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Monday, December 5, 2011 @ 09:12 PM
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PICKING OLIVES AT LAKKIA 2011

DISEASES OF THE 20TH CENTURY

AND

GOALS OF OUR FARM

www.slowlivinggreece.com               cwillis@hol.gr

 

Background

Each fall we invite people to Lakkia to share community by picking olives. It is an occasion to be in the clean and relaxing atmosphere of the countryside, to have fun, to enjoy a meal together, to make new friends, and to experience a different way of life. This year we were a group of about 40, composed of students from the International Baccalaureate (IB) at Anatolia College under their CAS (Community, Action, Service) project, students from Eastern College attending the American College of Thessaloniki – a division of Anatolia – under the College Semester Abroad program, and Endynami whose goal is to mainstream mentally challenged teenagers into society. Over the meal David talked to the group – a 10-minute summary of the presentation below.

Introduction

Thank you for coming to our farm to help us pick olives, join us for a salad lunch from our garden, and take away some of last year’s olive oil to sell for charitable purposes. During your visit you will learn about the Mediterranean diet and the important role that olives and olive oil plays. You may accompany us to the olive press to see the olives turned into olive oil so that you are aware of the entire process – from tree to plate – and can witness the purity of the product. It is an opportunity to share with you our philosophy of taking control of our lives by growing much of our own food and making a comfortable living from a small piece of land. This talk addresses the rise of new diseases during the 20th century, their causes, what you can to do to enjoy good health and an active life well into your retirement years, and the goals of our farm.

The collapse of great civilizations

In A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations, published in 2007, Clive Ponting tells us that over the last 150 years there has been a remarkable transformation in the pattern of human disease. For most of human history a majority of children died within a few years of birth. Now in the rich, developed world only about 1% of children fail to reach the age of 5. This improvement has been offset, however, by the rise of new diseases that have radically altered our way of death. Today, cancer and cardiovascular disease account for two-thirds of deaths in the affluent societies of the industrialized world.

OUR NEW WAY OF DEATH

 

We are more likely to live into old age

Part of the explanation that cancer and cardiovascular disease account for two-thirds of deaths in the affluent societies of the industrialized world is that people are now much more likely to live into old age and become susceptible to degenerative diseases, especially if, as with some cancers, they have a genetic origin.

Environmental factors

However, some of the explanation, particularly with other types of cancers, lies in environmental factors – the increased pollution, in particular from the highly toxic artificial chemicals produced in the second half of the 20th century. Another factor, especially in the rise of cardiovascular diseases, has been the major change in diet over the last 200 years.

Change in diet

Many of the dietary changes have been beneficial in eliminating deficiency diseases. The average height of the population of medieval Europe was about 30 cm less than now. However, many of the dietary changes have been harmful, in particular a reduction in fibre intake, a rise in sugar consumption, much higher levels of fat intake and a higher proportion of processed foods.

Rise in sugar intake

Historically, foods were sweetened using honey (or maple syrup in North America). By 1750 sugar intake in Europe and North America had risen to about 2 kilograms per person per year. It is now over 30 times that rate. The rise in sugar consumption is also directly linked to the increase in the number of people suffering from diabetes. Diabetes rates have risen sharply since the early 20th century where it now affects 3% of the population of Britain and 7% in the United States where sugar consumption is even higher.

Fat intake

Fat intake has increased throughout human history. The first major step was the ‘secondary products revolution’ – the use of goat, sheep and cow milk to create dairy products. Poor grazing and lack of fodder in the early agricultural systems meant that these animals had only a low output of milk and poor transportation meant that it was difficult to move products with a short life. These factors kept dairy consumption at relatively low levels. Technological changes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – refrigeration, pasteurization, canning, and faster transportation – made products regularly available to the rapidly rising urban population. The great consumption of meat also raised fat levels in the diet.

The food industry

The technological changes were also central to the rise of a new phenomenon – the food industry, which concentrated on selling processed food rather than distributing fresh food. Over the course of the 20th century the consumption of processed food by the average American tripled and the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables fell by over a third. Processing food not only removes many of the nutrients and important trace minerals but also introduces additives such as antioxidants, emulsifiers, thickeners, flavour enhancers, dyes, artificial sweeteners and bleaching agents. Many of these are needed to disguise the poor quality of the initial ingredients. The average person in Britain now consumes about 2 kilograms of these chemical additives every year.

Obesity

All these changes in diet, linked to the much greater consumption of food, have had a major impact on human health in the affluent world. The rate of obesity increased dramatically in the late 20th century. In Britain one in five adults is now clinically obese – a rate double that of the 1970s. In the United States the situation is far worse. About 60 million adults are obese – about a third of the population – with the rate having doubled since the 1970s. In the early 1960s only 4% of American children were seriously overweight – in the next 40 years that rate quadrupled.

Heart disease

Obesity, excess food consumption and a diet high in fat significantly increases death rates, especially from cardiovascular diseases. Heart disease was almost unknown a century ago except among the rich who could afford a diet high in fat and sugar and ate too much food. Even in 1930 coronary heart disease was responsible for only 1% of British deaths. By the mid-1990s this had increased to just over 30% and it is continuing to rise.

Tobacco products

Part of the rise in heart disease, bronchitis and other lung diseases can be attributed to the rise in smoking which also increases the risk of contracting cancer by about a third. In the 20th century tobacco products probably killed 100 million people.

Cancer

Cancer is now the second most common form of death in the industrialized world – 1 in 3 Americans contracts cancer (compared with 1 in 27 in 1900) and 1 in 4 dies of the disease. Half of all the world’s cancers now occur in developing countries and here treatment is poor – about 80% of patients will die of the disease compared with 50% in the industrialized world. Huge amounts of money have been spent over the last 50 years in an attempt to find cures and treatments for different types of cancers but overall the results have been disappointing except in the cases of some rare types of the disease. Most of the effort has gone into high-technology medical research and very little has been done to reduce the environmental factors in cancer apart from anti-smoking campaigns, which have had limited, though increasing, success in some countries.

REDUCING YOUR RISK OF GETTING CANCER AND HEART DISEASE

 

My cancer experience

Shortly after retiring in 2004 I was diagnosed with cancer, followed the next year by the death from cancer of six good friends. Conducting a considerable amount of research, I found many books identified poor diet and lifestyle as a cause of cancer. The following insights are from Cancer & Nutrition: A Ten-point Plan to Reduce Your Risk of Getting Cancer by Charles B. Simone, MD.

A Ten-point Plan to Reduce Your Risk of Getting Cancer

POINT 1: NUTRITION

POINT 2: TOBACCO

POINT 3: ALCOHOL

POINT 4: RADIATION

POINT 5: ENVIRONMENT

POINT 6: SEXUAL-SOCIAL, HORMONES, DRUGS

POINT 7: LEARN THE SEVEN EARLY WARNING SIGNS

POINT 8: RETAKE SELF-TEST

POINT 9: EXERCISE AND RELAX REGULARLY

POINT 10: TAKE EXECUTIVE PHYSICAL YEARLY

 

 

Point one: Nutrition in more detail

  • Maintain an ideal weight. Lose weight even if it is just 5 or 7 pounds.
  • Decrease the number of daily calories.
  • Eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet: fish, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids; poultry without skin; and skim-milk products (not whole but 2% or 1% milk). Limit red meat, including luncheon-meat. Limit oils and fats.
  • Eat lots of fiber (25 to 30 grams a day). Include fruits, vegetables, cereals, and a supplement of fiber to obtain a consistent amount each day (guar gum, bran, etc.). High-fiber cereals are the best.
  • Supplement your diet with certain vitamins and minerals in the proper dosages and combinations for your lifestyle.
  • Eliminate salt and food additives.
  • Limit barbecued, smoked, or pickled foods.
  • Avoid caffeine.

 

Food processing

Clive Ponting tells us that the average person in Britain now consumes about 2 kilograms of chemical additives every year in processed food.

Diet related death

The U.S. surgeon general has told us that of the 2.2 million deaths in America each year, 1.8 million are diet related.

Olive oil and the Mediterranean diet

This information is taken from Olive Oil: Way of Long Life by Mediterraneo Editions. A study carried out in Crete, the US, Japan, Italy, Dalmatia, Corfu and Holland showed that in Mediterranean areas there is a lower death rate from coronary disease – 38 per 100,000 in Crete; 462 per 100,000 in Italy and 773 per 100,000 in the US – and cases of cancer are much fewer – 17 per 100,000 in Crete; 622 per 100,000 in Italy and 384 per100,000 in the US. The difference was put down to dietary habits based mainly on the greater consumption of olive oil, vegetables, fruit, pulses and cereals. The Mediterranean diet has become a model for good nutrition.

Olive oil, the secret of good health

Olive Oil: The Secret of Good Health by Nikos and Maria Psilakis tells us that research shows the great value of olive oil as a perfect food for man. Consumption of olive oil instead of other fats or oils, reduces the concentration of LDL cholesterol in the blood without decreasing the levels of HDL, the so-called ‘bad’ and ‘good’ cholesterol respectively. Olive oil reduces the level of triglycerides in the blood. A collection of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood can block the arteries which transport oxygen to the brain and heart. In general, olive oil protects against heart diseases. Olive oil reduces blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, thus decreasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

 

GOALS OF OUR FARM

 

Learning from my cancer

After my cancer experience and with the background knowledge from my research, we took action to prevent my cancer returning and for other members of the family to reduce their risk. We established two goals for our farm: to grow wholesome food in good fertile soil without the use of chemicals; and to increase our intake of fresh vegetables and fruit free from chemicals. 

The first guiding principle

In B17 Metabolic Therapy in the Prevention and Control of Cancer Philip Day quotes Sir Robert McCarrison, Chairman of the Post-Graduate Medical Education Committee at Oxford University: “I know of nothing so potent in producing ill-health as improperly constituted food. It may therefore be taken as a law of life, infringement of which shall surely bring its own penalties, that the single greatest factor in the acquisition of health is perfectly constituted food. Given the will, we have the power to build in every nation a people more fit, more vigorous and competent; a people with longer and more productive lives, and with more physical and mental stamina than the world has ever known.”

The second guiding principle

Albert Howard is seen as the founder of the modern organic movement. Healthy food comes from healthy agricultural systems; the problem of health in soil, plant, animal and man has to be treated as one subject. Published in 1943, Howard says: “In An Agricultural Testament I summed up my life’s work and advanced the following views:

  1. The birthright of all living things is health.
  2. This law is true for soil, plant, animal, and man: the health of these four is one connected chain.
  3. Any weakness or defect in the health of any earlier link in the chain is carried on to the next and succeeding links, until it reaches the last, namely, man.
  4. The widespread vegetable and animal pests and diseases, which are such a bane to modern agriculture, are evidence of a great failure of health in the second (plant) and third (animal) links of the chain.
  5. The impaired health of human populations (the fourth link) in modern civilized countries is a consequence of this failure in the second and third links.
  6. This general failure in the last three links is to be attributed to failure in the first link, the soil: the undernourishment of the soil is at the root of all.
  7. The failure to maintain a healthy agriculture has largely cancelled out all the advantages we have gained from our improvements in hygiene, in housing and our medical discoveries
  8. To retrace our steps is not really difficult if once we set our minds to the problem. We have to bear in mind Nature’s dictates, and we must conform to her imperious demand: (a) for the return of all wastes to the land; (b) for the mixture of the animal and vegetable existence; (c) for the maintaining of an adequate reserve system of feeding the plant, that is we must not interrupt the mycorrhizal association.
  9. If we are willing so far to conform to natural law, we shall rapidly reap our reward not only in a flourishing agriculture, but in the immense asset of an abounding health in ourselves and in our children’s children.
  10. These ideas, straightforward as they appear when set forth in the form given above, conflict with a number of vested interests.”

 

 

 

The third guiding principle

The American Farm School was founded in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1904 by John Henry House. The American Farm School creed, adopted around 1910, is our third guiding principle:

I BELIEVE

in a permanent agriculture, a soil that grows richer, rather than poorer from year to year.

I BELIEVE

in living not for self but for others so that future generations may not suffer on account of my farming methods.

I BELIEVE

that tillers of the soil are stewards of the land and will be held accountable for the faithful performance of their trust.

I AM PROUD

to be a farmer and will try to be worthy of the name.

Making a comfortable living from a small piece of land

In Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management, M.G. Kains quotes Abraham Lincoln: “The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” This quote became the foundation stone of our response to financial chaos and poor quality food. Christine and I conceived our own version of agro-tourism. “Our mission is to share with others our joie de vivre in making a comfortable living from a small piece of land. David grows much of our food. We live the Slow Philosophy. Christine is a ceramic artist who gains her inspiration from ancient Greek and Byzantine pottery. She exposes guests to the incredibly warm and welcoming locals, lovingly prepared, slowly savored Mediterranean food and the uniqueness of ancient and modern Greece.”

Everyone can reduce their dependence on processed foods

Becoming a good gardener is a life-long learning experience. It also takes time for fruit trees to become established. But nature is very kind as even an inexperienced person can put seeds in the ground and immediately get excellent results. City dwellers can have pots on their balcony. Everyone can reduce their dependence on processed foods and save money.

Troubled times

Like many others in Greece, I have had my pension reduced. While we may never be 100% self-sufficient, growing much of our own food has protected us from the financial chaos that affects us all. As our world experiences increasingly troubled times we believe that more people will adopt Abraham Lincoln’s advice: “The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 05:07 AM
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GREEK SUMMER 2011

MISSION. SERVICE. LEADERSHIP

PART TWO

Introduction

This talk addresses the Millennium Development Goals; the failure of the rich countries to live up to their promises; the unnecessary loss of life, especially in Africa; the poor farming practices in much of Africa; the looming prospect of the entire continent of Africa being unable to feed itself; Bruce’s belief that the Farm School model is what is needed in developing countries today; and the wisdom that Bruce would want you to take home with you from your Greek Summer experience.

THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

 

The Millennium Development Goals

In his book The End of Poverty: How We Can Make it Happen in Our Life Time, Jeffey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and director of the UN Millennium Project, tells us that

‘For the first time in history, our generation has the opportunity to end extreme poverty in the world’s most desperate nations. We can make a real difference for the one-fifth of humanity who still live in extreme poverty. We can end poverty by 2025 and change the world for ever. We can help the 15,000 people daily dying needlessly from preventable, treatable diseases – AIDS, TB, and malaria – for lack of drugs that we take for granted; we can help the 8 million people who die each year because they are too poor to stay alive; we can close the yawning gap between what the rich world claims to be doing to help the poor and what it is actually doing; and we can forge a common bond of humanity, security, and shared purpose across cultures and religions.’

An uncomfortable truth

Bono, the rock star who is helping Jeffrey Sachs get the message of compassion across to the rich, has opened the eyes of millions of fans and citizens to the shared struggle for global equality and justice. He states:

‘These statistics make a fool of the idea many of us hold on to very tightly: the idea of equality. What is happening in Africa mocks our pieties, doubts our concern, and questions our commitment to that whole concept. If we are honest, there’s no way we could conclude that such mass death day after day would ever be allowed to happen anywhere else. Deep down, if we really accept that their lives – African lives – are equal to ours, we would all be doing more to put the fire out. It’s an uncomfortable truth.’

Poverty is our greatest long-term challenge

In his March 6, 2002 Millennium speech the President of the World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn said:

‘We will not create that better and safer world with bombs or brigades alone. We will not win the peace until we have the foresight, the courage, and the political will to redefine the war. We must recognize that – while there is social injustice on a global scale, both between states and within them; while the fight against poverty is barely begun in too many parts of the world; while the link between progress in development and progress toward peace is not recognized – we may win a battle against terror but we will not conclude a war that will yield enduring peace. Poverty is our greatest long-term challenge. Grueling, mind-numbing poverty – which snatches hope and opportunity away from young hearts and dreams just when they should take flight and soar. Poverty – which takes the promise of a whole life ahead and stunts it into a struggle for day-to-day survival. Poverty – which together with its handmaiden, hopelessness, can lead to exclusion, anger, and even conflict. Poverty – which does not itself necessarily lead to violence but which can provide a breeding ground for the ideas of those who promote conflict and terror.’

