Our Bay Window Looks Out on the World

In seven years, we've received a pile of letters from faraway places. Some come from New Bay Times' extended family, among them Chesapeake Country folks who have moved away but who keep abreast of Bay happenings. Other messages arrive thanks to the internet. As best as we can recall, we've never received a letter like the one that came last week.

The e-mail, from Gayathre Rajam in India, harkened back to an editorial we wrote last year. It read Dear Sir: I read your ninth issue on pelleting chicken manure. Could you please forward me the project on how to make pellets of chicken manure?

The letter went on to ask a series of precise questions, including how to pack the pellets and how to heat them.

The writer wanted to learn from us, but we also can learn from him (or her). First of all, it reminds us that the Internet has shrunk our world in such a way that people everywhere can, literally, be on the same page. The e-mail also reminds us that from Annapolis to New Delhi, people have a similar concern: What can we do about the destructive effects of animal wastes, which degrade Chesapeake Bay and the Bay of Bengal alike?

Much of the problem of course, flows from our appetites for meat. In developing countries like India and China, the problem will grow even more vexing in the coming years as more people there do what we Americans do regularly: Eat meat. Those Chinese-made sweaters and slacks you're buying at the mall for Christmas presents are making them wealthier by the day and therefore hungrier for meat.

For us, the problem of nitrogen pollution and chicken wastes pouring into the Chesapeake already exists. It is a problem that the General Assembly must pay more attention to when it reconvenes in the coming weeks. And it is a problem that we consumers must keep in mind, which we can do by learning what the growth of the poultry industry in Maryland means to all of us.

This week, in an excellent series of articles, The Washington Post chronicles the dangers of working in poultry processing plants and the migration to Maryland of Latin Americans recruited by the industry.

The series also notes how more and more Delmarva-produced chickens are exported. Looking at it another way, we along the Chesapeake bear the pollution costs so people in faraway lands can eat chicken.

It truly is a shrinking world, and it behooves us to find solutions to problems like these -- and not just for ourselves.

Oh yeah, we're pulling together the answers to those questions from India.

| Issue 48 |

Volume VII Number 48
December 2-8, 1999
New Bay Times

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