August 21, 2006

8/21/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This update/Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has the following items:


1. Forward Article on Glatt Kosher Meat/My Letter/Please Write

2. Coalition On the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) Launches National Global Climate Change Campaign

3. Interested in a Teshuvah/Dietary Campaign?

4. JVNA Advisor To Again Take Part in a Grueling Bike Ride To Help Handicapped Children

6. Much of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crisis (Two Items)

7. Update on Hakol CHAI Helping Animals in Israel

8. Another Article Showing the Urgency of Our Efforts

10. Grassroots Rebellion Needed to Respond to Global Warming

11. Is Ethanol a Potential Solution to Potential Fuel Shortages?

13. Course Offered Re Impacts of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

14. Vegan Homeschooling Fraud

15. International Vegetarian Conference in India Next Month

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observance, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



Shalom everyone,

I want to emphasize again that my discussion of Israel’s struggle against Hezbollah represented only my personal views and do not represent in any way at all any JVNA position. Even so, I should not have used the JVNA email distribution list. I apologize for that and I will not use the list for a personal statement on any non JVNA-related matter again.

When I sent out my "My Analysis of the Present Situation Re Israel's Struggles against Hizbullah and Hamas," I thought of it as a one-shot effort to stimulate some thought, since I had been receiving many messages that were wonderful for winning debates but none that seemed to be considering possible solutions. I received several responses, some agreeing and some disagreeing with my position, and all of them were respectful. I replied respectfully to all of them, I believe -- if I missed responding to any, it was inadvertent or possibly because I was away for a few days and haven’t completely caught up yet, and I apologize. I have not shared these responses with this list because of time limitations and because I did not want to divert attention from the main issues that this list is considering.

However, the response I received from long time friend and vegetarian activist Steve Kelter is so thoughtful and comprehensive that I have decided to make it available, along with the ensuing dialogue between myself and Steve, in the hope that it will stimulate further thought and perhaps actions that will lead to positive results for Israel and others. If you would like to receive Steve’s response and the ensuing dialogue between myself and Steve please let me know. Thanks. This will be the last time that this issue will be mentioned or considered in a JVNA newsletter.

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1. Forward Article on Glatt Kosher Meat/My Letter/Please Write

Glatt Kosher Meat Is Not All It Is Cut Out To Be
Marc Shapiro Fri. August 18, 2006

Due in no small part to the recent controversy at the AgriProcessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, there has been a lot of talk of late about how glatt kosher meat is produced. Yet for all the sensational headlines about whether the standards of kashrut are being met, little attention has been paid to how those standards are actually determined.

In nearly every Orthodox community today, glatt kosher has come to stand for unquestionably kosher, with the result being that food carrying the regular kosher label is shunned.

This is more than simply an issue of certification. It is a significant transformation in the religious lifestyle of the Orthodox, a group that, ironically, claims to embody religious continuity.

Regular kosher might be okay if you’re in, say, Montana, and it’s the only meat available. Even then, though, you might want to think twice before bringing home such food. If you’re thinking of having a barbecue for Orthodox friends and throwing some regular kosher hot dogs on the grill, don’t be surprised if your guests suddenly develop a distaste for meat and profess that they’ve recently become vegetarians. You might as well be serving Oscar Mayer franks, because the reaction will be little different.

For hundreds of years, halachic authorities disagreed as to what exactly could be considered kosher. The “Shulhan Arukh” insisted on no adhesions — glatt means smooth, and refers to the fact that the lungs of animals slaughtered according to glatt kashrut do not have any adhesions. Rabbi Moses Isserles disagreed, and ruled that an animal could be declared kosher even with certain adhesions.

In the Ashkenazic lands, regular kosher was the standard, with glatt being reserved for the exceptionally pious, who were also willing to pay more. This is also how matters were in America until about 30 years ago.

Since then, the Orthodox have adopted a new standard in kashrut, one that defines only glatt kosher as acceptable. Regular kosher has been relegated to Conservative Jews and others who don’t take kashrut as seriously as the Orthodox.

Recognition of the change in kashrut standards has, by all indications, been picked up by the Jewish community at large. On numerous occasions I have been informed by non-Orthodox relatives or colleagues that I can eat the food that is being served since, they told me, it is glatt kosher, with the emphasis on glatt. This community-wide acceptance of glatt in the United States is quite significant, as things are rather different in Israel and Europe, where regular kosher is still very popular among the Orthodox.

