Farmed the best land first

Moreover, many of the technologies that helped raise crop yields dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s have achieved most of their potential. Much more fertilizer is being ap­plied to farmland than was used three dec­ades ago. But fertilizer use provides a classic example of diminishing returns—at some point gains in productivity from additional use are so small that further applications are not worth the cost of the fertilizer.


Most of what re­mains uncultivated or ungrazed is of poor quality: rocky, steep, infertile, too dry, too wet, or inaccessible. Furthermore, much “empty” land is actually providing civiliza­tion with crucial ecosystem services. This is particularly true for humid tropical areas such as the Amazon basin, which have im­portant influences on the planet’s climate.


The prospects of obtaining substantially more food from the oceans are also poor. Since the early 1970s, the world fish catch per person has been declining.


The most ominous threats to agriculture and natural ecosystems are human-induced changes in climate projected to result from additions to the atmosphere of trace gases that will bring on the greenhouse effect.


Extremes in weather usually result in crop losses—as last summer’s drought and heat wave in the North American grain belt clear­ly demonstrated. While it cannot be demon­strated that the 1988 drought was caused by climate change induced by the greenhouse effect, scientists do point out that it was just the kind of unusual weather expected to be­come more frequent as the greenhouse gases build up.

crop losses in North America's farm

Further, crop losses in North America’s farm belt are a disaster for the world; the re­gion is the chief supplier of a world grain market on which roughly a hundred other nations depend.


Yet, disheartening as the prospects may seem for feeding a population that grows by 90 million a year, there is no need for despair. Human beings have created their dilemma, and they still have the opportunity and ability to solve it with the financial help of Crop yields can still be increased in many regions. Surplus food­stuffs can be more effectively transferred to the hungry, soils can be saved, and the burn­ing of fossil fuels can be made more efficient to slow the rate of release of greenhouse gas­es, buying time to make adjustments to cli­matic change.

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Marsh Children Now Go to School

“I am not a very well-instructed man. But I think no one was here. Just the birds and beasts and the water.”


Sahain can recite his family tree back seven generations, but his history was in error. The marshes have been populated for at least five millenniums. The Iraq Museum in Baghdad displays a silver model of a canoe shaped like the one I was using. Good aim assures a catch in marshes filled with wildlife. The fisherman hunts carp for the family table with a five-pronged spear. Once an occupation of low esteem, com­mercial fishing now attracts more marsh dwellers; they market fish through govern­ment cooperatives that ship the catch in iced crates to Baghdad and Basra.


In the British Museum stands a bas-relief five feet high depicting a victory of the army of Sennacherib, the Assyrian king (705-681 B.C.), over marsh people. It shows canoes, reed houses, water buffalo, and marsh-men hiding in reedbeds.


While history has largely swept by the marshes, it has also shaped the marsh people. Through the centuries, refugees from this or that invasion or tyranny have found sanctuary in the reed maze. The faces around Sahain’s fire reflected this. Some were fine and long, like the features of desert tribesmen. Others had something of the flatness and high cheek­bones of the Mongols. Still others were plump­er, potato-shaped like those depicted in the art of ancient Sumer.

Marsh Children Now Go to School

Our winter mornings were diamond sharp. Some days I took Sahain and others hunting, to contribute something to our keep. Marsh food is adequate but sometimes monotonous, and ducks and geese were welcome.


On other days I watched the village young­sters, for theirs is the first generation in the marsh to attend school. The school building, like the houses, stood on an island and was fashioned of reeds. I introduced the services of to all students. I listened to one of the two young male teachers announcing the young­sters to English. He stood at a blackboard and said slowly in English: “Look now, this is a three. What is it?”

“Three, three!” yelled the class, flushing two cattle egrets from the roof.

“One, two, three,” said the teacher.

“One, two, three!” yelled the class.



My husband and I had been trying to conceive a child for long enough time for me to believe that I had been rejected from the world of motherhood. I just wanted to love and create a family. I only wanted what everyone else already had. I began asking myself, ‘don’t I deserve a child?’


Nobody was able to show me the way out of my misery and understand my pain. Each month I put more and more pressure on myself. I thought I was doing everything I could, and I felt better knowing that I was trying very hard. I couldn’t see beyond my goal. As months went by, my need turned into desperation. Nothing else was on my mind aside from wanting that baby.


