Facts for thought
• Number of the 48 anti-conservation bills proposed in this year’s N.M. Legislature which passed = 0.
• Number of the 8 pro-environment bills approved by both Houses which the governor signed = 3.
• Duration of N.M. Rail Runner “Dump the (gas) Pump” promotion = until June 16th.
• Number of Indian university students attending a disarmament conference, despite its cancellation by New Delhi (after accepting U.S. arms deal) = more than 200.
• Year Russia and China proposed a revived Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty (i.e. anti-Star Wars) at the U.N. = 2010.
• Number of nations joining the U.S. in voting “No” to proposal = 0.
• Percentage of American graduates attaining degrees in science and engineering = 13.
• Percentage of science and engineering among degrees earned in China = 54.
• 2008 Presidential contender receiving the most money from weapons contractors = Hillary Clinton.
• Nations voting in 2010 to support the U.N. PAROS Treaty (Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space) = 174.
• Number of years the U.S. has voted “No” to PAROS = 27.
• PAROS’ strongest proponents = China and Russia.
Now, for your bonus question:
What do Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon have most in common?
Answer: All are headed by retired Air Force generals (who are Washington lobbyists).
I know … I’m on this “war” thing. Sorry; can’t help it.
Maybe it’s the d*** wind. I’ll snap out of it sooner or later — resume writing on endangered daisies or something. But right now, I’m on this “war” thing …
Two years back, Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates nixed George W. Bush’s controversial missile defense silos for Poland. They’d opted for “a smarter, stronger, swifter … graduated, layered interceptor system” for eastern Europe. NATO’s military juggernaut expanded ever-closer to Russian borders, with Romania the next staging area for our “kinetic, hit-to-kill” weaponry.
But at the Cold War’s end, we promised that NATO would not move “one centimeter” eastward. And yet U.S. warships are on constant patrol from the Baltic to the Black seas. Aegis destroyers cruise on continuous rotation throughout the Baltic, which borders Russia and such frightening countries as Finland and Sweden.
And Talk About Danger …
In 1964, a Navy navigational satellite, with nuclear-powered generators using plutonium-238 on-board, failed to achieve orbit and disintegrated into the Earth’s atmosphere. 2.1 pounds of plutonium dispersed widely around the globe.
European health and radiation protection agencies reported that worldwide soil sampling showed the plutonium-238 debris “present on all continents, at all latitudes.” Dr. John Gofman, Berkeley professor emeritus of radiological physics and once a player in the Manhattan Project, ultimately linked the accident to increases in lung cancer worldwide.
So NASA ceased employing nuclear power on our planet’s orbiters, turning to solar photovoltaic panels. But the space agency has insisted on using the potentially dangerous nuclear generators on the space probes launched from Earth, in spite of the fact that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found that solar alternatives work just fine — in fact, better in deep space.
A Gulf Recovery Story
It’s been a year. I can finally “talk” about it. I promised an oil spill reflection moons ago. And now I’ll get my feet wet …
Earth has lost approximately 85 percent of its natural oyster reefs to over-harvesting, coastal development and pollution. But Mobile Bay, opening onto the Gulf of Mexico, harbors much of the world’s last natural oyster beds. And Mobile Bay took Hurricane Katrina, and now the BP oil spill, right in the teeth.
The world’s once bountiful oyster reefs serve to shelter salt marshes and the sea grasses necessary for the nurture of hundreds of marine species. Oyster beds act as the tropical coral reefs of the North — nurseries of abundant life. Plus, an oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, thus naturally helping maintain healthy habitat for all.
So, to the rescue of oystering on Alabama’s Mobile Bay came 350 volunteers in January! Armed with 23,000 10-pound bags of oyster shells, they began the construction of 100 miles of “new” oyster beds, stacking the shell-bags several feet high across mud flats 150 feet out from the high-tide shoreline.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and citizen contributions have all pitched in to fund this saving of American oysters for another day. The Nature Conservancy is organizing the cadres of volunteers.
Still more appropriations are needed, of course. Mobile Bay’s project is expected to take five years to complete — one of many Gulf healing efforts unfolding for years to come.
“Primary sources: nmrailrunner.com, Gila Resources Information Project, spaceforpeace.org, New York Magazine, Al-Jazeera, Associated Press”
Albrecht is a San Antonio, N.M., resident. She has crafted global affairs digests for New Mexican newspapers and journals for 13 years. Find her column on the last Saturday of each month in El Defensor Chieftain.