Woodrow Wilson’s speech of 1918

Wolfensohn also said:

‘Eighty-four years ago in this city, Woodrow Wilson spoke of war and peace to a joint session of Congress. “What we demand” he said, “is that the world be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice, and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world. All peoples are partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us.”

‘Let me end, as I began, with the words of Woodrow Wilson – words that reach out across cultural and national divides: “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget that errand.”’

Millennium Development Goals

Regarding the Millennium Development Goals, Wolfensohn said:

‘Last year, at a summit held at the United Nations, more than 140 world leaders agreed to launch a campaign to attack poverty on a number of fronts. Together, we agreed to support the Millennium Development Goals. By 2015, we said, we will: Halve the proportion of people living on less than one dollar a day; Ensure that boys and girls alike complete primary schooling; Eliminate gender disparity at all levels of education; Reduce child mortality by two-thirds; Reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters; Roll-back HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; Halve the proportion of people without access to safe water; And develop a global partnership for development.

How could anyone take issue with these goals? How could anyone refuse to stand up and say that for my children and my children’s children, I want that better world?’

Can we afford the Millennium Development Goals?

‘And yet, there are those who legitimately ask: Can we win a war against poverty? And if we can’t be sure, should we wager our resources? To these people I would ask: Can we afford to lose? How much are we prepared to commit to preserve our children’s future? What is the price we are willing to pay to make progress in our life time toward a better world?’

‘We estimate that it will take on the order of an additional $40 to $60 billion a year to reach the Millennium Development Goals – roughly a doubling of current aid flows – to roughly 0.5% of GNP, still well below the 0.7% target agreed to by global leaders years ago.’

‘Contrast that with the fact that today the world’s leading industrial nations provide nearly 90% of the multibillion dollar arms trade – arms that are contributing to the very conflicts that all of us profess to deplore, and that we must spend additional monies to suppress.’

‘Let me repeat: We should do it because it is ethically right; We should do it because it will make a better, more understanding, more dynamic, and indeed more prosperous world for our children and our children’s children; We should do it because it will increase the security of all of us, rich and poor; We know that disease, the environment, financial crises, and even terror do not recognize national boundaries; We know that imaginary walls will not protect us.

If we want to build long-term peace, if we want stability for our economies, if we want to build that better and safer world, fighting poverty must be part of national and international security.’

Educating our children to be global citizens with global responsibilities

‘But we must go further. We must change the mindsets that build walls. Across the world, we must educate our children to be global citizens with global responsibilities. We must celebrate diversity, not fear it. We must build curricula around understanding, not suspicion; around inclusion, not hate. We must tell our children to dare to be different – international, intercultural, interactive, global. We must do better with the next generation than we have done with our own.’

Progress towards the Millennium goals

In the International Herald Tribune of September 25, 2008 there was an article on the fast-fading world of good intentions in which we were reminded that world leaders pledged, at the turn of the Millennium, to cutting extreme global poverty in half with a 2005 pledge of assistance of $130 billion by the year 2010. “Aid from the world’s developed countries fell by almost 13% between 2005 and 2007 – to under $104 billion, after inflation. The aggregate aid budget of the most developed nations amounts to 0.28% of their gross national income, woefully below the target of 0.7% agreed by world leaders in 2002. The United States, shamefully, is at the bottom of the list, spending 0.16% of its income on development assistance.”

Priorities

In the same issue of the International Herald Tribune, there were also articles on the $700 billion bailout plan for the financial system and the bitter struggle over outsize pay. $700 billion given without batting an eyelid to the financial failures, but no petty cash to honor the pledge to fighting the war on poverty. Plenty of money for the super-rich to enjoy outrageous salaries, but not a dime to spare for those on a dollar a day.

 

The rich get richer while the poor get poorer

The UN’s Food Development Report has produced evidence that the world’s richest 358 billionaires have a wealth equivalent to the combined income of 45% of humanity or 2.3 billion people. In 1960, the richest one-fifth had 70% of global wealth. By 1990, their share had grown to 80%. The poorest one-fifth saw their wealth drop from 2.5% to 1.4% over the same period. The wealthy and the privileged few, indifferent to or unconcerned with economic and social injustice, remain intent on protecting their privileges, consolidating their power, and isolating themselves from the suffering and deprivation that is to be seen everywhere.

 

POOR FARMING PRACTICES

 

Dust storms in China

The Washington Post called Lester R. Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, ‘one of the world’s most influential thinkers.’ In his book Outgrowing the Earth: The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures, he tells us that:

‘On April 18, 2001, the western United States was blanketed with dust. The dirt came from a huge dust storm that originated in northwestern China and Mongolia on April 5. Measuring 1,800 kilometers across when it left China, the storm carried up to 100 million tons of topsoil, a vital resource that would take centuries to replace through natural processes.’

‘Almost exactly one year later, on April 12, 2002, South Korea was engulfed by a huge dust storm from China. These two dust storms, among some 20 or more major dust storms in China during 2001 and 2002, are one of the externally visible indicators of the ecological catastrophe unfolding in northern and western China. Overgrazing and overplowing are converting productive land to desert on an unprecedented scale.’

Dust storms in Africa

‘Africa, too, is suffering from heavy losses of topsoil as a result of wind erosion. Andrew Goudie, Professor of Geography at Oxford University, reports that dust storms originating over the Sahara – once so rare – are now commonplace. He estimates they have increased tenfold during the last half-century. Among the countries most affected by topsoil loss via dust storms are Niger, Chad, northern Nigeria, and Burkino Faso. In Mauritania, in Africa’s far west, the number of dust storms jumped from 2 a year in the early 1960s to 80 a year today.’

‘The Bodélé Depression in Chad is the source of an estimated 1.3 billion tons of dust a year, up tenfold from 1947, when measurements began.’

‘The 2 – 3 billion tons of fine soil particles that leave Africa each year in dust storms are slowly draining the continent of its fertility and, hence, its biological productivity.’

The population explosion and loss of agricultural land

‘The addition of more than 70 million people each year requires land for living and working – driving the continuous construction of houses, apartment buildings, factories, and office buildings. Worldwide, for every 1 million people added, an estimated 40,000 hectares of land are needed for basic living space.’

‘These threats to the world’s cropland, whether advancing deserts, expanding automobile fleets, or housing developments, are gaining momentum, challenging some of the basic premises on which current population, transportation, and land use policies rest.’

The bottom line: Probable starvation in Africa

Brown continues:

‘With the advent of agriculture, the acceleration of soil erosion on mismanaged land has increased to the point where soil loss often exceeds new soil formation. Once this threshold is crossed, the inherent fertility of the land begins to fall. Each year the world’s farmers are challenged to feed another 70 million or more people but with less topsoil than the year before.’

‘The bottom line is that the accelerating loss of topsoil from wind and water erosion is slowly but surely reducing the earth’s inherent biological productivity. Unless governments, farmers, and herders can mobilize to reverse this trend, feeding 70 million more people each year will become progressively more difficult.’

At the Technological Museum of Thessaloniki there is a caption that by the year 2025 the continent of Africa will be able to feed only 25% of its population.

 

THE AMERICAN FARM SCHOOL MODEL

 

The story of postwar Greece

In 1986 Bruce Lansdale wrote the book Master Farmer: Teaching Small Farmers Management. He believed that the story of postwar Greece holds invaluable lessons for many developing countries today. In 1947 Greece had just emerged from a decade of war and strife; its villagers were demoralized and fleeing rural life for the cities; and its farms were unable to produce adequate crops to feed its people. In less than forty years Greece became a major exporter of foodstuffs, most villages had made the transition from underdeveloped to developing, and rural people were no longer yearning to move to the cities.

The Farm School’s philosophy

Central to the Farm School’s philosophy is faith in the capacity of peasants to solve their own problems and to accelerate the development process in agriculture. The school has concentrated on teaching both rural people and development workers the essential elements of management – planning, organization, leading, controlling, and adjusting. Master Farmer: Teaching Small Farmers Management offers valuable insights into nonformal education, organizing short-course centers, managing secondary agricultural schools, operating student projects, and the problems of technology transfer.

The American Farm School: Mission, Service, Leadership

The second director of the American Farm School, Charlie House, explained to Bruce and Tad on their arrival that John Henry House, the missionary who founded the school, “didn’t just preach an ideology, he lived it. And, he expected everyone else to. This is what the American Farm School was and is all about. Mission. Service. Leadership.”

It was Mission, Service and Leadership that produced such amazing results on land so barren and unproductive that it was called snake land. The founder was able to say:

‘A little over twenty three years have passed, and that barren spot is now a beautiful village, with orchards and vineyards, vegetable and flower gardens, and grainfields, barns, workshops, electric and water plant, with pure blooded cattle, pigs and fowl. There are dormitories, residences with equipped infirmary, a fine hall with library, natural history museum, and laboratory.”

The uncomfortable truth

The rich nations, even before the current financial crisis had shown that they were not interested in fulfilling their promises to implement the Millennium Development Goals. Yet we still face the fact that 15,000 people are daily dying needlessly from preventable, treatable diseases; that 8 million people die each year because they are too poor to stay alive; that there are 70 million additional mouths to feed each year; that the planet is losing its fertile top soil at a frightening rate because of poor farming practices; and that, unless people of good will take action, within our lifetime people on the continent of Africa will be starving to death in even greater numbers than today.

GREEK SUMMER: BECOMING A GLOBAL CITIZEN THROUGH MISSION, SERVICE, AND LEADERSHIP

 

Global citizens, global responsibilities

What Wolfensohn said about educating our children to be global citizens with global responsibilities is exactly what Bruce had in mind when he started the Greek Summer program. Wolfensohn said:

‘We must educate our children to be global citizens with global responsibilities. Our children must celebrate diversity, not fear it. Our children must be international, intercultural, interactive, global.’

And this is what you are learning through your stay here in Greece.

Mission, Service, Leadership today

As government and big money is unable/unwilling to do the job of making a difference for the one-fifth of humanity who still live in extreme poverty, it is now up to individuals of good will. Individuals like John Henry House, Charlie House, and Bruce Lansdale who between them devoted 86 years of their lives to this cause in Greece. People like Albert Schweitzer who devoted his life from the age of thirty to this cause in Africa.

 

Albert Schweitzer: Mission, Service and Leadership in Africa

In Albert Schweitzer: The Man and His Mind George Seaver says:

‘Albert Schweitzer is probably the most gifted genius of our age, as well as its most prophetic thinker. A doctor four times over – in philosophy, in theology, in music, and in medicine, he foresaw the collapse of western civilization.’

Albert Schweitzer wrote:

 ‘While at the university and enjoying the happiness of being able to study and even to produce some results in science and art, I could not help thinking continually of others who were denied that happiness by their material circumstances or their health. Then one brilliant summer morning there came to me, as I awoke, the thought that I must not accept this happiness as a matter of course, but give something in return for it. I settled with myself before I got up, that I would consider myself justified in living till I was thirty for science and art, in order to devote myself from that time forward to the direct service of humanity. One evening my eye caught the title of an article “The needs of the Congo Mission”. I resolved to realize my plan of direct human service in Equatorial Africa.’

Shortly after his arrival in Lambaréné he wrote:

‘I had during the very first weeks full opportunity for establishing the fact that physical misery among the natives is not less but even greater than I had supposed. How glad I was that in defiance of all objections I had carried out my plan of going out there as a doctor.’

Schweitzer established his mission at Lambaréné and spent the rest of his life there, returning to Europe to use his great talents, especially as an organist, to raise money for his hospital. Tad quotes Albert Schweitzer in My Metamorphosis:

‘I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know. The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.’

 

Bruce is with you in spirit during Greek Summer

Over the past 40 years some participants have found the Greek Summer program life-transforming or at least a different way of looking at the world. I know that Bruce is with you in spirit during your stay in Greece. If Bruce could talk he would have so much that he would like to share with you. But his work is done and it is the responsibility of lesser mortals to make sure that his wisdom is not lost to the world. I believe that he would be happy if you were to leave Greece at the end of your Greek Summer program having memorized three words: Mission. Service. Leadership. And your mission is to become global citizens with global responsibilities.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 04:07 AM
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GREEK SUMMER 2011

MISSION. SERVICE. LEADERSHIP.

PART I

 

Introduction

I was engaged by Bruce Lansdale in 1978 to be his Associate Director for Administration and worked with him till he retired in 1990. Christine and I were married in 1988 and becoming a family member gave me additional insights into a man who has had a very deep impact on my life. Bruce died 2½ years ago but his spirit is still felt here at Metamorphosis, at the Farm School, among the graduates, retired staff and long-term supporters of the school.

Last year we celebrated Greek Summer’s 40th anniversary in New York when the honor and appreciation given to Tad showed that Bruce’s spirit is still felt by participants of Greek Summer.

Because Bruce has become my role model for a ‘life well lived’ or ‘a successful life’ I welcome this opportunity to say a few words about why he had such an impact on so many people and what he had in mind when he started the Greek summer program.

Giving: The importance of role models

Bruce learned early on that you get most out of life by giving because he had two very fine role models. His father, Herbert Lansdale, had been sent by the YMCA of America to establish the YMCA in Thessaloniki. The ethos of the YMCA has always been community service, service to your fellow man, and treating your neighbor as you would like to be treated yourself.

As a child Bruce made visits to the American Farm School because his father was good friends with Charlie House, the second director of the American Farm School. After his retirement as a missionary, John Henry House, Charlie’s father, founded the Farm School in 1904 when northern Greece was Turkish territory. Charlie House was an engineer just like Bruce but endowed with a missionary spirit. Bruce took over as head of the school while still in his twenties and Charlie House became Bruce’s second role model.

The American Farm School: Mission, Service, Leadership

This passage is taken from Tad’s book My Metamorphosis:

‘One evening soon after we arrived in 1949, we sat before a blazing fire in the Houses’ living room. Charlie wanted to tell us something of his father, something of his courage and of his leadership. “He didn’t just preach an ideology,” Charlie said, “he lived it. And, he expected everyone else to. This is what the American Farm School was and is all about. Mission. Service. Leadership. When a fellow missionary, Miss Ellen Stone, along with her companion, Mrs. Eleni Tsilka, were kidnapped in 1901 by Bulgarian brigands, it fell to father, as leader of their small Protestant community, to mediate for their ransom in a situation garnering international attention. The kidnappers demanded $65,000 in gold bullion for the return of Miss Stone, an amount equal to her weight in gold. Even President Roosevelt became involved as a widespread campaign to raise money spread across America. It was an enormous amount of money in those days.’

Leadership

Expressed in every day terms Mission, Service and Leadership is working continually to improve the civilization around you. Each day, though your actions may seem as just a grain of sand on the sea shore, you attract like-minded people to the cause and a great institution like the Farm School results. Bruce wrote the book Cultivating Inspired Leaders: Making Participatory Management Work in which he described inspired and inspiring leader-managers in these words:

‘Those who have themselves been inspired by others in their lives. Inspired leader-managers have a sense of dedication to their organization, to their associates, and a commitment to a spirit within themselves. These individuals may, however, lack the self-confidence or the ability to inspire others. It is the inspiring leader-managers who are eager to share their inspiration with associates and customers of their organization.’