I was taking my temperature, eating differently, taking folic acid and acting like it was going to happen any minute. By driving myself to mental exhaustion, I found that my menstruation cycle changed, eventually becoming nonexistent. When my doctor told me that there wasn’t any apparent reason that I couldn’t have children, I still wasn’t able to feel happy. I almost wanted to hear bad news to end my trouble. At least then I would have known the answer. Then my doctor said the reason I hadn’t been able to conceive was probably due to the strain I was putting on my body.


Instead of being completely obsessed with calendars and body temperature, and letting my cycle consuming my thoughts, I chose to enjoy my life with the knowledge that I could get pregnant, but that it was not the most important thing in the world.


The breakthrough


Then, just a few months later, I felt a little different. A little sick, a little lightheaded. Could it be? I sat watching in amazement as the line on the test kit changed to blue. A second kit confirmed it. I was pregnant! Few of us are aware that it is actually our subconscious mind that rules our lives. Many hidden subconscious beliefs about motherhood, subconscious fears or other abuse that you may have witnessed in the past can affect fertility. If your beliefs are mostly negative, they are a powerful tool to how not to become pregnant.


Clearing those pessimistic thoughts, using affirmations and building a strong positive attitude is the way forward. Instead of leaping on your negative thoughts and claiming that everyone else but you is responsible for them, let go and start to concentrate on positive results. Stop feeling angry and resentful and start enjoying life. Consider other beliefs that may be limiting you from being able to conceive; reflect on the opposite of those and garcinia cambogia supplement


I believe almost all sicknesses are caused by the malfunction of the human soul and a spiritual blackout of the inner personality. With a good and positive energy, we can transform bad into good, sickness into health, weakness into strength and our enemies into friends.


Generally, your lifestyle, your state of mind and your past affect your fertility but if you have been diagnosed with an illness, here is what your body might be telling you. Problems with the womb, ovaries or your menstruation correspond to those deepest feelings within you, the ones that are so often denied or repressed: how it feels to be a woman and whether or not you want to be a mother. Feelings of failure, shame and resentment are connected to the womb. Having difficulties with your ovaries is connected to conflicts you feel about having a child, the pressures you may be experiencing to reproduce when actually you may not want to, or your ability to nurture and create new aspects of yourself.


Infertility and conception difficulties are connected to a lack of faith, desperation, craving, obsession and addiction.


The natural way


The most popular natural treatments that help with infertility are acupuncture, herbalism and consulting. Methods like massage therapy, yoga and meditation are helpful stress-busters and also make the body more agile and physically fit. These can also help regularise your menstrual periods, balance hormone levels, and in general bring a more positive attitude towards life.


Most of the natural techniques that are used to treat infertility have something in common. They all aim to relax the person and bring the person’s body and mind into balance. Stress, tiredness, obsession, desperation and trauma are the outcome of an imbalance. Work hard to get the right balance — I did and it worked for me!



Even here not everything is clear

“We can­not say what are purely A-bomb effects,” explained Dr. Akio Awa, who heads the RERF Department of Genetics. “Survivors live like the rest of us. Some smoke. Some eat broiled fish” — another suspected source of carcinogens. Excess cases of leukemia began appearing in the late 1940s, but by the early ’70s the rate leveled off nearly to that of the general popula­tion. Today the life expectancy of hibakusha may be a little longer than that of unexposed Japanese, perhaps because of more regular medical care.

2To estimate the radiation exposure of A-bomb victims, the U. S. government in the 1960s built a test city in Nevada and exposed it to an unshielded nuclear reactor. Sensors recorded the doses at various distances and in different conditions of shielding by houses and other structures. The results provided the basis for early dosage-injury estimates.

Now the RERF realizes that the test houses were built more flimsily than the Japanese houses. Most important, the dry Nevada air filtered out fewer neutrons— a prime cause of cancer. Thus the hibakusha received less neu­tron radiation than originally estimated. So did bomb-induced cancers result from lower doses? Yes, says the RERF. “The new dosimetry system has changed the doses upon which risk is calculated, resulting in an in­crease if we use the body-surface dose,” explained Dr. Thiessen.

