Sunday, April 19, 2009

Obama, Venezuela's Chavez shake hands at summit

In case you didn't know it, Venezuela has a lot of oil. Without oil we not only can't drive, but we have mass starvation as happened in North Korea. (See below). President Barack Obama on Friday greeted and shook hands with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez during an impromptu meeting with the anti-U.S. leader at the Summit of the Americas.

Photographs released by the Venezuelan government showed Chavez, a fierce foe of former President George W. Bush, smiling and clasping hands with Obama at the start of the summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders in Trinidad.

"I greeted Bush with this hand eight years ago; I want to be your friend," Chavez told Obama, according to a Venezuelan presidential press office statement.

Chavez, a staunch ally of Cuba, had became one of the Bush's administrations most strident critics. In March, he called Obama at best an "ignoramus" after the U.S. leader said Chavez obstructed progress in Latin America.

Ties between Washington and Caracas have frayed under Chavez, who often accuses U.S. officials of trying to topple him. Chavez expelled the U.S. envoy to Caracas in September in a dispute over U.S. activities in Venezuelan ally Bolivia.

Former soldier Chavez says socialist revolution can counter U.S. free-market policies in South America and he has become a standard-bearer for anti-U.S. sentiment in the region. But Washington has branded him a threat to regional stability.

via UPDATE 1-Obama, Venezuela's Chavez shake hands at summit | Markets | Reuters.

There is a reason we went to Iraq.
After the end of the Korean War in 1953, crop yields increased with the utilisation of modern farming methods. Traditional agricultural practices were abandoned for the 'more efficient' modern methods employing diesel-based tractors and machinery and chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides.

Around 1990 the Soviet Union collapsed and support was withdrawn from North Korea and all transactions consequently has to be settled with hard cash. The result was a collapse in the economy and a decrease in the energy supply. The fertility of the soil declined with the loss of production. Replanting without fertilisers meant that fields became more and more barren. Traditional farming is too small to replace the losses and animals are in short supply. Tractors, transport and machinery lie rusting (it was estimated that only 20% of all farm machinery was in working order in the late 1990s. In the late 1980s, 25% of the workforce was engaged in agriculture; this has risen to 36% in the mid 1990s. With mainly human power available, harvest time results in crop wastage. Poor yields result in little money and the inability to buy in fertilisers, diesel and animals to help.

... Our economies will also decline with the rise in oil prices. The costs of diesel and petrochemicals will rise, the supply of oil and gas will fall. Walter Youngquist in the Post-Petroleum Paradigm points out:
Approximately 90% of the energy in crop production is oil and natural gas. About one-third of the energy is to reduce the labour input from 200 hours per hectare to 1.6 hours per hectare in grain production. About two-thirds of the energy is for production, of which about one-third of this is for fertilisers alone. [Measurements converted to metric]

We need to replace our modern farming systems with organic while we have the chance. It can take years to replenish the soil with the nutrients that monoculture takes out. We need to grow crops locally, rather than fly them in from across the world, and encourage more allotments and vegetable gardens. Larger countries will have to subdivide into smaller, more autonomous regions, producing the food that they need within their areas. As the "Post-Petroleum Paradigm" notes, we could not support six billion people with traditional farming methods. If we do not reduce the population voluntarily famine will do it for us.

One solution is to work now on growing some of your own food.
How to Grow a Garden in Your Apartment As long as you have a porch or balcony that gets sunlight, however, you are actually able to grow quite a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Container gardening is easy, movable, and can be accomplished in a very small space. Save containers in which to plant your vegetables such as coffee cans (place the lid on the bottom to prevent rust stains), water jugs with the top cut off,

deep bowls, plastic nursery planters, flower pots, empty milk jugs, etc. Make sure to put holes in the bottom of your containers for excess water drainage. - ac

1 comment:

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