Kudzu

Photo credit: user: streaminspector/Flickr

Come Kudzu

Come Kudzu, conquer the Earth!
Far worse than oxygen dearth
A horrible greenhouse gas
Is accumulating alas!
Come cool the Earth ; breathe this menace
That runs the earthly furnace.
Overwhelm the forests of concrete,
On every bare spot set your feet,
Cover all the expanses in green;
Let no naked ground be seen.
Man cannot stop burning coal and gas,
CO2 is winning alas!

Boghos L. Artinian

Kudzu is a highly invasive plant. Eventually it overpowers and kills all other vegetation in its growing area. It literally strangles whatever it comes in contact with. 

Known to grow a foot a day in the summer season, kudzu vines grow up to 100 ft long and can quickly smother trees, houses, power lines, and anything else that stands in its way. Tolerant to both drought and frost, its hardiness allows it to remain dominant and outcompete other plants. 

Forests can be completely overrun by the plant in as little as two or three years, resulting in lower biodiversity and productivity. 

You’ve all heard about how power plants, cars and fossil fuels are destroying the climate. Have you ever considered how big a contribution your dinner plate makes?

The world is facing a major imbalance of land use that is as threatening as Kudzu: problems caused by the meat industry’s massive use of land and natural resources.  

Increasing meat consumption is at odds with Earth’s ability to feed its people. How? The 1 billion tonnes of wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize (corn), sorghum and millet poured into livestock troughs annually could feed 3.5 billion humans.

Land Usage

Contributing to global warming

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock — including cows, pigs, sheep and other animals — are responsible for about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Cows are the primary offenders. Each animal releases 30 to 50 gallons of global warming methane a day – and with an estimated 1.3 to 1.5 billion cows on the planet, that’s a whole lot of methane.

But that is not the only contribution to global warming animal farming produces.

Around 70% of the grains used by developed countries are fed to animals. Livestock consume an estimated one-third or more of the world’s cereal grain, with 40% of such feed going to ruminants, mainly cattle.

Which leads to the secondary contribution to global warming. Around the world small farmer’s practice of crop waste field burning creates 330,000 gigatons of black carbon annually – the 2nd biggest contributor to global warming – and huge quantities of methane and NOx, greenhouse gases 25 and 298 times respectively more warming than CO2. (A problem Warm Heart is addressing with our “Stop the Smoke” campaign)

How much meat consumption is really healthy for you?

“The World Health Organization made headlines in 2015 when it declared processed meat a “carcinogen” that increases your risk of colon or rectum cancer by 18 percent. But it’s not just processed meat that poses a health risk — science has known for a while that eating all kinds of animals, including “white meat,” is bad for you.

Until recently, only the wealthiest people could afford to feed, raise, and slaughter animals for meat, while everyone else ate mostly plant foods. Prior to the 20th century, only the rich were plagued routinely with diseases such as heart disease and obesity.

Now that meat has become relatively cheap and is easily available deadly ailments such as heart disease, strokes, cancerdiabetes, and obesity have spread to people across the socio-economic spectrum. And as the Western lifestyle spills over into less-developed areas of Asia and Africa, people there, too, have begun to suffer and die from diseases associated with meat-based diets.” (Source: Is it really natural? The truth about humans and eating meat)

Old habits are hard to break

Our lifestyle of convenience in the Western World has contributed to wiping out whole species, with many under threat of extinction.

We have built our world around overuse and dependency of crude oil and coal as if we had unlimited supplies, ignoring warning signs that in the process we were destroying our environment.

We love our petrochemical-based plastics. We have developed so many creative uses for them – we just haven’t mastered getting rid of the stuff when it is no longer useful, whether it be a “one use plastic” or a discarded piece of hard plastic. Like kudzu, plastic waste is overwhelming our vast oceans, killing our coral reefs, and causing a deadly food chain reaction that threatens sea life survival.  

And our mismanagement of resources is spreading to the developing world.

How do we fix a world we have broken?

No one wants to give up their comfortable lifestyle. We just need to find a few solutions to replace, reproduce, and remove the toxins from our environment.

Replace

Great strides are being made all around the world in every area by groups and individuals who understand a particular problem and are finding solutions.

Alternative sustainable energy development to replace our dependence on oil, coal and gas has grown and moved forward, creating jobs, helping spread light where there had been none before.

Daily headlines are highlighting accomplishments, “India is investing more money in solar power than coal for first time“, and “How Japan became the world leader in floating solar power“.

In Mexico a Company Turns Avocado Pit Waste Into Biodegradable Straws and Cutlery. The beauty behind their products is the discarded pits would have otherwise been headed for a landfill. So not only are production costs dirt cheap, it is helping cut back on agricultural waste.

The company is then able to pass that savings along to the consumer, keeping prices equal with conventional plastic.

Avocado seed bioplastic doesn’t cut into our food supply or require any additional land to be dedicated to its production.

And best of all, it’s truly biodegradable unlike many “biodegradable” plastics. fully decomposing in just 240 days, compared to conventional plastic which is estimated to take 500 years to break down and never fully biodegrades.

We are making progress!

Reproduce

The food industry is working on reproducing meat with plant based ingredients that have the “flavor, texture, and appeal of meat”. The “Impossible Burger” is growing in popularity with both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. They all say you can’t tell the difference. And that seems to be the idea.

Beyond Meat is another growing source of plant based meat, capturing the flavor and texture of a variety of sausages and other meat products.

The Washington Post recently wrote, “A new day is dawning for the meat industry, and the Word of the Day is: smaller.”

Remove

Plastics do not go away. It breaks down into microscopic pieces, which makes its way into our food chain. We need to remove it from our environment, but how?

Precious Plastics is a global community of hundreds of people working towards a solution to plastic pollution. Knowledge, tools and techniques are shared online, for free. So everyone can start (yes, you too!). They offer free blueprints and plans to build your own plastic recycling equipment allowing you to remove plastic from the environment and repurpose it into a new, usable product.

Kudzu

Kudzu may simply be nature’s way of taking back the environmental mess we have made of this world.

But there is still hope that working together we can find solutions to help heal the planet without Kudzu.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s newest film “Ice and Fire” to be released this month on HBO “offers hope that we can actually stave off the worst effects of global warming,” according to an HBO press release.


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