In previous years, it wasn’t simply the masses who ate regular kosher. The great rabbis did as well. Many of them, including Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, even provided hashgachot, or kosher supervision, for non-glatt kosher meat.

So how did we reach this point in the United States where a practice that was basic to Orthodox society simply disappeared and came to be no longer regarded as acceptable? Much of the blame — or praise, depending on your outlook — falls on the Orthodox Union, which is considered the gold standard of kashrut supervision in the United States.

As part of its effort to achieve universal acceptance, even in the most right-wing circles, about 30 years ago the O.U. stopped providing supervision to non-glatt meat. Once the O.U. no longer recognized the validity of non-glatt, it soon became verboten for the average Orthodox Jew. The great irony here is that the leading Modern Orthodox organization is itself responsible for creating a situation where virtually all Orthodox Jews in this country, even the most liberal among them, would not dream of buying anything but glatt kosher. It is also impossible for a restaurant or hotel to attract an Orthodox clientele without being exclusively glatt.

The O.U.’s move to glatt is not the only example of the organization adopting policies that are not in line with the Modern Orthodox tradition of its founders. Many Forward readers, I am sure, have wondered about the Popsicles and other products that have absolutely no milk in them yet are still stamped “OU-D.” Or, for that matter, the yearly Passover guide that tells people that their candles and laundry detergent do not need a special Passover hashgachah, but do need a regular one.

It was the O.U.’s move to glatt, however, that had a truly momentous impact and changed the religious landscape of American Orthodoxy. Other hashgachot soon followed the O.U.’s path, leaving supervision over regular kosher in the hands of hashgachot that in many people’s minds were regarded as less reliable. Even if these hashgachot were, in truth, completely dependable, the fact that they agreed to certify meat that the O.U. and others would not reinforced the idea in people’s minds that there were problems with regular kosher. It took just a few years following the O.U.’s decision before regular kosher was no longer regarded as acceptable in American Orthodoxy.

Yet this is not all there is to the story, and here things get even more interesting. The very meaning of glatt kosher in the United States is not what most people think, namely, meat that has no adhesions. While this is indeed the original meaning of glatt and the meaning most people identify it with, the word as used today means something more expansive, depending on which kashrut organization you ask.

For some, it simply means that they hold themselves to a very high halachic standard in all areas of meat production. For others, it means that they permit only a couple of small, easily removed adhesions, a type of glatt that was actually quite common among Hasidim in prewar Europe. One thing that is certain is that glatt in the United States does not mean that an animal’s lung is completely smooth. Sephardim, who are supposed to eat only real glatt, are under normal circumstances not permitted to eat the typical “American glatt,” and they therefore have their own special “Beit Yosef glatt.”

While the kashrut organizations have not exactly hidden this information, and will tell you the truth if you ask, they have not been exactly forthcoming about it either. There is, for example, no explanation on the O.U. Web site as to what it means when it stamps a product glatt. The closest you get is an article titled the “The Kosher Primer,” which explains that real glatt is free of all adhesions on its lungs. The primer does acknowledge that, “Recently, the term ‘glatt kosher’ is increasingly used more broadly as a generic phrase, implying that the product is kosher without question.” Yet there is no clarification that the O.U.’s glatt falls into the second category — which also explains how the organization believes it appropriate to certify “glatt chickens.”

A great deal has been written about how the Orthodox have in recent years adopted new religious standards. The turn to glatt, however, is in its own category, because here the Orthodox have indeed adopted a new standard, but it is not what most people think it is. If they knew the facts, they might not be so attached to the glatt-only culture of contemporary Orthodoxy — which is something worth chewing over the next time you munch on a Hebrew National regular kosher salami.

Marc Shapiro is a professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Scranton.

Copyright © 2006 Forward Association, inc.
Editor, The Forward

Dear Editor:
RE: ‘Glatt Kosher Meat Is Not All It Is Cut Out To Be” (August 18, 2006 issue):
Whether meat is glatt kosher or just plain kosher, it is a product that has been linked to an epidemic of heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases, and whose production contributes to global warming, widening water shortages, destruction of tropical rain forests and other environmental threats. In addition, the production and consumption of meat violate basic Jewish mandates to guard our health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.

