Sunday, 17 February 2013

Halloween on Earth: 10 Real Life Things Way More Frightening Than Frankenstein or Freddie

Halloween is an odd holiday. The ostensible concept, as it has evolved to become, is to shock, startle, frighten, petrify, horrify, and/or terrify--all while consuming enough high fructose corn syrup to keep the American Dental Association content for another century or two.
Every year, as October 31 nears, loyal Americans eagerly squander a small fortune to adorn their humble abodes with Made-in-China images of tombstones, skulls, ghouls, goblins, monsters, ghosts, and other things that go bumpin the night. But none of these cardboard depictions scare me as much as the real-life horrors described below.
But, hold on to your pumpkins, there's good news: While Jason, Dracula, reanimated zombies, and other film fiends never seem to die, each spooky scenario you're about to experience can be countered--at least, in part--by us mere mortals making serious lifestyle changes. You might even call them silver bullets.
10 Things a Whole Lot Scarier Than a Black Cat Crossing Your Path
Thanks to the real-life horror show of global warming, we are witnessing habitat loss, animal and plant extinctions, impacted food supplies, drought, disappearing bees, and in addition, the World Health Organization estimates 150,000 people are killed by climate-change-related issues every year.
Silver bullet: Get started by taking these three steps to lower your carbon footprint.
The ghoulish method of logging a forest so that all or most of the trees are cut down immediately or within a few years is called clear cuttingOne forestry expert refers to this harmful practice as "an ecological trauma that has no precedent in nature except for a major volcanic eruption." Clear cutting, for example, destroys buffer zones (which reduce the severity of flooding by absorbing and holding water); removes forest canopy (the habitat for many rainforest-dependent insects and bacteria); and creates both soil erosion and habitat loss
Silver bullet: Use tree-free paper. 3. Trawling Bottom trawling (also known as Benthic trawling) is "a fishing method that involves dragging trawl nets along the sea floor. The fishing method is a highly non-selective one and comes with a large amount of bycatch and destruction in the trawled path." Greenpeace explains that bottom trawlers "will destroy deep sea species, before we have even discovered much of what is out there. Think of it as driving a huge bulldozer through an unexplored, lush and richly populated forest and being left with a flat, featureless desert." Silver bullet: Try these 9 steps to help the oceans. 4. Factory Farming As the Farm Sanctuary explains, factory farming is "an attitude that regards animals and the natural world merely as commodities to be exploited for profit. In animal agriculture, this attitude has led to institutionalized animal cruelty, massive environmental destruction and resource depletion, and animal and human health risks." Silver bullet: Go vegan. 5. Desertification It sounds like a bad sci-fi flick: deserts creeping up on us. Disappearing lakes. Sand sneaking into our towns, our backyards, our lives. However, desertification is not a fantasy. Climate change, loss of topsoil, destruction of eco-systems, and so on--all of these and more contribute to our planet having far less arable land. Consider this: Due to overgrazing, 850 million people live on land threatened by desertification and over 230 million already live on land so severely desertified that they are unable to sustain their existence and face imminent starvation. Silver bullet: Begin your transition from the meat-based diet now. 6. Nuclear ContaminationDr. Helen Caldicott declares: "As a physician, I contend that nuclear technology threatens life on our planet with extinction. If present trends continue, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink will soon be contaminated with enough radioactive pollutants to pose a potential health hazard far greater than any plague humanity has ever experienced." Silver bullet: With all the conflicting information, the first step is to educate yourself. 7. Pesticides Pesticides are substances that protect plants against molds, fungi, and insects. But, asRachel Carson taught us four decades ago, the impact of pesticides on our bodies and the planet can be devastating and long-term. Silver bullet: Always choose organic. 8. Extinctions Extinction is forever. While mass extinctions are nothing unique, what's new is the human role in the rapid and alarming disappearance of plantand animal species. In the time it will take you to read this sentence, we will have lost some plants, perhaps amammal, maybe amphibians, and even invaluable coralSilver bullet: Educate yourself and others. 9. Plastics Five trillion plastic bags are made each year. Of these bags, one billion are thrown away, with only 1 percent finding their way into a recycle bin. The end result of this is around 1 billion birds and mammals dying each year by the ingestion of plastic (yes, a petroleum product). Every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic and plastic constitutes 90% of all trash floating in the world's oceans. Silver bullet: Work to get your city to ban the use of disposable plastics. 10.Sprawl and the Automobile Culture During the last century, an area equal to all the arable land in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania was paved in the U.S. and is now used by 25


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