Food Supply - Oil/Water/Food - From Geri Guidetti, Ark Institutegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
This is from Geri Guidetti, one of the world's food supply experts for several decades. She became known to me during Y2K preps and I interviewed her on radio. But she has been doing this far longer than the Y2K prep time.... Sheri
The Ark Institute
Food Supply Update: February 2000
Y2K Exposed Our Vulnerability & Prepared Us For What's To Come
by Geri Guidetti
Copyright (c), 2000, by Geri Guidetti. All rights reserved.
Since this is my first Food Supply Update of the new year, I'd like to start out by wishing all of you a very healthy and happy new year, and the full richness of God's blessings on you and your loved ones for many years to come.
During the past 5 weeks, many of you have written emails and letters asking for another Update and for my opinion on the Y2K rollover. I thought the best way to provide both might be to give you a glimpse of what has been going on at The Ark Institute since December, and how that has affected my thinking about this year and the future.
Frankly, December was intensely busy and hectic at The Ark Institute. We had made a rather late-in-the-year, financially risky decision to carry water filters because the information we were receiving continued to indicate that no one really knew if the water industry was going to be able to produce and deliver safe drinking water to communities across the U.S. beyond December. What's more, there was information that water problems might not appear until 1-3 months after the rollover, as there was concern over chlorine and other chemical supplies needed by the water treatment industry. Our own municipal water company told us that they were "good to go" on chlorine for only about 2 months because they were not permitted to store any more than that of hazardous chlorine gas. They had received no guarantees of Y2K compliance from their chemical suppliers. That story was repeated across the country. The risks were real, yet the decision to carry the quality of water filter that could remove 99.8+% bacteria from water was financially risky to us because they were expensive, and we would have to pay for them upfront. The importer/distributor would not ship them to any company without pre-payment and, what's more, they informed us in early December that they would accept no returns after purchase. Prior to that date, they charged a substantial restocking fee for returns.
That made our decision very difficult. Though we could not return unsold filters, Ark's customers could--within 30 days of the purchase date. If we went ahead, how many would we need to buy to meet our customer's needs? How many would be returned if water "stayed up" in most communities? Would people just buy them as a short-term "insurance policy"--at our expense--and then return them to us after the rollover? Would this decision bankrupt the Institute, preventing us from going forward with our food supply and seed research, seed production and our education efforts--our primary missions?
You are no doubt aware from earlier writings of my deep concerns with the rapidly deteriorating quantity and quality of drinking water and water for food processing in the U.S., but with the uncertainties of the new year rapidly approaching, we decided we had to make a last ditch effort to get water filters out into as many hands as possible. In my heart I believed our readers and customers were educated people who knew about the growing risks to food and water regardless of the Y2K outcome, and that they realized that there was no downside to ensuring safe drinking water. We bit the bullet. We bought and paid for a lot of water filters.
>From the day after Thanksgiving through December 31st we did little else but pack and ship water filters and seeds, by the way, and then "sweat" whether UPS deliveries would make it by the 31st. Phones rang off the hook until New Years Eve. Most folks wanted their filters in one, two or three days. UPS's Christmas holiday shipping pressures and pick-up schedules made life all the more chaotic. Through all of this, our staff were still trying to complete their own Y2K preparations. My family, for instance, was working up through the 31st fine tuning some solar panels, an inverter and a propane generator. I was no help to them. I was doing seeds, water filters, telephones, and shipment follow-ups. It was wild, crazy and exhausting.
On New Years Eve, at about 9PM, we finally stopped taking phone calls at the Ark and admitted that we had done all we could. We closed up the office and turned on the television and a radio to watch, wait and listen. I can laugh now, not then, when I tell you that I was so tired from that month--no, from the whole year--that I was emotionally numb. At that point, I don't think I cared less how it all came out. We had done the best we could, and I figured that's the best anyone can do. When midnight arrived and it appeared that most of the world had electricity, I said my first "thank God". I've said many more since then.
Over the course of the month of January, a relative handful of unopened water filters were returned for refunds, and I thanked God again, this time for the collective wisdom of our customers. Their filters will become increasingly important to them today and well into the future. More about that later.
The rollover: To date (I am writing this on the 6th of February) there have been many reported and officially unadmitted Y2K computer malfunctions, but no apparent human catastrophes attributed to Y2K--yet. I hesitate to say "no human catastrophes" because the causes of recent airline and passenger train disasters here and abroad have yet to be determined. There have been problems,failures or shutdowns in nuclear power plants, chemical plants, refineries, a critical defense spy satellite system, major airports, business accounting systems, credit card processing and statements, alarms, lights, railroads, etc. Many have been worked around or fixed and some remain down. We have a long time to go before any valid, final Y2K impact assessment can be made, and some senior computer specialists and engineers warn that many more problems lie in the months, even years, ahead. One giant industry that is obviously having difficulties is hard to ignore, and that's oil.