So for our health and that of our precious, but imperiled planet, and to best fulfill the spirit of the Jewish kosher laws, why not shift toward a nutritious plant-based diet?

Very truly yours,
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

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2. Coalition On the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) Launches National Global Climate Change Campaign

From: Barbara Lerman-Golomb, Acting Executive Director, COEJL

Notice: COEJL’s On the Move

The COEJL offices have moved to 116 E. 27th Street, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
(same zip, email, phone and fax).
How Many Jews Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

You may have already heard that COEJL has launched a nationwide climate change campaign to bring the issue front and center in Jewish public life. “A Light Among the Nations” aka “How Many Jews Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?” will engage the Jewish community in awareness, advocacy, and action to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If you have already heard, then you are probably on both our e-bulletin and campaign lists. This means you’ll receive two emails from us this week, but the good news is, what we have to say is so exciting you’ll want to hear about it twice!

To help us light the way for the campaign, COEJL is pleased to welcome Liore Milgrom-Elcott who will be the Campaign Coordinator. Liore will be starting on August 22. Please feel free to contact her at or 212-532-7436. Click here to read about Liore.

To help round out the COEJL team, it is with great pleasure that we also welcome Dr. Daniel Orenstein in the new position of “Science and Policy Fellow,” a position funded through a Leadership Grant from the Switzer Foundation. He can be reached at Go to to read more about Daniel.

If you haven’t heard about the campaign, go to You’ll learn that our goal is to not only get every member of the Jewish community to change to energy efficient, cost effective compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, but to also engage the Jewish community in energy legislation, greening synagogues, and help our youth get involved in activities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by offsetting one’s own energy usage.

To all of you who have contacted us about participating, thank you. For anyone we haven’t heard from yet, what are you waiting for? CLICK HERE if you need updated information. If you didn’t attend our July 31 campaign launch meeting/conference call, CLICK HERE to read the summary or listen to the full recording. You’ll be inspired!

Take Action TODAY

* Contact us at to sign on to the campaign! Join in this Jewish community effort to conserve energy and stop global warming.
* Write a blurb about the campaign to be included in your synagogue or Jewish institution’s newsletter or on the web site.
* Provide us with the name and contact information for a campaign Point Person from your congregation or institution who will work with us to coordinate your involvement in the campaign.
* Tell us how many campaign brochures (including CFL bulb order forms) you need for the High Holidays and beyond. We are suggesting one/congregational family and ~100 additional. For a Jewish organization, you’ll want brochures for your employees and for community outreach.
* Tell us if you need sermonic materials to inspire your congregation.
* Reach out to your Jewish community (synagogues, JCCs, CRCs, Hillels, Hadassah chapters and more). Tell them about the campaign and how to contact us. Or, send us the names of people we can contact.
* Think out of the box. Do you have a local Jewish newspaper in your town? Not only should they be contacted so that their ready to cover the story of millions of Jews around the country installing CFLs, but they should be installing them in their offices as well. What about Jewish social service offices? Remember, changing to CFLs is not only good for the planet; it’s good for the wallet too.

Watt’s in a Name?

When people hear the name of the climate change campaign, they always laugh, and then they often share a light bulb joke. If you’ve got one that you’re just burning to tell, send it to us. But, here’s the twist, it should have a Jewish and or environmental spin.

Haikus for Eco-Jews

If you’re up for an even bigger challenge, please send along “Haikus for Eco-Jews” focusing on compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and or energy conservation—extra points if you manage to incorporate Hanukkah or general Jewish content as well. Haikus, much like CFLs, are powerful in their minimalism.

n. pl. haiku also hai•kus
a. A Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons.
b. A poem written in this form.

Send jokes and haikus to Please include your name, city and state, and age (if you’re under 21).

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3. Interested in a Teshuvah/Dietary Campaign?


Shalom everyone,

If you would like to be involved in a proposed “dietary-teshuvah” campaign (below) or have any any suggestions about it, please let me know. Thanks.

