colin Beavan has been featured in the NY Times, Christian Science Monitor, and many other national and international news outlets. He’s also appeared on the Colbert Report, Good Morning America, Nightline, The Montel Show and all the major NPR shows.

Colin Beavan

Colin Beavan

He has a Ph.D. in electronic engineering, and is director of the No Impact Project, a visiting scholar at NYU, an advisor to NYU’s Sustainability Task Force, and sits on the Board of Directors of New York City’s Transportation Alternatives and on the advisory council of Just Food.

Today is part 1 of this 3-part interview; part 2 of the interview is tomorrow, and then the concluding segment is Friday.

No Impact Man, which has also been made into a documentary of the same name, tells the true story of Colin Beavan and his family’s experiment in making no impact on the earth for one year.

It’s an enlightening story, and also entertaining and funny, as the Beavan family learns to adapt to life without TV, electricity, taxis, take out meals, and consumerism.

Besides the positive impact on the earth that resulted from their experiment, Colin and family also found it transformed his life in many ways, from the physical – he and his wife’s health improved – to the spiritual, in that by curtailing consumerism, he was able to develop a greater sense of connection with others and a greater understanding as to what values in life were most important.

Since his one-year experiment, Colin has become an advocate for more sustainable living, and even has a website, No Impact Project, where people can sign up and live for a week without making an impact.

To learn more about Colin Beavan’s work, you can go to his blog, or to his website, www.ColinBevan.com.

In today’s interview, such topics discussed include:

***What got Colin interested in doing his No Impact Man one-year experiment.

***How you can sign up to do the experiment for a week

***Some of the positive repercussions of doing the experiment, and why it changed his life

***Where happiness comes from

I hope you enjoy today’s installment. Be sure to come back tomorrow for part 2.

Roundup Those Genetically Modified Organisms

June 18, 2010 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment

In the last two articles, I told you about a little homespun mom and pop operation called Monsanto. I asked if you could feel the love in your heart for them, with the article Don’t You Just Love Monsanto?, and then I gave you A Brief History of Monsanto.

One of the things that Monsanto is known for is their genetically engineered seeds, also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Let's genetically modify corn!

Let's genetically modify corn!

Critics call the crops that grow from these GMOs “Frankenfoods,” because of the fact that they are half-biologically real, and half-monster.

One of the main reasons Monsanto has created GMOs is to be able to sell the herbicide Roundup; the crops that sprout from genetically engineered seeds are called “Roundup Ready.”

Roundup is the herbicide for the new millennia. The crops are genetically modified to withstand being sprayed by Roundup, so what happens is Roundup kills all the weeds in the field, but the GMOs stay intact and grow unfettered.

Yippee!! Let’s have three cheers for Monsanto. Thanks to them farmers can feed the world!

Or so they think.

roundup_ready_soybeansYou see, it’s the same thing with the problem with antibiotics. Over the years, superbugs have developed – antibiotic-resistant germs, which have immunity to antibiotics.

And in the fields of farmers, there are now superweeds – Roundup resistant weeds, with immunity to the herbicide.

Does that mean the next step is to have genetically modified weeds?

Horseweed, ragweed and pigweed are just a few of these superweeds. Pigweed can grow three inches a day and reach seven feet or more, choking out crops; it is so sturdy that it can damage harvesting equipment.

Because Monsanto has aggresively marketed their GMOs and Roundup herbicide as the second coming, farmers have sprayed so much Roundup that weeds have quickly evolved to survive it.

That has led Mike Owen, a weed scientist at Iowa State University to say, “What we’re talking about here is Darwinian evolution in fast-forward.”

(Brief aside here: a weed scientist? I didn’t know there was such a thing. I would have thought a weed scientist was someone who specialized in different aspects of hemp.)

A superweed taking over a corn field

A superweed taking over a corn field

Monsanto has things under control, so don’t worry. “It’s a serious issue, but it’s manageable,” said Rick Cole, who manages weed resistance issues in the United States for the company.

