Sunday, November 13


"Hi Pundita,
Did you did see this??
"Pigs in China's Hunan Province Test Positive for Bird Flu"

From what I know about the bird flu, that's a big problem.
Benjamin in Framingham"

Dear Benjamin:
It sure is a huge problem; it's a very scary story. But I am going to be cautious about the story until we hear from CDC or another independent source. The story could be a plant.

China's MOH is battling the provincial health offices; e.g., Hunan, for more control. Because China has not been forthcoming in past about bombshell news, this new eagerness to share with the world is a little suspicious.

In any case, it is going to be a nervous winter. More and more reports coming about Avian Flu outbreaks.....

A plant? I didn't even think there were such things. I guess it could be. lol, OK then here's another catastrophe for you to worry about!

Kuwait's biggest field starts to run out of oil

So. You would try to frighten a frail old woman. Right back atcha:

Water scarcity spreading. Only thing wrong with the article is that there's no "may be" about it. Water scarcity is the real bogeyman stalking the human race.

But before I forget; back to the pig bird flu infection story for a moment: Remember what I taught in the China Pig Disease series of posts? The Epoch Times has become Leak Central for every disgruntled CCP official or Chinese political party trying to take down the CCP. So while ET is an important source, the question is how to 'read' the stories. Some are true, some are plants, some are rumors with inaccuracies.

How to tell the difference? Often no way, except over time or with a lot of digging. However, we shouldn't forget that ET broke the SARS story, so we can't ignore their reports on bird flu in China.

At the same time, we have to keep in mind China's version of the Beltway Wars. We learned from wading through pig disease reports that one of the battles seems to be between China's (central) ministry of health and provincial health officials. Thus, until the CDC or WHO weighs in, I have to put a question mark next to the reported pig "oral secretions" testing positive for bird flu.

Even if the story is based on inside information, it could be garbled. For example, the oral secretions that were tested could turn out be nose secretions. Swabs of pig snouts have turned up bird flu virus at various times, which ain't the same as an infected pig.

Piggies have generous snouts that snuffle up all kind of bugs but the bugs just lounge around in the snouts. Same for human snouts, I might add -- and for all snouts. No harm, unless there's a cut inside the nose, I suppose.

The Kuwait report you sent is interesting but not surprising. Iran is also running out of oil, which is why they are developing nuclear power. It isn't just a blind for a nuke weapons program. The problem in that regard is that Iran is Earthquake Alley.

How fast are the Middle Eastern oil kingdoms running out of oil? I think the answer is mostly state secrets. But a silver lining to Saddam's regime, which ran the Iraqi oil fields into virtual ruin, is that gross inefficiency slowed down the rate of oil pumping in Iraq.

Also, the embargo removed the impetus for Saddam to modernize the equipment and oil extraction processes. So it could take years before many of the wells are operating at peak capacity, which helps brake the amount of oil consumption.

However, the biggest worry right now is water. The Middle East is running out of water, as is much of the world. Note the article above starts with a passing mention of Colorado's water problem. Yet the problem is approaching crisis in parts of Africa and in the Middle East. The seawater desalination plants are very expensive to operate; they use petroleum to run. The higher the price of petroleum, the more the desert kingdoms feel the pinch to keep the plants going.

Anybody with a solution would become a trillionaire, so Pundita readers might want to put on their thinking cap.

I think I still have somewhere a National Geographic magazine from the 1950s showing Sudan irrigating fields of crops using sprays -- at high noon. Zillions of gallons of water evaporating in the desert sun. Imitating the Western commercial crop irrigation methods of that era.

I remember seeing the same outside Phoenix when I was a kid; same era. They used to irrigate the citrus groves with sprays. I assume they learned to switch to drip but water conservation techniques are still in their infancy.

I haven't researched this but I seem to recall that the Israelis have done a lot of work in the area of highly efficient irrigation technologies yet conservation is as much a mindset as engineering.

As much as a third of Iran's water is wasted due to poor usage techniques. So finally they got the idea that they should return to traditional agriculture techniques to conserve water. As reported in Africa Water Journalists blog (which is a good source if you're interested in issues concerned with desertification and drought world wide):
With only 230 mm of rainfall a year, Iran has less than a third of the global average. Yet Iranians have farmed the land for thousands of years using ancient irrigation systems. Water channels known as qanats tap into underground reservoirs and can carry water along an underground network of channels for thousands of kms, from the foothills of mountains though deserts.
Not all traditional farming/irrigation methods work in today's climate patterns, but in too many cases around the world, governments instituted Western-style farming, building, and irrigation methods at the behest of development banks.

Why? Because the lead contractors hired for the development projects used the Western methods and materials, which of course are vastly more expensive than the traditional indigenous ones.

Yet in many cases that's like taking a farm in Kentucky or England and setting it down in the middle of the Sahara. Raving lunacy, yet no more lunatic than we see here in the USA.

It doesn't get nuttier than building a box-style house on a beach in Hurricane Alley. Some time back during a hurricane -- maybe Charley -- a TV repoter spent a night on the beach in an experimental house that was built in the shape of a dome. He came out the next morning and all the boxy houses nearby were smashed to smithereens. The dome house gave the wind and waves nothing to grab onto and wasn't harmed a bit.

You see the same lunacy in the American West in Forest Fire Alley. But one homeowner said to himself, "Okay, we've bought a vacation home next to a forest so maybe we should read up on how to fireproof a house and grounds."

The alterations were not expensive or ugly; they didn't have cement over the yard. Came the inevitable forest fire and their house was the only one in the neighborhood that was spared. The fire had nothing to grab onto, so it leaped over them.

Why didn't his neighbors copy what he'd done? I do not know. Maybe we should ask the Americans who build boxes on beaches in Hurricane Alley.

All this is mindset; nothing else. Same for water conservation.

I remember one stay with a lower income family in Asia; they lived in the monsoon belt but they were in a desert area. They had a beautiful garden -- amazing, for that climate. I knew water was more precious than gold in that region so I asked the wife how they had managed to raise such a garden.

She replied that when they started the garden more than twenty years before, they saved every bit of excess household water for the plants. The children were raised to save every spare drop of water.

When her family spit out water from brushing their teeth, the water would be saved. Every bit of dish washing water, bathing water, water for washing vegetables and grains, excess cooking water -- every drop they saved then carried out in buckets to the young plants. They used natural soaps and plants for washing, so as not to poison the plants.

Eventually, the trees they planted put down deep roots, which helped the trees weather the driest periods, and eventually the trees grew tall and shaded the more delicate plants.

The garden was a refuge on the hottest nights. I remember sitting there on a bench underneath a tree, listening to a nightingale perched among leaves shimmering silver in moonlight. It seemed like paradise. Yet in the harsh light of day it was seen that paradise was set in a parched land.

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