I suggest that we start a “dietary-teshuvah” (repentance for harmful eating habits) campaign for the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the “ten days of teshuvah), since this is the time when Jews are to especially consider their deeds for the previous year and do “teshuvah” (that is repent for past misdeeds and vow to do better in the future). It is also a time that we ask for God's compassion and His blessings for a good, healthy, prosperous year. Hence, it is a good time for people to also exhibit greater compassion.

I suggest that Jews contact their local rabbis and other key people in the Jewish community and ask them to consider how the realities of animal-based diets and agriculture contradict the values of this sacred period (in terms, for example, of our prayers for God's compassion and for a good, healthy year - hence, the need for teshuvah.) There should also be e-mail messages, letters and articles sent to Jewish publications, calls to talk shows, and other approaches to spread the teshuvah message.

We could provide rabbis and other Jewish leaders much background information on the contradictions between the holiday's values and conditions related to the production and consumption of animal products. For example, my “Rosh Hashanah and Vegetarianism” and “Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism” articles (above) have much re this.

It would be wonderful if we could afford ads in some Jewish publications.

We would also try to get support from other religious groups and vegetarian/animal rights groups for the campaign.

The use of e-mail and the Internet would help us get our messages out to many people. We already have the start of an effective network through my e-mail lists.

This is just the very first rough draft for this concept, so please let me know what you think. Perhaps we can build on the recent increased interest in vegetarianism. If it is too late for this year, we can start planning for future years.


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4. JVNA Advisor To Again Take Part in a Grueling Bike Ride To Help Handicapped Children

Once again JVNA advisor Steve Kelter will soon be taking part in the Alyn Hospital Wheels of Love Charity Bike Ride to help rehabilitation of severely disabled children from war, terrorism, accident or birth, in Israel. If you would like to join me in contributing to Steve's efforts, please go to Click on About the Ride. Click on Meet the Riders or About the Riders. Click on Steven Kelter. (You will see Steve's picture and his email. The T-shirt he wore for the picture has an environmental message related to an endangered species.) Directions for donations on-line appear. They are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

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6. Much of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crisis (Two Items)

a. Water Crisis Warning

By James Grubel

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A third of the world is facing water shortages because of poor management of water resources and soaring water usage, driven mainly by agriculture, the International Water Management Institute said on Wednesday.

Water scarcity around the world was increasing faster than expected, with agriculture accounting for 80 percent of global water consumption, the world authority on fresh water management told a development conference in Canberra.

Globally, water usage had increased by six times in the past 100 years and would double again by 2050, driven mainly by irrigation and demands by agriculture, said Frank Rijsberman, the institute's director-general.

Billions of people in Asia and Africa already faced water shortages because of poor water management, he said.

"We will not run out of bottled water any time soon but some countries have already run out of water to produce their own food," he said.

"Without improvements in water productivity ... the consequences of this will be even more widespread water scarcity and rapidly increasing water prices."


Message forwarded from Grist (Online) Magazine

b. Water crisis doesn't care if countries are rich or poor

Water crisis: not just for poor countries anymore. Industrialized nations must make drastic policy changes if they wish to maintain water supplies, warns the World Wildlife Fund today. In cities from Seville to Sydney to Sacramento, water has become a hot political issue as supply declines thanks to everything from global warming to wetlands loss. A report by the International Water Management Institute, also published today, said that a third of the world faces water shortages; water use has increased by six times in the last century and will double again by 2050, mostly from agricultural use. WWF suggests a combination of solutions -- conserving, repairing infrastructure, reducing pollution, and requiring agriculture interests in rich countries to pay more for water and be held accountable for efficient use -- but noted that implementing common-sense measures "in the face of habitual practices and intense lobbying by vested interests has been very difficult." You think?

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7. Update on Hakol CHAI Helping Animals in Israel

Pets left behind in the North are focus of Israeli volunteers
By Dina Kraft
August 15, 2006

YOKNE’AM, Israel, Aug. 15 (JTA) — When tens of thousands of Israelis fled their homes as Hezbollah rockets began raining down on northern Israel, they left behind not only hastily locked-up houses but, in many cases, their pets.

After days and weeks of being left to fend for themselves, many of the animals were found starving and dehydrated in the streets of northern towns and cities. Estimates put the number of animals in distress at about 8,000.

Three dogs were killed after a rocket hit the house in Kiryat Shmona where their owner had tied them up and left them. Some dogs were found wounded, their bodies riddled with shrapnel.

