Tag Archives: China

Breed, I say, breed!

Some light-hearted – yet also troubling? – news from the Associated Press: endangered Chinese pandas are on loan to Australia, and both states are urging them to make babies. Verbally urging. In speeches. Surely this is a no-fail solution, right?

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Vin Rouge and Thanksgiving Turkey’s

Thanksgiving encourages everyone to think about what they are thankful for. Friends. Family. A house and a job. The Common App. Education. A wonderful thanksgiving meal. Millions of dead turkeys. Wait a minute, things don’t look so great from that perspective. Approximately 250 turkeys were raised for the sole purpose of eating them on Thanksgiving. How’s that for a guilt trip. Indeed, thanksgiving gives our friends at PETA just another chance to shake their heads at us. Lucky for us, they offer 10 reasons why we should save these turkeys

It is possible, to feel guilty about every single thing we do these days, or so it seems. How can we be thankful for so many things on thanksgiving when there is so much we are not thankful for and take for granted. Food for thought.

With this on my mind, I embarked with my family to lunch on the day after thanksgiving. We went to a winery owned by a friend of my uncle’s and therefore got a backstage look at the wine business.  You wouldn’t think it, but a lot of nature goes into one bottle of wine.The process looks somewhat like this:

1) Loads of lands must be cleared and stripped of its natural purpose in order to grow the grapes

2)In the meantime, loads of land-mostly in Portugal-are used to grow cork trees. We heard an interesting story to this. Because you can only take the cork off of a cork tree once every ten years or so, about two decades ago the Portugese tried to grow super cork trees that would grow in a third of the time. The cork from this trees was not resistant to all sorts of bacteria and other nasty stuff because of its short grow time and almost killed the wine industry. Interesting that in order to save land, they had to manipulate nature and its genetics. Whichever way you look at it though, they failed.

3)The grapes have to get transported, fermented and turned into wine. I won’t go into detail, but it takes lots of energy and air conditioning and transportation.

4)The grapes need to be in wooden barrels. These need wood grown in very cold temperatures, and trees are grown in cold parts of France, Minnesota, Oregon, Maine and more. The French ones are ideal. They also have the biggest toll in shipping them to wineries in California. Then there is the wood grown just so it can be cut down.

5)The bottles have to come from somewhere. I’m not exactly sure where, but for a winery that has over 12 million galloons of wine in the making at any given time, they need a lot of glass.

6)Shipping it. It goes everywhere. This particular winery sends about 10% of its wine to China. That’s far away, and big steam ships use a lot of gas. Pollution and use of fossil fuels, all at once. In the last couple of years, China has been importing more and more wine. Right now they don’t have the soil for grapes, its a hard industry to start (but not that hard as seen in California) and they are more focused on industrial advances. Nevertheless, their middle class, which is already huge and is growing at an even huger rate wants to drink wine. So its comes from far away California.

Here’s the thing. A knowledgable person can go through and do this for nearly everything. The results will often be depressing. Clearly, we can’t make everything perfect (the best step to completely reverse our dirty trend is for everyone to eat out of their own garden and never drive anywhere), but things need to be better. When simple pleasures like enjoying thanksgiving or a nice bottle of wine can make you guilty of conspiracy to harm to Earth to such a degree, things are a problem. Big time. And how do we clean it up? Do we say, “No, China may not have our wine,” or maybe limit the number of trees that can grow the grapes?

I like the latter solution. Everything has to be in excess these days. Big SUV’s, buy one get one free, and paper starbucks cups every morning, things really need to be scaled down. That will hold the forces of destruction at bay until we can get cleaner energy and fuel. But we are far from being in the clear. Just wait until Christmas.

The Distant Past: A Shroud of Disregard

The Great Wall of China

After reading Lindsay’s “China’s Three Gorges Dam,” I could not refrain myself from writing about one of the most important monuments in China’s history, The Great Wall of China. Because the Great Wall is not nearly as new as the Three Gorges Dam, it poses subtler questions about its effects on nature. It in fact is so old that it seems like a part of nature itself, much like how we consider the Stonehenge to be a part of nature. But in actuality, it is the product of the human hand, literally.

I cannot help to wonder how such a huge structure, over five thousand miles long, would have affected nature and its animals. How many habitats were destroyed with the construction of this unthinkably massive wall? Such questions inundate my mind, for I would never have thought that this revered structure, built to prevent destruction of humanity from war, ironically, could have caused major damage to nature. I am very surprised that I had never thought of this topic before, but then again, the Great Wall successfully shrouded itself with its blanket of grass and trees in order to blend into nature.

I wonder why there is always controversy about recent technological structures that could harm nature such as the Three Gorges Dam but not about things of the past such as the Great Wall. Is destroying nature with human technology a concept strictly limited to the present and the future? Why do we not talk about things of the distant past and their effects? Is it because humans were not harmful before, but are becoming increasingly so as we progress through time? And if this is true, how are we evolving so quickly? What are our outlooks for the future? I don’t know about you, but my mind is sufficiently blown.