Of course, Monsanto stands to lose a lot of business if farmers use less Roundup and Roundup Ready seeds, so what can they be expected to say?

The truth is, a lot of farmers are pissed, and are feeling like they’ve been sold a bill of goods. They now have to use more herbicides, not less, which was the promise of Roundup and GMOs.

As Steve Doster, a corn and soybean farmer in Barnum, Iowa said, “You’re having to add another product with the Roundup to kill your weeds. So then why are we buying the Roundup Ready product?”

One of the promises of Monsanto and the biotechnology agricultural revolution was that GMOs and the use of Roundup was better for the environment.

Attack of the Frankenweed

Attack of the Frankenweed

But with the growth of superweeds, critics of genetically engineered crops say that the use of extra herbicides, which have to be used to deal with the new generation of “Frankenweeds,” include ones that are less environmentally tolerable and far more toxic than Roundup.

“The biotech industry is taking us into a more pesticide-dependent agriculture when they’ve always promised, and we need to be going in, the opposite direction,” said Bill Freese, a science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety in Washington.

Organics anyone?

Farm experts say the superweeds and the efforts to eradicate them could lead to higher food prices, lower crop yields, rising farm costs and more pollution of land and water.

“It is the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,” said Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

Georgia has been one of the states hit hardest by Roundup-resistant pigweed, and the superweed could pose as big a threat to cotton farming in the South as the beetle that devastated the industry in the early 20th century.

“If we don’t whip this thing, it’s going to be like the boll weevil did to cotton,” said Louie Perry, Jr. a cotton grower in Georgia who is also chairman of the Georgia Cotton Commission. “It will take it away.”

There’s a couple of videos on this page. At the top of the page is a rap song called “Monsanto,” from rap artist Roy Shivers. Listen carefully to the words – it tells the story.

Below are two videos. The first is “Everything You Have to Know About Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods,” with Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette.

The second video below is a Roundup commercial from Australian TV. Isn’t that Roundup character just so cute and lovable?

A Brief History of Monsanto

June 16, 2010 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment, Featured

In yesterday’s article, Don’t You Just Love Monsanto?, I told you all the wondrous things about the Monsanto corporation and how they were making the world such a better place.

You may have noticed that my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek in writing that article. The truth is I don’t think very highly of Monsanto. And I don’t believe any right-thinking person does either.

monsanto-skull-and-bonesAnd that’s because they have done a lot to make this world a worse place.

But who is this Monsanto corporation? Where did they come from? Today, I give you a brief history of Monsanto.

Monsanto, based out of Creve Coeur, Missouri, is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as “Roundup.” Monsanto is also the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed; it sells 90% of the U.S.’s GE seeds.

The reason Monsanto is not a well-loved company – and that’s putting it politely – is because of their development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its aggressive litigation and political lobbying practices.

Plus in the past, they have created some of the most toxic substances known to the world.

monsantoMonsanto was founded in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1901, by John Francis Queeny, a 30-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry. He funded the start-up with his own money and capital from a soft drink distributor, and gave the company his wife’s maiden name.

The company’s first product was the artificial sweetener saccharin, which it sold to the Coca-Cola Company.

Over the next few decades, Monsanto produced various chemical products, which cemented its place as one of the top chemical companies in the U.S.

Th 1940’s were a fertile decade for this growing company. Major products developed in this decade were the herbicides 2,4,5-T; DDT; and Agent Orange (used primarily during the Vietnam War as a defoliant agent and later proven to be highly carcinogenic to any who come into contact with the solution); the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet); bovine somatotropin (bovine growth hormone (BST), and PCBs.

Also in this decade, Monsanto operated the Dayton Project, and later Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg, Ohio, for the Manhattan Project, the development of the first nuclear weapons and, after 1947, the Atomic Energy Commission.

In 1982, Monsanto scientists became the first to genetically modify a plant cell. Five years later, Monsanto conducted the first field tests of genetically engineered crops. This development allowed Monsanto, by the late 1990’s, to make a transition from chemical giant to biotech giant.

frankenfoodsBy this time, Monsanto had gotten patents for their genetically engineered seeds, which then allowed them to swing into high gear.