Many others, terrified by the sound of rocket fire and artillery blasts, fled their homes and began living on the streets.

Soon after the fighting began, Hakol Chai, an Israeli animal welfare group, began sending volunteers to feed and water animals and rescue those in need of medical attention. Yadin Elam, the organization’s director, finds it hard to believe so many pets were left behind.

The owners “probably thought it wouldn’t take so long, thinking, ‘We’ll leave food for our pets.’ Some of them called us,” Elam said. “I have some issues with those people, but they’re not the same as people who didn’t do anything. Some even chained their dogs in the yard.”

Largely supported by donations from American Jews, Hakol Chai sent 12 tons of pet food, hundreds of water bowls, medicine and other supplies to the North during Israel’s monthlong war with Hezbollah.

Risking Katyusha fire, volunteers scattered at night into the streets of cities like Kiryat Shmona, Nahariya and Haifa looking for animals that needed medical help, and putting food and water in the streets for the others.

Noam Vardi, Hakol Chai’s volunteer coordinator, started the job two weeks before the war began. He wasn’t sure how he would find volunteers, but when the war started he was flooded with calls from people anxious to help.

The first night, instead of finding cats to feed in the town of Ma’alot, volunteers were overwhelmed by the stench of death: Many cats already had died.

Since that night, Vardi and his volunteers rescued countless animals by putting out food and water and finding foster homes for others. Many of the cats were street cats that had lived off residents’ handouts and garbage. With the locals no longer there, their situation turned desperate, Vardi said.

Vardi tells the story of two large, emaciated dogs his team found during one of their night rescue tours. Their owner had left food and water for a few days, but had chained the dogs on leashes so short that the food was just out of reach.

The dogs were brought to a shelter in the center of the country, as was another dog found with internal injuries after he tried to make his way into a bomb shelter. Instead of being brought to safety, he was attacked by the people in the shelter, Elam said.

Meytal Nuriel, a 23-year-old student from Kiryat Shmona, made sure a neighbor took care of her cat when she left for central Israel. Last week she decided she wanted to collect him, but was too scared to do it herself.

She read about Hakol Chai online, and had volunteers pick up the cat and bring him to her.

“If I weren’t so scared, I would have gone myself to help them,” she said. “They’re doing something really important — without them, many animals would starve.”

On one of Hakol Chai’s patrols, a collection of hungry animals was discovered in a yard — three dogs, eight puppies, pigeons and rabbits crowded inside small cages alongside 20 chickens, parrots, and numerous cats. Foster homes are being found for the animals.

Farm animals also were affected by the fighting. Farmers say cows are producing less milk because of the stress. Some 20 cows and calves were killed by rocket fire on Kibbutz Amir, near Kiryat Shmona, Hakol Chai officials said.

On Sunday night, just before the U.N. cease-fire went into effect, volunteers gathered in the town of Yokne’am and debated whether or not to go to Kiryat Shmona, where they had planned to distribute food and water.

Some returned to the center of the country, but two others — including a volunteer who had traveled from the United States to help with the rescue effort — headed north.

Noa Ginzburg, 25, decided to volunteer.

“It’s unthinkable that people would leave their animals behind,” she said.

Donations to Hakol Chai relief efforts can be made through, or can be mailed to Hakol Chai, POB 51858, Tel Aviv 67214, or in the U.S., to CHAI, POB 3341, Alexandria, VA 22302, USA.
© JTA. Reproduction of material without written permission is strictly prohibited.

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8. Another Article Showing the Urgency of Our Efforts

Forecast puts Earth's future under a cloud

• 3 degrees C increase would bring fires, floods and famine
• Climate prediction most comprehensive so far

Alok Jha, science correspondent
Tuesday August 15, 2006
The Guardian

More than half of the world's major forests will be lost if global temperatures rise by an average of 3 degrees C or more by the end of the century, it was claimed yesterday. The prediction comes from the most comprehensive analysis yet of the potential effects of human-made global warming.