Oil is the BIG one with respect to our food supply and everything else that makes a rich, comfortable, industrialized society possible. (See my previous Update, "Oil to Fork.." for this discussion.) Virtually every aspect of modern agriculture--fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fuel for food and seed transport, distribution and sales--is based on reasonably priced, free-flowing crude oil. The price of crude oil began rising weeks before the rollover, purportedly because OPEC had simply decided, at that curious point in time, to limit production. Cooperation between petroleum producing states has been unusually effective this time around, according to the media. Supplies have been shrinking, demand for heating oil for a cold winter in the U.S. has been growing and, subsequently, prices for oil and gasoline have been rising. They remain high.
This official explanation of current global oil supply problems is curious in its timing when there were many indications that supplies would, indeed, be questionable this year. The Senate's own final Y2K, 100-Day Report indicated that oil supply interruptions were "likely." Oil industry specialists who said they worked in Saudi Arabian oil facilities said the industry was not ready there. Venezuela had big problems--floods, the economy and their oil refineries, according to letters from workers there appearing on the Internet. Major U.S. oil companies' own 10-Qs could not ensure their refineries would work or that supplies would not be interrupted. They would "fix on failure", they said. Nigeria was behind, the pipelines that transported crude across the frigid Alaskan landscape would freeze if power and pumping went down--the concerns trickled in throughout late 1999. It appeared from both official and anecdotal sources that supply problems were likely for at least the short-term, if not much longer.
Then there were several Ark Institute's seed customers who worked in the oil industry in Texas. Five or six of them had been calling me throughout 1999 to tell me of serious computer and embedded chip problems in the oil and gas companies they worked for. One of these customers owned oil and gas wells in the state. They sold oil and gas to a very big company. He asked that I not identify the company. You would know it immediately. He and his wife read to me, verbatim, two letters they received from the company indicating that it was having serious computer problems. The couple sold their 7000 square foot home in a wealthy Dallas community, and moved themselves and their four children into a small log cabin on 25 wooded acres with a lake in another state. I'll never forget his words: "Geri, we don't expect the end of the world on January 1st, but we are in for some major problems in the oil industry. I need to be able to take care of my family, possibly for a long time, without oil, gasoline, or public water." He was calling us on moving day to ensure that we send several boxes of seeds to their new, rural address instead of the Texas address we had on file.
You have to ask the question: Were all of these people, many of them experts, wrong? Is it possible that the current tight oil supply is actually tight, the result of lower industry capacity and efficiency due to ongoing and, perhaps, worsening problems at wells, refineries and shipping facilities? Is it possible that OPEC saw the writing on the wall in '99 and decided they had better get more money for fewer available barrels of crude than to lose money due to lower production? It would certainly make good business sense. Here's another question: Will we ever know the truth? Answer: Probably not, but it doesn't matter. The bottom line is still the same. We live on oil. Less oil, less of the livin' we're all used to. If it is a growing, directly or indirectly Y2K-related inefficiency, stay tuned for more price hikes at the very least.
Here's another thought for you to ponder as we enter this brand new century: water will become THE critical political bargaining chip at international bargaining tables in this century. Water for drinking and for irrigation of the crops that has made possible the support of 6 billion people on the planet is being steadily and alarmingly depleted. Farmers around the world are pumping it out of underground aquifers--some of them ancient--and groundwater wells, at rates impossible to recharge with rainfall. Water will replace oil as the economic lifeblood of nations. It will be bought, sold, stolen and killed for. Here in the U.S., states will "sell their souls" so to speak, selling water on the international market at the expense of their citizens. Think not?
On page three of the December 29, 1999 issue of The Kiplinger Letter, its editors made the following, disturbing statement (underlined text as in the original):
"U.S., Canada will likely sell Great Lakes water to arid countries as shortages strain populations in India, China, Middle East, elsewhere. By 2025, about 50 countris will be parched...need to import fresh water."
Got that? This respected, conservative weekly newsletter, published since 1923 as a forecaster to aid in "management decisionmaking" is telling us that we will soon be selling the Great Lakes--our Great Lakes--water to countries all over the world! This begs the question: how do the citizens of a free nation protect their most precious commodity, often in their own back yards, from international deal-making? How will the law determine who will or will not have the right to pump and sell large amounts of water that is essential to a nation's own citizens' survival? Remember, water also determines whether or not we eat.
