Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Gulf Oil Spill - Americans Negate Off-Shore Energy and Add to Global Pollution

By Lynda Lacroix
Platinum Quality Author
The purpose of off-shore drilling is to provide a source of energy for the American people so that we are not dependent on another country. It should also reduce our energy costs since the wells are off our coastlines. We risk the possibility of a disaster just like the Gulf Oil Spill on a daily basis just to obtain oil and gas reserves. What would you think if you knew that you helped waste more energy per year than the energy supplied by the gas and oil mined from off-shore deposits?
Most everyone wastes food, but it is a matter of the volume and frequency that food is wasted. There are discarded loaves of bread and out-of-date yogurt cups that fall into obsolescence at the back of the fridge. Maybe there are a dozen eggs absent-mindedly left in the trunk of a car or a few pounds of ground beef aged to brown and thrown into the garbage can. Half-eaten sandwiches or fries that have grown cold added into the trash that eventually makes its' way to the landfill. Virtually every family and every individual in this land of plenty discards a percentage of their food, whether it has spoiled or is just too much to consume.
This food loss is not something the average person will even consider, but the bean counters that crunch the numbers see it as a huge, overwhelming problem. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Loss Project, Americans discard more than 25% (approximately 25.9 million tons) of all the food produced domestically and there are some estimates significantly higher. The tragedy of this substantial waste does not end once the food hits the garbage bin.
Once all of this decomposing food gets to the landfill (whether it is contained in plastic bags or not), it continues breaking down and creates large amounts of methane gas. Methane is well known for contributing to the greenhouse effect. For example in Asia, Latin America and Africa, 40 % of methane emissions or about 37 million metric tons come from landfills.
Now comes the news (in light of the recent gulf oil disaster) from the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin, that more energy is wasted in the edible food discarded by people in the United States each year than is extracted annually from the oil and gas reserves off the nation's coastlines. (Note: This figure does not take into account waste on farms and from fishing). This loss is more than, and effectively nullifies, any contemporary attempt or strategy to improve national energy efficiency by utilizing off-shore drilling.
This is the kind of news that makes one feel utterly hopeless. However, while we may never become a zero-waste society, recent in-roads in community composting, food recovery, and gleaning have been able to make an impact on that 25% of waste. If our food waste was cut in half we would likely extend the lifespan of landfills by decades, reduce soil depletion and the application of tons of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. In order to achieve this goal, we must learn how to clean our plate like mama taught us to and manage our waste better.
Those of you who are gardeners can compost your organic waste to help build up your own flower beds and gardens. This composted waste would then be useful fertilizer to grow some of your own food, reducing the amount of produce that has to be trucked into your area. You would save money on your grocery budget, energy costs, and reduce your carbon footprint helping to save this planet that we live on. Think about the choices you make. They are after all, your choices and your decisions. Choose to do what's right and think before throwing away those leftovers.
Lynda M. Lacroix is an accomplished writer with over 40 years experience working in areas of homesteading, animal husbandry, and conservation. She is an avid homesteader and conservationist as well as a Wildlife Biologist. It is her belief that we live in a time that neighbor must look after neighbor. By going back to basics, she is living a simpler lifestyle that is both enjoyable and satisfying while producing naturally healthy food for the table. For more information: