Monthly Archives: July 2011

4 million tree births-in-ground; 128,000 midwives

If you live in Vallarta perhaps you saw this online article in the PV Pulse. Come on guys. You can do better than this kind of reporting. Having worked in the environmental field for some years, I can say with a certain certainty that herein this story presents a classic case of environmental stumbling block.

The story is about Mexico’s National Day of Reforestation, July 17, 2011. First a few factoids from the story:

  • Nearly 128,000 people planted four million trees of 118 species at events across Mexico at 360 sites to help reforest 4,600 hectares.
  • Volunteer numbers exceeded expectations by about 30,000.
  • Mexico is one of the world’s five most reforested countries and has been acknowledged by UNEP, the UN’s Environmental Program.
  • In the 5 years between 2005 – 2010, Mexico  cut its deforestation rate by more than half.
  • The country’s official goal is zero deforestation in less than 9 years — by 2020 .

So where–you may rightly ask–is the problemo? It’s here:  “… some have questioned the effectiveness of the program… and here: “A SEMARNAT report suggested that of the 4 million trees planted, 1.7 million will not survive.”

Look, 55 percent of trees DO make it. Of the 4 mil, 2.3 million will grow up to  become magnificent trees. And that’s because we the people really do care. Yet in the never ending quest for ‘fair’ journalistic reporting–say nothing of the never ending search for bad, sad and horror stories–the ‘facts’ are laid out to appear equal.

They aren’t and it’s a stupid crying shame to report it that way. Of course tell the whole story. Go ahead and print survival stats. But we should be cheering. We should be reporting on how great it was, of grandparents helping little ones plant a tree. We should show the community created and the sense of accomplishment. That’s how we help build MORE OF IT. For heaven’s sake, isn’t that the point?

Besides, never mind that in ‘factual’ reporting no one considered the full impact of the planting day. That was 128,000 people out there. That’s not a cold taco! What about the seeds they planted with their engagement. What will come of the stories they brought home to friends and family? Of their example? We may not be able to quantify it, but we sure as hell can report it.

Part of the reason we need environmental awareness to grow pronto is because we haven’t been measuring the full impacts of natural resource usage. That completely screwed up how we value and price our f i n i t e resources. I’ll save this rant for another day, but you don’t honestly think that US$4.00 is the real price of a gallon of gas, do you? Or that clean air is free?Please tell me you get it.

As we are finally learning to include the ‘externalities’ into costing of resource use, let’s include the full impacts of damage control and reversal. All I’m really saying is this is cause for celebration!

Me, I’m purring. I’m basking in the living miracle of 4 million tree births-in-ground attended by 128,000 midwives!


Why I don’t give a damn about Casey Anthony

I fully expect to be excommunicated from the society of white middle class Americans for this, but here I go — I really don’t give a shit. I didn’t even care about her before her trial. I didn’t watch the trial. I accept the verdict. Color me weird.

Did she murder her daughter? Probably. OK. Very likely. Will she make a fortune on book & movie deals. If some maniac doesn’t decide to kill her first, absolutely.

Was justice served? Sadly, yes. So why don’t I care? In a word, perspective.

Do you have any idea how many murders take place in the United States a day? It’s 40 on average. In the time everyone was focused on this case that began grabbing headlines on July 16, 2008 — that’s almost 3 years to the day, that means… hang on I need my calculator for this.. OK, I’m back. 43,800, rounded up because I did 3 years and we’re missing 10 days, but hey, once you’re close to 43,800 what’s a few more dead…

Oh, but this is different. This was a Child, and the accused is her Mother. From the Case Law School journal in reference to mothers murdering their offspring: “One study by the American Anthropological Association put the number at more than 200 cases each year in the U.S”

I’m not interested in defending their numbers. The point is it happens — and a lot more than we want to think. Excuse my quoting at length here, but these statistics from the American Journal of Psychiatry will likely rock your world: (I did the bold)

“Among children under age 5 years in the United States who were murdered in the last quarter of the 20th century, 61% were killedby their own parents: 30% were killed by their mothers, and 31% by their fathers (1).

Estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 1994 indicated that homicide was the fourth leading cause of death for preschool children and the third leading cause of death among children from ages 5–14 years (2).

Compared to other developed nations, the United States has the highest rate of child homicide: 8.0/100,000 for infants, 2.5/100,000 for preschool-age children (age 1–4 years), and 1.5/100,000 for school-age children (age 5–14 years) (3). In contrast, Canada’s reported rate for homicide of infants was less than half that of the United States: 2.9/100,000 (3).

Furthermore, multiple authors have suggested that rates of child murder by parents are underestimated in epidemiological studies of child death (46).

So I’m not asking about Ms. Anthony’s future. Nothing brings back the dead, and like I said I don’t care about the woman.  I’m not even asking why so many Americans used so much of their precious time to watch the Anthony mini-series, although I do wonder a bit. No, these are the questions that are bugging me:

Where were we when unattractive, non-white women killed their babies? Where were the cameras, the compassion, the shock?
Where are we on actively seeking community to replace alienation, a village instead of a burb to raise our children?
Where are we on piecing together a just world in our own lives?

And where are we with the miscarriages of justice that have destroyed lives and filled our prisons decade after decade? I’m not even going to begin with statistics on racial injustice and the criminal system in the US of A, but if you’re unfamiliar with the shocking tale, or just want to get upset check this out.

By the way, in my world view the verdict was not a miscarriage of justice. This was an example of the way justice actually works. Anthony had a jury of her peers. She was provided all proper legal and juridical steps. The prosecution had time to prepare its case. She had a strong defense. The jury’s unanimous decision was made within the bounds of the U.S. legal system. What the 12 told the world was that they had no incontrovertible proof and lacking that, they couldn’t convict. That, IMHO, is the U.S. determination of justice.

3 symbols to protect the ghosts of a village massacre in Suriname