Just one week before this Kiplinger Letter statement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its Agricultural Outlook Summary in which it reports....
"China is one of the world's most water-deficient economies, and water scarcity is viewed as a major threat to China's long-term food security...China's leaders state that urban and industrial users will have first priority and that the proportion of water for irrigation purposes will decrease incrementally in the next few decades..."
Right here at home, California farmers using irrigation to grow our food crops are pumping out 1.6 billion cubic meters more a year from underground aquifers than can be recharged by rainfall, and salt water is seeping inland from the ocean to replace it. Salt water is not suitable for irrigation. Two thirds of the growing annual depletion of irrigation water is taking place in California's Central Valley, the region which grows half of our country's fruits and vegetables. The Ogallala aquifer, a vast underground "lake" that spans parts of eight states, is being depleted to the tune of 12 billion cubic meters per year. Parts of whole states are no longer able to obtain water to irrigate. Who will get the Great Lakes water for sale if the citizens in the state of Texas want it, for example? Texas or Saudi Arabia? The highest bidder? The squeakier wheel? The more politically and diplomatically important of the two? The escalating wars between water-hungry cities and farms, between wet nations and dry, will become louder and the "weapons" will become ever larger. What price are you willing to pay for water? Some of your rights and liberties? THAT's how big this issue is.
How will it be orchestrated? Will there be "Big Water" multinationals similar to today's "Big Oil" multinationals? Are they already "in the works?" The brief answer to that is "yes." Foreign companies have already been buying up U.S. water companies. I will write about that in an upcoming Food Supply Update. In the meantime, watch water. Email or mail me any local stories appearing in your area. Let's start assembling the pieces of this dangerous puzzle.
For those of you who saw the recent 60-Minutes program on suspected carcinogen and gasoline oxygenator, MTBE's (methyl, tertiary butyl ether) contamination of drinking water supplies across the nation, and the EPA interview about how this could have been allowed to happen, you have seen only the tip of the water contamination iceberg. There is no space here to do the topic justice. I will do more on the chemistry and at-home removal of this chemical shortly. This problem is not going away in the near future. Those of you who bought Berkefeld Water Filters from us should be in good shape. If you send me a self-addressed, #10 envelope, I'll send you the laboratory information on the removal of MTBE with your filters as soon as it is available. I have learned the information will be out shortly, but am not free to disclose the estimated date. Send the envelope to The Ark Institute, PO Box 142, Oxford, Ohio 45056.
Okay, one last topic for this Update: food, and seed for food. The global food supply is no less vulnerable to disruption today than it was in 1999. In fact, it may be more so. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has acknowledged that agriculture may be an intended target of bioterrorism. The CIA has confirmed that deadly plant and farm animal diseases have now been "weaponized" to hit us where we live, that is, by hitting what we eat and drink. It may be impossible for us to eradicate crop diseases spread by the wind, and fatal animal diseases spread by interstate commerce. Several of these agricultural diseases have no known cure. We've already covered water and oil. Those "games" are just beginning.
We so firmly believe that there is a serious global threat to the raising of crops and the seed for next year's crops, that we again put the Institute's money where its values, mission and commitments are. We bought an enormous amount of untreated, non-hybrid, non-genetically engineered vegetable seeds. It was financially risky, but we want to continue to spread these non-hybrids around to as many communities and now, to large growers and farmers, in America as possible. As a result, we are now offering them by varietal names, in bulk as well as in packets and kits and, hands down, at the best retail prices available anywhere. There is enough seed available for you to get into a small business, if you like. We are committed to reviving and multiplying these excellent varieties before the genetically modified crops take over to the point that all of us are completely dependent on multinationals for genetically altered, chemical dependent crop seeds and food.
Please join us in this effort. Go to our new web page at http://www.arkinstitute.com and check out the listings for your favorite seeds. If you find a retail price for bulk seed lower than Ark's, send us a copy of the catalog page and we'll beat them by 5%. Our prices and this 5% promise amount to deep discounting. It does not apply to shipping charges. We simply cannot afford to discount shipping any further. If you are not on the Internet where you read this, just email me for a new catalog, send for a copy at the address I gave you earlier, or call 1-800-255-1912 to place an order. These deep discounts are available on a first come, first served basis. Buy them, grow them, multiply them, give them away to as many others as you can. Become a part of this ongoing mission and a growing global movement...
Geri Guidetti, The Ark Institute
-- Sheri Nakken (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 08, 2000
Multi-Pure solid carbon block filter is the ONLY drinking water system certified to reduce MTBE at the present time. Something you may want to look into and be sure of.!
-- Sheri (email@example.com), February 08, 2000.