Mission at the American Farm School

John Henry House clearly stated his goals in the school’s Charter of Incorporation:

‘providing agricultural and industrial training under Christian supervision for youth in order that they may be trained to appreciate the dignity of manual labor and be helped to lives of self-respect, thrift and industry.”

The results of that mission

After just 23 years John Henry House was able to say:

‘The land we had purchased was a desert-looking waste with no water upon it and a doubtful possibility of finding any. A school like this in a land where work with the hands was considered degrading by the educated, might well have been considered a desperate experiment even under the most favourable conditions, when there was well-watered and fertile land, with a kindly climate, but under the desert conditions in which we were placed, some of our friends felt sure we were doomed to failure. But we were working with faith in a great Master who had said, “All things are possible to him that believeth.” It was indeed a small beginning but it was a work of faith and love. A little over twenty three years have passed, and that barren spot is now a beautiful village, with orchards and vineyards, vegetable and flower gardens, and grainfields, barns, workshops, electric and water plant, with pure blooded cattle, pigs and fowl. There are dormitories, residences with equipped infirmary, a fine hall with library, natural history museum, and laboratory.”

Service at the American Farm School

A life of service is out of fashion today when success is measured by the size of your greed and how well you manipulate the financial system to your personal benefit. From the beginning the Farm School was based on service. When John Henry House founded the school in 1904, Thessaloniki was under Turkish rule, but after years of bloodshed the Greeks were in charge in 1912. The first students were orphans and the first teachers worked without pay in exchange for learning English. Then in 1922 northern Greece was flooded with 1.5 million refugees due to the exchange of populations with Turkey and once again the school was serving orphans and families with no possessions.

Service in the Farm School’s early days was providing the poorest of the poor with an education to feed themselves and the wider community and the skills such as plumbing and carpentry required to create a model village. These were the first steps to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in northern Greece. It was a philosophy of educating the head, the heart and the hands. It was a philosophy of Mission, Service, Leadership.

Greek Summer: Mission, service, leadership

Bruce created Greek Summer, nursed it through its challenging early years and believed that it was a good way to introduce American youth to the Farm School’s philosophy of Mission, Service, and Leadership. You will serve by working on a village improvement project. You will be working within a culture that is strange to you. You might not be used to work that requires hard physical labor under the Greek sun. It is during these times when the going is tough that you will have opportunities to develop your leadership skills.

Bruce also wanted you to be exposed to the wisdom of the ancient Greeks about whom you will learn much on your tour of the ancient sites. In our society that has lost its way, more and more people are realizing that the ancient Greeks organized themselves much better than we have organized our present-day society.

Bruce also wanted you to get a feel for what he referred to as generosity of spirit, through the overwhelming hospitality of the Greek villagers that you will experience during your village stay.

Bruce also wanted you to have fun, and as you will find, the Greeks are wonderful fun-loving people, even in these days of financial crisis.

But perhaps most of all he wanted you to be challenged and stretched beyond the limits of what you previously thought possible. He was fond of quoting Nikos Kazantzakis expressed in the opening lines of his Report to Greco:

I am a bow in your hands, Lord,

Stretch me lest I rot.

Don’t stretch me too hard, Lord,

Lest I break.

Go ahead and stretch me, Lord,

Even if I break.

May your Greek Summer be enriching, enjoyable and life-transforming.

Monday, March 21, 2011 @ 03:03 AM
posted by admin

AMERICAN FARM SCHOOL

BRUCE LANSDALE MEMORIAL

PART II

HENRY RICHARDSON LABOUISSE

CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Introduction

In re-making the American Farm School to fit the post-war era, Bruce Lansdale knew that he could not do it alone, especially in a world where the values on which the School was founded found little support from the general public. The success of the institution preparing students combining high ethical values who would also be competent conducting their business in today’s world could only be accomplished with a strong and supportive board of trustees. Trustees of institutions like the American Farm School are more valuable than gold. What are the qualities which make for greatness in a trustee?

Qualities which make for greatness in a trustee

On November 7, 1985 at a Board of Trustees dinner honouring Mr. Henry R. Labouisse, Bruce Lansdale suggested that the following qualities contribute to greatness in a trustee:

  • Intimacy with the institution and staff, which stops short of involvement with their duties and responsibilities.
  • A deep concern tempered by objectivity.
  • A generosity of spirit guided by strong principles.
  • Inspired leadership which can delegate authority.
  • Concentration on detail as a guide to policy formation.
  • Compassion for staff and associates which doesn’t interfere with administration.
  • Cultivation of an outlook that deals with problems rather than personalities.
  • An involvement and concern for the students and other participants which reflects the institution’s primary goal.
  • Dedication to the institution’s mission with flexibility toward implementation of its goals.
  • The capacity to look at every side of every issue and then every side of every side.
  • Ability to verbalize the aims of the organization combined with an empathetic spirit which can listen as well as speak.
  • A willingness to sacrifice oneself which doesn’t demand a reward in return.
  • An eagerness and sense of pleasure in the endeavor which reflect on the spirit of the institution.
  • A realization that there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.
  • An enthusiasm for the institution’s programs which is contagious to those involved.
  • A recognition that as in all strong federations there must be a meeting of hearts even if there is not necessarily total agreement of minds.
  • A primary interest in the creative potential of the institution rather than in its possessive nature.
  • A delight in the adventure of guiding its programs rather than a continual emphasis on its physical acquisitiveness.
  • A dogged devotion to the task of trusteeship – be it managing investments, understanding the nuts and bolts of the operation, providing specific assistance on fund raising, a devotion which does not stand in the way of the responsibilities of the staff.
  • A deep love for the institution which leads to a concentration by everyone involved on individual strengths rather than weaknesses.

 

Henry Richardson Labouisse, the perfect Trustee

Henry R. Labouisse, first visited the American Farm School in 1963 after being appointed U.S. Ambassador to Greece. Later that year he was elected a member of the Board of Trustees and in 1980 he assumed the Chairmanship following his retirement from Unicef, the United Nations International Childrens’ Emergency Fund, which as an organization, won the Nobel Peace prize while Mr. Labouisse served as its Executive Director.

Speaking of Mr. Labouisse’s role at the School, Bruce Lansdale said: “Harry was the perfect Trustee. He was intimate with the institution and staff but stopped short of involvement with their duties and responsibilities. He had a deep concern for the School tempered by objectivity. He was generous in spirit but guided by strong principles. He inspired leadership but delegated authority. He could focus on details and understand their implications for policy formation. He had the capacity to look at every side of an issue, and yet come to a conclusion. He would give himself without thought of reward or personal interest. He realized that there was no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. He took a real delight in guiding the School’s program without any sense of physical acquisitiveness. He had a dogged devotion to the task of Trusteeship, whatever the assignment, whatever the problem, and so inspired other Trustees to function at the highest limits of their abilities as well.”

Henry Richardson Labouisse, the man

 

Address of Henry R. Labouisse

at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

October 12, 1980

“The series of sermons, ‘For the Peace of the World’, comes at a particularly crucial time. A perilous war is at this very moment being fought in the Middle East; elsewhere, some countries are occupied by the armed forces of other nations; millions of people on four continents are refugees from violence and upheaval; and we hear an alarming amount of talk about increased armament and military build-ups.

The series is for United States Ambassadors, and you may wonder why a non-UN Ambassador should be addressing you today. When I asked “Why”, Dean Morton said that he would like me to talk about some of the social and economic problems which undermine the hopes for world peace.

When I look back upon the past forty years, during which I alternately served with the United States Government and the United Nations, I find that the issues of war and peace have been constantly with me, even though my work was – most of the time – removed from direct political action.

The Marshall Plan, with which I was associated, was a vast rescue operation aimed at bringing back economic health to the European countries ravaged by World War II. In the fifties, I found myself heading the United Nations agency dealing with one million Palestinian refugees in four countries of the Near East – the victims of a bitter conflict still unresolved today. The Cyprus problem, also still unresolved and aggravated, was already brewing twenty years ago when I served in Greece.

In 1965, I joined UNICEF – by definition a non-political agency. In the fifteen years of my tenure, the issues of war and peace came to me and my colleagues in two different ways:

First, UNICEF was repeatedly called upon to assist children – and sometimes large groups of population of all ages – during emergencies resulting either from natural disasters or from armed conflicts such as the civil war in Nigeria, the Vietnam war, the strife which brought about the independence of Bangladesh and, very recently, the war in Cambodia (now renamed Kampuchea). In such situations, UNICEF helps children wherever they can be reached, on all sides of the conflicts, without regard to race, religion or political beliefs. As an example, my last official field trip as Executive Director of UNICEF took me, last November, to Phnom Penh and our assistance programs inside Kampuchea, then to Vietnam, then back to Bangkok and the vast relief operation in the camps sheltering hundreds of thousands of displaced Cambodians along the Thailand border.

But what I want most to comment upon this morning is the other kind of potential threat to peace that UNICEF’s work for children in the 100 poorest countries of the world has brought constantly and vividly before my eyes.

It is what I have sometimes called the “quiet emergency” – a situation which persists from year to year without making headlines. It is the shocking contrast between the way of life which exists for most people in industrial countries and the deprivation, hunger and extreme poverty which affects about one billion men, women and children in the developing world.

The staggering statistics vary, of course, from country to country – but here are a few bare facts concerning the majority of the developing countries:

  • The infant mortality rate is from 5 to 10 times that of the industrialized countries; life expectancy at birth is almost one third shorter;
  • About one-fourth of the population suffer from malnutrition; millions, particularly children, die as a result of malnutrition each year;
  • It is estimated that only about 20% of the rural populations live within walking distance – say five or six miles – of any kind of adequate health facility; most of the people live and die – often tragically young – without ever receiving any modern health care;
  • About three-quarters of the rural population has no access to safe water;
  • In the poorest countries, a third of the children of primary school age (and nearly half of the girls) are not going to school.

 

Such are the realities of life in vast areas of our planet. Let us remember that prolonged deprivations – emotional as well as physical – endured by children during their early years can result in permanent damage. They can also engender bitter frustrations which provide fertile ground for future conflicts. I have difficulty in erasing from my memory a parade of children I attended not too long ago in an African town. Groups of children carried signs and banners, most of them optimistically worded, praising cleanliness, safe water, good studies at school. But there was one very different sign, carried by a little boy, which said: “I wept the day I was born, and every day explains why.”

It is indeed a cruel irony that the simplest human needs should so often be given low priority in the development process, and I would like to comment briefly upon some of the reasons why considerable efforts made so far have had only limited results:

  • In many cases, when big projects were started in developing countries to build up national infrastructure and industry, the expected social and human benefits have not, in fact, ‘trickled down’ to the poorest levels of society – to the villagers and slum dwellers. Most of them are just as poor as before.
  • Besides, the efforts made by developing countries have often been based on sophisticated and expensive models from the industrialised world. In very poor countries, the shortage of trained personnel and the lack of funds have made it impossible to extend essential services as health and basic education beyond a small percentage of the population.
  • Moreover, in many countries, rapid population growth automatically cancels even the slender progress that is being made toward meeting the needs of the poorest communities.

 

As if all these problems were not bad enough, some recent events have added new and formidable obstacles to their solution. In his 1980 report, the President of the World Bank, Robert McNamara, emphasized the deterioration of global economic prospects and the resulting very grave consequences for those developing countries which must import oil and which, at all times, have limited resources and fragile economies. For these countries, in the past two years alone, the new surge in oil prices has more than doubled the cost of importing energy. Simultaneously, the continuing recession in the industrialized nations is severely limiting demands for Third World exports. Mr. McNamara stresses that there will have to be major adjustments in the policies of all countries and a sustained effort on the part of the world community to make possible a vigorous economic recovery. The developing countries themselves, of course, will have to carry the main burden of the effort, but they will need all the help they can get.

I will not discuss further such complex economic problems, but I do want to say a few words about the change of emphasis which is already taking place in the social and human sectors of the development effort. There is more and more recognition of the fact that new methods must be used to bring to the populations most in need the essential services they have never known so far. The idea is to enlist the active participation of the communities themselves, at the level of the villages and the city slums, in order to make relatively simple services – such as primary health care and basic education – available to all deprived areas at low overall costs. For several years, the World Health Organization and UNICEF have been promoting this approach, particularly in the field of primary health care. A somewhat similar approach has been used for a long time in China, where an immense population seems to be reached by most essential services.

If we try to appraise the results of the multinational development effort in the past 30 years, we find a mixture of good and less good. Some important progress has been and is being made: for example, in the 38 lowest income countries, life expectancy at birth has increased from about 42 years in 1960 to 50 years in 1978 – reflecting a substantial reduction in infant and child mortality. Another example relates to the improvement of the social status and education of women and girls, an absolutely crucial factor in the entire development process. It is estimated that the percentage of girls enrolled in primary schools in those countries has almost doubled since 1960.

On the other hand, there have also been tragic difficulties and delays – and some failures. But, the experience of the last decades should not discourage us; rather, we should learn from it, try new approaches and seek with determination to vastly increase and broaden the scope of our efforts.

To me, the heart of the matter is this:

Will the decision makers, in both affluent and poor countries, have the foresight and political will to place as one of their principal objectives the breaking up of the cycle  of poverty and misery which keep in bondage the deprived populations of the Third World? If the will is there, the means then must be found, for concrete solutions are perfectly possible. Just to take one example: widespread malnutrition exists in several continents, yet our planet does not really lack food. Even during the worst famine years for some developing countries in the 1970s, the world as a whole was growing more food than was necessary to feed adequately every man, woman and child on the earth. The same is true for other basic resources, for energy, for water. As pointed out by the eminent British economist Barbara Ward:

“The failure of world society to provide a ‘safe and happy life’ for all is not caused by any present lack of physical resources. The problem today is not one of absolute physical shortage but of economic and social mal-distribution and misuse.”

This may be the time for us Americans to take a look at our own record.

The United States is a great and generous country which has accomplished miracles to help less fortunate nations and individuals. Among the American public, and particularly among our young people, there is great concern about problems such as the environment, world hunger, human rights, the plight of refugees that we have welcomed here by the hundreds of thousands. But those same public-spirited and sensitive Americans probably do not realize that, as a provider of foreign assistance to the Third World, our contributions have steadily declined to a level that our former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance recently qualified as “disgraceful”. Measured as a percentage of our gross national product, our total foreign aid assistance puts the U.S. today in the fifteenth place out of the seventeen non-communist major industrial countries. The communist countries, of course, are way behind us all. In 1965, the U.S. was in third place. In the days of the Marshall Plan, the U.S. was overwhelmingly the first, and almost the only provider.

Foreign aid has no American constituency benefiting directly from it and, in this election year, I do not hear any voice raised by candidates in its favor. What I do hear are repeated pleas to increase our military expenditure which will amount this year to more than $150 billion. In this trend we are not alone. The increase of military power seems to dominate world priorities and, for the eighth year in a row, world military expenditure increased faster than the rate of inflation: the total of such expenditures in the world is estimated at more than $500 million this year – about one million dollars a minute.

I am enough of a realist to know that, at this dangerous time of history, all nations, including our own, must be able to defend themselves against potential adversaries. But I am profoundly convinced that, by neglecting or postponing the indispensable offensive against extreme poverty, against malnutrition, disease, illiteracy, unemployment, we are, in the long run, putting all our societies – rich and poor – in the greatest peril. In our closely interdependent world, it will simply not be possible to prolong indefinitely a situation where poor and extremely populous countries are getting poorer, while affluent ones are getting richer and consume an extravagant proportion of our planet’s resources. Economic and human contrasts of such magnitude are, to my mind, basically more dangerous to world stability than are ideological differences or military build-ups.