Thanks to their genetically modified seeds, also known as GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, Monsanto has become the largest producer of glyphosate herbicides through its popular brand, Roundup.

One of the reasons Monsanto’s seed products are genetically modified is to make them immune to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Yet, this new herbicide has been shown to cause liver and kidney toxicity.

In response to questions about the genetically modified organisms they are producing, Monsanto has said, “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”

The problem with that statement is that Monsanto has a very cozy relationship with the FDA.

And then there are the lawsuits against farmers. Monsanto has filed lawsuits against many farmers in Canada and the U.S. on the grounds of patent infringement, specifically the farmers’ sale of seed containing Monsanto’s patented genes.

In many of the cases, the seeds the farmer have sold were unknowingly sown by wind carrying genetically modified seeds from neighboring farms.

tomatoBut Monsanto has shown no compassion towards these farmers who they say have broken the law, and they have put many farmers out of business.

Monsanto also has patent claims on breeding techniques for pigs which would grant them ownership of any pigs born of such techniques and their related herds. Greenpeace claims Monsanto is trying to claim ownership on ordinary breeding techniques.

Monsanto claims that the patent is a defensive measure to track animals from its system. They furthermore claim their patented method uses a specialized insemination device that requires less sperm than is typically needed.

So if they get the patent, you will hear of many lawsuits against pig farmers/breeders for patent infringement.

And then there’s Monsanto’s environmental track record. Monsanto has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being a “potentially responsible party” for 56 contaminated sites (Superfund sites) in the United States. Monsanto has been sued, and has settled, multiple times for damaging the health of its employees or residents near its Superfund sites through pollution and poisoning.

And how about Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone, which is another technological advance in the quest to have a completely bioengineered food supply – which some have called “Frankenfoods.”

Bovine somatotropin, abbreviated as rBST and commonly known as rBGH, is technically a recombinant bovine growth hormone. It is a synthetic hormone that is injected into cows to increase milk production.

Bovine growth hormone has been found to produce adverse effects, behaving as a cancer accelerator; this biologically active hormone is associated with breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer.

frankenfood-nationalist-times-altermedia-monsanto-gmBut that hasn’t stopped Monsanto from pushing forward their agenda with it, just like they push forward their agenda with everything else they produce.

They have even have had the unmitigated gall to sue dairies for advertising that its milk products did not come from cows treated with bovine growth hormone. Monsanto’s claim was that such advertising hurt its business.

At the top of the page is a video that tells about a collaboration between Monsanto and Fox news to squash a report that two Fox news investigative reporters did on bovine growth hormone. The reporters stated that most of the U.S. milk supply is tainted with the growth hormone, and that there were very specific health risks.

The Fox news reporters showed the insidious connections Monsanto has with government regulators, which allow Monsanto to get its way. But because the report hit so close to home, Monsanto was able to get it suppressed.

Monsanto is a true High Density Lifestyle corporation. They only think of their needs at the expense of what is good for the general public. And it doesn’t matter who gets in the way of Monsanto’s insatiable quest for bigger and higher profits.

Consider yourself forewarned…

Don’t You Just Love Monsanto?

June 15, 2010 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment

The Monsanto Food Corporation – don’t you just love Monsanto!

I mean, check out the above video – they are helping farmers to feed the world! Who doesn’t want to feed the world? Who doesn’t love farmers?

MONSANTOReally – it’s Monsanto to the rescue!

What? Are you saying something? Are you saying Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – which is Monsanto’s handiwork – don’t produce more food, and aren’t proven safe, and Monsanto gets to patent seeds and already has infected most food staples (nearly 100% of corn, wheat, soy is GMO!), and sue farmers and push traditional farmers to bankruptcy and mass suicide?

Oh, c’mon, get with the program – don’t you just love Monsanto?

I mean, here is their mission statement, from their website:

monsanto-scarecrowMonsanto is an agricultural company. We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more. We help farmers grow yield sustainably so they can be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fiber, while also reducing agriculture’s impact on our environment.

