Friday, May 29, 2009

The Next Generation of Biofuels: Scientific American

The Next Generation of Biofuels: Scientific American: "Once the next generation of biofuels becomes available, you could swing by the local energy station and fill up on a liquid that is virtually identical to gasoline. It would be made by U.S. companies, not shipped from the Middle East. And even though biofuels release carbon dioxide when they are burned, the organisms they are made from draw an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from the air—making biofuels essentially carbon-neutral."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

William Kamkwamba's Ingenious Windmill �� MetaEfficient Reviews

I stumbled upon this interesting example of renewable energy today -- worth a read, to show what can be done if people are willing to try.

William Kamkwamba's Ingenious Windmill: MetaEfficient Reviews:
William Kamkwamba is now an engineering student in Johannesburg, South Africa. But in 2002, when William was 14, his farming family could no longer afford to send him to school when Malawi was hit with its worst famine in decades. He decided to continue studying on his own, however, and chanced upon a library book about wind power. Much to the amusement of his friends and neighbors, William began constructing a homemade wind turbine from wood scraps, plastic, and old bicycle parts. But their skepticism quickly turned to wonder when William demonstrated that his contraption could provide enough energy to power lights and radios in his family’s home, when only 2% of Malawi’s residents enjoyed household electricity.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


The Third Annual General Meeting of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) will be held at Temple David, 369 Ridge Road, Overport, Durban, on Tuesday 2nd June 2009 commencing at 18:30.


  • 6.30 pm Finger Supper
  • 7.00 to 8.00 pm Talk and discussion led by Rehana Dada
  • 8.00 pm SAFCEI AGM

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mexican flu, swine flu origins


No-one yet knows whether swine flu will become a global pandemic, but it is becoming clear where it came from – most likely a giant pig factory farm run by an American multinational corporation in Veracruz, Mexico.(1)

These factory farms are disgusting and dangerous, and they're rapidly multiplying. Thousands of pigs are brutally crammed into dirty warehouses and sprayed with a cocktail of drugs -- posing a health risk to more than just our food -- they and their manure lagoons create the perfect conditions to breed dangerous new viruses like swine flu. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) must investigate and develop regulations for these farms to protect global health.

Big agrobusiness will try to obstruct and scuttle any attempts at reform, so we need a massive outcry that health authorities can't ignore. Sign the petition below for investigation and regulation of factory farms and tell your friends and family and we will deliver it to the UN agencies. If we reach 200,000 signatures we will deliver it to the WHO in Geneva with a herd of cardboard pigs. For every 1000 petition signatures we will add a pig to the herd:

Last week the flu was all that we talked about -- Mexico has been nearly paralysed and across the world leaders halted air travel, banned pork imports and initiated drastic controls to mitigate the spreading virus. As the threat shows signs of subsiding the question becomes where it came from and how we stop another outbreak.

Smithfield Corporation, the largest pig producer in the world whose farm is being fingered as the source of the H1N1 outbreak, denies any connection between their pigs and the flu and big agrobusiness worldwide pays huge sums of money for research to argue that biosafety is ensured in industrial hog production. But the WHO has been saying for years that 'a new pandemic is inevitable'(2) and experts from the European Commission and the FAO have cautioned that the rapid move from small holdings to industrial pig production is in fact increasing the risk of development and transmission of disease epidemics. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that scientists still do not know the extent that infectious compounds produced in factory farms affect human health.(3)

Studies abound of the horrific conditions endured by pigs in concentrated large-scale operations, and the devastating economic impact on small farmer communities of bloated large-scale operations.(4) Smithfield itself has already been fined $12.6m and is currently under another federal investigation in the US for toxic environmental damage from pig excrement lakes.(5)

But even with all of this damaging evidence, a combination of increased global meat consumption and a powerful industry motivated by profit at the cost of human health, means that instead of being shut down - these sickening factory farm operations are propagating around the world and we are subsidising them (6). In the wake of this swine flu threat, let's hold industrial pig producers to account. Sign the petition for investigation and regulation:

If we resolve this global health crisis boldly by reassessing our food consumption and production, and urgently calling for an inquiry into the impact of factory farms on human health, we could put in place tough farm practice rules that will save the global population from future animal borne lethal pandemics.

in hope,

Alice, Pascal, Graziela, Paul, Brett, Ben, Ricken, Iain, Paula, Luis, Raj, Veronique, Milena, Margaret, Taren and the whole Avaaz team

(1) Biosurveillance report tracing the disease to the Smithfields farm:
Reports on the link between the Mexican factory farm and the flu:,0,1701782.story

(2) WHO pandemic information

(3) FAO, EC and CDC reports on the risks of industrial farming on public health
FAO and CIWF and

(4) CIWF and PETA video reports of the disgusting conditions for animals in factory farms and the disease ridden manure swamps:

(5) Reports on Smithfield's animal welfare and environmental damage

(6) Reports on UK tax payers subsidising factory farms
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