As we all know, it is not only in the Third World that the fight for an acceptable quality of life must be carried on. Contrasts between rich and the needy exist not only between countries but within each nation. We too, in the United States, have our poor and hungry, and it would not take us too many steps outside this great cathedral to find areas of acute human deprivation. Moreover, some problems such as drug addiction, vandalism, crime and violence, child abuse, appear to be on the increase in industrial countries – as a result, perhaps, of the frustrations of life in large cities and of the gradual disappearance of traditional family values.

At a time of recession and inflation, of mounting prices, of high unemployment and political uncertainties, many Americans are, at this moment, justifiably concerned by their own difficulties. Even if our government and the Congress had the foresight to place greater emphasis on measures aimed at relieving human suffering and improving the quality of life, it would be awfully tempting to try to deal first with the problems of our country and to postpone action in the rest of the world.

I, for one, do not believe that we are at liberty to make such a choice. We can and should carry the fight on both fronts: the first reason is that when poverty and deprivation among great masses of humanity get down to the level of widespread hunger, remedies simply cannot wait; the second reason is that, while we are part of any global solution because of our capacity for aid, we are also part of the problem because of our extremely high standard of living and excessive consumption. It is also, I venture to say, a matter of conscience. Commenting on the industrial countries’ imperative responsibility for sharing the world resources with less fortunate nations, Willy Brandt, the former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, once said:

“Morally, it makes no difference whether a man is killed in war or is condemned to starve to death by the indifference of others.”

So what can we, as individuals, do about all this?

In the first place, those of us in a position to do so can share more of our material resources and devote much more of our work and our time to helping those in need. But, above all, let us raise our voices to make clear to our political and other leaders that we want a re-ordering of our national priorities – that our policies must give much more attention and concrete support toward meeting the essential needs, at home and abroad, of the vast number of people now living in crushing poverty, with little or no hope for the future.

A final word to conclude. Projections for the world’s population by the end of this century – only twenty years from now – are that our planet Earth will then have 6 billion inhabitants. About 40% will be children under 15 years of age. This gives us an idea of the dimension and the urgency of the work to be done. I pray that the generations of the next century will live in societies less cruel than our own and that there will be a great deal more justice and a great deal more peace all over the world.”

Saturday, March 19, 2011 @ 03:03 AM
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GLOBABALIZATION, DIET AND LIFESTYLE

 

University visit

In early March six university students and their instructor spent a week with us in Lakkia. The schedule prepared for them, the places visited, and the guest visitors we had in the evenings will be described in a later document. On their arrival, David gave this talk to the group.

Welcome

Welcome to our organic farm in Lakkia, a village with just one shop surrounded by small farms, but conveniently located for the airport, the city of Thessaloniki, archeological sites and museums. From 2005, we – Christine and David Willis – have hosted students from your College under their credit course Nourishing Wisdom – mindfulness and social change. You will be accommodated in the family farmhouse where David has chickens and grows fruit and vegetables to organic standards. Christine is a ceramic artist who teaches the value of lovingly prepared, slowly savored Mediterranean food, incorporating the international travel experience called the Slow Food Movement – living better and being more productive by marrying la dolce vita with the dynamism of the information age. A feature of past visits has been keeping a diary to keep track of your experiences and reflections. This paper provides some background information to help you make the best of your visit.

GLOBALIZATION

Globalization

In The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, Thomas Friedman tells us that the defining symbol of globalization is the World Wide Web which unites everyone. The defining measurement is speed of commerce, travel, communication and innovation. Globalization means the spread of free-market capitalism to virtually every country of the world with its own set of rules, but it sometimes leaves the less good players brutalized or left behind. If globalization were a sport, it would be the 100-meter dash, over and over. And no matter how many times you win, you have to race again the next day. And if you lose by just one-hundredth of a second it can be as if you lost by an hour. This is the tough, stressful world in which you are going to earn your living and raise a family.

Lifestyle and globalization

Friedman visited the Lexus luxury car factory in Japan producing 300 sedans a day, made by 66 human beings and 310 robots and that experience defined a world intent on building a better Lexus, dedicated to modernizing, streamlining and privatizing their economies in order to thrive in the system of globalization. The olive tree defined everything that roots us to the warmth of family life, the joy of individuality, the depth of private relationships, as well as the confidence and security to reach out and encounter others. For most people, corporations and nations the right balance between the Lexus and the olive tree has not yet been found. One purpose in inviting you to join us is to experience our lifestyle. We feel very much connected to the world and enjoy the benefits of globalization without the stress.

The problem is not new but the rules are new

Throughout history humanity has faced this problem of trying to find a balance between sustenance and security and enjoying the good things in life that we all work for. The previous era of globalization was built around falling transportation costs and it had its success stories and victims. Today’s era of globalization is built around falling communication costs and probably started with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. We are still in the early stages where dog eats dog, fast eats slow, and there is a mad scramble to be one of the top dogs. To be successful in this business environment will probably require sacrifice of the good things in life – sacrifice of the olive tree. For some it will be exciting and they will prosper. For others it will be hell. There are alternatives and Christine and I are living one of them. We hope that you will come away from your stay with us with food for thought on the kind of lifestyle that you would like to create for yourselves. 

What is new today

What is new today is the degree and intensity with which the world is being tied together into a single globalized marketplace and the number of people and countries able to participate and be affected by it. Daily foreign exchange trading in 1900 was measured in millions of dollars; in 1992 it was $820 billion a day. By April 1998 it was up to $1.5 trillion a day and still rising. Companies can locate production, research and marketing in different countries but still tie them together through computer and teleconferencing. Services such as medical advice can be traded globally. With modern technology it is often possible for the individual to live in a rural setting while still being part of the globalized market place. Christine and I have the benefit of both the Lexus and the olive tree by living in Lakkia.

LIFESTYLE AND DIET

Lifestyle

In Western society, cancer is the second greatest killer after coronary heart disease. Research suggests that poor diet, poor lifestyle and stress contribute significantly to their onset. In Proof Positive: How to Reliably Combat Disease & Achieve Optimal Health Through Nutrition & Lifestyle by Neil Nedley, M.D. we learn that it is possible to reduce coronary heart disease risk by 90% and cancer risk by as much as 80% through the right diet and lifestyle. For the vast majority of us, our health is primarily dependent upon two factors: what we put into our bodies; and what we do with our bodies. A simple word that encapsulates both of these concepts is ‘lifestyle’.

The nine leading causes of death are largely related to lifestyle choices

We recognize the necessity of proper care to get the longest life and best performance out of our automobiles. When will we realize that proper care also gives our bodies the longest life and best performance? The nine leading causes of death are largely related to lifestyle choices and are preventable. Many deaths due to infectious diseases are caused by an immune system that is weakened by a poor lifestyle. How we live day by day determines whether our immune system works at peak levels. Three of the important ways to help our immune system are diet, exercise and stress control.

The most healthful diet in the world

Dr Nedley tells us that eating freely of fruits, grains, vegetables, and nuts in moderation, prepared in a variety of ways, offers us the most healthful diet in the world. It eliminates a host of cancer-causing substances, is ideal for maintaining proper weight, it boosts the immune system by making use of vitamins A, C, and E and other very important protective phytochemicals and fiber. Coupling this diet with regular exercise will boost the immune system even further.

 

THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET

The Mediterranean diet

The information below is taken from books on the Mediterranean diet reviewed on our website www.slowlivinggreece.com

Mortality rate from the “Seven Country Study”

(per 100,000 inhabitants) Serge Renaud: The Mediterranean Diet)

Country                 Coronary                     Cancer                        Mortality

                              Disease

Finland                  972                              613                              2169

US                         773                              384                              1575

Netherlands           636                              781                              11825

Italy                       462                              622                              1874

Yugoslavia            242                              394                              1712

Corfu                     202                              338                              1317

Japan                     136                              623                              1766

Crete                     38                                17                                855

Cretans age well because they eat well

The conclusions of studies were that the Cretans age well because they eat well. Among the peoples of the Mediterranean the Greeks have the most balanced diet. With basic ingredients of olive oil, fruit, vegetables, cereals, wine, fish, honey, and herbs – produced with a high nutritious value – the Greek diet is a model for a healthy way of life, well suited to the modern lifestyle. It is the Mediterranean diet, as it was before 1960, that Christine provides for the family and teaches our guests.

THE SLOW MOVEMENT: A LETTER FROM THE DEAN OF HARVARD

Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed tells us that Harry Lewis, Dean of the undergraduate school at Harvard, attended a meeting at which one undergraduate wanted to double major in Biology and English, and cram all the work into three, instead of the usual four, years. After the meeting, Lewis reflected on how the 21st century student has become a disciple of hurry.

A letter from the dean

In the summer of 2001, the Dean wrote an open letter to every first-year undergraduate at Harvard. It was an impassioned plea for a new approach to life on campus and beyond. It was also a neat précis of the ideas that lie at the heart of the Slow philosophy. The letter, which now goes out to Harvard freshmen every year, is entitled: Slow Down. Over seven pages, Lewis makes the case for getting more out of university – and life – by doing less. He urges students to think twice before racing through their degrees. It takes time to master a subject, he says, pointing out that top medical, law and business schools increasingly favor mature candidates with more to offer than an “abbreviated and intense undergraduate education.”

Not too many extracurricular activities

Lewis warns against piling on too many extracurricular activities. What is the point, he asks, of playing lacrosse, chairing debates, organizing conferences, acting in plays and editing a section of the campus newspaper if you end up spending your whole Harvard career in overdrive, striving not to fall behind schedule? Much better to do fewer things and have time to make the most of them.

The less-is-more approach.

When it comes to academic life, Lewis favors the same less-is-more approach. Get plenty of rest and relaxation, he says, and be sure to cultivate the art of doing nothing. “Empty time is not a vacuum to be filled. It is the thing that enables the other things on your mind to be creatively rearranged.” In other words, doing nothing, being Slow, is an essential part of good thinking.

Selective slowness can help students to live and work better

Lewis is as keen on hard work and academic success as the next Harvard heavyweight. His point is simply that a little selective slowness can help students to live and work better. “In advising you to think about slowing down and limiting your structured activities, I do not mean to discourage you from high achievement, indeed from the pursuit of extraordinary excellence. But you are more likely to sustain the intense effort needed to accomplish first-rate work in one area if you allow yourself some leisure time, some recreation, some time for solitude.”

WHAT YOU WILL DO DURING YOUR VISIT

Cooking your own Greek dishes

Under Christine’s watchful eye, you will pick ingredients from the garden, collect eggs from our free-range chickens, make your own bread with organic flour, learn the lessons of appreciation, connection and compassion through shopping at local markets for fresh, seasonal foods from farmers and vendors, cook your own Greek dishes and share your meals with our family – sometimes with an interesting guest.

Visiting places of special interest

By about 10am, after the daily meals have been prepared, we will take you to meet the incredibly warm and welcoming locals, visit places of special interest to the group and explore the city of Thessaloniki with its Byzantine churches and abundant flower, olive, meat and fish markets. There is a large choice of museums and archeological sites that can be reached within a comfortable day trip from our farm house.

A two-mile walk

The day usually starts or ends with a two-mile walk with views of Mt. Olympus, along country roads where you are more likely to meet sheep and goats than a car.

Evenings

Evenings provide time for recreation, discussion, reflection, journal writing, and on creative projects related to Christine’s expertise as a ceramic artist.

WHAT WE DO

Our mission

Our mission is to share with others our joie de vivre in making a comfortable living from a small piece of land where David grows much of our food. Christine is a ceramic artist and teacher who gains her inspiration from ancient Greek and Byzantine pottery.

We are citizens of the world

When people ask where we are from, we answer that we are citizens of the world. Mankind is one and we are all leaves of one tree and flowers of one garden.  Only when we all buy into that way of thinking will we attain world peace. Socrates, the Greek philosopher who lived from 469 to 399 BC, said “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” He had the wisdom more than 2000 years ago to state that the only way to live harmoniously with your fellow humans is to consider yourself a citizen, not of your country, but of the world. We are living in the age of a global village but we haven’t yet learned how to behave sensibly in the global village.

Education of the mind, body and spirit

We believe that to be a whole person we need to educate the mind, body and spirit. We keep fit by our daily walks, playing tennis, and swimming. We keep our minds active with bridge and games. Much of our time is spent on our spiritual development. We believe our small efforts, combined with that of others, will create an energy that is larger than we can imagine and will help to create peace on Earth.

CHRISTINE

My training

I was trained by a folk potter on the Greek island of Siphnos and earned my B.A. in Ceramics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Since 1981 I have been creating and teaching pottery in my studio in the Greek countryside.  I am Head of the Ceramics Department at the American Farm School in Thessaloniki.

My work

My work has gone through a number of phases; currently I am very interested in hand burnished pit fired pots and Byzantine motifs. During my formative years my parents took me to almost every museum in Greece and my work is inspired by the pottery I saw. My pottery studio is on the ground floor of our house.

Hand burnished pit fired pots

These wheel thrown hand-burnished pots are inspired by centuries old pottery found in many of Greece’s museums.  Each piece has its own special shape, but follows the definition of form and style created by potters from Ancient Greece. Each pot is fired to 1060ºC and then pit fired in an outdoor sawdust kiln, where the results are unique and unpredictable, then polished with a special wax and enhanced with gold leaf.

Byzantine motifs

Bowls in various sizes and shapes are created using the age old technique of scraffito, etching through colored slip to create a design inspired by pieces found in the Byzantine museum of Thessaloniki.

Special assignments

I undertake special assignments. Mount Athos had an exhibition in Vienna, Austria in 2007 and I was asked to make pieces to their design. In February 2004 I conducted a special seminar – Conflict Resolution with Clay – for Palestinian and Israeli Youth. One of my specialities is making one-off, personalized pieces as a wedding present, retirement gift, etc.

Exhibitions

For many years my students and I have participated in exhibitions, both local and national, such as the Anetopoulos Pottery Museum, Volos; the Pan Hellenic Exhibit in Maroussi; the Pan Hellenic Ceramics Festival, Thessaloniki; and the Cultural Center, Pylea, Thessaloniki. It was hand burnished pit fired pots with Byzantine motifs that were the subject of a recent exhibition sponsored by the Thessaloniki Curator of Byzantine Monuments. My dream has always been to exhibit my work in New York and this dream came true in November 2010 when my work was on display at the New York Design Center on Lexington Avenue.

The local rehabilitation clinic

Since 2006 I have been conducting art therapy classes at the local rehabilitation clinic, Anayennisi, where accident and stroke victims have the opportunity of working with clay.

Teenagers with special needs

We work closely with Enthynami, whose focus is on mainstreaming teenagers with special needs.

School children

Each year we have school children visit us for about three hours. They are introduced to all aspects of pottery making from the wheel to the kiln; Various designs and different clays; Pottery making in Ancient Greece through Byzantine times; Hands on work on the wheel and with clay; An art that has deep roots in Greek culture and history; A project that is relevant to what is being taught in the classroom, such as a particular period of Greek culture or history; Our organic farm and the many herbs, flowers and trees we have growing here; Creating their own notebook with the leaves and names of our plants

 

Pottery camp

Another facet of my life that I love is the pottery camp for kids at the beginning of the summer break. It is a one-week or two-week, in-depth extension of the day visits for children, with the opportunity for participants to learn the potter’s skills and create their own pieces. Children collect eggs from the chickens, harvest fruit and vegetables from David’s garden, plant seeds and make cuttings. They bake bread and learn some of the basic skills of cooking.  They are exposed to the richness and benefits of living the rural life within easy reach of the city.

 

Workshops

Several times a year we host all-day workshops in kiln building, throwing a large Cretan urn, building and firing paper kilns, and pit-firing burnished clay with chicken manure and wood shavings.