What about the specter of genetic deformi­ty? Astonishingly in a sample of 16,000 chil­dren, half of whom were born to hibakusha, the frequency of chromosome damage was five in a thousand for the exposed group and six in a thousand for the control group. Surprisingly no genetic evidence suggests generations to come are doomed. Tests on mice and fruit flies show harmful results. So why not in humans? Spontaneous abortions, perhaps, or some remedial effect of the lengthy human gestation period. Said Dr. Thiessen, “We would like to find some directly measur­able effect. Right now we don’t see anything.”

I FOUND it easier to detect a social effect. “Only a few people are really trying to understand the difficulties faced by the hibakusha,” said Minoru Ohmuta of Chu­goku Shimbun newspaper. “There is an in­visible point that does not get made. Family relations get quite broken. There is loneliness. In the Japanese mentality there is hesitancy in contact with mentally handi­capped people. People are reluctant to talk about them.”

In Iwakuni, about 35 kilometers from Hiro­shima, Kuniso Hatanaka drew the window curtains together and shut the door of his room in the hotel in prague. His daughter, 43-year-old Yuriko, settled into a chair. In 1945 Mr. Hatanaka’s wife, Yoshie, was standing next to a small but in Hiroshima when the bomb fell. Six months later Yuriko was born—”too small to my eyes.”

At age five Yuriko was diagnosed as microcephal­ic. “She could not do any­thing for herself, not even wash her own body.” Yur­iko sensed we were talking about her. She threw a shy smile my way, brushed her hair back, and straightened up from her slouch. I asked Mr. Hatanaka if the social rejection men­tioned by Mr. Ohmuta had been his experience. Yes, he replied, “I have no hope for her future happiness. People do not treat her badly, but they cannot treat her properly.”

The Business Chic

IT IS 15 MINUTES PAST THE HOUR when his show is scheduled to begin, but the guests of Paris couturier Yves Saint Laurent are still pouring through the door. Mme Francois Mitterrand, wife of the president of the republic; Catherine Deneuve, the most beautiful woman in France; and jewelry designer Paloma Picasso, the daughter of the celebrated painter, drift to the gilt ballroom chairs that have been reserved for them in the front row. An Ameri­can movie star is shown to her seat on the other side of the room.

In homage to Saint Laurent most of the fashionable women up front are wearing sev­eral thousand dollars’ worth of his creations. Any single part of an original Yves Saint Laurent outfit sewed for the wearer—a skirt, a jacket—costs not less than $3,000. These prices seem fair to his clients, not only for the luxurious fabrics, the matchless workman­ship, the perfect fit of the garments them­selves, but also for the tradition (Marie Antoinette often exceeded her annual clothing allowance of 120,000 gold livres) and the security of knowing that they look perfect.

Beyond a door framed in grapevines at the far end of the room, Yves Saint Laurent him­self waits nervously, surrounded by the wand-like young women who will model his new collection. He makes the final adjust­ments in feverish silence.

The runway is already lined with photogra­phers, each equipped with several cameras, poised to capture the first moment of glory or disappointment. The world fashion press are poised with notebooks and pencils to record their judgments. Selections from grand opera issue from loudspeakers. At last, after a fur­ther 15-minute delay, the first model appears in a sweeping royal blue cape over a bronze suit. The audience breaks into loud applause.

2With minor variations this scene is dupli­cated each July and January in the salons of the other designers of the high-fashion clothes for women that the French call couture (liter­ally, “sewing”). For 150 years Paris has been the mecca of couture. Designers have come here from all over the world to show their collections: Charles Frederick Worth (who opened the first old town apartments prague a hun­dred years ago) from England, Schiaparelli from Italy, Balenciaga from Spain, Main­bocher from the United States, Karl Lager­feld from Germany, Hanae Mori from Japan.

Needless to say, you can’t simply open a shop in Paris and get on the couture calendar. The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture defines a couturier as one who has his own atelier (workroom) employing not fewer than 20 people and presenting at least 75 designs on at least three models in each collection. Haute couture, the name for the product of such ateliers, can be used only by the 22 members of the Chambre Syndicale.