Extreme floods, forest fires and droughts will also become more common over the next 200 years as global temperatures rise owing to climate change, according to Marko Scholze of Bristol University. Dr Scholze took 52 simulations of the world's climate over the next century, based on 16 different climate models, grouping the results according to varying amounts of global warming they predicted by 2100: less than 2C on average, 2C-3C and more than 3C. He then used the simulations to work out how the world's plants would be affected over the next few hundred years. The results were published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Alan O'Neill, science director for the National Centre for Earth Observation, said: "Some work in this area has been done before looking at the meteorological forecasts for climate change and feeding those into vegetation models ... this is a much more comprehensive study."

He added that Dr Scholze's results would give climate scientists the most accurate scientific projection yet of the future effects of global warming.

Dr Scholze said the effects of a 2C category were inevitable. This is the temperature rise that will happen, on average, even if the world immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases. This scenario predicts that Europe, Asia, Canada, central America and Amazonia could lose up to 30% of its forests.

A rise of 2C-3C will mean less fresh water available in parts of west Africa, central America, southern Europe and the eastern US, raising the probability of drought in these areas. In contrast, the tropical parts of Africa and South America will be at greater risk of flooding as trees are lost. Dr Scholze says a global temperature rise of more than 3C will mean even less fresh water. Loss of forest in Amazonia and Europe, Asia, Canada and central America could reach 60%.

A 3C warming could also present a yet more dangerous scenario where the temperatures induce plants to become net producers of carbon dioxide. "As temperatures go up, plants like it better and they start to grow more vigorously and start to take up more carbon dioxide from the air," Dr O'Neill said. "But there comes a point where the take-up is saturated for a given vegetation cover, then the ecosystem starts to respire more than it's taking up."

Dr Scholze's work shows that this so-called "tipping point" could arrive by the middle of this century. His scenarios echo research from the UK's Hadley Centre, a world leader in climate change modelling. In a report published last year called Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, scientists at the centre predicted that a 3C rise in average temperatures would cause a worldwide drop in cereal crops of between 20m and 400m tonnes, put 400 million more people at risk of hunger, and put up to 3 billion people at risk of flooding and without access to fresh water supplies.


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10. Grassroots Rebellion Needed to Respond to Global Warming

Ten Years or Less column, August 15, 2006

Fire and Heat

Only a fiery grassroots rebellion in the USA will end global warming and the runaway wildfires and heat waves now afflicting our nation.

By Mike Tidwell and Ted Glick

The summer of 2006 has brought both record-breaking heat waves and a record-breaking number of wildfires across the western United States. How bad has it been? So bad that ultra-conservative religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said two weeks ago on his “700 Club” show that what is happening this summer is “making a convert out of me. We really need to address the burning of fossil fuels.”

Will miracles never cease? If only Robertson could convert George Bush and Dick Cheney.

This summer’s global heating comes on top of the first half of 2006 being “the warmest first half of any year since records began in 1895, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.,” as reported in an article posted on July 14th on the NOAA web site ( “The continuation of below normal precipitation in certain regions and much warmer-than-average temperatures expanded moderate-to-extreme drought conditions in the contiguous U.S.”

This summer’s heat wave is not new. The National Climatic Date Center also studied temperature records for the past 96 years. Robert Miller in the Danbury News-Times reported that they “found that minimum temperatures in summer—the lows, rather than the highs--have been ‘much above normal’ over the last 30 years.

“Each of the past eight years has experienced minimum summertime temperatures that are 10 percent higher than in the past.

“During the past 15 years, about 20 percent of the United States had experienced hotter than average summer nights; from 1964 to 1968, that number was 2 percent.

“’We don’t cool off at night the way we used to,’ [Brenda] Ekwurzei, [a scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists] said.”

The West contains many of the U.S.’s drought-plagued regions, and this has contributed to a dramatic and continuing rise in the number of wildfires. A study released last month by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Climate Research Division found that the wildfire season was extended by 78 days in the 1987-2003 period as compared with 1970 through 1986. A July 7 article by Mike Taugher in the Contra Costa Times explained that, “Researchers found that large wildfires in national forests burned four times as often and charred more than six times the number of acres since 1987” as compared to the 1970-1986 period.

And the study found that “a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit caused earlier snowmelt, which in turn caused forests to dry out earlier in the year. The result: a longer fire season with more opportunities for fires to start and more time for fuel to dry out.”

Thomas Swetnam, one of the paper’s authors, drew the obvious conclusion from the study: “Lots of people think climate change and the ecological responses are 50 to 100 years away. But it’s happening now in forest ecosystems through fire.”