DAVID

On leaving university

After training to be a civil engineer in 1961, I volunteered my services for two and a half years in Epirus, a part of Greece where electricity and roads had not yet reached remote areas. Many was the time when we had to abandon our four-wheel drive Land Rover and walk to a village where many of the families we were helping had mud floors. I worked closely with the district engineer on village improvement projects, paying the villagers with surplus food provided by the government of the United States through Church World Service.

 

My career

Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, needing an engineer to supervise projects funded by the United States government through their Schools and Hospitals Abroad Program, employed me from February 1964. Six months later, when the new president of the College arrived, I was invited to try my hand as business manger, a position I held until 1971. I then moved back to England, taught at Dulwich College Preparatory School in London from 1971-73 and was Administrator of The American School in London from 1973-78. In 1978, Bruce Lansdale, the Director of the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, invited me back to Greece where I worked until my retirement in 2004. 

Education and agriculture

My years as business manager in schools convinced me that education is the most important building block of a successful society. The best way to help a poor country is to assist their educational system so people retain their pride in building a prosperous society themselves. As Acting Farm Manager of the American Farm School, I realized that if a country cannot feed itself on good nutritious food it is lost. It is a tragedy that the U.S. Surgeon General said that of the 2.2 million deaths in America each year, 1.8 million are diet related. I was involved with environmental projects, and started a worm project for turning the School’s manure into black gold. I learned that the heating and cooling of Zurich airport in Switzerland is by geothermal energy and see this as a major under-utilized alternative to fossil fuels.

 

My cancer

Six months after retirement in 2004 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The following year six good friends of the family died from cancer. The next year, my 40 year-old daughter from my first marriage was obliged to have an emergency mastectomy because of botched tests during her annual check up. This was my wake-up call. I now have completely different priorities in my life, have adopted a new world view and my value system has changed completely. I am conducting my own self-directed Life Long Learning program and now have a burning desire to share insights gained with others, especially young people. I believe that youth can move the world and do a far better job than the older generation of creating the kind of world we all want.

Gardening

After my cancer I selected gardening as my occupation because it is low stress, close to nature, and provides the opportunity to provide wholesome, nutritious food for the family, guests, and friends. Gardening is my prayer, my meditation and my physical exercise.

Healthy food comes from healthy soil

Healthy food comes from healthy soil. The primary factor in health is nutrition and the nutritive value of food is vitally affected by the way in which it is grown and processed. Producing the best food possible is an essential part of our living the slow philosophy and enjoying a healthy life.

Abraham Lincoln

It was Abraham Lincoln who said “The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” As our society experiences increasingly troubled times, I believe that people in both rich and poor countries will see the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln’s foresight.

Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy has become our foundation stone

Adopting Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy fitted well with my decision to take up gardening following my cancer. My job is to reduce our expenses by providing as much of our food as possible. Christine’s job is to earn enough income so that we can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. We love our lifestyle and I give thanks every day that what is considered a bad thing – my cancer – has actually resulted in my discovering a much richer side to life than just making money.

Learning from the ancient Greeks

I am posting reviews of books on the ancient Greeks on our website. Edith Hamilton, in The Greek Way to Western Civilization, states: “Five hundred years before Christ, in a little town on the far western border of the settled and civilized world, a strange new power was at work. There a light was lit that can never go out, that has indeed never been matched in the centuries since. Athens had entered upon her brief and magnificent flowering of genius which so molded the world of mind and spirit that our mind and spirit today are different. In that black and fierce world a little center of white-hot spiritual energy was at work. A new civilization had arisen in Athens, unlike all that had gone before. It is worth our while in the confusions and bewilderments of the present to consider the way by which the Greeks arrived at the clarity of their thought and the affirmation of their art.”

Monday, March 14, 2011 @ 06:03 AM
posted by admin

AMERICAN FARM SCHOOL

BRUCE LANSDALE MEMORIAL

PART I

THE INSTITUTION MADE THE MAN AND THE MAN RE-MADE THE INSTITUTION

 

Introduction

Two years ago, on February 2, 2009, Bruce Lansdale, Director of the American Farm School from 1955 to 1990, died. We honoured him on Psycho Sabbato – the day when Greece remembers those who have passed – at the American Farm School when many gathered for a special service at the school’s Greek Orthodox Church and to plant a memorial tree for their loved ones.

February 11 was Bruce’s birthday and this was the reading in Daily Word to be found at www.unity.org:

HARMONY

I am filled with the love of God and live in harmony with all humankind.

When I am in harmony with myself, I am attuned to the spirit of God. I am aware of my connection to higher consciousness, and I face challenges with a positive attitude. To maintain this inner harmony, I practice prayer and keep a conscious connection to Source. Maintaining my own internal harmony allows me to reach out to others with kindness and understanding. I develop compassion and create connections with those around me.

With my intention set on peace and harmony, I honor differences and share love with all. I am filled with the love of God and live in harmony with all humankind.

 

Make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

Philippians 2:2

Bruce’s father was Director of the YMCA in Greece during the 1930s and built the YMCA building opposite the international fairground in Thessaloniki. Bruce grew up in a family endowed with a higher consciousness.

When Bruce decided to make the American Farm School his life’s work he had a five-year overlap with the outgoing Director, Charlie House. This was necessary because the American Farm School was founded by a Missionary and the institute itself was endowed with a higher consciousness. It was only after Bruce had become thoroughly attuned to the spirit of God working through the American Farm School and only when he could maintain inner harmony through the challenges that lay ahead and only when he could live in harmony with all humankind that he could be entrusted with the directorship of the school. He was then ready to remake the American Farm School to fit the post-war era.

How the American Farm School was founded

John Henry House, the founder, wrote circa 1925:

“In  1872 I went to Ski Zaghra in European Turkey expecting to give my life to evangelistic work, but in 1874 by a vote of the mission we were transferred to the Theological School in Samokov. I accepted this decision as the will of God for me, although it was contrary to my desire.

As the Theological School grew the preparatory school developed, and the institution became what might now be called a Junior High School, with a theological course attached to it.

In studying the situation I found we were taking village boys who were learning to despise the village life they had left. Our mode of education was wrong if we could not convince our boys that it was not degrading for an educated man to work with his hands. We must teach our boys to use their hands, as well as books.

Our school was in a city so agriculture seemed out of the question. I chose printing and carpentry, printing because we had been presented with a small printing press, and carpentry, as a trade that would always be of use.

As many of our students were poor boys, and supported by benevolent friends it was decided that all the students should be allowed to work to reduce their school tax, but that the stipendiants should be required to work two hours a day.

This plan proved a great success and before long I had the pleasure of seeing a boy in the graduating class rolling a wheelbarrow through the street in his shirt-sleeves.

As the department grew, we were able to add first water power, and later a motor to run a larger printing press and the machinery in the carpenter shop.

Long after I had left the school for other departments of the mission’s work, the printing department was transferred to the School, and the wood workers were able to make furniture for the Queen of Bulgaria.

The story of this work in Samokov is mentioned here, because it was the first step on the way to what I considered my ideal of missionary education. The School of which I had dreamed was to be realized later.

In 1894 I was sent by the Mission to Macedonia, and the center of our work was the historical city of Salonica, the Thessalonica of the Bible.

In the closing years of the century there came the pressing need of a Boys’ School for our Evangelical communities in the large province where we were working, and my associates, Rev. E. B. Haskell and Rev. T.T. Holway, joined whole-heartedly in the plan to found a school that should be built on a farm, and where we could gather boys still in the plastic age, that is from twelve to fifteen years old. The boys were to study from books for half a day, and had work lessons the other half.

During the working hours they were to be occupied with farming, gardening and all the affiliated industries of a model village and these were to be coordinated with their studies as far as possible, so that they might have a realistic rather than an artificial education.

As our Mission Board felt unable to support such a school, we succeeded in organizing a separate Board of Directors to stand back of the Institution, which was incorporated under the laws of the state of New York, as the Thessalonica Agricultural and Industrial Institute. The course of study for five years would carry out the idea of a junior High School, but practically it was far more than this because of the sturdy responsible character developed, through the education of the heart, the head, and the hands.

Of necessity this became a work of faith. It was necessary for us to borrow the money to buy the first 52 acres of land. This was in 1902, but the Institute was not incorporated until 1904. By that time our debt had been cancelled, and the school started with twelve orphan boys.

Our faith in our Great Master has been wonderfully honoured as the story of the many providences that have followed each other all the way along in our history has proved.

We were obliged to begin in the humblest way with an Abrahamic plow, a yoke of oxen, and a village farmer. There was also a young man for a teacher, as I was carrying on my regular missionary duties, and could only go out two or three times a week to oversee the work.

The boys lived in one room sleeping on the floor, and rolling up their bedding in the morning so that the room could be used as a school room, as well as a dining room, when the weather did not permit of dining on the porch.

The land we had purchased was a desert-looking waste with no water upon it and a doubtful possibility of finding any. A school like this in a land where work with the hands was considered degrading by the educated, might well have been considered a desperate experiment even under the most favourable conditions, when there was well-watered and fertile land, with a kindly climate, but under the desert conditions in which we were placed, some of our friends felt sure we were doomed to failure. But we were working with faith in a great Master who had said, “All things are possible to him that believeth.” It was indeed a small beginning but it was a work of faith and love.

A little over twenty three years have passed, and that barren spot is now a beautiful village, with orchards and vineyards, vegetable and flower gardens, and grainfields, barns, workshops, electric and water plant, with pure blooded cattle, pigs and fowl.

There are dormitories, residences with equipped infirmary, a fine hall with library, natural history museum, and laboratory.

The farm is equipped with reaper and binder tractors, seeder, and other necessary machines. So it is that all these nearly ninety students and a fine staff of teachers, supervisors, and other workers form a model village, an education in itself for all the country around.

The plant is worth more than $117,000 and there is a small endowment.

The Institute has an enviable reputation in Greece, with graduates and pupils who have gone out to prove the value of this kind of education, while new and important opportunities are developing all about us. The arrival of over a million refugees in Greece and Macedonia, many of them settled about us, has opened up new avenues of service.

President Bayard Dodge of Beirut University writing of our Institute says, “Few people in America can realize what tremendous movements are shaking the timeworn traditions of the Near East. The great hope for these people is agriculture so that the School just happens to find itself in the midst of an overwhelming evolution in which it has a tremendous part to play.”

We believe that we could not have found a better way than this Institution for building a sturdy Christian character, with high ideals for service.”

 

The American Farm School Creed

I believe

in a permanent agriculture, a soil that grows richer, rather than poorer from year to year.

I believe

in living not for self but for others so that future generations may not suffer on account of my farming methods.

I believe

that tillers of the soil are stewards of the land and will be held accountable for the faithful performance of their trust.

I am proud

to be a farmer and will try to be worthy of the name.

John Henry House (circa 1910)

Bruce Lansdale’s decision to work at the American Farm School

It was after the Second World War that Bruce decided to make the Farm School his life’s work. He describes his decision in these words: “I returned to the United States for schooling, and after completing an engineering degree at the University of Rochester, was assigned as an interpreter for the Allied Mission for Observing the Greek Elections. I found myself in a country torn apart by all the conflicts between “East” and “West”, recovering from the devastation of World War II, the German Occupation, and Greece’s civil war that followed. Alone at the Menelon Hotel in the market town of Tripolis in the central Peloponnesos, I received a telegram from my parents on 11 February 1946. ‘Congratulations on 21st birthday and for making Phi Beta Kappa.’ I lay in bed and wondered where, as an engineer who enjoyed working with people, I could invest the rest of my life. A strong inspiration came to me, ‘Go to the American Farm School.’ A few days later I flew up to Thessaloniki in a British Army two-seater airplane to share my vision with the director and his wife, Charlie and Ann House. It was there that all the nostalgia of my childhood flooded back, confirming my decision. The school that had so intrigued me as a boy held many challenges for me as a committed young man. I was eager to train Greek village youth.”

Bruce Lansdale re-made the American Farm School for the post-war era

This is the address by the President of the Republic Mr. Constantine Tsatsos on the occasion of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the American Farm School, in Thessalonika on October 27, 1979.

“I did not intend to speak, but this visit is a challenge, and I must speak.

All things come from God, and all lead back to God. And the road which we cover from beginning to end is a road of mission.

This work here is the work of a missionary soul, who started out from America and came to this land, then under Turkish rule, to do good works. Seventy-five years have passed since then, and today we marvel at the harvest of that sowing. First of all, I want to express my gratitude to the founder, to his successors, and to today’s President and Director of the School. The work which is done here with the help of the American state is an educational work of great importance like other American initiatives in the development of cultural relations between the two peoples, as is Athens College in Psychiko, as is Pierce College, and many other manifestations. The Greek people do not forget, and even when they are embittered, they do not forget how many enterprises have come about in this country with the help of American initiative. The possibilities in the educational field are still very great. We await them, we want them. Cultural relations are something beyond time – temporary problems do not disturb them.

I have been speaking of those on the American side who helped to accomplish this work, and I want also to thank the Greeks who have cooperated with them for its fulfilment. But now I will address my words to the young people of the School.

I took the podium to express these thanks, but above all, I wanted to speak to you, my children. I am going to say something that may impress you. Not only am I happy  with you, but I am ashamed in your presence. Because I am one of those of whom Bruce Lansdale spoke: “I have a big head, and I do not have calloused hands.” I wish I did have calloused hands, and I wish I had the honor, the high honor, of being able each evening to eat my bread with calloused hands, smelling of the soil, the Greek soil. This honor has not been given me. I was born in a city. I studied. I pursued learning. But this beautiful nature that God has given us, I view it with longing from afar. I may have some scholarly qualifications, such as they are, but I do not know this joy of immediate contact with primitive creation, this creation which the earth gives us – the animals, the plants, the flowers, the trees.

Bruce said these things, and I am going to say them again. We used to think that the most important thing for the peasant, should we earn a few pennies, was to make his child into a lawyer or a doctor; he would have been ashamed to be a farmer. I am here to say that this philosophy of an evil hour has passed. Today the proletariat are those who have many diplomas, and the top people are those who work the land. That is why I said earlier that I am ashamed in your presence. I would have wished to be one of you. And if, with the mind I have today, I had the choice whether to be President of the Hellenic Republic or a peasant in a village on the Macedonian frontier, I would choose the second. I want to emphasize that nothing is more important than this contact with the soil. The soil on which we are standing, the soil for which we fought wars, the soil which we work in times of peace, the soil which will some day be our grave.

Surely for this hands are needed, but, lest I offend my dear Bruce, brain is also needed. At one time the cultivation of the earth was the work of the hands only – now it is a collaboration of hand and brain. You are not, as you were once called, manual laborers. You are the intellectuals of agriculture. And this is fundamental. The aim of this school is to give you the hands and the brain to work the land as it should be worked. Cultivation of the land which was once practical has now become scientific.

I have known of cases in which we have made this farmer, this manual worker, into a scientist. Let me tell you of one such incident. Among my many American friends who have come to Greece was a missionary named Packard. He had come in 1959-61 (at that time I was Under-secretary of Coordination). He tried to start the cultivation of rice in Greece. He went to the farmers and told them how it should be done. He met resistance, and then somewhere in Sperchiada, if my memory does not mislead me, he himself personally undertook the cultivation of rice. He took an area and planted rice in a sub-saline soil. Our peasants round about made fun of him. They followed his efforts ironically, saying “Nothing will come of that.” But when the rice began to come up, when he had his first harvest, and the rice went to market, the shrewd eye of the Greek farmer lighted up, and he began to say, “Something good is happening here.” And today, as you know, we have an economic sufficiency of rice throughout Greece. What this American did then you here at the School are learning to do for your village and your home. And that is why I have said to you that the period when you were manual laborers is gone – gone is the period of big hands and small heads. Now are needed both big hands and plenty of brain.