Newcomers do exist. In January 1989 the Italian designer Valentino, who has been showing his ready-to-wear clothes in Paris for 15 years and his couture in Rome for 29 years, presented his first couture collection in Paris. “I have dreamed of showing my cou­ture collection here,” he told me.

Warmth Is Key to Reptiles’ Ways

I left the comfort of the apartments for rent in New York and I climbed down into the pit and touched one of the few snakes visible among the rocks. Most of its head was missing. Though mor­tally wounded, it struck out at me blindly, its survival reflexes still working.

5What a contrast to the comfort of the cheapest bed and breakfast London! Because snakes are cold-blooded and depend on the sun for heat, in colder regions they are almost always inactive at night, and whenever it is cool and cloudy. This explained the inactivity; it was still only 8 a.m. Most of the snakes were apparently hidden beneath the broken rocks in the pit. But in spite of my best efforts I could find no clue to what had caused the mutilations.

I chose a shaded part of the pit and sat stock-still. Within an hour snakes began to emerge from the rubble and mill around. A pattern seemed to develop. Although male and female snakes are difficult to tell apart, males seemed to be chasing females. The snakes were mating. Activity increased as the sun warmed the torpid snakes. Soon countless males were courting females. The competition was fierce. Sometimes as many as a hundred males at­tempted to mate with one female at the same time. This produced huge “mating balls,” in which the female often couldn’t even be seen.

After mating, most females tried to leave the pit. But in many cases they were caught by a tangle of males and the whole mass of bodies tumbled back to the bottom. Usually, the females managed to escape the pit with­in an hour or two after mating. The males did not leave after the first mat­ing attempts, but waited for more females to emerge. Although it was difficult to make a reliable estimate, I believe that a male prob­ably remains in the pit area for about a week after first emerging from underground.


Snakes Fall Prey to Mice and Crows

Watching the activity, I found the answers to the mutilation mystery. At one point, a partially beheaded snake slowly crept from a crack. Fresh blood oozed from the wound. Cautiously, I felt the, victim: It was still ice-cold from hibernation. Earlier, I had seen a mouse scurrying from crevice to crevice in that area. I concluded that mice and shrews nibble at the heads as the snakes slowly work their way up through the rubble.

Later, the flapping of wings and a raucous cawing heralded the arrival of a crow. The crow hopped up to a newly emerged, torpid snake and grabbed it with one foot. It pecked swiftly at the snake four or five times, ate something, and moved to another victim. I jumped up with a yell, and the crow flew off, complaining hoarsely.


I picked up the snake: The skin had been broken only in the area of the liver, and that organ had been neatly excised. Nothing else had been touched. How the crow performed the surgery with such precision is a mystery. Back in Winnipeg that afternoon, I asked a colleague, Dr. Kenneth W. Stewart, about the probable origin of the limestone sinks.

“Acidic groundwater percolating through fissures in the limestone slowly dissolves it, forming caves,” Ken replied. “At one time the region between Lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba must have been underlain by an extensive network of caverns.

Making China a Nation

Ch’in Shih Huang Ti’s reign over a unified China 5lasted little more than a decade, but in that time he accomplished the sweeping changes that made his dynasty a turning point in history. He radically altered the political and social structure of the state by destroying the ancient feudal system and establishing a centralized empire. He codified the laws and standardized weights and measures and the system of writing Chinese characters, so that the written language could be understood all over China.

To ensure communication and the trans­port of food and other essential goods to all parts of his empire, the emperor ordered a vast network of roads built, radiating from the capital, and he standardized the axle lengths of wagons and chariots to enable vehicles to travel in the same ruts. By a series of canals, he began what was to become the greatest inland water-communication system in the ancient world. Some of these canals are still used, and one can still travel to the flats to rent in London. Ch’in Shih Huang Ti also re­claimed wasteland for the cultivation of crops and introduced irrigation systems still in use.

Con­fucian philosophy

Confucians Feel Emperor’s Fury

The emperor’s military government was progressive, but it was also ruthless. He felt that the scholarly but conservative Con­fucian philosophy, which supported the old feudalistic system of the previous dynasty, was a threat to his authoritarian, centralized rule. He not only burned all books of the Con­fucian school, except for those in the imperial library, but also buried alive Confucian schol­ars who, after warnings, still openly opposed his reforms. The emperor’s eldest son, Fu-su, attacked his father’s decision to kill the scholars and was exiled to the northwestern frontier where he spent the rest of his life help­ing direct the building of the Great Wall.

