Monday, 31 March 2008

Like roses? Think again...

By no means do I want to claim that I'm a wonderful horticulturist, but I do not think I would be far off in claiming that roses are the best selling flower at any flower shop. No Valentines Day would be complete without the inclusion of a rose or two. Unfortunately, despite the beauty of a rose, the process of producing that rose isnt so pretty.

Surprisingly, the world's largest exporter of roses is Kenya. Kenya, unfortunately, does not have all the environemtal restrictions that we, in the developed countries, do.

Producing roses takes alot of water. The water that Kenya uses for producing their roses is drained from a lake called Lake Naivasha, which just so happens to be a bird and hippo sanctuary, and home to many species of fish. Every year, enough water is drained from this lake to meet the needs of 20,000 people, and along with the water, entire generations of fish eggs are siphoned up. Some of the water is washed back into the lake, contaminated with chemicals that are used to keep the roses fresh and pretty for their shipments out to Europe and North America - chemicals, like DDT and Dieldrin, which have been banned in countries that buy the roses from Kenya. The rotting corpses of hippos and birds betrays the presence of these chemicals in the lake.

So every time you buy a rose, youre likely giving your money to support an industry that is actively killing African wildlife, in a so called "sanctuary", no less. Much to the chagrin of my girlfriend, I dont think Ill be buying any roses for a while...

Friday, 28 March 2008

Florida, I weep for thee.

In what feels sadly unsurprising, a comittee in Florida today approved Sen. Ronda Storms's "Academic Freedom Bill". For those of you who are not familiar with the bill, it aims to "allow public school teachers to present science-based alternatives to Darwin's theory of evolution" in schools throughout Florida. Since people obviously learned nothing from the Dover, Penn. case, the anti-evolutionists have been hard at work in the past few months to get this bill passed and today they succeeded. This is a terrible blow for the public school system in Florida.

First of all, there are no "science-based" alternatives to evolution. The bill obviosuly has Intelligent Design in mind but there is about as much science in ID as there is in homeopathy. People like the lackeys at the Discovery Institute like to try and push the idea that ID is scientifically credible, but it falls apart under even the lightest scrutiny. This was explicitly ruled by Judge Jones in the Dover case, and although the rulings in a Penn. court dont extend to other states, the failure of ID to prove itself even the slightest bit scientific hasn't changed.

Sen. Storm claims "It's not about letting religion creep into science classrooms". What an outright lie. If she was really concerned with protecting the rights of science teachers and students who disagree with the idea of evolution, then why is she not concerned with protecting the rights of those who disagree with things like a heliocentric solar system, or a spherical earth, or any other scientific model for our universe? This bill is not concerned with protecting the rights of anyone; it's concerned with injecting irrational nonsense into science classrooms because they are afraid that their religous beliefs are going to be taught.

This is not an "Academic Freedom" bill. It's a "Freedom to teach students whatever we want no matter how unscientific it is" bill.