Today we have made for you a Lyceum. You have entered into the area of scientific education. It is a useful thing, I respect it and esteem it and laud it, but I want something more. I want what Bruce has spoken of, and spoken so well. It annoys me a little that I shall not say it so well as he did.

Into this project which ties you to the Greek earth, to your Greek fatherland, to your roots, I want you to put not only your mind which I ask for, not only your hands which Bruce wants – I want you to put into it also your soul. Why have we got ourselves killed for our freedom? Why do we say “NO” to anyone who dares lay claim to a Greek stone or a drop of Greek water? It is because we love this earth, and love is not just theory and thought. It is action, and the action for you is the increase of this earth by cultivation. From now on you will be like the Junkers in Northern Germany in olden times, who from generation to generation for a thousand years carried on the work of the farmer, and thus became feudal lords, the great aristocrats of the world.

From father to son, stay with the land, do not be afraid of it. Love this land and in your villages teach all those who are looking toward the cities and the diplomas making them proletariats of law and medicine that the land is the holy step in Greece.

If you do this you will have done more than any other Greek. I wish you good luck.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 @ 05:11 AM
posted by admin

PICKING OLIVES AT LAKKIA

On 19 and 20 November we had students from Anatolia College help us pick olives. At the end of the day everyone made their own bottles of oil flavored with rosemary and garlic. On the Saturday students were from ACT – the American College of Thessaloniki – many of whom were on the college semester/year abroad program. Others had chosen to study at ACT because the cost of getting an excellent American education was much lower than studying in the United States.
On the Sunday students were from the IB program (International Baccalaureate) as part of CAS – Creativity, Action, Service. The bottles of olive oil they created were for sale at the Anatolia bazaar, with the proceeds going to charity.
Students were provided with a copy of this talk by David.

Introduction
Thank you for coming to our organic farm to help us pick olives. During your visit you will learn about the Mediterranean diet and the important role that olives and olive oil plays. You will see first hand why we believe so strongly in the slow food philosophy. You will join us for a fresh, nutritious salad lunch harvested from our garden during which we can discuss how diet and lifestyle affect your health, productivity, effectiveness and happiness. The information below is taken from books reviewed on our website www.slowlivinggreece.com under the blog section should you wish to conduct your own research. As you read these notes, please bear in mind the following two statements.

Of the 2.2 million deaths in America each year, 1.8 million are diet related
Sally Beare’s 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People states that: “Scientists agree that we could be living to around 120 years if we achieved our maximum potential life spans, having more energy whatever age we are. It is never too late too start. Even those who are tired, ill, and getting on in years can become biologically younger, reverse the damage, keep disease away, and add years, if not decades, to their lives.” “Ancient wisdom, thousands of authoritative studies, and recent groundbreaking research all indicate that the answer lies, above all, in what we eat. The U.S. surgeon general recently said that of the 2.2 million deaths in America each year, 1.8 million are diet related.”

People today should be the most vigorous and competent the world has known
In B17 Metabolic Therapy in the Prevention and Control of Cancer Philip Day quotes Sir Robert McCarrison, Chairman of the Post-Graduate Medical Education Committee at Oxford University: “I know of nothing so potent in producing ill-health as improperly constituted food. It may therefore be taken as a law of life, infringement of which shall surely bring its own penalties, that the single greatest factor in the acquisition of health is perfectly constituted food. Given the will, we have the power to build in every nation a people more fit, more vigorous and competent; a people with longer and more productive lives, and with more physical and mental stamina than the world has ever known.”

The information below is taken from Olive Oil: Way of Long Life by Mediterraneo Editions
Olive oil is one of the ten most beneficial foods
A study carried out in Crete, the US, Japan, Italy, Dalmatia, Corfu and Holland showed that in Mediterranean areas there is a lower death rate from coronary disease – 38 per 100,000 in Crete; 462 per 100,000 in Italy and 773 per 100,000 in the US – and cases of cancer are much fewer – 17 per 100,000 in Crete; 622 per 100,000 in Italy and 384 per100,000 in the US. The difference was put down to dietary habits based mainly on the greater consumption of olive oil, vegetables, fruit, pulses and cereals. The Mediterranean diet has become a model for good nutrition.

The constituents of olive oil
The Mediterranean diet differs from the diet of the other countries in the study in that it includes a greater consumption of olive oil. Consequently the secret must lie in the constituents of olive oil and mainly in the oleic acid which is a monosaturated fatty acid reaching a proportion of 83%. Apart from the fatty substances, which also include linoleic and linolenic acid, olive oil contains vitamin E (3-30mg), minerals, etc. which as anti-oxidants help to protect cells from harm and consequently protect them from various diseases including cancer.

Lower rates of cancer
Women who consume olive oil reduce to 25% the chances of contracting breast or ovarian cancer. This explains the lower rate of cases in the Mediterranean in comparison to countries producing less oil. The same applies to cancer of the stomach, prostate and large intestine, which are all linked to dietary habits.

Lower rates of heart disease
Apart from cancer, olive oil helps to prevent heart disease. This explains yet again why the Mediterranean peoples who combine the consumption of oil with other dietary habits including dairy products, fruit, vegetables and pulses, have managed to protect themselves from heart disease to a greater extent than other nations.

Antioxidants help to prevent cancer
Olive oil is of particular benefit to the gastrointestinal tract as it is easily absorbed while at the same time it reduces gastric juices and the creation of satiety. The anti-oxidant substances and in particular vitamins C and E prevent stomach cancer.

Ulcers
Olive oil has been proved to be of benefit to people suffering from ulcers not only as it eases the pain but also as it often helps the ulcer to heal. Due to the vitamin A, olive oil helps to protect the skin, not only from solar radiation but also from other skin conditions.

Essential during childhood
Olive oil also makes a positive contribution to the normal development and protection of the central nervous system, the brain and the skeleton, and consequently its consumption is considered essential mainly during childhood and the later years, so as to ensure not only correct physical development, but also a healthy old age.

The Cretan diet
The tried and tested Cretan diet constitutes the basis of longevity. To quote Professor Serge Renaud “After 15 years of study, it has been shown that Crete has the lowest mortality rate…” and dietician Ancel Keys was impressed by the liberal, even excessive, consumption of olive oil in Crete. Consumption of olive oil in Greece amounts to 20 kilos per person per year.

Crete has the lowest mortality rate
Crete has the lowest mortality rate not only of the 7 countries in the study but world-wide; the secret of the Cretan’s longevity lies in their diet which has remained stable and unchanged since ancient times. It is based on the consumption of olive oil, pulses, fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish, and wine and to a less extent on meat.

Mortality rate from the “Seven Country Study”
(per 100,000 inhabitants) Serge Renaud: The Mediterranean Diet)
Country Coronary Cancer Mortality
Disease
Finland 972 613 2169
US 773 384 1575
Netherlands 636 781 11825
Italy 462 622 1874
Yugoslavia 242 394 1712
Corfu 202 338 1317
Japan 136 623 1766
Crete 38 17 855

The information below is taken from Olive Oil: The Secret of Good Health by Nikos and Maria Psilakis
Olive Oil and Its History
Greeks have based their diet on olive products for thousands of years, with olive oil used as the fat content in food. The development of a civilization can be seen through the people’s diet. Wheat, wine and olive oil are the main products of Greece. Excavations in Crete have uncovered olives aged 3500 years, but the olives looked fresh since they had retained their skins. People of that time not only cultivated olive trees but also scented their oil with herbs. In Crete a grave oath obliges every young man to plant at least one olive tree and to look after it until it has fully grown.

Olive oil ensured survival
Roman ships transported large quantities of olive oil to areas where the olive tree was not cultivated. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 A.D., the olive became the symbol of survival for the inhabitants of many agricultural areas. Living under extremely difficult conditions, these people found a relatively easy product which could be put to many uses and so ensured their survival.

During the Turkish occupation
During the Turkish occupation the olive trade was the cause of dynamic economic development in many areas. In the 18th century olive oil was exported to Marseilles, an important center for soap production.

Olive Oil as Food
Olive oil in Greece takes the place butter has in the English diet. Olive oil was essential in cooking cereal crops, vegetables and pulses, as it still is in traditional Greek cuisine. The amounts of uncooked oil that were consumed were not small. Many sweets in ancient times and even today’s traditional ones rely on olive oil.

Olive oil in the Cretan diet
Olives and olive oil play an important role in the Cretan diet. A foreign visitor has the impression that Cretan food literally floats in olive oil. The Cretan diet is believed to be the best example of a Mediterranean diet; Cretans have the lowest rate of heart diseases and cancer. The Cretans’ good health is thought to be due to their diet. The largest role in the Cretan diet is played by olive oil.

Cretan olive oil consumption
Shortly after the revolution of 1821, Robert Pashley calculated that each Cretan family consumed 350 litres of olive oil a year. Towards the end of the 1950s Anzel Keys organized a study of 7 countries and found that the Cretans, whose food floated in olive oil, had the best health in the world. Cancerous diseases were rare and cardiovascular diseases were almost unknown. A few years earlier a survey conducted by the Rockefeller Foundation observed, ‘Olives and olive oil make up a large part in the Cretan diet. A foreign visitor has the impression that Cretan food floats in oil. This product is unsparingly used in cooking. It is essential for salads, soups and vegetables’ and ‘The consumption of fat but, most importantly of all, olive oil is great. This level of olive oil consumption is characteristic of the Cretan diet, in fact, much greater than anywhere else in Greece.’ Studies by Eurostat showed consumption of olive oil at 31 liters per person annually on Crete, 25 in other Mediterranean countries and 185 grams per person per year in Germany.

The Olive and its Oil as a Medicine
Aelianus (3rd century AD) claimed ‘When an elephant is injured by many arrow heads, it eats olive tree flowers or oil and then whatever has hurt it can be removed. It is at once again strong.’ Olive oil was believed to be a cure for all wounds and this knowledge continued in popular medicine for many centuries. Doctors in ancient times and in the Byzantine world mention an array of prescriptions which use olive oil as a basic ingredient. In general we could say that there were hardly any illnesses that could not be cured with olive oil.

Storage of Olive Oil
Olive oil is sensitive to light oxidation and should be stored in glass bottles, dark in colour. If the bottle is transparent it should be kept in a dark place, the ideal temperature being 10-15° Celcius. Olive oil should not come into contact with metal, especially copper and iron as these metals speed up the process of acidic deterioration. Storage is allowed only in non-oxidising metal containers.

Cultivating the olive tree
Cultivating methods do not use a lot of fertilizers. The main chemical treatment is spraying olive trees to combat the olive tree’s worst enemy, dacus oleae. Many naturally cultivating olive producers have appeared in Greece and have been recognized internationally, providing an oil rich in organic characteristics.

Olive oil is easily digested
Olive oil is easily digested; only breast milk can be absorbed more easily by the human body. The make up of fat in breast milk is similar to that in olive oil. Olive oil should be used instead of any other fat on the market. It is the only one produced in a natural way and keeps its characteristics in tact.

Olive oil, the secret of good health
Research shows the great value of olive oil as a perfect food for man. Consumption of olive oil instead of other fats or oils, reduces the concentration of LDL cholesterol in the blood without decreasing the levels of HDL, the so-called ‘bad’ and ‘good’ cholesterol respectively. Olive oil reduces the level of triglycerides in the blood. A collection of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood can block the arteries which transport oxygen to the brain and heart. In general, olive oil protects against heart diseases. Olive oil reduces blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, thus decreasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Cancer
Recent studies have shown that olive oil consumption can slow down breast cancer and other types of cancer. A balanced diet with olive oil and vegetables can reduce the appearance of cancer by 75%. Olive oil in conjunction with a healthy diet (vegetables, little meat etc) protects against cancer of the stomach, makes the liver work better, and helps the liver to detoxify poisonous substances.

Osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes
Olive oil assists in the maintenance of bone density and protects against osteoporosis; Olive oil consumption reduces the chances of the appearance of rheumatoid arthritis by 75%, especially with a balanced diet and the consumption of more fish. Olive oil should be included in the treatment of diabetes.

Olive Oil in Frying
Recent studies have shown that olive oil is the most suitable oil for frying because it remains stable due to its antioxidization agents, even at high temperatures. Animal fats do not have anti-oxidative agents, so as a result, they are oxidized very quickly, with all the harmful effects to health of those who consume them. Seed oils spoil at a temperature of 170-180 Celsius, while olive oil – extra virgin olive oil – can stand temperatures over 200 Celsius, and possibly 230-250 Celsius. Recent studies have refuted one more myth – that fried food absorbs too much oil, becomes fattening and bad for health. Foods fried in olive oil absorb less fat in comparison to those fried in seed oils. Olive oil can be used several times for frying, so long as we fry similar things, otherwise the quality of the taste will be affected.

The information below is taken from Mediterranean Diet in Practice by Manos Kazamias.
A model diet
Now that science has proven that the return to a traditional way of nourishment in Mediterranean countries has had a direct impact on the improved level of people’s health, and assures the high quality of life everyone desires, an international re-education has begun into what is considered a model diet. Documented studies have proven why and how this diet must become the backbone for human nutritional habits all over the world.

Bread, olive oil and wine used by man for over 3,000 years
Centuries before Christ, in the areas surrounding the Mediterranean, wheat, olives and vineyards were cultivated, providing bread, olive oil and wine, the three most significant factors of Mediterranean Diet even today. Olive oil is the only oil which has been used by man for over 3,000 years and, according to all research, the protection of the good health of Mediterranean peoples is due to its consumption.

The basis for a Mediterranean Diet
The quality of calories we take in – and not only their quantity – is very important for our development and our high standard of living. Some foods have more nutrients than others, but it is their combination and proportion that makes a difference. All food groups must exist in such a proportion so as not to create nutrient deficiencies. The Mediterranean Nutritional Pyramid classifies the food groups which make up our daily diet. More and more governments give their residents directions based on this pyramid, as its relation to the population’s health has been proven.

Sugars and fats
The fewer foods we consume from this group, the healthier our diet becomes. It’s a good idea to consume them rarely.

Dairy products
Skimmed milk up to 1.5% fat, yoghurt with 1-2% fat as well as cheeses with a 7-8% fat content are very good choices among dairy products for inclusion in our daily diet, necessary in small quantities for the intake of calcium and vitamins, and consequently for the good of bone and teeth. Enjoy them in small quantities emphasizing half-skimmed milk and yoghurt as well as traditional cheeses low in fat, such as fresh unsalted myzithra cheese or katiki.

Meat-fish
It’s very good for you to eat fish twice a week and mostly rich oily fish like sardines. For the rest of the foods in this category, it’s good to select the leanest ones like skinless poultry or lean pork fillet or suckling veal in small quantities and of course legumes which are a very important part of Mediterranean Diet. Small daily quantities from this group with emphasis on fish and seafood and less on poultry, eggs and red meat will provide us with the necessary amino acids, while legumes as a source of plant protein are an excellent choice for at least twice a week.

Fruit and vegetables
The goal is to eat at least five equivalent fruit and vegetables a day. The best choices are fresh season fruit and vegetables, while smaller amounts of freshly squeezed juices and dry fruit may be calculated into daily equivalents. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Mainly green leafy vegetables and fruit which are consumed unpeeled are especially beneficial to our good health.

Cereals
Cereals are the basis for the Mediterranean Dietary pyramid. It’s good for them to make up to 60% of our daily calories, especially in their unrefined form which is rich in fibre, vitamins and trace elements. It is good for you to eat carbohydrates in large amounts. Included here are legumes, wholemeal bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, cereals, wheat.

The information below is taken from Olive and Olive Oil: Mediterranean Diet 100 Greek and Cypriot Recipes by Katerina Tsouchtidi:
A perfect balance
Olive oil is wonderfully nutritious, forming the basis for the renowned Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet is a combination of foods that are perfectly balanced, guaranteeing long life, health and a positive psychological outlook.