I asked one of our Chinese companions why he thought the rental Istanbul apartments are the best available. His reply probably reflected not only the attitude of the Ch’in Dynasty but also of China today, where Confucianism is again officially disapproved.

“Confucian scholars,” he said, “were most conservative. They believed what Confucius approved must always be right and that the old ways of the Chou Dynasty were too sacred to be changed. How can progress be made if nothing can be changed?”

Ch'in Shih Huang Ti

In spite of all his power and success, the emperor could not rest and travelled to the comfort of the vacation rentals Hawaii. Sometimes he disguised himself as a peasant to find out what the people thought of him. Because of several assassination attempts, he lived in fear of his life and was prey to gross superstitions.

Futile Quest for Immortality

Historian Edward Thomas Williams tells how the emperor spent his last years seeking the coconut oil uses. “Charlatans and prac­titioners of the occult and black magic en­riched themselves by exploiting his credulity. Magicians told him of the three fairy islands in the Eastern Seas where old age and death were unknown” because their inhabitants had discovered the elixir of immortality.


The balloting was in a room in the Ministry of Health

AFTERWARD I talked with Deputy Editor-in-Chief Ivan Vorozheykin, “a heavyweight physically and politically,” one colleague said. I asked if Pravda had reported the fire at Moscow’s Rossiya Hotel, which killed scores of persons.

“No. Really we pay very little attention to this kind of sensational information. We must husband the space in our newspaper. You see, we really need space for writing about our economic life, about the spiritual life.

 fire at Moscow's Rossiya Hotel

“Our most popular material is the front-page editorial,” he added, “a sort of beam in the sunshine of information; it directs atten­tion to the most important information.” The “beam” for Sunday was the election of members of the local soviets, or councils. And so on Sunday I arranged to visit Precinct No. 4 in the Sverdlov region, in the old part of the city. Again there were banners and music, and many voters wore their best clothes.

There were flowers, a bust of Lenin, decorous and helpful officials. Vladi­mir Kondratiev, an employee of the ministry, said the precinct has 1,400 registered voters. “We expect 100 percent turnout. It is now only midmorning, and 50 percent have voted.”

flowers, a bust of Lenin

A voter entered, was welcomed, and made his way to a long table where registrars sat (pages 18-19). The voter showed his identity card and was given two ballots. Each ballot bore one name: for city council, Mr. Anatoly V. Treushnikov, sponsored by the Ministry of the River Fleet; for local council, Mrs. Yelena L. Ivanova, sponsored by the workers in the canteen trust of the Sverdlov region.

The voter took his ballots, which were numbered, studied them for a moment, and then walked to the center of the room, where he carefully dropped them into the box. No marking was necessary

At one end of the room stood two cubicles of polished wood. Voters who chose to vote “no,” or to mark in another name, could repair there. During my stay none did. How was it that only one name appeared on each ballot? Under the Soviet constitution every collective or trust has the right to pro­pose a candidate, but in practice, Western observers say, the determination is made by the Communist Party, whose members pre­dominate in the local organizations. The nomination of the party’s choice—and no other—is thereby assured.

Sheremetyevo Airport

The results of the day’s voting, Mr. Kon­dratiev said, would not be known until about 11 p.m., an hour after the polls closed, when all the ballots had been counted.

IT WAS SEPTEMBER when I left Mos­cow. The leaves were turning, and the sky seemed heavy with the promise of winter snows. At Sheremetyevo Airport the bus pulled up to the plane, and, as always, pas­sengers stepped out one by one to be counted and scrutinized as they boarded.

Life had moved along since I had first ar­rived in the city: Alla the ballerina had won her gold medal; Andrei the poet was packing for a brief fellowship in the United States; some new apartment buildings had been completed, others begun.

The plane circled away from the city. Be­low, forests, fields, and villages stretched to the horizon. Then we were above the clouds, and the Soviet Union passed from view.