Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Paint It White, Swine/Bird Flu and other sundry

Would you support using $3 billion in stimulus money to paint roofs white? Before you consign this idea to the trashbin of pork barrel projects, a new study estimates that painting surfaces white or light colored in warm parts of the world could entirely offset the carbon emissions of every car on the planet for the next twenty years! (Let's not use that as an excuse, though, to do nothing about improving fuel efficiency of our cars.) Miller-McCune.

Is factory farming creating a breeding ground for the next flu pandemic? Looks that way. It's not the animals per se but they way they they are raised, kept, bred and slaughtered that's dangerous.

A number of people I know are switching to "free-range" eggs, not only because of concerns about animal well-being, but also because the eggs are supposed to be better for you. But beware-- all is often not what it seems on these free-range farms-- check out HumaneMyth for a look into several free-range farms.

Here in Western Mass, I've been getting my eggs from The Country Hen, a small farm in Hubbardston, MA, which offers tours of the farm, and I'll definitely be heading up there this spring to see it with my own eyes. The smaller, more local farms are the ones most likely, I think, to be able to use best practices.

For a bit of good news, scientists believe they've discovered the underlying cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, which has been decimating bee populations in the U.S. and Europe, and which has now moved to Japan and other countries. According to Science Daily, the parasite Nosema Ceranae has been found in suffering bee colonies, and treated with success.

However, the Organic Consumers Association, which has been tracking Colony Collapse Disorder closely, thinks there's more to the disorder than just a parasite. Like other factory farmed animals, bees have been overtreated with antibiotics, bred to an abnormally large size, and stressed by being transported around the country. Just like those flu victims who have succumbed to their illness, "underlying causes" probably create a greater susceptibility to the Nosema parasite. Stay tuned.

Photo from Maryatexitzero's photostream at Flickr.

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