The elixir of life and longevity
Evidence from Greece today demonstrates the true blessing of olive oil for the prevention of illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, breast and prostate cancer. Olive oil makes a great contribution to a long life. The olive oil of Greece is a natural juice and is one of the twelve most beneficial foodstuffs.

Fatty acids
All types of oil, plant and animal, contain different kinds of fatty acids. These are divided into saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Olive oil contains only monounsaturated fatty acids as well as oleic acid, a major component of olive oil with a content of up to 80%. It gives health and long life and is superior to any other type of oil. It is an irreplaceable food.

The 1947 study
In 1947 a group of scientists visited Crete. To their surprise, despite the fact that the region was devastated after the war, the health of the residents was significantly better than that of Britons or Americans. The Cretans had an average of fewer deaths from cardiovascular diseases and cancer and they lived longer.

The Seven Countries Study
Extensive scientific research was first carried out in the 1950s in seven countries (Finland, the United States, Holland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Japan and Greece) to determine which countries had less deaths from cancer and heart disease, and which factors could help prevent such diseases. One thousand people aged between 40 and 59 from each country participated in the study. Over a period of 15 years, the researchers’ attention was draw to one region of the Mediterranean, to Crete.

Lower rates of deaths from cancer and heart disease on Crete,
Not simply were there lower rates of deaths from cancer and heart disease on Crete, but life expectancy was also much higher. By country the death rate from heart disease was: Finland = 97.2%; Holland = 63.6%; Italy = 46.2%; Yugoslavia 34%; Greece = 20.2%; Crete = 3.8%. In the United States the death rate from heart disease had already reached 77.3%.

No deaths in Crete from cancer
Moreover, there were no deaths in Crete from cancer or other serious illnesses. The researches initially tried to explain the phenomenon in terms of the climate or the way of life of the residents of Crete. They soon came to the conclusion, however, that the long life of the Cretans was due to the significant quantity of olive oil that they consumed in comparison with other peoples, as well as the fruit and vegetables.

Cretans age well because they eat well
The conclusions were that the Cretans age well because they eat well. Recent reliable studies have also shown that among the peoples of the Mediterranean the Greeks have the most balanced diet. With basic ingredients of olive oil, fruit, vegetables, cereals, wine, fish, honey, and the wonderful herbs – produced with a high nutritious value – the Greek diet is a model for a healthy way of life, absolutely suited to the modern lifestyle.

Good and bad cholesterol
It has been proved that olive oil reduces the level of low-density lipoproteins, i.e. ‘bad’ cholesterol, and increases the level of high-density fatty proteins, i.e. ‘good’ cholesterol. This reduces the deposition of fats on the walls of the arteries, reducing clotting of blood vessels and the heart. More than any other natural produce, olive oil reduces cholesterol and so provides the heart with a wonderful protective shield.

Olive oil and cancer
The therapeutic qualities against cancer (especially breast cancer) that the regular consumption of olive oil provides are well known. Harvard Professor D. Trichopoulos calculates that the daily use of olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer by around 25%. It is not by chance that among the women of Crete and Mani, where olive oil is consumed in great quantities, breast cancer and ovarian cancer are rare.

Olive oil and aging
The antioxidant substances contained in olive oil help us to age well. Chlorophyll contributes to cell growth and reinforces blood metabolism and strength. It plays a leading role in the development of the central nervous system.

The information below is taken from Olive Oil: Eat Better, Live Longer by Myrsini Lambraki:
Crete, the most important landmark in the history of the olive tree
There is little doubt that the small and lithe Minoans were the ones to take over the culture of the olive tree from other eastern Mediterranean peoples. It is here, where the climate is mild and the land fertile, where one of the most important civilizations in the world was developing, that the olive tree found its ideal home. Here it blossomed, giving its oil in plenty, revered and honoured as no other tree.

Climate, soil and men: the perfect balance
Fertile plains and high mountains are the two most striking elements in the Cretan landscape. Along the mountain chains, thousands of olive trees grow on rather poor soil; the olive tree is not demanding and willingly brings forth its fruit on all soils. Cretans love their olive trees as if they were members of the family. As in ancient times, the olive tree forms part of their lives, playing an important role not just in their diet, but in their civilization and in their art.

Robert Pashley
When Robert Pashley, an English traveler came to Crete in the first half of the 19th century, he was astonished at the consumption of olive oil: “I am told here, as in every other place where I have made enquiries, respecting the consumption of oil by each Cretan family, that it may be estimated at 4 okes (a little over 5 kilograms) a week, at least. A mother will hardly give bread to her children without pouring them out some oil into a dish, that they may moisten the staff of life, and render it more savory, before eating it. Oil is used on all kinds of vegetables, as well as in preparing every sort of meat and fish: in short it enters into every dish in Crete, and though all Greeks use a good deal of it, there is a much greater general consumption of it in this island than elsewhere.”

Scientific verification
A little more than a century later the American Rockfeller Institute carried out a research between 1948 and 1957 among the inhabitants of Crete, declaring in its report: “Cretan diet consists mainly of vegetarian products such as cereals, vegetables, fruit and olive oil… Olives and oil play an important part in the resistance of a Cretan constitution. A foreigner might find that Cretan food actually swims in oil: the consumption of olive oil is a distinctive attribute of the Cretan diet.”

Composition of olive oil
Vitamin E (3-30 mg)
Provitamin A (carotene)
Monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic) 56-83%
Polyunsaturated unfatty acid (linoleic) 3.5-20%
Polyunsaturated fatty acid (Linoleic) 0 –1.5%
Saturated fatty acids 8 – 23.5% 9 calories per gram

Olive oil: the healthiest of all fats
Fat used in food finds a healthy substitute in olive oil which is 77% monounsaturated fat and naturally cholesterol-free. Olive oil contains no salt, and one tablespoon provides 8%RDA for vitamin E. Olive oil is gluten-free. Gluten is found in wheat and rye, and to a lesser degree, in barley and oats, but not in 100% pure olive oil.

The strongest hearts in the world are the Cretan hearts
The Cretan diet has, over the last few years, been under scientific and medical study, and dietetics and statistics have proved that it ensures good health and longevity. The consumption of olive oil is the main reason for the low number of cardiac disorders among the inhabitants of the island.

Olive oil, cholesterol and coronary disease
Olive oil decreases unwanted cholesterol and limits arteriosclerosis, which is one of the main causes of death in industrial areas where butter and pork fat are used in cooking. Its monounsaturated oleic acid is as effective as its polyunsaturated fatty acids in decreasing the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and it has a positive effect on the HDL, the protective factor against coronary disease.

Olive oil and calories
Many people wonder whether olive oil has more calories than other cooking oils. The answer is: NO. Olive oil has 120 calories per tablespoon. Furthermore, its rich fragrance allows one to use less quantity of olive oil than one would of other less rich oils, thereby reducing the intake of calories even more.

Monday, June 14, 2010 @ 06:06 AM
posted by admin

THE IMPACT OF LIFE LONG LEARNING ON MY LIFE

Introduction

The title of this conference is “50+ adaptation to life changes” and it is part of an EU-funded Life Long Learning Programme. This presentation is called “The Impact of Life Long Learning on My Life” because I worked for 25 years at the American Farm School which administers such EU funds, and on retirement I decided to follow EU advice. My continuing education has provided a number of insights which I would like to share with you. My talk is accompanied in writing so you can reflect on the presentation after the conference. Information is from books reviewed on our web site www.slowlivinggreece.com in the section “Articles/Blog” in case you would like to conduct your own research at greater depth.

Changes that are being imposed on us

As defined by the Copenhagen Consensus 2004 in Global Crises, Global Solutions the ten most serious challenges facing the world today are: climate change, communicable diseases, conflicts, access to education, financial instability, governance and corruption, malnutrition and hunger, migration, sanitation and access to clean water, and subsidies and trade barriers.

This talk considers three of these major challenges – financial instability, food, and climate change – and the changes Christine and I have chosen in response.

The importance of leadership from the 50+ group

All ten of the major challenges facing the world today have been created by humans and are the result of how we have run the world during the 20th century. They have been created by leadership that has placed personal, corporate or national interest above community/planetary interest. Such selfishness has to come to an end or our society will commit suicide. I and most of the older generation have to accept responsibility for creating these problems and the 50+ age group should play a leadership role in putting the world back on  track. For some people retirement is the most productive and worthwhile period of their life.

Plan for the worst; hope for the best

This presentation is not a prediction of what will happen in the future. However, Christine and I consider it prudent to plan for the worst while hoping for the best. This is similar to taking out an insurance policy on your house. You hope that your house will never burn down, but for a small extra expense and a little extra trouble you have protected yourself should disaster hit.

FINANCIAL INSTABILITY

When the most recent financial crisis hit, Newsweek reported that there had been more than 120 financial crises in the last 30 years. The authorities are making every effort to overcome the problems that have arisen and we hope that they will be successful. However, it would be unduly optimistic to believe that they have now found the magic formula for economic stability, full employment and prosperity. In our case, planning for the worst assumes that my pension reduces in purchasing power and could be zero one day. We have therefore created a home-based business and hope that over the years our business income will increase to compensate for any pension loss. I have told our children not to depend on others to create an interesting, well-paid job for them; they should plan on creating their own business.

Our emphasis is on increasing our self-reliance and doing what we can to protect ourselves from the financial chaos that seems to be affecting everyone’s life. Christine and I have made our home in Greece, a country that has been much in the news in recent weeks because it has been spending more than it has been earning. Its people may be among the first to experience the “worst-case scenario” of the financial crisis.

FOOD

Gardening is the first step towards self-reliance

Robert Rodale in Our Next Frontier: A Personal Guide for Tomorrow’s Lifestyle, written in 1981, predicted much of what we are experiencing today and recommends gardening as the most convenient point of entry to the idea of self-reliance. I decided to take up gardening and to grow as much of our own food as possible. A section of our website is devoted to books on gardening and farming that I have found helpful.

Of the 2.2 million deaths in America each year, 1.8 million are diet related

Sally Beare’s 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People drew my attention to the fact that: “Scientists agree that we could be living to around 120 years if we achieved our maximum potential life spans, having more energy whatever age we are. It is never too late too start. Even those who are tired, ill, and getting on in years can become biologically younger, reverse the damage, keep disease away, and add years, if not decades, to their lives.” “Ancient wisdom, thousands of authoritative studies, and recent groundbreaking research all indicate that the answer lies, above all, in what we eat. The U.S. surgeon general recently said that of the 2.2 million deaths in America each year, 1.8 million are diet related.”

Sally Beare strengthened my conviction that taking more control over our food would be a wise move.

People today should be the most vigorous and competent the world has known

In B17 Metabolic Therapy in the Prevention and Control of Cancer Philip Day quotes Sir Robert McCarrison, Chairman of the Post-Graduate Medical Education Committee at Oxford University: “I know of nothing so potent in producing ill-health as improperly constituted food. It may therefore be taken as a law of life, infringement of which shall surely bring its own penalties, that the single greatest factor in the acquisition of health is perfectly constituted food. Given the will, we have the power to build in every nation a people more fit, more vigorous and competent; a people with longer and more productive lives, and with more physical and mental stamina than the world has ever known.”

With the knowledge about food from our outstanding universities and research centers, there is no reason why we should not be the fine specimens McCarrison suggests, yet 4 out 5 Americans allow their food to kill them.

Making a comfortable living from a small piece of land

In Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management, M.G. Kains quotes Abraham Lincoln: “The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”

This quote became the foundation stone of our response to financial chaos and poor quality food. Christine and I conceived our own version of agro-tourism. “Our mission is to share with others our joie de vivre in making a comfortable living from a small piece of land. David grows much of our food. We live the Slow Philosophy in a rural setting outside Thessaloniki convenient for the Macedonia airport. Christine is a ceramic artist who gains her inspiration from ancient Greek and Byzantine pottery. She exposes guests to the incredibly warm and welcoming locals, lovingly prepared, slowly savored Mediterranean food and the uniqueness of ancient and modern Greece.”

Our website www.slowlivinggreece.com was born in January 2010. A weekly diary records progress in our endeavors, our successes and failures, and lessons learned along the way. We hope that it may be helpful to those of a like mind who decide to take out their own insurance policy by adopting Abraham Lincoln’s words, “The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”

Later in the programme Christine will talk about our progress in our endeavors.

Water scarcity: the biggest threat to global food production

Water scarcity is now the single biggest threat to global food production. In Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last? Sandra Pastel points out that world-wide per capita irrigated area peaked in 1978. By 2020 it will be 25% below the 1978 peak. Between 1951 and 1985, Israel expanded its irrigated area fivefold with only a threefold increase in water use. Output per cubic meter nearly tripled and its value jumped 10-fold. Israel is the only nation to double water productivity in agriculture – something which every nation on earth would be wise to emulate.

We have installed storage tanks to collect rain water from the roof, have arranged that every drop of water entering our property is constructively used, and installed drip irrigation and use mulch to improve water use efficiency.

Pastel also notes that climate change adds a whole new dimension to the food and water challenge. History shows that climate wild cards can overwhelm a seemingly advanced society’s ability to cope.

CLIMATE CHANGE, GLOBAL WARMING, WEATHER EXTREMES

Amazingly there is much skepticism regarding humanity’s contribution to global warming and climate change. I provide information from two books: the first explains why the skeptics have the upper hand; and the second shows that there is a problem  that we need to face up to.

Joseph Romm in Hell and High Water: Global Warming – the Solution and the Politics – and What We Should Do provides the following explanation of why the public has not been better informed about climate change. “Global warming is a problem of politics and political will. The great political tragedy of our time is that conservative leaders in America have chosen to use their superior messaging and political skills to thwart serious action on global warming, thereby increasing the chances that catastrophic climate change will become a reality.”

“Science and logic are powerful systematic tools for understanding the world, but they are no match in the public realm for the 25-century-old art of verbal persuasion: rhetoric. Scientific debates are won by those whose theory best explains the facts, not by those who are gifted speakers. After Carl Sagan became famous, he was rejected for membership in the National Academy of Sciences in a special vote. Every scientist is capable of recognizing the obvious implications for his or her self-interest.”

“Scientists who have been outspoken about global warming have been repeatedly attacked as having a “political agenda.” Not surprisingly, many climate scientists shy away from the public debate. At the same time, the Bush administration has muzzled many climate scientists working for the U.S. government. The Denyers and Delayers do not just have messaging skills superior to scientists (and environmentalists and most progressive politicians), they also have a brilliant strategy, a poll-tested plan of attack. A 2002 memo from the Luntz Research Companies explains precisely how politicians can sound as if they care about global warming without actually doing anything about it. It focuses in particular on casting doubts about the science. The memo can be found on the web, and anyone who cares about the future of America should read it.”

“In science, the facts are never completely in, making this a highly effective rhetorical strategy in any scientific debate. If we must wait until the painful reality of mega-droughts and rapid sea-level rise are upon us, the point of no return will have long passed. The White House’s constant call for more research is nothing but a smokescreen.”

“The Bush team has systematically worked to hold back the results of research, to censor the information about the real dangers of global warming that its own agencies are supposed to provide to the public. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative think tank funded in part by ExxonMobil, sued the Bush White House, under the little-known Federal Data Quality Act, to remove a comprehensive peer-reviewed study from circulation, labelling the report “junk science.” In 2003 it was revealed that the White House had secretly asked CEI to sue it to get the nation’s premier climate assessment withdrawn.”

“The White House heavily edited a 2003 report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, removing several paragraphs that described the dangers posed by rising temperatures. Every substantial conclusion in the EPA report was gutted. Even the sentence “Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment” was considered too strong to be left in and it was removed.”