Furthermore, on their website, Monsanto has a pledge. This is what they pledge:

Integrity
Integrity is the foundation for all that we do. Integrity includes honesty, decency, consistency, and courage. Building on those values, we are committed to:
Dialogue
We will listen carefully to diverse points of view and engage in thoughtful dialogue. We will broaden our understanding of issues in order to better address the needs and concerns of society and each other.
Transparency
We will ensure that information is available, accessible, and understandable.
Sharing
We will share knowledge and technology to advance scientific understanding, to improve agriculture and the environment, to improve crops, and to help farmers in developing countries.
Benefits
We will use sound and innovative science and thoughtful and effective stewardship to deliver high-quality products that are beneficial to our customers and to the environment.
Respect
We will respect the religious, cultural, and ethical concerns of people throughout the world. The safety of our employees, the communities where we operate, our customers, consumers, and the environment will be our highest priority.
Act as Owners
to Achieve Results
We will create clarity of direction, roles, and accountability; build strong relationships with our customers and external partners; make wise decisions; steward our company resources; and take responsibility for achieving agreed-upon results.
Create a Great
Place to Work
We will ensure diversity of people and thought; foster innovation, creativity and learning; practice inclusive teamwork; and reward and recognize our people.

monsanto-no-food-20090311-947I mean, what an enlightened philosophy. What a beautiful philosophy. C’mon, repeat after me, Don’t You Just Love Monsanto?

What, you got a problem with that? This is a company that has produced saccharine, aspartame, Agent Orange, bovine growth hormone, PCB’s, DDT, and genetically engineered seeds.

I mean, c’mon, they’ve produced some of the finest things ever. And I mean ever.

Ok, so they sue farmers who aren’t happy with genetically modified seeds. But let’s get real – those farmers getting sued are pesky and aren’t with the program. They obviously don’t know how to show the love for Monsanto.

And what Monsanto is saying is, if you’re not going to show us the love, we’re going to sue you.

So, listen to me: let’s show Monsanto the love. Or else, they might show sue you or me.

Below are two videos: the first is a short factual piece about Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone and their efforts to not allow milk without bovine growth hormone in it labeled as such.

The second video is the trailer from the film Food, Inc. Although Food, Inc. is not just about Monsanto (although the film does go into Monsanto’s dark side), it is a film about the American food supply, and how we have lost touch with where our food comes from.

Which is precisely what Monsanto wants.

The World According to BP’s CEO Tony Hayward

June 11, 2010 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment, Featured

During the course of this series on green/sustainable living, one of the topics I have not written about is the ecological disaster that is the Gulf Coast oil spill.

BP CEO Tony Hayward

BP CEO Tony Hayward

The media has covered it extensively, and we all know that the repercussions and consequences will be felt for at least the next decade, if not longer.

And we also know that this could be a turning point in the need for a massive paradigm shift towards a society based on renewable energy and sustainable living.

And so, because it has been covered so extensively, I didn’t see the need to add anything onto it.

Until I kept reading the statements of the CEO of British Petroleum, Tony Hayward. One of his most recent statements, that he’d “like his life back,” has to go down in the annals of moronic statements of all time.

bp-oil-spill-logo

BP's new logo

There have been people killed, animals that have died and/or been drenched in oil, and livelihoods lost, because of the oil spill. Yet poor Tony Hayward has only concern for poor Tony Hayward and the fact that his life is in disarray.

Hayward has failed to grasp the scope of the disaster his company has created, and he’s obviously out of touch with the devastation that BP has wrought.

In other words, he’s a first class jerk.

And so, thanks to the NRDC, a video has been made that compiles his most ridiculous quotes relating to this disaster and combines it with images of what the spill has wrought. You can see it at the top of the page.

The sad thing is that when Tony Hayward is no longer head of BP, he’ll still be able to laugh all the way to the bank. Tell that to the people and animals who live around the Gulf Coast.

Next Page »