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Inexpensive Food Causes Environmental Deterioration

It is often said that one of the most pleasurable things we do in life is eat. The wonderful bounty of plants and animals that are available to us on this planet enable us to concoct a plethora of odoriferous, delectable, and sumptuous meals. Rarely when we consume such scrumptious meals do we reflect on the origin of our feast. Yet, such reflection is warranted, both because we have much to gain from connecting with our natural world and because we have much to learn about the way our food is currently being produced.

Just a few crops dominate our diets (and the diets of the meaty animals that we may eat). These few crops-which include maize, wheat, rice and soybean-primarily come to us by way of an industrialized and highly mechanized system that has enable our species to provide food for our increasing numbers. This system of production, which requires extraordinary levels of technologically-derived inputs, has been replicated the world over. Many indications suggest that this has been done for the better, However, an examination of industrialized agriculture reveals that while much has been gained from it, perhaps, more has been (and continues to be) lost and sacrificed along the way.

Human agriculture, in the form of the cultivation of crops and the domestication of animals for food, began in several areas of the world roughly 10 millennia ago. The transition from hunter-gatherer to harvester-herder took place over several centuries and at different times in various corners of our planet. Yet, industrial agriculture, the 20th and 21st century’s manifestation of our historical transformation, has had tremendous impact on the Earth’s species and ecosystems. Some believe that is not sustainable either. (Unfortunately it ap…

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… more equitable ways to distribute the food we have? The answer is ours to make.

Works Cited

Brown, L. (1997) The Agricultural Link: How Environmental Deterioration Could Disrupt Economic Progress. Worldwatch Paper 136. 73 pp.

Fuller, F., F. Tuan

MP3, Amateur Musicians and Music Distribution

Abstract: Relatively little attention has been given to the effect of digital music on amateur musicians and music distribution. Here, I examine the revolution on the horizon-sites such as herald the eventual bridging of the gap between artist and listener while shrinking the record companies. In this paper I examine two such sites that host independent and labeled artists alike: the larger, better-known and the smaller, independent, non-profit Songfight. I examine how they each handle the challenges of digital music and their attraction for artists while concluding that a change in the recording industry as we know it is forthcoming.

Much of the attention on the MP3 has focused on file sharing programs such as Napster and various “peer to peer” applications, such as Morpheus or KaZaA. While such programs do pose a threat to major label copyrights and the music industry as we know it, there is another facet of the MP3 that has received relatively little attention. Digital music compression has not only allowed major label piracy, but, as one commentator put it, “off-off-off-broadway [sic] indie rock” [1] as well. Websites such as, the Internet Underground Music Archive1, and Ampcast2 provide places for amateur musicians to publish their music without the interference of a record label, bringing the listener and the artist closer together. [2]

In bridging this gap between artists and listeners, however, certain dangers arise. While the usual issues of artists attempting to protect their songs from copyright violations, scams, and unauthorized rearrangements3 arise, others issues need to be taken into account. These include the posting of offensive material, the posting of offensively bad material, and the relative inability to promote one’s music without the help of outside agents or the website that hosts it. Not only that, but the money offered to artists by such sites is hardly significant, making it difficult for such sites to completely replace record companies. In this paper, I examine two such (which is a large, broad, for-profit site) and Songfight (a smaller, independent, non-profit themed site), and compare and contrast the advantages and pitfalls of each. In comparing and contrasting the two, we can see that the ubiquity of computing has not only created new options for amateur music distribution, but that it has begun to revolutionize music distribution as well.


Michael Robertson, a San Diego software programmer, started MP3.

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