Archive for May, 2014

Oratorios for Health Living

May 31, 2014

Like a great choral oratorio, whether about an outpouring of grief over the death of a loved one, as in the Brahms Requiem, or about a much longer struggle against oppressive forces, as in Handel’s Messiah, people come together, moved by one universal voice that inspires us to move forward and embrace life anew.

That same voice was heard again in the Newfound area community voice that silenced the Iberdrola Wild Meadows Wind Project last week.

A much longer oratorio is currently in the works as people voice concerns over the Northern Pass project. Pieces have been composed chronicling the destruction of culture, livelihood, and natural environment in Quebec, robbing Newfoundland-Labrador of its future energy, and destroying family relations in northern NH. The piece that may well turn the tide on the NP is Susan Schibanoff’s unveiling of the true cost of putting an above ground line through the State of NH. Her piece in the Concord Monitor (May 21), “My Turn: Overhead lines require a lot of digging, too” may well be powerful enough to move us to come together as one voice and put the necessary limits on the project that will ensure a healthy outcome.

The news is that 90-130 foot poles carrying the proposed line through the forest and existing right of way would require 35 foot deep foundations to be dug, blasted and filled with concrete throughout the length of the proposed line. The NP claim that burying the lines is too costly makes no sense. It has to be a lot less expensive to bury lines 3-4 feet deep along existing rights of way than it is to blast 35 foot deep foundations to seat hundreds of monopoles for an above line through forest and replacing existing PSNH poles to support High Voltage Currents.

Hydro Quebec’s bottom line here must be to eventually charge New Englanders steep rates so that HQ can continue to placate Canadian ire over HQ’s destruction of their province for hydropower by promising cheap rates forever to the people of Quebec.

The proposed line would create an ugly swath through our state, destroying families, recreation, livelihoods, real estate and the health and well being of all life here, as has been duly reported over the last four years unless….

Unless we unite as one voice in the final Amen that buries the line or scratches the project altogether.

Our ability to keep each other well depends on our readiness to attend to these health issues and to let our legislators know our concerns. Here’s the URL for the above article.


Plastic Grocery Bags: Who needs ’em?

May 1, 2014

Plastic bags have become the most blatant symbol of our throw-away-society. Four out of five grocery bags in the US are plastic, which means 100 billion bags a year. 12 million barrels of oil are used to make them. 4 billion bags end up as litter that didn’t make it to a landfill. Over one billion birds and mammals each year are killed by ingesting these bags.

True, some end up as lunch bags, book bags, gym bags, trash can liners and doggie poop bags. But more end up littering roadsides, seeping into soils, lakes, rivers, and oceans. They clog roadside drains and fill sea turtle bellies.

Those of us with farms somewhere in our background can recall a time when just about everything was recycled. That was the reason we saved everything that might come in handy someday, a mindset that marked us as New Englanders. I grew up in a home where a braided rug was a conversation piece about my brother’s old plaid shirt, my old skirt, Dad’s trousers, and on down through the contribution of every member of the family. The prize-winning quilts my grandmother made for us, she made out of grain bags. Grain used to come in bright colored prints of broadcloth.

Today, we need to bring our throw-away mentality into balance with our recycle-everything history.

In the 70s, when plastic bags were first introduced, people were encouraged to buy SAVE A TREE canvas tote bags that had a big green tree on them along with the logo. The first thing I noticed when I used one was that the bag not only held more groceries, it didn’t break! Environmental groups, libraries, and other fund raisers also began selling canvas tote bags which encouraged people to save the environment.

Today, some countries charge a tax for bags. Ireland’s 15 cent tax resulted in a 95 percent reduction in their use and by 2002, just about everyone there was carrying a reusable bag. As far back as 1978, Switzerland had stopped supplying bags to grocery customers. As travelers, we had the option of buying one of those European mesh bags at the grocery store if we didn’t bring our own.

The American Plastics council resists the tax, saying it would cost the loss of thousands of jobs, increase energy consumption and landfill space, and store owners would rely on more expensive paper bags. Another way of looking at this problem would be to ask the question: How can our existing workforce switch the production of plastic bags to biodegradable earth- friendly packaging that does not require the use of 12 million barrels of oil to produce, that takes up less landfill space, and encourages shoppers to bring their own grocery bags? If Ireland can do it, why on earth can’t we do it?