Fire is something that human beings have been fascinated with going back to our caveman days. Controlling fire is one of our first great achievements, providing light that kept predators away, cooking food and thus controlling all manner of diseases. Fire led to smoke signals, one of the earliest forms of communication. It lets us forge metal into steel, creates the explosions in guns, and fire’s the spark inside our combustion engines. Knowing how to manipulate fire has been a driving force behind the creation of civilizations.

However, as with so other things in our culture today, fire’s negative effects are increasingly outweighing the positive ones. The carbon dioxide gas produced when things burn has changed our climate, heated up the globe and put our future at grave risk.

What the world needs is fire and heat of a different kind: a passionate dedication by growing numbers of people to speak out, work and organize every day in some way on this most fundamental of issues. Let our love for this earth, its people and all its threatened life forms fire our energies and our continuing sense of urgency.
Mike Tidwell and Ted Glick are, respectively, Director and Coordinator of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council ( The U.S. CEC is spearheading a protest at NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. on August 26th, a year after Hurricane Katrina became a Category 5 hurricane. We will call for justice for Katrina survivors and an end to the NOAA cover-up of the scientific evidence showing a direct connection between global heating and more frequent and destructive Category 4 and 5 storms.

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11. Is Ethanol a Potential Solution to Potential Fuel Shortages?

Forwarded article:

Ethanol could leave the world hungry
One tankful of the latest craze in alternative energy could feed one person for a year, Lester Brown tells Fortune.
FORTUNE Magazine
By Lester Brown
August 16 2006: 5:39 AM EDT

(Fortune Magazine) -- The growing myth that corn is a cure-all for our energy woes is leading us toward a potentially dangerous global fight for food. While crop-based ethanol -the latest craze in alternative energy - promises a guilt-free way to keep our gas tanks full, the reality is that overuse of our agricultural resources could have consequences even more drastic than, say, being deprived of our SUVs. It could leave much of the world hungry.

We are facing an epic competition between the 800 million motorists who want to protect their mobility and the two billion poorest people in the world who simply want to survive. In effect, supermarkets and service stations are now competing for the same resources.

This year cars, not people, will claim most of the increase in world grain consumption. The problem is simple: It takes a whole lot of agricultural produce to create a modest amount of automotive fuel.

The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol, for instance, could feed one person for a year. If today's entire U.S. grain harvest were converted into fuel for cars, it would still satisfy less than one-sixth of U.S. demand.
Worldwide increase in grain consumption

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that world grain consumption will increase by 20 million tons this year, roughly 1%. Of that, 14 million tons will be used to fuel cars in the U.S., leaving only six million tons to cover the world's growing food needs.

Already commodity prices are rising. Sugar prices have doubled over the past 18 months (driven in part by Brazil's use of sugar cane for fuel), and world corn and wheat prices are up one-fourth so far this year.

For the world's poorest people, many of whom spend half or more of their income on food, rising grain prices can quickly become life threatening.

Once stimulated solely by government subsidies, biofuel production is now being driven largely by the runaway price of oil. Many food commodities, including corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, and sugar cane, can be converted into fuel; thus the food and energy economies are beginning to merge.

The market is setting the price for farm commodities at their oil-equivalent value. As the price of oil climbs, so will the price of food.

In some U.S. Cornbelt states, ethanol distilleries are taking over the corn supply. In Iowa, 25 ethanol plants are operating, four are under construction, and another 26 are planned.

Iowa State University economist Bob Wisner observes that if all those plants are built, distilleries would use the entire Iowa corn harvest. In South Dakota, ethanol distilleries are already claiming over half that state's crop.

The key to lessening demand for grain is to commercialize ethanol production from cellulosic materials such as switchgrass or poplar trees, a prospect that is at least five years away.

Malaysia, the leading exporter of palm oil, is emerging as the biofuel leader in Asia. But after approving 32 biodiesel refineries within the past 15 months, it recently suspended further licensing while it assesses the adequacy of its palm oil supplies. Fast-rising global demand for palm oil for both food and biodiesel purposes, coupled with rising domestic needs, has the government concerned that there will not be enough to go around.

Less costly alternatives

There are truly guilt-free alternatives to using food-based fuels. The equivalent of the 3% of U.S. automotive fuel supplies coming from ethanol could be achieved several times over - and at a fraction of the cost - by raising auto fuel-efficiency standards by 20%. (Unfortunately Detroit has resisted this, preferring to produce flex-fuel vehicles that will burn either gasoline or ethanol.)

Or what if we shifted to gas-electric hybrid plug-in cars over the next decade, powering short-distance driving, such as the daily commute or grocery shopping, with electricity?

By investing not in hundreds of wind farms, as we now are, but rather in thousands of them to feed cheap electricity into the grid, the U.S. could have cars running primarily on wind energy, and at the gasoline equivalent of less than $1 a gallon.

Clearly, solutions exist. The world desperately needs a strategy to deal with the emerging food-fuel battle. As the world's leading grain producer and exporter, as well as its largest producer of ethanol, the U.S. is in the driver's seat.

Lester R. Brown is president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of "Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble."

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13. Course Offered Re Impacts of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Charles Patterson for forwarding the notice below. It would be nice if someone attended who would make sure that the vegetarian perspective was presented.

Environmental and Animal Welfare Issues will be held at the Albany Law School on September 15, 2006 in Albany, New York. The 5.5 credit Continuing Legal Education course is open to the public and will synthesize “the environmental, property, and animal welfare issues that stem from the operations of large scale agricultural animal production facilities.”
More info at:

Material from the web site:

New York State Bar Association

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in New York State: Environmental and Animal Welfare Issues
Friday, September 15, 2006

- Location -
Albany Law School
Government Law Center
80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY
(518) 445-3287

9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Presented by:
Government Law Center of Albany Law School
In cooperation with:
New York State Bar Association

Environmental Law Section
Special Committee on Animals and the Law
New York City Bar

Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals
Environmental Law Committee
Albany Law School

Environmental Law Society
Environmental Alumni Group
Environmental Outlook Journal
About the Conference:

This 5.5 credit Continuing Legal Education course synthesizes the environmental, property, and animal welfare issues that stem from the operations of large scale agricultural animal production facilities. Experts including government regulators will explain the complex statutory scheme that governs these facilities. Litigators will share their experiences in trying some of the precedent-setting cases in this increasingly important field. Professionals from the animal welfare and farming industry will discuss the controversial issues surrounding food animal production and the growing support for small farm operations.

Please "click here," for additional information and how you can register to attend the above program or call 518.445-3287.

For more information, contact:
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, 1 ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207 PH: (518) 463-3200 FX: (518) 487-5517

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14. Vegan Homeschooling Fraud

Forwarded message (that follows up on a recent announcement in a JVNA newsletter):

A few weeks ago we sent out an announcement about a new vegan homeschooling program that got a lot of people pretty excited. We were excited too. Since that time, I've been contacted by a number of people who have told me that the person behind the announcement was in fact a fraud.

The claims made against this woman were that she was collecting detailed information about people and their children, collecting money, and then never sending the promised materials. She's also telling people that she is in serious need of donations and money because of some personal tragedy which changes from a flood to a fire and other problems. Apparently this isn't the first time she's done something like this (if it's even a woman, there are some doubts).

I tried to contact her to discuss the claims but her email address and website are both gone. I've removed her ads from VegFamily.

Please be on the lookout for this person as apparently she posts in other vegan publications as well. If you've posted anything about the vegan homeschooling on message boards, please go back and update those threads so people know what's happening.

VegFamily was in no way affiliated with this person. She paid us hundreds of dollars to place her ad, her credit card went through with no problems, and on the surface everything seemed legitimate. We're saddened that there is someone out there preying on vegan families, and wanted to make you aware of the problem.


Erin Pavlina

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15. International Vegetarian Conference in India Next Month

Goa [India] to host vegetarian congress
Posted by: ""
Date: Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:32 am (PDT)

MARGAO, AUG 19 - Goa will play host to the 37th IVU World Vegetarian
Congress from September 10-16.

The Indian Vegan Society, a member of IVU, will be part of the
Vegetarian Congress, where only plant based (vegan) food will be
served. Many vegans from across the world are expected to participate
in the event.

full story

[I know three people who will be attending and perhaps promoting the idea of a campaign for a “Vegetarian-conscious World by 2010.”]

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