“Rick Piltz has launched a website, www.climatesciencewatch.org that regularly reports on government censorship of climate research.”

The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery is just one of the many books reviewed on our website.  A few snippets are provided for this conference.

My conclusions regarding climate change

Various parts of the world have already experienced weather extremes but no one can say for sure what the future holds. Applying the principle of “Plan for the worst but hope for the best” means for us learning the skills of self-reliance in case services that we take for granted are disrupted.

All authors of books reviewed believe that continuing with business-as-usual will result in a continuation of weather extremes and most believe that global food production will be adversely affected. Most also believe that there is still a window of time to avert the worst case scenarios and provide guidelines for action.

My conclusions regarding Life Long learning

We have only to look at our disastrous performance during the 20th century to realise that we must find a better way to run the planet. We have to do two things: learn the skills of survival should the worst case scenarios hit; and learn how to run the planet better so we don’t repeat the same mistakes of the 20th century. A Life Long Learning programme would seem to be a wise move for everyone.


THE WEATHER MAKERS

HOW MAN IS CHANGING THE CLIMATE AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR LIFE ON EARTH

TIM FLANNERY

ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS                        2005

A few snippets for this conference

Use of fossil fuels

The 20th century opened on a world that was home to little more than a billion people and closed on a world of 6 billion, and every one of those 6 billion is using on average four times as much energy as their forefathers did 100 years before. The burning of fossil fuels has increased sixteenfold over that period. The power and seduction of fossil fuels will be hard to leave behind. In 1961 there was still room to maneuver. There were just 3 billion people and they were using only half of the total resources that our global ecosystem could sustainably provide. In 1986 we had reached a watershed, for that year our population topped 5 billion, and such was our collective thirst for resources that we were using all earth’s sustainable production. Ever since 1986 we have been running the environmental equivalent of a deficit budget, which is sustained by plundering our capital base. By 2001 humanity’s deficit had ballooned to 20%, and our population to over 6 billion. By 2050, when the population is expected to level out at around 9 billion, the burden of human existence will be such that we will be using – if they can still be found – nearly two planet’s worth of resources. Most of the increase in the burning of fossil fuels has occurred over the last few decades, and nine out of the ten warmest years ever recorded have occurred since 1990.

Magic gates

Global warming changes climate in jerks, during which climate patterns jump from one stable state to another. Climatologist Julia Cole refers to the leaps made by climate as “magic gates,” and she argues that since temperatures began rising rapidly in the 1970s, our planet has seen two such events – in 1976 and 1998.

The 1976 magic gate originated on the coral atoll of Maiana in the Pacific nation of Kiribati, where El Niňos are first detected, and manifested as a sudden and sustained increase in sea surface temperature of 1°F, and a decline in the ocean’s salinity of 0.8%. Between 1945 and 1955, the temperature of the surface of the tropical Pacific commonly dipped below 66.5°F, but after the magic gate opened in 1976, it has rarely been below 77°F. The western tropical Pacific is the warmest area in the global ocean and is a great regulator of climate, for among other things it controls most tropical precipitation and the position of the jet stream, whose winds bring snow and rain to North America.

The 1998 magic gate is also tied up with the El Niño-La Niña cycle, a two- to eight-year-long cycle that brings extreme climatic events to much of the world. During the La Niña phase, winds blow westward across the Pacific, accumulating the warm surface water off the coast of Australia and the islands lying to its north. With the warm surface waters blown westward, the cold Humboldt Current is able to surface off the Pacific coast of South America, carrying with it nutrients that feed the most prolific fishery in the world, the anchovetta. The El Niño part of the cycle begins with a weakening of topical winds, allowing the warm surface water to flow back eastward, overwhelming the Humboldt and releasing humidity into the atmosphere, which brings floods to the normally arid Peruvian deserts. Cooler water then upwells in the far western Pacific, and as it does not evaporate as readily as warm water, drought strikes Australia and Southeast Asia.

When an El Niño is extreme enough, it can afflict two thirds of the globe with droughts, floods, and other extreme weather. The 1997-98 El Niño was the year the world caught fire. Drought had a stranglehold on a large part of the planet, and fires burned on every continent. The 1998 event released enough energy to “spike” the global temperature by around 0.5°F. Some of the changes spawned were permanent, for ever since then, the waters of the central western Pacific have frequently reached 86°F, while the jet stream has shifted toward the North Pole.

Migration of species

Parmesan and Yohe found that since 1950, around the globe there has been a poleward shift in species’ distribution of around 4 miles per decade, a retreat up mountainsides of 20 feet per decade, and an advance of spring activity of 2.3 days per decade.

Krill catches

Dr. Angus Atkinson and his colleagues examined records of krill catches from the fishing fleets of nine countries working in the southwest Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. The subantarctic seas are some of the richest on Earth and 60% to 70% of the krill reside there. While there was variation year to year for the period 1926-39, no overall upward or downward trend in abundance was evident. The Krill population was stable. Since 1976, the krill have been in sharp decline, reducing at the rate of nearly 40% per decade. With satellite coverage since the 1980s, annual changes in sea ice volume can be estimated. The northern boundary of the ice has shifted southward from 59.3°S to 60.8°S, corresponding to a 20% decrease in sea ice extent. The reduction in krill numbers coincided so closely with the reduction of sea ice over time as to leave little doubt that climate change is a profound threat to the world’s most productive ocean, and to the largest creatures that exist and feed there.

Dying trees

In places such as southern Alaska, winters are 4°F to 5°F warmer than they were 30 years ago. A run of mild winters in recent years has seen the numbers of spruce bark beetle rage out of control. Over the past 15 years it has killed some 40 million trees in southern Alaska, more than any other insect in North America’s recorded history. The spruce budworm is another threat to the trees, with female budworms laying 50% more eggs at 77°F than at 59°F.

Changes in Rainfall

For every degree of warming we create, our world will experience an average 1% increase in rainfall. But the critical fact is that this rainfall increase is not evenly distributed in time and space. Climate change will tip some regions into perpetual rainfall deficit, some into new Saharas, and make some untenable for human habitation.

The first evidence of such a shift emerged in Africa’s Sahel region during the 1960s. Computer models found a single climatic variable was responsible for much of the rainfall decline: rising sea-surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean, which resulted from an accumulation of greenhouse gases. The Indian Ocean is the most rapidly warming ocean on earth, and the computer study showed that as it warms, the conditions that generate the Sahelian monsoon weaken. As a result, by the 1960s the Sahelian “drought” had begun.

After 1975 in Perth, winter rainfall tended to fall in light showers that soaked into the soil and did not reach the dams – a cut of 50% of the city’s surface water supply between 1975 and 1996. Sydney’s water supply declined 45% between 1990 and 2003.

Between 1998 and 2002 waters in the eastern Pacific were a few degrees cooler than normal, while those in the central western pacific were warmer – around 86°F – than average. These conditions shifted the jet stream northward, pushing storms that would usually track at around 35° of latitude to north of 40°. It would be a mistake to assume that any region is safe from megadrought.

Rising sea levels

The Greenland ice cap contains enough water to raise sea levels globally by around 23 feet. In the summer of 2002, it, along with the Arctic ice cap, shrank by a record 400,000 square miles – the largest decrease ever recorded. Two years later, in 2004, it was discovered that Greenland’s glacier’s were melting ten times faster than previously thought.

The greatest extent of ice in the Northern hemisphere is the sea ice covering the polar sea, and since 1979 its extent has contracted 20%. The remaining ice is only 60% as thick as it was four decades earlier.

The melting sea ice will significantly change the Earth’s albedo. Ice, particularly at the Poles, reflects back into space up to 90% of the sunlight hitting it. Water reflects a mere 5% to 10%. Replacing Arctic ice with a dark ocean is a classic case of a positive feedback loop which will hasten the melting of the remaining continental ice.

In February 2002 the Larsen B ice shelf – at 1268 square kilometers it was the size of Luxembourg  – broke up over a matter of weeks. In 2003 a study summarizing a decade of satellite data revealed the ultimate cause of Larsen’s collapse – the melting of the ice from below.

So swift have been the changes in ice plain science, and so great is the inertia of the ocean juggernaut, that climate scientists are debating whether humans have already tripped the switch that will create an ice-free earth. If so, we have already committed our planet and ourselves to a rise in the level of the sea of around 220 feet.

Energy

Coal is our planet’s most abundant and widely distributed fossil fuel. Brown coal is the most polluting of all fuels. More coal is burned today than at any time in the past. 249 coal-fired power plants are to be built worldwide between 1999 and 2009, 483 in the decade to 2019, and 710 between 2020 and 2030.

The Commitment

Researchers at the Hadley Centre talk of a “physical commitment to climate change.” This refers to the fact that the full impact of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere will not be felt until around 2050. Most of the damage was done starting from the 1950s, when our parents and grandparents drove about in their fin-tailed Chevrolets and powered their labor-saving household appliances from inefficient coal-burning power stations. The baby-boom generation is most culpable: Half of the energy generated since the Industrial Revolution has been consumed in the last 20 years. Life is flexible and if given sufficient time it can adapt to the most extreme conditions. It is the rate, not the direction or overall scale of change that is important.

The Pack of Jokers

Earth’s systems sometimes snap, and a new world order is suddenly created, to which the survivors must adapt or perish. There are three main “tipping points” that scientists are aware of for Earth’s climate: a slowing or collapse of the Gulf Stream; the demise of the Amazon rain forests; and the release of gas hydrates from the sea floor.

Collapse of the Gulf Stream

In 2003 the pentagon commissioned a report outlining the implications for U.S. national security should the Gulf Stream collapse. A slowing of the Gulf Stream as a result of freshwater from melting ice accumulating in the North Atlantic would  trigger a “magic gate” that would abruptly change the world’s climate. There would be persistent drought over critical agricultural regions and a plunge in temperatures of more than 5°F for Europe, just under 5°F for North America, and 3.6°F increases for Australia, South America, and southern Africa.

Mass starvation would be followed by mass emigration as regions as diverse as Scandinavia, Bangladesh, and the Caribbean become incapable of supporting their populations. New political alliances would be forged as a scramble for resources ensues, and the potential for war would be greatly heightened. With water supplies and energy supplies strained, Australia and the United States would focus increasingly on border protection to keep out the migrating hordes from Asia and the Caribbean. The European Union will either be unified with a focus on border protection or driven to collapse and chaos by internal squabbling.

The Gulf Stream is the fastest ocean current in the world; the volume of water is 100 times as great as that of the Amazon. At 46°F, its northern section is far warmer than the freezing waters that surround it. It warms Europe’s climate as much as if the continent’s sunlight were increased by a third. Between 12,700 and 11,700 years ago winter temperatures in the Netherlands plunged below -4°F, and summer temperatures averaged just 55°F to 57°F. Ice cores from Greenland indicate that, as the Gulf Stream slowed in the past, the island experienced a massive 18°F drop in temperature in as little as a decade.

Freshwater disrupts the Gulf Stream because it dilutes its saltiness, preventing it from sinking and thus disrupting the circulation of the oceans worldwide.

Collapse of the Amazon Rain Forest

Scientists have discovered that the plants of the Amazon effectively create their own rainfall, for so vast is the volume of water transpired by them that it forms clouds that are blown ever westward, where the moisture falls as rain, only to be transpired again and again. Plants don’t want to lose their vapor, but inevitably they do lose some whenever they open the breathing holes in their leaves (stomata), to gain CO2 from the atmosphere. As CO2 levels increase, transpiration will be reduced. And with less transpiration there will be less rain.

The ultimate outcome of the factors contributing to positive feedback loops is that by 2100 the earth’s atmosphere will have close to 1,000 parts per million of CO2 rather than the 710 predicted in earlier models. Surface temperatures will rise by 18°F rather than the 10°F predicted, rainfall in the basin will drop by 64%, there will be a 78% loss of carbon stored in vegetation and a 72% loss of soil carbon. If the model is correct we should see signs of forest collapse around 2040. What is so terrifying about this scenario is that it will greatly hasten climate change, making many of its most pernicious consequences inevitable.

Methane release from the sea floor

Clathrates refers to the structure of an ice-methane combination in which ice crystals trap molecules of methane in tiny “cages.” They contain lots of gas under high pressure. Massive volumes of clathrates lie buried in the seabed around the world – perhaps twice as much in energy terms as all other fossil fuels combined. The material is kept solid only by the pressure of the overlying water and the cold. If pressure on the clathrates was ever relieved, or the temperature of the deep oceans were to increase, colossal amounts of methane could be released.

We have seen the consequences of one such release in the North Sea 55 million years ago, but paleontologists now suspect that the unleashing of the clathrates may have been responsible for a far more profound change – the biggest extinction of all time. So vast was the input of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere that it was thought to have led to an initial rise in global average temperatures of about 11°F. This co-occurred with widespread acid rain caused by the sulphur dioxide, which released yet more carbon. Such was the total impact of the increasing temperature thereby generated that it triggered the release of huge volumes of methane from the tundra and clathrates on the sea floor.

Civilization

Our civilization is built on two foundations: our ability to grow enough food to support a large number of people who are engaged in tasks other than growing food; and our ability to live in groups large enough to support great institutions. Cities are central to civilization, and yet they are fragile entities vulnerable to the stresses brought about by climate change. It is therefore important to consider cities in relation to the provision of their basic needs – food, water, and power. A rapid shift to another kind of climate could place stress on our global society, for it would alter the location of sources of water and food, as well as their volume. Perth and Sydney sit on the knife edge in terms of their water supply, and doubtless more cities will join the list as water shortages increase around the world.

The peak in cereal reserves, of around 100 days, was reached in 1986, and fell to a low of 55 days in 1995. Although substantial wheat surpluses were recorded in 1999 and 2004, overall the trend in world food security has been a downward one. In future, crops will be stressed by higher temperature, more ozone at ground level, and changes in soil moisture, all of which will decrease yields. Thus, rather than an agricultural paradise, a CO2-rich world promises to be one in which crop production is lower than today.

Given the scale of change confronting us, I think that there is abundant evidence to support Lovelock’s idea that climate change may well, by destroying our cities, bring about the end of our civilization. Humanity, of course, would survive such a collapse, for people will persist in smaller, more robust communities such as villages and farms. If humans pursue a business-as-usual course for the first half of this century, I believe the collapse of civilization due to climate change becomes inevitable.

Hurricanes

As with all hurricanes, Katrina started as a mere thunderstorm. Tropical storms develop into hurricanes only where the surface temperature of the ocean is around 78ºF or greater. This is because hot sea water evaporates readily, providing the volume of fuel – water vapor – required to power a hurricane. During the summer of 2005 the surface waters of the northern Gulf were exceptionally hot – around 87ºF. The Gulf waters are deep, providing a large heat reservoir. Such waters yield vast volumes of water vapor, and during its 4-day passage through Gulf waters, Katrina grew and grew, until it reached category 5.

There is growing evidence that global warming is changing the conditions in the atmosphere and oceans in ways that will make hurricanes more destructive in the future. There is clear evidence that global warming is affecting the speed of the Gulf Stream. Both ozone depletion and greenhouse gas accumulation are changing the energetics of the tropopause in ways that can affect hurricane formation. The amount of water vapor – hurricane fuel – in the air over the oceans has increased by 1.3% per decade since 1988. Both the warmer ocean and the increased water vapor increase the energy available for transforming tropical storms into hurricanes and feeding category 1 hurricanes so they become category 5.

What is increasingly perplexing and astonishing meteorologists is that, we are seeing an increase in hurricane intensity and numbers far in advance of that suggested by computer modeling. The total amount of energy released by hurricanes worldwide has increased by 60% in the last two decades. Since 1974 the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes recorded has almost doubled.